A journey to Westeros Part 2: Winterfell and the North

Hello Internet!

7 Months after my trip to Northern Ireland, I finally got the time (and inspiration) to write about the 2nd part of my trip exploring Game Of Thrones Northern Ireland filming locations.

In the first part I mentioned that the main reason I flew there was to go visit these locations, being a big fan since I discovered the show 3 years ago. We stayed 4 days in Belfast, out of which 2 were spent in buses around Northern Ireland looking for Winterfell and the Iron Islands.

The first day of our journey to Westeros was “Stark/Winterfell” themed. We started by taking a ferry across the “Narrow Sea” (which by the way takes 10 minutes, you start then thinking how easy it could’ve been to wrap up the show in Season 1). Then the moment I’ve been waiting for since I decided to visit the country arrived: Winterfell! Well, its real name is Castle Ward Estate, it’s a big property with 9 GoT locations including Winterfell, Robb’s camp in the Riverlands, and other famous scenes with Brienne, Tyrion and Bronn . I was so excited to see this epic castle for the first time, it was so impressive at first, then quickly after you see the cars parked around it ruining the landscape, which is a bit underwhelming.

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Welcome to Winterfell!

After taking a whole lot of pictures posing in front of the castle, looking at it, behind the entrance…etc, It was time for a trek to the other locations. During 3 Km, we discovered the beauty of Northern Ireland countryside, the kind of beauty coming out of a windows wallpaper. At every stop, our guide (who by the way is a regular extra on the show), showed us clips or pictures of the scene that was shot in that specific location, which I didn’t mind at all.

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Robb’s camp

Once our trek was over, we went for lunch in a local restaurant/Pub in the Port of Strangford, where another surprise was waiting for us: The real direwolves form Game Of Thrones, and for me it was one of the highlights of the day! We met two of them with their owners and they were incredibly beautiful! The owners and their father were all extras on the show (at some point on the trip we realized that probably half of Northern Ireland acted in “Game Of Thrones”), they told us stories about the actors and the set, for a fan it’s quite impressive to hear these stories from people who were around during the filming of the show.

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GoT direwolves

The next stop was my favorite one, Inch Abbey where Robb was proclaimed as “King In the North” and where he and Catelyn Stark heard about the terrible news from King’s Landing. It was the highlight of the day because we got to dress up as Northern people and carry Stark banners and swords. I totally loved that! What made it even better is the fact that it started raining at the exact moment we left the bus wearing our cloaks,which made the North experience even more real (and by that I mean the rain and mud).

It was quite the show for some people passing by, watching a bunch of adults playing dress up, fighting with swords and taking pictures with banners. But who cares right?

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King in the North!

Our last stop was another trek, “Tollymore Forrest”. It’s an amazing Forrest Park, so beautiful that you get confused which angle you want to take a picture of. Inside this forest many scenes were filmed including the first scene of the very first episode (The discovered dismembered Wildling bodies) and the Bridge where the Starks found the dead direwolf and its puppies in the same episode . Tollymore Forest stop wasn’t only about Game Of Thrones, some of the landscapes looked like they came right out of ” Lord of the rings” trilogy; small bridges and cute houses with leaves all around them. In this forest I witnessed the best landscapes I have ever seen, and you know my obsession with scenic views.

BeFunky Collage
Tollymore Forrest

Finally, we concluded this beautiful day with an episode of “Game Of Thrones” on our way back to Belfast.

What I loved the most about this tour (apart from the incredibly beautiful scenery) is the fact that the guide knew what he was talking about when it comes to the show, telling us stories about the making off and showing us pictures matching the actual locations. It was beautiful to see how passionate these people are about the show, the pride they feel as the whole world came to know about the beauty of their country because of GoT.

The 2nd day of my journey to Westeros was all about Melissandre and the Greyjoys, but you will know all about it in my next post!

Cheers to the places we are yet to see!

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