Northern Ireland's Game of Thrones road painted with stark white line by mistake
Published 11/02/2016 | 07:43
Workers moved in on Wednesday to blast away white lines mistakenly painted under the famous 'Dark Hedges' trees in north Antrim.
Smoke filled the air around the distinctive trees as a team of workers used high-powered equipment to burn off the markings.
The error in putting the markings on the road had led to uproar from tourists and photographers who flock to the trees near Armoy which are some of the most snapped natural landscapes in Northern Ireland.
Tour buses also take huge numbers of Game of Thrones fans to see the trees which featured in an episode of the world-wide hit show as 'King's Road'.
The white lines dramatically altered the view and were put down in recent days in the middle of the Bregagh Road, where the trees are located.
Photographers who regularly visit the scene to capture stunning images of the trees were incensed saying their photos would never look the same again.
However, within hours of roads officials being contacted, highway chiefs held their hands up and admitted the white lines were painted on by mistake and they had pledged to remove them on Wednesday.
Early on Wednesday workers moved in.
The Mayor of Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council - Michelle Knight-McQuillan - says she is pleased the lines are being removed and hopes the job is finished quickly.
She also hopes the lines are completely removed and there are no marks left on the road.
She said officials attempted to reassure her the job will be done correctly.
The mayor said on Wednesday: "I'm delighted to know that the lines are being removed this morning. Transport NI assured me they would be removed today and this has been honoured. There has been a lot of response on social media etc about these lines and that just proves the value people put on this beautiful asset we have in our borough".
The saga of the white lines has put the management of the Dark Hedges very much in the public spotlight and north-Antrim based photographers have spoken out.
Landscape photographer Chris Ibbotson said: "Its the most photographed road in Ireland and perhaps the UK, you just need to flick through Google Images to see how its rapidly becoming a victim of its own success."
He said perhaps it should be closed off to tourism traffic and local people given permit passes to use the road.
Added Chris: "It is great that these awful white lines have been removed from The Dark Hedges, it is just a start and serious effort needs to be carried out to secure the future of this beautiful natural attraction.
"Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, DRD and the various Conservation Trusts must all work together and provide proper care and more importantly proper vehicular access control of this road before it is gone for good as there has been a rapid demise here since 2012. Official parking facilities at either end of Bregagh Road would be a good start."
Photographer Angela Cunning, who has won awards with her pictures of the Dark Hedges, said on Wednesday said it was great news the white lines were being blasted.
"I have a lot of photographer friends who will welcome this also and hope this also will highlight the importance of keeping this landmark a treasured one and may it continue to be looked after in the appropriate way."
A Department of Regional Development spokeswoman said on Tuesday: “Following completion of a small resurfacing scheme along a 200 metre stretch of the Bregagh Road at the Dark Hedges, the white lining at the junction with the Ballinlea Road was extended in error.
"The contractor has since been instructed to remove the line, and we expect this to be completed by tomorrow.
“The white lining will be burned off by the contractor. Whilst there is the potential for some residual marking to the carriageway as a result of the removal, we are confident that, given the time of year and the number of vehicles using the Bregagh Road that any such marks will disappear soon.
"DRD will continue to monitor the condition of the surface over the coming weeks, and will take further action to repair the road if necessary.
“The Department cannot provide costs for the removal of these lines due to the commercial sensitivity of our contractor’s rates. We can however advise that the removal of this white line over this short stretch of road is a relatively low cost activity.”