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Game of Thrones In Northern Ireland

Posted on June 29, 2019 @ 11:56 AM in Walking

You’ve been hooked on the HBO Game of Thrones Series for years, but did you know we are lucky enough to have the majority of its fantastic filming locations right on our doorstep. In this blog we share with you our top must-see locations.

Tollymore Forest Park

Tollymore Forest Park- River Trail, Co. Down

The Forest appeared in the first season of the show as the lands around Winterfell when Ned Stark comes across the orphaned Direwolves- the symbol of House Stark- and finds there are as many pups as there are Stark children.

This 3.1 mile circular walk from the main car park follows the Azalea Walk downhill to the Shimna River. Here the trail turns up-stream along the attractive tree lined river bank past the Hermitage to cross the river at Parnell’s Bridge. There is an optional spur to the White Fort Cashel before following the Spinkwee River downstream, past the cascades and back to the Meeting of the Waters. The trail proceeds through conifer plantations, past the duck pond and crosses the Shimna River over the Old Bridge, returning to the car park via Green Rig.

Balintoy Harbour

Dunseverick Castle to Ballintoy Harbour, Co. Antrim

This smallf harbour Ballintoy features in season two of Game of Thrones. Here Theon Grey joy returns home to Lordsport Harbour.

Ballintoy can be found on section 5 of the Causeway Coast Way. This 7.8km is best explored at low tide to allow you to walk along White Park Bay beach. From Dunseverick Castle, continue east along the coastline. One of the highlights of this walk past the limestone cliffs, rock archways and golden sand of Whitepark Bay.

Portstewart Strand

Portstewart Strand - Sand Dune & Estuary Trail, Co. Derry~Londonderry

Portstewart Strand doubled as the coast of Dorne in season five of Game of Thrones when Jaime Lannister was tasked by his sister Cersei to bring her daughter Myrcella back to King’s Landing.

This beach is owned and managed by the National Trust. The beach has the European Blue Flag award for its water quality and beach/dune management. Car parking is restricted to certain sections of the beach. What is less known about Portstewart Strand, are the towering sand dunes (containing some of Ireland's tallest dunes) and declared as an Area of Special Scientific Interest, together with the adjoining Bann Estuary. From here the Rive Bann (N.Ireland's longest river) ends its journey, on entering the North Atlantic.

Binevenagh

Binevenagh, Co. Derry~Londonderry

Binevenagh appeared as the Dothraki Grasslands in season five when Daenerys Targaryen was rescued by her dragon, Drogon, while fleeing from the Sons of the Harpy in the fighting pits of Meereen.

From the Leighery Road pass through the gate into the forest and follow the path taking the first track to the left. Follow this trail uphill for 1.5km before turning right onto forest road towards the summit of Binevengagh. Pass the west side of the trout stocked artificial lake, then head NW towards the cliff edge. Panoramic views from the summit stretch for miles. One a good day the north coast is visible, as is Scotland. The surrounding slopes are home to a number of rare alpine plants and birds. Follow the path NW down to the forest, when you arrive at a track turn right and you will soon be back at the start.

Castle Ward

Castle Ward, Co. Down

A popular pilgrimage for many Game of Thrones fans Catle Ward appeared in Game of Thrones season one as the iconic Winterfell- home of the House Stark.

Overlooking Strangford Lough this woodland estate  Castle Ward has been home to the Ward family since the 16th century. The 18th century mansion house rests on a rolling hillside overlooking the Lough and surrounded by a beautiful 820-acre walled demesne with gardens and woodland. There are a number of walking trails to explore including the Shore Trail and Castle Trail.

Marble Arch Caves

Belmore Forest: Pollnagollum Cave Walk, Co. Fermanagh

The cave featured in season three of Game of Thrones as Beric Dondarrion's hideout in The Riverlands.

Pollnagollum Cave in Belmore Forest is part of the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark in Co. Fermanagh. The cave is fed by a waterfall and you can follow the Belmore Forest walk which leads to a viewing point for the cave. This 4.3 mile walk is located in the Boho-Belmore Mountain area, right in the heart of Fermanagh’s cave country. Beneath your feet lies an extensive maze of caves which attract cavers and potholers from far and wide to west Fermanagh. One of the most intriguing mammals found in the Belmore uplands is the Irish hare. Larger than rabbits, adult hares have black tips on their ears and their long back legs giving them a distinctive walk or ‘lope’. Depending on the time of day and year keep a watchful eye out for bats and birds around the cave entrance

Downhill Beach

Downhill Strand, Co. Derry~Londonderry

In Game of Thrones, Downhill Beach appeared in season two when Stannis Baratheon rejects the Seven Gods of Westeros and allows Melisandre to burn their effigies as an offering to the Lord of Light.

Located in the very north of Northern Ireland, the beach is part of a seven mile stretch of sand offering a wealth of activities including water sports and scenic walks. Above the beach is the prominent Mussenden Temple, one of the most photographed buildings in Northern Ireland.

