Tollymore Forest Park to Belfast City 39.6 miles (63.8km)/79 minutes at 30mph
Tollymore Forest Park to Inch Abbey
Your quest begins in Tollymore Forest Park in County Down. Just a beautiful park? No, not just. It was here where the first scene from Game of Thrones episode one, season one was filmed. Three Night’s Watch men ride into The Haunted Forest, aka Tollymore, and before long they fall foul of a dreaded White Walker.
Tollymore Forest was also the setting for Theon’s failed escape attempt. He crashes through the woods only to be captured by the twisted Ramsay Snow in season three. With plenty of rich woodland, bridges, caves and gothic-style gates, Tollymore is an appropriately dramatic start to your Westeros adventure. But the fantastical fun doesn’t stop – next is Inch Abbey just further north and west. The 800-year-old abbey and its surrounds pop up in the show as often as Hodor says “Hodor”… and that’s a lot.
Inch Abbey to Castle Ward, County Down
It was here that Catelyn Stark crossed over a bridge to The Twins to negotiate a treaty with the cowardly Freys. The Quoile River was used to depict the Riverlands area – home of the Tullys – and the Red Fork. Inch Abbey’s surrounds, too, were used to shoot Hoster Tully’s funeral.
In the same neck-of-the-woods, Arya and The Hound ride horseback towards the Red Fork. Of course, the 12th century ruins of Inch Abbey make for a fascinating visit despite all the fantastical bloodshed.
Next, we creep west and to the shores of Strangford Lough. Castle Ward in County Down was used to depict the home of House Stark: Winterfell. This 18th century National Trust property was transformed for the memorable scene in series one when Robert Baratheon and his court arrive in Winterfell.
With both classical and gothic architecture inside and out, Castle Ward makes for a perfect afternoon’s adventuring. If you haven’t had enough fantasy for the day, pop into the farmyard or walk along the shore of the lough before making your way back to Belfast.
Down offers an alternative literary inspiration – the Mourne Mountains were the inspiration for C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. Step into a different fantasy world as you scale the peaks and explore the grottos and Celtic myths hidden in the folds.
Castle Ward, County Down to Titanic Studios, Belfast
As well as Titanic Belfast, this city is also home to Titanic Studios. Many of the memorable Game of Thrones' interior scenes were shot here. The Throne Room in King’s Landing (home of the Iron Throne), the Sept of Baelor and the interiors of Riverrun and The Twins...
Unfortunately, the studios are not open to the public, but the amazing Game of Thrones Exhibit will make a long-awaited return to Belfast in the near future.
And so the day is done. All that’s left to do is to find a good inn for the night and treat yourself to a hearty flagon of mead. Or local Antrim beer. Your choice.