Game of Thrones Tour – Belfast Winterfell Location Tour

Day 50 20.05.2018 Sunday


On Sunday Giang and I had to get up quite early (7 a.m.) to catch the bus for the Game of Thrones Tour at 8.30. The tour was supposed to end around 18.00 o’clock.

When booking a GoT tour, you can choose between different tours. We picked the “Belfast Winterfell Location Tour”. For the Tour you have to pay 45 pound as a student and 50 pound as an regular adult.

With this tour you will visit the “Castle Ward Estate” (Winterfell) where you must
walk 3 km, “Inch Abbey” (The King in the North!!) and “Tollymore Forest” (where
Game of Thrones started) where you must walk 3 km.

The decided to pick this tour because we already saw some of other the GoT locations at the Allen’s Tour.  For Example: The Dark Hedges, Carnlough Habour, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope
Bridge, Giant’s Causeway, Ballintoy Harbour and we saw other locations passing by
on the road (Londonderry, Castle Black).

Many people recommended the winterfell tour and told me that it is the best of the 3 available tours.

Back to the start of the day.
Unfortunately the GPS of our mobile phones weren’t working so we lost our orientation. Therefore it took us a lot of time to get to the bus, where Robert was already waiting for us. Fortunately, the bus driver waited for us. Getting to the bus was very hectic while looking for the  location of the bus.

At the bus we had a guide who took care of us the whole time. There was a monitor above the drivers seat and the Guide also had a tablet with a loudspeaker as well as some slides of game of thrones scenes.
I have to confess tha I did not watch Game of Thrones before. So taking part in the tour I  just hoped for the best. I know that this tour will spoiler a lot. But since I’ve already seen the Game of Thrones Tapestry at the Ulster Museum, which tells the full story (main events), I guessed it didn’t matter anymore.

This way I’ve had the opportunity to visit the locations first and then watch GoT later, recalling my impressions. Usually it would be the other way around, so this was a new experience for me. Therefore I might enjoy watching GoT a lot more because I already knew how it felt stand at the same spots as the actors, thinking about how they felt playing their parts.

One thing I can tell you beforehand is that every guide/associate of the tour (except the bus driver) we’ve met was a background actor or trainer at GoT. For Example: our Guide trained one of the archers to hit an apple for one hour. This was recorded. Then the shot was used to kill a
giant during one of the first episodes.

The First Location we passed by was the studio where HBO did most of the green screening. It’s right behind the Titanic Museum. The guide also explainef that they storer most of the utensils in there.

On the our way to the ferry the guide told us his story anf things he had to do while working at the set of game of thrones. He began working for game of thrones at season 1 and season 2 (so he was able to follow the story from the very beginning).

We toook the ferry from Portaferry to Strangford.

The First stop was at the Castle Ward Estate (Winterfell). There are nine game of Thrones film location near to Winterfell (Robb’s Camp next to the Audley castle where King Robert Baratheon and his retinue arrived at in season 1). At each location he stopped and showed us some slides of game of throne scenes so we could compare them.
You might have noticed that Winterfell looked a little bit different as the series
progressed. The reason for that is that the Castle Ward Estate was not used as
the film location anymore because they had not enough room for their equipment.

So they used another castle which looked quite similar.

On the way to Inch Abbey we watched a making off, where they explained some more details. Afterwards we had our lunch at the port of Strangford.
Fortunately, we met 2 of the Northern Inuit dogs which played the dire wolves which were adopted by the Stark children during the very first episode.

The dogs are not listed in the tour description because they are not always available. The person who takes care of the dogs was also part of the series several times. They showed us some picture of them in the series and told us the story about how HBO found Odin and Thor (the real names of the dogs).
At Inch Abbey (where Catelyn and Robb heared terrible news from King’s Landing, and
Robb’s bannermen pledged fealty to him as the ‘King in the North’) you can dress up to
take some photos. You can choose out of plenty Northern cloaks and Stark shields as well as
helms, swords and even banners. At this location you will only stay for 1h so make sure
to take many pictures.

I think that this location was the reason why this tour is the best of the 3 available tours, because you got to take very beautiful pictures with game of thrones utensils from the stark house — ich glaube das hast du bei jeder tour—-.

On the way to Tollymore Forest we saw another making off where actors shared their experiences.
In the afternoon we arrived at the Tollymore Forest where the first scene of game of
thrones was shot. You could say this was the location where game of thrones began
(where Wills finds the dismembered bodies in the snow).

Next to the bridge is the place where the Starks discovered a dead dire wolf and her pups.
The guide always told us you can’t work for game of thrones if you are to good
looking (don’t have a beard) because they can’t use you if you are looking conspicuous in
the series.
Overall I must say that the tour is still worth it, even if you didn’t watch game of thrones before,
because the locations wee very beautiful. This way I was able to see many sides
of Northern Ireland. Additionally you can make very beautiful photos with the costumes.
On the way we watched the first episode of the series. So even if you didn’t know anything about game of thrones, they will give you the chance to join their world.
It might sound crazy but I really enjoyed going outside and seing things which were not there.