Bucket List Check #4 - Game of Thrones Winterfell Castle Bike Tour
So, Mike and I started binge watching Game of Thrones last year, catching up with the rest of civilization. At first, I wanted nothing to do with watching this series due to its tremendously negative vibe, and overall gore, which demonstrated a ceaseless number of ways to die. However, the story line was interesting... so Mike and I stuck with it, watching until the series finale this year.
So, when I booked our trip to Ireland, I discovered an amazing tour where they filmed Winterfell Castle, (which was the homestead for the Stark family, the main protagonists in the Game of Thrones storyline.) Driving up from Dublin, it was about a two hour drive, which was convenient as we made our way north, up towards Belfast. We rented a car, and drove up in the morning to make our 10:30 am reservation for a bike tour. Sadly, when I booked this tour on their website, the Ax Throwing and Archery experiences were completely booked. (But I was booking this right as the GOT season finale was airing, so, timing was not on my side.)
The two hour drive up from Dublin was beautiful and green and lush. The roads are super narrow once you get into the countryside and I was glad we decided to purchase the insurance on the rental car (which came in handy when we returned the car after our trip, having had to file a claim!). The place was a little difficult to find, and not very well marked. We went down a narrow road and thought we found it, but had to walk about 1/2 mile from the parking lot to the actual castle location for our bike tour....passing some extremely loud cows. A nice detour!
On the actual tour, our guide explained which scenes were filmed where. One thing Mike and I learned, is that most of what you see in the show is computer generated.
The tour starts with a guide showing you images of what was in Game of Thrones vs. reality. *
In fact, Mike and I were wondering why they would even bother with a film location at all, given that most of the scenes were edited out or dramatically enhanced. For example, here is the main tower for Winterfell Castle, but the clock was edited out and computer generated buildings were added around it, making it look much larger. You can see the film producers made this effect by adding giant green screens on some of the structures.
Massive green screens were placed on the original structures.*
The barn area...which really leads up to the restrooms. *
* Photos courtesy of www.gameofthrones-winterfelltours.com
The tour provided us bikes, helmets, a backpack with our cloaks and swords, and an iPad marking certain stops along the way, and explaining which scenes were filmed where. The tour is about a mile or two loop and you bike at your own pace, which is nice.
We first came across a bog and large home near a beautiful lake. You can see "Winterfell Castle" in the background.
A smaller house close to the lake.
The tour wraps around a beautiful lake and bog area.
Mike, being more focused on our final destination of heading to Belfast, rather than enjoying the journey, sped through many of the locations so I didn't have a chance to stop and take out the iPad to see what was filmed where. But the scenery was beautiful and the day was perfect for a nice bike ride. Overall, we were done within 1 1/2 hours, from start to finish.
Our bike path was mostly gravel.
Castle looking structures all around. I'm sure this location was a scene, but couldn't tell you which one. Thanks, Mike!
The best part was when we returned, and put on our cloaks and donned our swords for a fun picture in front of Winterfell tower.
Mike and I, as King and Queen of the North
Overall, if you are in the area, (heading between Dublin and Belfast) and are into Game of Thrones, I would recommend stopping and checking out the experience. Had I to do it over again, I would have liked to experience the ax throwing or archery.