If you’re one of the NINE MILLION Game of Thrones fans out there you might be interested in the new Game of Thrones Tour available at Ballygally Castle. Not content with housing Door of Thrones No. 9 from the Battle of the Bastards and hosting an awesome Game of Thrones themed Afternoon Tea, they have teamed up with Leisure Tours NI to bring fans a fantastic Game of Thrones filled 24 hours.
We ventured up the Antrim Coast for the first tour date ready to get our Game of Thrones geek on. We arrived a little early so took the time to admire the Door of Thrones No. 9 and the beautiful walled gardens surrounding the Castle.
Once it hit midday we ventured in to enjoy the first part of the experience – a Game of Thrones themed Afternoon Tea. It’s worth noting that all Hastings Hotels pride themselves on serving local produce so everything was exceptionally fresh and tasty.
Don’t judge – I hadn’t had breakfast and was hungry!!!
We were greeted by our tour guide Adrian who bore a striking resemblance to Ser Davos (and indeed was in fact a stand in for him as well as a cast extra). His knowledge of Game of Thrones and the Northern Irish countryside was extensive and he filled our drives with tales from the set and interesting titbits.
Carnlough Harbour was our first stop on the Game of Thrones filming locations tour. Made famous by scenes in Season 6 where Ayra Stark is attacked by the Waif in Bravos, Ayra jumps into a canal once stabbed, feigning death, she then surfaces and pulls herself out of the water. Ayra jumps into the water in Girona, Spain and comes out in Carnlough, County Antrim!
Our next stop was the Cushendun Caves where Melisandre gave birth to the shadow assassin that killed Renly in season 2. A lovely little harbour village, the caves are 400 million years old and provide views out to the sea. We then took a very short dander on over to Mary Mc Brides, home to Door of Thrones No. 8. It was once the smallest pub in Ireland but has now been extended and I can safely say it does a fine pint of Guinness. The first door with any script on it, Door of Thrones No. 8 sports the infamous Game of Thrones line ‘Valar Morghulis’ or ‘All men must die’ in High Valyrian.
Our next stop was to the village of Ballintoy and a visit to the Fullerton Arms, home of Doors of Thrones No. 6, Depicting Daenerys’ largest dragon Drogon and the Dothraki horses which is coincidentally my favourite door. We then took the road to Ballintoy Harbour, noted for the scene where Theon Greyjoy returns to the Iron Islands and meets his sister. Ballintoy is a beautiful area and well worth spending a bit of time at.
The Dark Hedges
Our final stops were at the magnificent Dark Hedges, known as Kings Road in Game of Thrones and the most visited filming location in Northern Ireland. Increasingly more difficult to get a snap without a person, car or even bus in your shot, the road may soon be closed off to vehicles. The Hedges are around 250 years old and were planted to create a sweeping ‘drive way’ to Gracehill House, where you will find Door of Thrones No. 7 featuring the three-eyed raven.
This was our last stop on the tour and from here we were whisked back to Ballygally Castle where we checked in to our beautiful room overlooking the crashing waves of the Antrim Coast. Later we were treated to an exquisite banquet in the private ‘1625’ room just below the haunted room in the Castle Tower.
As a Game of Thrones fan, the tour was a total treat and the tour guide’s knowledge was the icing on the cake. You will see some of the most beautiful areas of Northern Ireland and hear great behind the scenes stories and it’s just good fun! As someone who’s done their own tour of the filming locations (shameless plug / blog post here), it was great to be amongst fellow GoT fans and hear their theories.
The Tour is available one Friday in every month and prices start at £140 per person sharing to include the afternoon tea, tour, dinner, overnight stay and breakfast the following morning. Book here.
If you’d like a guide to all the Doors of Thrones, wouldn’t you know I just so happen to have made one (complete with map) and you can find it here.