Lough Neagh

Lough Neagh, Co. Armagh

Located in the centre of Northern Ireland, Lough Neagh was the location used to film the Summer Sea one of the major oceans of the known world south of both Westeros and Essos. Summer Islanders are a thriving civilization of sea-farers, whose merchant vessels can be found throughout the Summer Sea.

Did you know Lough Neagh is Northern Ireland's largest inland body of water.There are lots of walks to enjoy in the surrounding counties of Armagh, Tyrone, Derry~Londonderry and Antrim. However, we recommend exploring from Oxford Island a haven for wildlife and a great location to start exploring secluded bays and islands. This four mile walk offers those all important views of the 'Summer Sea'.

Sallagh Braes

Sallagh Braes, Co. Antrim

A popular stop off point for fans of the show, Sallagh Braes was used as the film location for the Riverlands, one of the consituent regions of the Seven Kingdoms and a frequent battleground for civil wars 

Sallagh Braes is a stunning 1.8 mile linear walk across exposed hillside, leading to and along the edge of the Sallagh Braes basalt cliffs. Views can be enjoyed across the cliffs to the valley below and the Irish sea in the distance. Interpretation can be found in Linford Car Park. This walk follows the yellow and blue waymarkers for the Ulster/Antrim Hills Way. The view over the curving cliffs make this a very memorable piece of walking. 

Fairhead Northern Ireland

Fairhead An Bealach Runda Walk, Co. Antrim

Dragonstone Cliffs is home to many pivotal scenes from the final seasons of Game of Thrones as Daenarys Targaryen plans her re-conquest of westeros. It is here that large amounts of dragonglass can be foundd, one of only two materials that can be used to kill White Walkers; ther than being Valyrian Steel. It is here Samwell Tarly makes a game-changing discovery: Dragonstone sits atop a mine of dragon glass.

Enjoy breath-taking views from the cliff edge of Fairhead on this ruggedly beautiful, wild and remote 3.1 mile walk. Expect stunning coastal views towards Ballycastle and Rathlin Island and look down on the picturesque Murlough Bay. You’ll also pass historic loughs and open green farmland on one of the many walk options which are guaranteed to invigorate the senses. The iconic cliffs of Fairhead tower above the famous Sea of Moyle where mythology states the Children of Lir, were put under an evil spell transforming them into swans to spend 900 years in exile from humanity.

If you explore any of these walks, make sure you take a picture and tag us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter using #WalkNI.

Latest comment posted by The Reluctant Walker on July 1, 2019 @ 7:24 AM

Thank you Jane for information on some inspiring walks. I hope to try a few thus summer/autumn. Read more >

Jayne Woodrow
Jayne Woodrow  Marketing Officer & Active Clubs Coordinator for Walking

Jayne joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in March 2014. She oversees the marketing and communication on WalkNI, OutdoorNI and Walking in Your Community Project. Most recently she has been working with Parkrun Ireland & UK to introduce the 'Walk @ parkrun' initiative.

Dan Wolfe at Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails

Posted on June 28, 2019 @ 11:51 AM in CyclingMountainbiking

In our new #TipsFromAPro series, Dan Wolfe takes us through the fundamentals of mountain biking we can all improve on.

In our second #TipsFromAPro video, Dan Wolfe takes us through tips we can follow to improve our results when riding at an Enduro level, be it local or on the biggest mountain bike series in the world.


Dominic Lyttle
Dominic Lyttle  Assistant Marketing Officer

Dominic has recently joined the ORNI team following completion of a MSc in Marketing from Queen’s University Belfast.

In his spare time, Dominic enjoys trekking, travelling to new and exciting places, and playing basketball, alongside drinking far too much coffee!

An Incredible Fundraising Story from This Year's Giant's Causeway Coast Sportive

Posted on June 14, 2019 @ 11:16 AM in AdventureCycling

We caught up with Kathy, who contacted us at the Giant's Causeway Coast Sportive with the incredible story of seven friends who are raising money for a very special cause.

 

Hi Kathy, thanks for speaking with us today. You and your 6 friends have been doing some fundraising this year – can you tell us more about that and why you decided to take part in the Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive?

We are all school mums who met a few years ago and someone suggested we start a Book Club. So we did, meeting every Wednesday morning in Ballyhackamore, East Belfast. Occasionally we would share a book but mostly it’s just coffee & sharing chat. At one of these mornings we learned the devastating news that Julie was ill. She elected to go to the Christie in Manchester for treatment, and they really provided light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

We continued to meet every Wednesday, sharing a lot of laughter and a lot of tears too. However, after gruelling chemotherapy treatments and, despite her iron will she was not able to pull through and very sadly passed away in February this year. The Book Club girls were looking for a way to honour her memory and raise funds for the Christie so we decided to sign up to the Sportive 2019. Julie loved spending time on the North Coast so this challenge felt just right.




