Cape-walking in Winterfell- Game of Thrones
There's incest in every episode!It's not [just] the nudity that's keeping the viewers hooked. The aura of the characters is heart [and mind] wrenching. You want to connect with them - get to know each of their identities, their past, their moves and gulp it all down.And just when you think, you know it all, well, it's time to bid adieu! [Or maybe not just yet for Jon Snow! Fingers crossed!]
Is it the best show ever? Possibly. No TV series has kept me hooked this intensely, plotting every plausible move of every character, when in a corner of my mind I know it's all futile!And that is exactly what I believe intrigues me. Pushing my mind to the brims of imagination, and keeping my fingers crossed hoping to get the plot right!
It was just apt that I could not let go off the opportunity to savor the locations that Jon Snow, Daenerys, Ned or Arya Stark wandered at :)Don't get me wrong, of course I do like to explore undiscovered places and steer clear of attractions that consist of hordes of flocking tourists. [unless it's gems like the Alhambra] But if it does accommodate both, hell yeah! It's captivating series like Game of Thrones that bring to your mind that there is something beautiful yet undiscovered out there, and ignites an urge to explore in the most wary traveler.
I'm unsure if I have mentioned this before, but I like to do something unique that I've never done before in a new country. It could be an activity,trying out new foodstuff, etc.Archery, Glamping are some of the activities that appealed to me at Clearsky Adventure Centre at Castle Ward and the archery experience was right in the spot that Jon taught Bran archery in season 1!
Had to go!
The archery experience lasted about an hour wherein I failed miserably and was rewarded with a purple bruise and a beheading!
Castle Ward was the original location for Winterfell - Game of Thrones Season 1. And was partially used in seasons 2 and 3. Key scenes including Robb Stark’s Camp, the Baelor battle, Ned's picnic spot on the way to King's Landing, were shot here.
The stories that Ser William - our instructor & guide divulged were extraordinary. How it all started more than a year ago before the start of the show, how George R.R.Martin himself inspected the location to check if it matched his imagination....how it was all hush hush till the shooting wrapped up for season 1.William himself was part of the cast that welcomed King Robert to Winterfell as part of the Stark family!
You can easily recognize the tower from where Bran was pushed by Cersei, although parts seem amiss. It's here that William explains the massive part that Cg plays in fantasy/historical series & movies. It will leave you astounded of the extent a certain scene is just make-believe. It just does not exist at all!There were also amusing stories told of Ned Stark giggling under his breath, while shooting was underway, as King Robert tried to get off his horse. Of women running naked on the grounds while the shoot for Tyrion's brothel scene was underway.....And many other stories as well, but I can guarantee William narrates it better.
There's one thing you need to get straight : The Irish are heart-warming. They're jolly and they go out of their way to help out, if you're friendly. William was no different. We were scheduled for a drop off to town at 4 and since there was a huge duration in-between he accompanied us on a walk of the grounds, on Robb's trail which included the tree branch scene where Brienne discovered 3 hanging bodies while escorting Jamie Lannister and King Roberts procession route scene.
Game of thrones trivia aside, Castle Ward and Strangford Lough by itself are an area of immense natural beauty. Colorful mushrooms, ruins, wildlife and castles dot the property. We were even lucky to see a seal basking away in the sun.
Too soon it was back to Downpatrick to get the bus back to Belfast. Although continuing in the spirit of Game of Thrones, I had high hopes of bumping into Jon Snow/Tyrion/Daenerys in Belfast, as shooting was underway for Season 6.Did I? Unfortunately not. Although William did provide insider info on the best pubs to bump into the cast and crew.
I could go on and on about Game of Thrones: my obsession with it, the crazy extent that fans have gone to and unbelievable facts surrounding it. But I need to stop now, so you all can enjoy the pictures!
I paraded in my cape the whole day, swooshed a foam sword, and wore Bran's breastplate. Did I have a fantastic Diwali? I definitely was all smiles!
Are you excited to visit? Here's more to get you all eager:
- You can meet the dire-wolf pups[now dogs I assume] on the property
- There's authentic & unique Game of Thrones memorabilia, approved by George R.R. Martin himself, that you can get your hands on
- You can even check the original Hound's helmet and maybe even wear it [although it is super duper heavy]
- All of the capes and swords are original HBO property, which translates that they were actually used by cast in the series!
- You might get to see colonies of seal's
- Strangford is an adorable little town about a mile away and has highly recommended restaurants like The Cuan where Ned Stark sometimes lodges!
- There are many other locations on Tywin's trail, that are just as scenic
This post is part 1 of a two part series on Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland. Stay tuned for more!
PRACTICAL DETAILS : Winterfell Game of Thrones experience
- It's easy to get the bus from Belfast to Downpatrick. As on 7.1.2015 Translink provides the No.15 service which takes approx. 50 minutes and costs £12 per person for a return journey. You could use their website to plan and check convenient timings
- You would need to get in touch with Winterfell tours, to pre-book slots for archery & for glamping. Nuala is very friendly!
- Winterfell tours do provide a complimentary pick up and drop service. However do get in touch about the feasibility and timings
- It's free to walk on the grounds, however do ensure to leave before 4 if you are not escorted! National Trust close down most of the gates within the property at 4.
- You could opt for a cycling trail wherein you would be provided with the bicycles & a map.
Are you a Game of Thrones fan? Do you think it's the BEST show ever?