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User / ej - nature photography / The Dark Hedges - Northern Ireland
Erwin Jenni / 260 items
In Explore, www.flickr.com/explore/2023/09/18

Please press L for large. Thank you. Maby you see the bird.

(The bird that explained the avenue of old beech trees to us in a mysterious way.)

It was one of those key experiences during our challenging trip through Ireland. Challenging because the challenges on the roads were rather high and dangerous at certain moments. But we didn't want to miss this place and drove our campervan to the very north of Ireland. When we arrived there after a longer journey, we were somewhat disillusioned at first, which was mainly due to very inconsiderate tourists. Even though the tourist season was over in September, there were still some people there who didn't pay any attention to others or the regulations that applied there. Unfortunately, I also have to mention here that there were people who didn't even respect the ancient and strictly protected beech trees, but instead scratched their initials into the bark with knives, which infuriated me. Unfortunately, I notice more and more often that people no longer seem to have any respect for nature. But now to the pleasant things that this beautiful place offered us.

On our second visit later in the evening we experienced small miracles in the truest sense of the word. At first we couldn't believe it, but at the best hour of this wonderful September evening there was hardly anyone there, so my wife and I were able to enjoy this mystical place almost to ourselves. When we were already on the way back, the sun appeared in a gentle light for a few minutes and illuminated the beech avenue in all its glory. We couldn't believe it at first because it was gray and windy all day long. These short moments of bliss gave us hope that the beauty of creation can be stronger than the disrespect of so many people in front of trees that have stood there long before they were born and defied wind and weather until this day - for centuries!!!

These old trees could tell us stories about humanity that would leave us speechless with shame. I express the greatest respect and reverence for this avenue of the righteous.

A brief review of the history about the beech trees by "The Dark Hedges":

The Dark Hedges (Irish: Na Fálta Dorcha) is an avenue of beech trees along Bregagh Road between Armoy and Stranocum in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The trees form an atmospheric tunnel that has been used as a location in HBO's popular television series Game of Thrones, which has resulted in the avenue becoming a popular tourist attraction.

Origin
In about 1775, James Stuart built a new house, named Gracehill House after his wife Grace Lynd. Over 150 beech trees were planted along the entrance road to the estate, to create an imposing approach.
A tree preservation order was placed on the trees in 2004, to enable preservation and maintenance, and in 2009 the Dark Hedges Preservation Trust was set up. Of the 150 trees originally planted by the Stuart family, about 90 remained by 2016. A survey in 2014 revealed that the trees are in various states of health and are at risk in bad weather. Two trees were destroyed, and one damaged, by Storm Gertrude in January 2016. Another tree came down in Storm Doris in February 2017. A tree toppled during Storm Hector in June 2018, and another came down during strong winds in January 2019. Two more trees were toppled during Storm Arwen on Saturday 27 November 2021, raising further concerns about the preservation of the remaining trees. As visitor numbers have increased, concern has been expressed over vehicular traffic damaging the trees' roots, as well as problems of graffiti and the daubing of sectarian slogans on the trees. The Woodland Trust has stated that high traffic levels might cause the trees, which are surface rooting, to last less than twenty years. In 2017 the Department of Infrastructure announced plans to close the road to traffic, due to visitor numbers causing possible damage and degradation to the site. A ban on traffic using the road (between its junctions with Ballinlea Road and Ballykenver Road) came into place on 30 October 2017. Specified exemptions to the ban include emergency and agricultural vehicles in particular circumstances.

“Trees are poems that the earth writes to the sky.”
- Kahlil Gibran

"It is not so much its beauty that appeals to the hearts of men, but the subtle something, the quality of the air that emanates from the ancient trees, that so wonderfully transforms and renews a weary mind."
- Robert Louis Stevenson
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Dates
  • Taken: Sep 11, 2023
  • Uploaded: Sep 17, 2023
  • Updated: Sep 22, 2023