Antrim Coast Tour

I went on an eleven-hour bus tour of the Antrim coastline organized around sites where Game of Thrones was filmed. I didn’t have many other options besides a GoT tour, but I like the show, and (correctly) guessed that I’d get to see a lot of little out of the way places that a tour focused on major sites wouldn’t hit.

Here’s the tour I took. It was packed, 49 people on that tour. There were no costumes, thankfully. But the tour guide brought us to some places that weren’t even listed. So I’ll do my best to pair the pictures with scenes from the show.

First up was Carnlough, the steps where Arya is stabbed and crawls out of the water (here’s the scene, and you can see the steps at 1:45). The limestone pier at Carnlough is also used as the pier for Braavos, I think. Left is a picture of this weird goat statue at Carnlough that I liked.

Next was Cushenden, this tiny village in one of the Antrim glens that has caves used in a bunch of GoT scenes, especially Melisandre giving birth to the shadow assassin, and the back door to King’s Landing, where Euron Greyjoy dies. (Here’s the scene where Euron and Jamie Lannister fight.)

Next, we drove over to the Dark Hedges, this 18th century avenue of beech trees planted to be an impressive driveway up to this rich family’s manor. The avenue was used in GoT as the King’s Road, where a lot of scenes take place when characters leave King’s Landing, including Arya, when she runs away to escape Joffrey and Cersei. Left is the start of the road.

After the Dark Hedges, we drove up to the Giants Causeway, a coastal area of unique basalt columns that’s also a World Heritage site. It was AMAZING. Probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, or at least top 5. It was a 3/4 mi walk down this path to the shore, with the N Irish cliffs rising up around us. It was incredibly windy but didn’t rain, miraculously, and the sun came out often. The causeway itself was so strange and surreal, these deliberately-placed-looking columns smashed by the waves, and all this sediment-filled foam gathering on the lower columns. People could climb all over the columns. I walked out to the wishing chair, a section of taller columns, and looked at it for a good half hour without taking pictures or moving. It was so worth it. My brain short-circuited trying to even comprehend all of it.

Then we had an hour for lunch. I brought my own so I wouldn’t have to mess with ordering and whatnot. After, we drove out to Ballintoy Harbour, which is where I’d like to move immediately, thanks. It’s this village built into a steep slope down to the pier, and the coastline served as the landscape for the Iron Islands in Game of Thrones. The pier is where Theon first arrives and gets off the ship (here’s a clip of that scene). The beach is where Theon is re-baptized in the name of the Drowned God (a clip of that scene here, starting at 0:45).

Right is a picture of a church at the top of the cliffs.

Finally, we drove to Larrybane and saw Larrybane Quarry, where Renly’s camp is set up in GoT and we first meet Brienne, fighting to be a member of Renly’s guard. Left is a picture of the quarry site. The road continues down all the way to the ocean and there are some abandoned stone buildings nearby. I love how seeing these places puts so many GoT scenes into context but as our tour guide said, it also sort of spoils things a little because you can’t watch a scene without thinking of the stuff around it that the camera doesn’t show. Like at the steps in Carnlough where Arya climbs out of the water, there’s a little grocery store just across the road.

One thing we didn’t get to do was cross Carrick-a-rede, the rope bridge to a small island that’s used in another GoT scene of the Iron Islands. The islands in the distance, Sheep Island and Rathlin, are in so many backgrounds of GoT scenes, not just in the Iron Islands but anytime anyone is on a shore, it was probably shot at this location.

As a bonus, the bus swung by where the rest of GoT was filmed (Titanic Studios) in Belfast, and I got a shot of the huge green screen they needed for the dragons in the final season, as well as the replica gates of King’s Landing. Apparently they filmed most of King’s Landing in Croatia but because they wanted to damage the buildings, for the final season, they built an entire fake replica city here in Belfast.

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