You don’t just get a quality room for a great price when you move into Queen’s Accommodation – you get to go on a range of fantastic trips, including to the Game of Thrones filming locations, says Clare Rhine, MBA.
When staying in accommodation at Queen’s, take advantage of as many of the weekends trips as you can! They plan everything for you so all you must do is show up and join in the fun! I have done a tour similar to this one privately and it cost three times as much so make sure you take advantage of these amazing opportunities!
Saturday morning started off cold but sunny with a lot of wind, but it was a beautiful day to tour Northern Ireland and the unparalleled beauty that led it to become the filming site of the hit HBO tv show, Game of Thrones. Fair warning, there may be some spoilers as we got to learn about the different game changing moments that were filmed in many of these locations. So, if you haven’t seen it and want to, stop reading here! But, if you haven’t seen it and don’t care to, there is plenty of beauty and history at these sights pre-Game of Thrones.
Our first stop was only 15 minutes outside of Belfast to take some quick photos with the Carrickfergus Castle. A Norman castle that has been taken over by the Scots, Irish, English and even the French throughout its 800-year existence. It stands as a bastion of history, currently under construction and refurbishment though so we were only able to see the outside. It is a beautiful view of the bay leading into Belfast and well worth the wind coming off the sea!
Second stop was also a quick jaunt to the water to take pictures in Carnlough Village, filming sight of Arya Stark’s stabbing, dramatic fall into the water and subsequent climb up the steps of Braavos in Season 6, Episode 7. The Carnlough Village served as the filming sight for much of Braavos throughout the Season but we stopped right by the steps and took a bit of a jaunt along the water before grabbing some snacks and heading back to the bus for our third destination.
Cushendun Caves or ‘Melisandre’s Cave’, served as the infamous birthplace of the Shadow creature in Season 2, Episode 4. The caves themselves have their own intriguing history, as told to us by the tour guide including being the sight of the murder of Shane O’Neill, a chief of the O’Neill dynasty who was killed by the MacDonnells in the 1500’s. Now if you are to believe the tour guide, and I do after some research, George R. R. Martin must have studied a great deal of Irish history as the number of parallels between the two are not mere coincidence. The caves themselves are beautiful and lead to a small outcropping of stones that make for an ideal picture spot for those willing to risk the uneven rocky ‘beach’.
Following our jaunt down to the caves we returned to the bus for the remaining drive to see the 8th Wonder of the World, the Giant’s Causeway. Of course, this was not used as a filming location during Game of Thrones due to its historical landmark status as a part of the National Trust and designation as a World Heritage Site. Made up of over 40,000 large polygonal columns of basalt along the coastline, The Giant’s Causeway is an incredibly beautiful place and well worth the price of admission, which is free! Although I would highly recommend spending the money to at least get the audio tour or if you are lucky enough to find a local guide to tell you the site’s history and legends. As I have been to the Causeway several times, I believe the telling of the story of Finn McCool depends on who is telling you the legend. We opted to walk along the top of the cliffs instead of going down onto the Causeway, as we had not had the opportunity the last time we had visited and were treated to incredible views (while battling the strong winds threatening to push us over the edge). If you have time while visiting, I highly recommend stopping by The Nook for a drink or a bite to eat.
After warming up at The Nook we jumped back on the bus for our final stop of the tour! The Dark Hedges, also known now as The King’s Road. These beautiful trees have stood for hundreds of years, first planted by the Stuart family, meant to impress visitors coming to their mansion. Tragically, due to a large storm one of these mammoth trees fell around the time of Season 6 and it was decided to use the wood from the tree to be carved into 10 beautiful and individual doors, each one telling the story of an episode from Season 6. These doors now hang in 10 different pubs across Northern Ireland, making them one of the most beautiful pub crawls I have ever seen (although if you are doing a crawl please make sure to have a Designated Driver!).
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