Mourne Mountains to Belfast city: 130km/81 miles (2 hours 42 minutes at 50km/h)
Tollymore Forest Park to Inch Abbey
Your quest begins at the foothills of the western Mourne Mountains, at Leitrum Lodge in County Down. This green little slice of heaven sets the scene for Sansa and Littlefinger’s journey towards the Eyrie, while Brienne and Pod watch from a distance.
After that, take a trip into
Tollymore Forest Park in County Down. Just a beautiful park? Far from it. How could we forget the scene with the three Night’s Watch men riding into the Haunted Forest and falling foul of a dreaded White Walker?
The same forbidding setting also witnessed Theon’s failed escape attempt, and subsequent capture, by the vile Ramsay Snow, not to mention Bran Stark’s eventual meeting with the mysterious three-eyed raven that plagued his dreams. Of course, like all things in Game of Thrones, this bird is not what he seems.
With plenty of rich woodland, hidden caves and gothic-style bridges and gates, Tollymore is an appropriately dramatic start to your Westeros adventure. But the fantastical fun doesn’t stop – next is 800-year old Inch Abbey, to the north east, the location of some of the show's most compelling moments.
Inch Abbey to Castle Ward, County Down
It was here that Catelyn Stark heard of Ned’s death, where Jamie was captured and Robb crowned king.
The Quoile River was used to depict the Riverlands area – home of the Tullys – and the Red Fork. It’s also the Old Valyria Canal in Essos, where Jorah and Tyrian set sail to Meereen, after Jorah steals a boat and takes Tyrion captive. In the same neck of the woods, Arya and the Hound’s uneasy relationship kept us spellbound as they navigated the rugged landscape to reach the Red Fork. Of course, the 12th century ruins of Inch Abbey make for a fascinating visit despite all the fantastical bloodshed.
Tollymore Forest Park, County Down
Tollymore Forest Park, County Down
Inch Abbey, County Down
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 scene when Robert Baratheon and his court arrive in Winterfell. It’s also where Robb Stark’s army was forced to make camp enroute to The Twins. An epic spot? We wouldn’t lie....
With both classical and gothic architecture inside and out,
Castle Ward makes for a perfect afternoon’s adventuring. How about taking aim with live arrows on the Castle grounds? You may not have been a marksman at the tender age 10 like Ned Stark, but now is your chance to loose arrows with the ferocity of a Wildling attacking the Wall (well, maybe not THAT hard).
Archery at Castle Ward
And if that’s not enough fantasy adventure, Castle Ward is also home to
Odin and Thor. Who are they, you ask? Well, only the Direwolf puppies the Stark family discovered in series one. A meeting with these beautiful animals – they're not actually wolves but Northern Inuit dogs – is a dream come true for any self-respecting Game of Thrones fan.
Did we mention the gorgeous beaches in Northern Ireland? They’re enough to rival any fantasy waterside setting. Take Quintin Bay, which appeared as the beach near Castle Stokeworth in the Crownlands, where Jaime Lannister goes to find Bronn.
As dusk descends, perhaps it’s time to end your tour of Winterfell with a surprisingly peaceful walk along the shore of the
lough before making your way back to Belfast.
Step into the moody darkness of Beric Dondarrion’s hideout at Fermanagh’s Marble Arch Geopark. In contrast to the dim interior of cave, indulge your senses outside by gazing up towards the cascading waterfall above...
Game of Thrones Boat Tour with Winterfell Tours
Take to the waters of Strangford Lough to discover some of Westeros’ most impressive castles, including Winterfell, the Twins and the Dreadfort. On a Game of Thrones boat tour, you’ll see things from a whole new angle.