That’s incredibly sad to hear Kathy – your fundraising really is incredible and it’s such an amazing thing to do! Is there somewhere we can find out more about this and donate to your cause?

Our Just Giving is https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ForJulieMcKH?sfns=mo Here you can read our back story to this fundraising effort and donate.

 

Thanks Kathy, we’ll be sure to check it out! Have any of your group ever taken part in the Sportive before?

Two of us (Kathy & Poppy) completed the 35 mile route in 2017 & 2018 and have signed up to the new 60mile route. Jennie, Mary, Maxine & Suzanne (Julie’s eldest Daughter) are novice cyclists and have signed up for 35 miles. We also have Cheryl and Lynda, the support team providing cheers and jelly beans along the way!

 

It’s great to see you come back and also to welcome your friends for the first time – I’m sure they’ll have a fantastic experience. What are you looking forward to most on the day?

We’re looking forward to the beautiful route along the Coast Road past Ballintoy, Whitepark Bay and on past the Bushmills Distillery. We must remember to smile at the camera in the Dark Hedges! 

We chose this Sportive as it is safe, well organised and marshalled, it’s all-inclusive and open to all abilities. This is not a race for us, and we’ll be enjoying every moment taking in all the sights and sounds. The camaraderie and support from the more professional cyclists was much appreciated and I hope we’ll be supported again.

 

That’s what it’s all about – enjoying the amazing scenery and having fun with the other cyclists. What made you take the jump up to the 60 mile route after having previously ridden the 35?

We decided to take on the 60 mile route as a new challenge, a step into the unknown! We have been training most weekends for the past few months and just hope we’ve done enough!

Hopefully all of your training pays off! Finally I have to ask – are you going to tackle Torr Head!?

Torr Head you ask? Never say never!

 

Maybe you’ll be persuaded on the day! Thanks very much for sharing your story with us Kathy :) We'll see you on the 22nd!

 

Julie's Crew (L-R): Mary, Maxine, Poppy, Cheryl, Suzanne, Jennie, Kathy

Keep an eye out for Kathy and her friends on the day – they’ll be wearing special t-shirts made for the day with their friend Julie’s photograph on the back. To find out more information about their fundraising and donate to their cause visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ForJulieMcKH?sfns=mo 

Dominic Lyttle
Dominic Lyttle  Assistant Marketing Officer

Dominic has recently joined the ORNI team following completion of a MSc in Marketing from Queen’s University Belfast.

In his spare time, Dominic enjoys trekking, travelling to new and exciting places, and playing basketball, alongside drinking far too much coffee!

Show Off Your Trails - WINNERS

Posted on June 11, 2019 @ 5:26 PM in Mountainbiking

Over the last few weeks, we've asked MountainBikeNI followers to send us their pictures from the official mountain bike trails. You've responded in your hundreds and some of the photographs we've seen have been incredible. Others have been terrifying. And then there are a few odd ones out there - but we love them all.

Our favourite pictures will win £400 and £100 respectively in online voucher for Chain Reaction Cycles. But first - some of our highly commended pictures!

Ryan Butler's triumphant picture over a turbulent Kodak Corner is all kinds of cool.

One of a few from the seriously impressive photo reel of Warren McConnaughie at Rostrevor.

Colin Smith at Kodak Corner with a mini MTBer is as heart warming as it is impressive. How did he get up there?!

Old faithful style picture from Andy Gilmore, but we love it.

Somehow the view is still amazing, even though it's completely obscured. Cheers Jason Hill for sending this one in!

Another from Warren and this is a pretty idylic shot at Davagh Forest.

We love this view from Boundary Rock. Evan McIlmoyle's shot really brings home how wonderfully remote you are.

Sunset over Run Ragley Run in this shot from Bradley Grahame. How could you not want to get on the bike seeing this?

Brian Lenehan's picture feels like it's literally moving with him here. 

Trails? What trails? Thomas Marks reminds us what mountain bikinig at Davagh Forest can be like in the other part of the year. 

We're at Castlewellan for this great shot from Carlos Russell.

Dark, moody and atmosphere. Quality show of the Castlewellan Lake from Mickey Clarke.

 

But the winners are...

 

In 2nd place we have a tie!

Warren McConnaughie's black and white shot at On The Pulse at Rostrevor MTB Trails is pretty special. The camaraderie, variety in the trails and skill of local riders all hits you straight off.

 

Jonny Clyde has won a special additional prize for his hilarious breakdown on a trip to Rostrevor MTB Trails. Check it out below.

 

And our 1st place winner is...

The vote from our team was unanimous. This one was picked out by every one of us as being in their favourites and we can see why. The atmosphere, the air, the rugged and incredibly familiar look of our local trails. Congratulations Tommy Magnenat - you've won the £400 voucher!

 

Thanks to everyone for sending in your pictures! Stay tuned to MountainBikeNI's FacebookTwitter and Instagram pages as we've something exciting dropping in the next few days...

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

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