Displaying items by tag: trees

Monday, 15 April 2024 23:53

Return to the Dark Hedges, April 2024

Antrim's Dark Hedges are famous for mature beech trees but each year sees several fewer making the iconic road feel less like an avenue.

After scheduled maintenance saw six trees of the famous Dark Hedges removed in late 2023, Storm Isha in January 2024 brought down another three of the beeches.

Large gaps have appeared now in sections of the avenue, and whilst new trees have been planted it seems that the Dark Hedges will disappear for the best part of a century until the replacement beech trees have matured. 

Here, images from April 2024 on a wet and windy day on Ireland's most photographed road. 

Join me, Panoramic Ireland, to photograph on Ireland's Antrim Coast or Wicklow.

Dark Hedges, April 2024
Dark Hedges, April 2024
Published in Guide

I don’t think County Antrim’s Dark Hedges need much of an introduction. The visually stunning avenue of beech trees have arguably become one of the most famous stretches of road in the world.

Certainly, it must be Ireland’s most photographed road.

Having appeared for a few brief seconds in HBO’s Game of Thrones the once unknown row of 300 year old beeches are now often overrun by tourists, many thousands arriving throughout a typical day en route to the Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle or covering a dedicated Game of Thrones tour.

The tree tunnel is surely a photographer’s dream with its intertwining overhead branches and large tree trunks of silvery bark that take on the colour of the weather and lighting.

Originally there were around 150 beech trees planted along what was the avenue to Gracehill House at the end of the 18th century, built by the Stuart family - now almost 250 years old there are only 86 mature beech trees left.

And as of next week, there may be 11 fewer; after examination more of the Dark Hedges will be cut and significantly or taken to the stump leaving at least 75 healthy trees. Six are to be removed for definite.

This work is being carried out because of the age and neglect of this man-made natural wonder over recent decades, with lofty boughs breaking and posing potential risk to the visitors underneath.


Dark Hedges with Damaged Trees
Dark Hedges with Damaged Trees


So, will the Dark Hedges still be worth visiting in 2024? Yes I do think so, if you can get here without the crowds then yes. The location has lost a lot of its charm, having gone from grassy and shrubby verges to muddy and unsightly but for the photographer there are still elements worth photographing here.


Large Gaps at the Dark Hedges
Large Gaps at the Dark Hedges


And it will be a long time yet before all of the trees reach end of life. Of course the new trees being planted will take a longer time again to develop into what has been a quiet tourism site for decades.



Join Panoramic Ireland in 2024 to photograph the Dark Hedges, the Antrim Coast and all of its beauty spots.


Published in Guide
Wednesday, 11 January 2023 19:13

Winter Walk in the Woods

While researching new locations for photography workshops recently, I found this very scenic woodland for the first time.

Not a famous location, and all the better for it. This woodland is quiet and has a mixture of native and non-native broadleaf trees.

Unfortunately it is increasingly being surrounded by large conifer plantations that often result in the decline of these deciduous arboreal islands and the life that exists therein.

Walking in the Woods, Winter in Ireland
Walking in the Woods, Winter in Ireland

I don't think it is an ancient woodland, rare places in Ireland, but it certainly is old and has the look of a very pretty wood indeed with narrow, twisting paths, a river, moss-covered rocks and trees, as well as plenty of wildlife.

I will be back here to photograph and to lead photography workshops so if you would like to join me to learn how to photograph woodland scenes, contact me to improve your photography in 2023 in Ireland's fantastically scenic woodlands.

Published in Guide
Friday, 30 September 2022 23:13

Into the Canopy, Beech Trees at the Dark Hedges

The Dark Hedges are one of the most famous locations associated with Game of Thrones.

But of course for those of us from the area, from the fine Causeway Coast and Glens of Antrim, it was always a scenic avenue.

Here, a view into the canopy of those centuries-old beech trees.

Join me, Panoramic Ireland, to photograph in Ireland. From the Antrim Coast to West Cork.

Published in Photo Tours
Wednesday, 03 August 2022 22:41

Ash Tree, Ruins of an Old House

This ash tree marks a little high point, a prominence at the entrance to a small enclosure, beside the ruins of an old stone thatched cottage.

Only a few of the foundation stones remain here, the cottage long since tumbled but this impressive ash, estimated to be 140 years old, still stands and was probably a young tree when the house was still occupied.

I have written about ash trees, known as fuinseog in Irish, before here on panoramicireland.com especially in reference to the disease that is currently making its way through the Irish countryside to destroy one of the most valued and characterful species on the island.

This poor ash might not see out its natural 300-400 year lifespan and end up like so many, a dendritic dead fossil of a once thriving ecosystem.

Published in Guide
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County Antrim's Dark Hedges is by now one of the most famous avenues in the world. Made by a local landowner who planted the beech trees almost 250 years ago to mark the approach to his house; made famous by HBO's Game of Thrones as the King's Road over the past decade.

The fine scene has changed much since this image, in recent times (COVID excepting) most of this long scene would have been filled with throngs of people in on tour buses, as a result the nice and grassy verges have turned to mud.

The trees have diminished greatly, having fallen to storms in the intervening years and weakened as a result of vehicular traffic parking up on the verges, as I mentioned in a previous post about beech trees they do have shallow roots so are prone to damage.

Published in Guide
Friday, 26 March 2021 16:37

Cherry Tree Blossom, National Tree Week

Of course trees don't just give us large canopies of leaves and branches, they often provide some of the finest flowers such as these cherry blossoms.

This image is from outside of the hospital where I received chemotherapy two years ago, the dark wood of the cherry and those delicate pinky-white petals make for a fine display and one that I was glad to stop and admire given the events of the time.

Cherry trees are native to Ireland, but not the ones seen here. The two varieties are wild cherry Prunus avium and bird cherry Prunus padus, and are mostly found growing wild in the west of Ireland and the midlands.

Published in Guide

I have written about almost-treeless landscapes in Ireland before, usually upland areas such as here in the Wicklow Mountains.

And here, two old sycamore trees stand together alone above the boggy terrain, in bad weather providing shelter for sheep as seen in this image.

Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus is not native to Ireland, thought to have been introduced from Europe before the 17th century being first recorded in Derry in 1610, it has now become widely naturalised and is one of Ireland's most common trees.

Sycamore is a strong and sturdy tree, able to withstand all that the Irish weather can deliver.

Published in Guide

This lone and windswept tree prepares for another tough year of growing, its short stature and horizontal growth shows the direction of prevailing winds.

Clearly this side of the small lake makes for difficult growing conditions, the far side being more sheltered and with deeper soils supports a small natural woodland of upright trees.

Trees provide a focal point for photography whether that be standalone trees on ridges or hills, deciduous woodlands or planted neatly in urban parks.

National Tree Week 2021 is here and I am posting some of my favourite tree images from over the years. Check back again tomorrow to see more.

Published in Guide
Sunday, 21 March 2021 00:50

Ash Trees in Ireland, National Tree Week

For all you dendrophiles, Sunday 21st of March 2021 sees the start of National Tree Week here in Ireland.

So here is an image of one of the most iconic of Ireland's native trees. the ash.

Ash is the most common tree found in Irish hedgerows, it grows tall to around 40 metres and its bark becomes fissured with age. It has a pale wood that is most famously used to make hurleys (sticks) for the Irish game of hurling. If you have good quality wooden handled gardening equipment, the handles might also be made from ash timber.

Ash trees can live for up to 400 years but in recent times with the arrival of an asian fungal infection, the trees have been suffering from a disease called ash dieback.

Published in Guide
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