Titancon coach tour 2014- Sunday September 14th
Following on from a very successful private tour of the Northern Ireland coast road, two days later we attended Titancon's own annual coach tour, very much a highlight of the convention calendar.
Setting out on Coach two, our first stop was Castle Ward, otherwise known as Winterfell in seasons 1 and 2. Castle Ward is a large National Trust site with lochs, walking trails, woodlands and archery....Yes an added bonus visitors are given the opportunity to participate in archery on the spot where Bran and his brothers stand in the first episode of season one.
With our allocated hour slot for archery later in the day, we took to exploring the grounds, but not before purchasing a 'Night's watch' costume to wear for the day.
The main courtyard is the setting for some of the main scenes from the pilot episode, including Robert Baratheon's entrance to Winterfell, Bran Stark's falls from the tower, and in later episodes, Theon's beheading of Rodrick.
The Castle Ward estate has a number of other filming locations away from the main courtyard, including the Twins, home of Walder Frey. Having visited this location before, we decided to skip this and visit the home of one of my favourite scenes of Season one, where Ned and Robert have their picnic and discuss the imminent threat of Daenerys Targaryen, as well as reminising over their previous conquests.
Right next to this location is Baelor's Battlefield, where Tywin and his army camped and then fought Robb Stark's '2000' men.
Before leaving we got the opportunity to meet two former cast members, two of the original direwolf pups from the first season.
Overall, Castle Ward were a fantastic host, who try very hard to make their visitors feel part of the experience. They went above and beyond, in terms of merchandise, costume hire, transport around the site etc but also have a very knowledgeable crew who love the show. If you get the chance to attend Castle Ward , I would certainly recommend it but for any Game of Thrones fan, there is a lot to do, so please allocate a good amount of time!
After this, we visited Clandeboye Woods, home of a number of filming locations from the show including Craster's Keep. I was particularly looking forward to seeing this location, but alas, no one in the group could find the site where this was filmed. However we were fortunate enough to find the tree stump where Jamie Lannister loses his hand to Locke. Someone even brought along a bloody fake hand to allow us to faithfully re-create the moment
After this, we visited the Clandeboye Estate for a Medieval themed event featuring a juicy hogroast washed down with some ale.