My husband hit a milestone birthday this year and my gift to him was a week travelling around Northern Ireland, discovering historical hot spots and Game of Thrones filming locations.
After a week exploring Winterfell, The Iron Islands and a quick stop at The Haunted Forest I have returned to regale you with my story.
Winterfell – aka Castle Ward
Castle Ward was owned by the Ward family and the famous tower that you can see below was replicated several times using CGI to create the impressive Stark homestead. This tower was in the farm courtyard of a much bigger and grander stately home. The tower was the home of the Ward family up until the house was built. The courtyard you can see was used for the majority of scenes filmed at Winterfell during season one of Game of Thrones. According to locals, Jamie Lannister could often been seen wondering outside the tower with a cup of coffee.
Below are some pictures of scenes that were filmed at Castle Ward – most notable is in season one wen Robert Baratheon arrives with Cersei and Joffrey and they greet the Starks in the courtyard.
Audley’s Castle – Robb Stark’s Camp
This little castle was used during season one as a location for Robb Stark’s camp, many scenes were filmed in the surrounding woodland area, including when Brienne of Tarth discovered the bodies hanging from the trees.
The Iron Islands – aka Ballintoy Harbour
This small harbour was used as one of the Iron Islands before Ramsey got his hands on Theon. The rocks that surround the harbour are volcanic and black in colour and very jagged in texture which is quite fitting for the folk of the Iron Islands!
The Birthplace of the Shadow Baby – Cushenden Caves
In the tiny seaside village of Cushenden, pure evil was born. The shadow baby that killed Renley Baratheon was born in the caves just outside this village. It was also where quite a few scenes between Ser Davos, Melisandre and Stannis Baratheon were filmed.
This rugged and beautiful little bay plays host to a few memorable Game of Thrones scenes, most memorable in fact is when Theon feels up his sister before he realises who she is. The most interesting thing about this area is that it was the one place that felt the most real, I truly felt like I was in a scene in this place, it was completely deserted and we had to drive down a strange and uncertain little road to get there. Total perfection.
The Haunted Forest aka Tollymore Forest Park
Right on the edge of the famous Mourne Mountains, where CS Lewis got his inspiration for the Narnia series, is a beautiful forest. After paying a staggering £5 to park, we walked down and down and down through a valley until we reached a river, we followed this upstream as it tricked and babbled and cascaded through the valley. At the turning point for out walk we found ourselves on the very edge of the dark (and it really was dark) forest. This was used as the Haunted Forest and is where Jon Snow discovered the dire wolves. We ourselves had quite a ghostly experience in this forest, as we were walking through we both heard the sound of a woman singing. We looked all around us and there wasn’t a soul in sight. Very eerie indeed.
The Kingsroad aka The Dark Hedges
Our final stop on our Game of Thrones tour was certainly a memorable one. We stopped at The Dark Hedges which is where Arya Stark stows away as a boy after running away from Kings Landing. The road is unique in that it is lined by beech trees that have over the years created this magnificent canopy and tunnel down the road. Local legend states that the trees are haunted by The Grey Lady who can be seen darting between the trees, we didn’t see her, though! Too many tourists in the way!
So that was my tour of Westeros in Northern Ireland! It was a beautiful and amazing trip, the coastline is breathtaking and everywhere you go you are reminded of little snippets of one of the world’s biggest television programs. It is remarkable to think that these previously unknown little fishing villages have been put on the map in such an amazing way. If anyone is ever heading over to our little country, I highly recommend catching a flight to Northern Ireland while you are here!