There are a number of reasons that we chose Northern Ireland for our half term break this year, but one of the main ones was to find as many of HBO’s Game of Thrones® filming sites as possible.
With a young family in tow, we decided against doing a structured tour to allow us to explore at our own pace, instead downloading the Discover Ireland Game of Thrones app, available on GooglePlay and Appstore which gives you location names and directions to help you find them.
The first location on our list was Castle Ward, a National Trust property, whose historic farmyard is the location of Winterfell, the backdrop for the series pilot and much of season one.
Whether you are Game of Thrones fans or not, Castle Ward is a beautiful place to visit and I highly recommend that you take the Shore Trail, where if you are lucky, you may even spot some seals.
There are two car parks to choose from, an upper car park which is close to the house, or a lower car park which is closest to the farmyard setting.
Although the set has now gone, there is a large photo book in the courtyard showing how they set up and filmed some of the scenes, plus a huge replica Winterfell Archery Range, where you can dress up and try your hand at the sport, just like Jon Snow, Robb and Bran Stark. Please note you need to book this in advance with gameofthrones-winterfelltours.com
There was also the opportunity to meet Lord Stark and his beautiful Dire Wolf – Kai.
The kids were also keen to explore the tower, before we headed off around the lake for a walk and to find more filming locations.
We were given a map to follow which marks out some of the filming locations, which include Robb Stark’s Camp, the Baelor battle and when Brienne confronts the Stark men.
Many of the actual spots are marked out with signs and photographs, so you know what scenes were set in which location.
The kids were happy to just to run around playing, whilst we found the tree where Robb Stark and Talisa got secretly married.
Also on the trail is Audley’s Castle. which was also used as a filming location for several important scenes in Game of Thrones, as well as the new Dracula Untold movie.
We then circled back along the trail to treat the kids to a warming hot chocolate, stumbling across a stable block complete with Hobby horses to race along the way.
There are also two adventure parks for the kids to enjoy on site with swings, slides, climbing frames and zip lines to try.
For those after a more historical day out, the house at Castle Ward is famed for being most unusual and all because of a marital disagreement.
One half is built in the classical Palladian style, with the other half which faces out across Strangford lough is built in the more elaborate Gothic style.
Entry to Castle Ward costs from £23.80 for a family, but National Trust members are free. Our NT passes have been invaluable this week as most of the attractions we have visited are all part of the National Trust. Annual membership costs £120 for a family (or £10 per month by direct debit) and if you use TopCashback when you purchase you earn £8.40 back.