Northern Ireland Coast Road Tour 2013
In September 2013, I took a tour of Game of Thrones filming locations in Northern Ireland. We booked a specalist GOT tour through a local tour provider who promised a dedicated Game of Thrones tour with an expert guide. My high hopes for the tour however disapated when I got on the coach and the driver told us ' Sorry I dont watch the show'. At this point, I decided to make the most of the experience, after all, I had done the research myself and knew enough about the individual locations on the tour to be able to find the locations at each stop on my own.
The first stop for our minibus was Cushenden Caves, which on the show represents the Cave where Melisandre gave birth to the shadow baby.These caves are a sight to behold, even without the Game of thrones influence.
Next we visited Carrick a Rede Rope bridge, this had not been used on the show at that point, but the moment I saw it I knew which scene it would represent from the books. Without wanting to spoil this, the rumours are that the relevant scene has already been filmed on Carrick Rope bridge in September 2015 in advance of season 6.
Following this, we visited Ballintoy, the harbour there represents Pyke in Season 2, where Theon Greyjoy returns home with an offer for his father on behalf of Robb Stark. This was probably my favourite location of the day, as it was so idilic and peaceful compared to the hustle and bustle of belfast and other areas.
Next we visited the Dark Hedges, a long road, formerly of a country estate, which represented the Kings Road in Game of Thrones. Here, Arya and other night's watch recruits travelled on their way towards the wall. This is a naturally stunning location.
This tour was a good introduction to Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland, it was the first time I had seen any locations from the show up close, but at the same time, I expected more from the tour and the tour guide. Even, so I returned a year later, ran a tour for my friends, and returned to many of the same locations again, with a fantastic tour guide ( Derek at McCombs).
As much as I have enjoyed visiting Dubrovnik and Seville, there is something about the natural side of Northern Ireland that makes it ideal for Game of Thrones. There are no props required, Cushenden Caves, for example, certainly doesnt require any editing to include it in the show, it's just a naturally occuring phenomen dating back thousands of years. They say in the Game of Thrones, 'you either win or you die', and with Northern Ireland, the producers and location scouts certainly won.