Roadside trees can form complete tunnels, meeting in an archway over the carriageway. The lower twigs are kept trimmed by lorries passing underneath. Beech are much used for hedges in South Antrim, often planted above a stone wall in a hedge and bank style.
They line one section of the road near Dundrod, used as a route from Belfast to Aldergrove airport (and Nutt’s Corner, in the past) before the M2. In high summer they cast a dense shade over the road which appears to dive into a deep green tunnel before the view opens over level land and Lough Neagh.
Taller beech form a wonderful high tunnel over the road at Knockloughrim, Co. Londonderry. The road is an alternative route to the Castledawson by-pass, connecting the main road north of Toomebridge with the road over the Glenshane pass.
One special stretch of roadside trees, thought to be one of the longest, has just been recognised by a Tree Preservation Order – 1.5km along the road from Tempo to Fivemiletown. In places, both sides have trees: one side borders the estate of Tempo Manor which is private but many of its splendid trees may be seen from this stretch of road.
The Dark Hedges are two rows of spectacular beech trees opposite Gracehill House near Mosside in Co Antrim. It was a popular walk for courting couples despite stories of it being haunted. There is a belief that anxious fathers maintained this haunted myth to keep their daughters away.
Allan Davies’ photograph won him the 1995 Ulster TV Amateur Photographer of the Year competition.