Northern Ireland – 72 hours on the trail of the Game of Thrones

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Northern Ireland – 72 hours on the trail of the Game of Thrones

Setting off from Dublin, take to the wild roads of Northern Ireland. Amid haunted forests, fortified castles and medieval ruins, you are transported for three days to scenic backdrops from the series Game of Thrones.

Northern Ireland – 72 hours on the trail of the Game of Thrones

Day 1: A mysterious walk in the forest

You have only just landed in Dublin and already its wide, open spaces are calling you to take to the road. Your first stop is Tollymore Forest, over the border in Northern Ireland. You have arrived at one of the most intriguing film locations from Game of Thrones. This enchanted wood reminds you of the troubling Haunted Forest, lying north of The Wall. A three-kilometre signposted trail crosses moss-covered bridges, bewitching waterfalls and lush green glades. In places, the thick woodland wraps you in its spell. It is not hard to imagine a White Walker coming out of the vegetation.

After this thrilling introduction, head to the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa for a peaceful evening in the small neighbouring town of Newcastle. At The Oak restaurant in the hotel, you can enjoy local organic salmon which the chef manages to make tender yet crisp. In the evening, sit and watch the wild, wind-battered coast from the hotel's large bay windows, cocooned in its tranquil atmosphere. It is a scene straight out of a fantasy epic.

Tollymore Forest
Bryansford Rd
Newcastle
BT33 0PR
Northern Ireland
+44 28 4372 2428

Slieve Donard Resort and Spa
Downs Rd
Newcastle
BT33 0AH
Northern Ireland
+44 28 4372 1066
www.hastingshotels.com/slieve-donard-resort-and-spa/

All series of Game of Thrones are available to watch again on OCS Go.

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Northern Ireland – 72 hours on the trail of the Game of Thrones

Day 2: “Winterfell is coming”

For your second day in the imaginary kingdom of Westeros, a new cult film location awaits. About 30 kilometres north of Newcastle, excitement mounts as you approach the mythical castle of Winterfell. Its real name is Castle Ward, an imposing 18th-century stately home. In the courtyard, you get the chance to dress up in authentic warm Stark Family costumes and discover the place just as it was in Game of Thrones. Further on, an instructor is on hand to introduce you to the art of archery within the grounds' stone walls.

Continue your journey into George R.R. Martin's world at Audley's Castle. Only open in spring and summer, this big square tower built in the 15th century served as the backdrop for Robb Stark's army camp in Season 2 of the series.

After this foray into pop culture, hunger strikes and it is time to eat. Dine at The Cuan, a sophisticated local hotel-restaurant which has devised a menu especially for fans of the Iron Throne. All the dishes are inspired by passages from the books. On your plate, a description of “the Great Hall of Winterfell hazy with smoke and heavy with roasted meat and fresh-baked bread” becomes ‘Crusty fresh-baked Winterfell bread with medieval pease porridge'. When night comes, a cosy room at The Cuan wraps you in its four-star luxury as you fall asleep into epic dreams.

Castle Ward
Strangford
Downpatrick
BT30 7BA
Northern Ireland
+44 28 4488 1204
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/castle-ward

Audley's Castle
Audleystown Rd
Portloughan
Downpatrick
BT30 7LP
Northern Ireland
+44 28 4488 1222

The Cuan
The Square
Strangford
Downpatrick
BT30 7ND
Northern Ireland
+44 28 4488 1222
www.thecuan.com/

 

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Northern Ireland – 72 hours on the trail of the Game of Thrones

Day 3: The fabulous Irish coast

Heading to the north of the island, you come to Ballintoy Harbour. The panorama that greets you is enough to take your breath away. Rocks carved out by the waves, surreal pebble beaches and cliff-top paths… it all looks like something from a fantasy universe. You can just imagine the troubled Theon Greyjoy arriving back at the Iron Islands where he was born. A short walk along the coast unveils the glories of this fascinating region.

Your journey then takes you to the Stormlands, real name Larrybane Quarry. With its looming white chalk walls, this former quarry runs along the deserted coastline. The sound of the wind is the only thing you will hear there. At the end of the path, perched on a rock, The Weighbridge Tearoom welcomes visitors for a reinvigorating drink. Steaming hot chocolate, tea and coffee provide a comforting break for walkers who have come to admire the Northern Irish coast.

And now to the last stage, Downhill Beach. The green meadows in this area seem to throw themselves straight into the turbulent sea. Perched high on the cliff edge, Mussenden Temple, a circular, stone domed building, watches over the beach below. This is an apt setting for the imaginary kingdom of Dragonstone. Your nostrils twitch with the smell of sulphur, swirling around the witch Melisandre, as you stroll along this surreal beach. Tomorrow, as you make your way back to Dublin, your mind will re-play the film of your visit to the heart of fantasy Ireland.

Ballintoy Harbour
Ballintoy
Northern Ireland

Larrybane Quarry
Ballycastle
BT54 6LS
Northern Ireland

The Weighbridge Tearoom
Ballycastle
BT54 6LS
Northern Ireland

Downhill Beach
Northern Ireland