Travelling along the roads of Northern Ireland, certain trees or groups are immediately recognisable. On the road north from Ballymena heading for Ballymoney or Ballycastle, are some of the most loved pine trees. They line the road on both sides in two sections and stand like sentinels, overlooking the roadway.
The pines are growing in boggy ground, vegetation dominated by heather. They have developed a leaning growth over the road, perhaps to compensate for shrinkage of the ground beside the road which is now raised above the surrounding land, or the weight of the road surface.
Pines were traditionally planted to sign safe tracks through boggy ground, and probably marked the route of this road before it was given a modern hard surface. One suggestion was that the roots meet under the road, and help to hold it up. These were planted in 1840 by the great Sir Charles Lanyon, architect and engineer.
In spite of the general affection in which these pines are held, their future is by no means certain when road widening is expected.