Sallagh Braes Walk – Game of Thrones Riverlands Filming Location

sallagh braes walk viewed from cliff top with warning cliffs sign looking out over the Irish sea

The Sallagh Braes walk traces a 100 metre high, 2km long basalt scarp that rises above the North Channel coastal village of Ballygally in Northern Ireland. It is also the location for Riverlands, the fictional village in Game of Thrones, Season 6, Episode 7, ‘The Broken Man’.

The Sallagh Braes walk in the Glens of Antrim, Northern Ireland runs right along the top of the enscarpment with stunning views over the Irish Sea looking out toward the massive Scottish hunk of Ailsa Craig rock that stands proudly at the entrance to the Firth of Forth. It is part of several trails and hikes: Knockdhu Hill, Antrim Hills Way and Ulster Way.

The title of the episode set in Sallagh Braes is a reference to Sandor Clegan, known as ‘The Hound’. At the end of Season 4, he battled with Brienne of Tarth who left him to die. But, in this later episode, it is revealed that he has survived and is living with villagers of Riverlands, who are building a ‘sept’ or ‘septry’ (place of worship or church) for their Faith of the Seven. Part of the sept is the wooden construction onsite at the real Riverlands at the Sallagh Braes. The leader of Riverlands was Ray, played by an English actor with an Irish background, Ian McShane, who came to fame in the quirky and hugely entertaining BBC antiques drama, Lovejoy.

Prehistoric Burial Mounds Dating to 4000BC – Linford Barrows

No big deal(!), but even before you get onto the start of the walk, if you clamber up the grassy slopes right behind the far corner of the car park, you’ll be standing on top of several pre-historic burial mounds known as The Linford Barrows. They’re thought to date back as far as 4000BC and are incredibly easy to miss in an area where they grass is naturally undulating. So, persevere for just 5 minutes and you’ll be rewarded.

linford barrows – grassy burial mounds above ballygally

Read more about the Linford Barrows pre-historic burial site in the Knockdhu Hills at Atlas Obscura.

What Was it Like at the Sallagh Braes Walk?

We started the route at Feystown Road car park, hopping over the first of several very tall styles over the electrified fence. The route begins with a very steep hill climb across sheep-grazing land. At the top of this initial grassy scramble, you can enjoy spectacular views out across to Ailsa Craig and the coastline of Scotland including the Mull of Kintyre.

Note that you are walking on private ground alongside livestock (mostly sheep and a few cows) and there are several electric fences on the route, so take care with kids and pets as you cross the many wooden styles. The fences are well protected with (rubber, plastic?) coverings behind the styles. And, there are a few wooden waymarkers to keep you on track.

waymarker on the sallagh braes walk

As you reach the peak of the hill, the incline calms a little and you’ll begin walking slightly downhill on an open, grassy area as you approach the glorious Braes. Once the village of Ballygally comes into view (spot the castle and golf course!), this is a perfect spot for a picnic, as you’ll be able to find some shelter on windier days in the undulating tufts of dry grass.

casual picnic looking out over the grass on the sallagh braes walk toward ballygally and the irish sea

As you continue, keep climbing styles and following the wooden way-marker posts to the last section of the hike, which follows close to the fence all along the clifftop directly above the Braes – with glorious views all the way along, even as far as Larne Lough and the Islandmagee peninsula. This ground is a bit more up and down, and tracked with animal trails that you can follow and strewn with small rocks – watch your footing! We followed the trail until it seemed to reach a natural end at one corner of the fencing at the end of the Braes, then turned around and made our way back. However, way markers continue into the distance, so you can follow it along if you prefer a longer hike along the Antrim Way or want to construct your own circular route.

It took us a leisurely 4 hours, stopping for lots of sightseeing with binoculars, many photos, and 30 minutes for a picnic. We met a few groups of youngsters out on a teacher-led trek, along with several families, solo walkers and couples.

The day we were there, the ground was 95% dry, even after a few previous days of rain, with only the occasional boggy area. The mountainside is strewn with animal droppings, particularly in the first section and the last one. Wear proper walking boots or shoes, to protect your ankles and feet over rough, uneven ground. And, bring a change of shoes, as you’ll want to throw your boots into a bag in the boot when you finish.

International Appalachian Way

If you cross the road from the car park, you’ll cross yet another tall style that marks the start of the International Appalachian Way, a nod to the close links between locals and the settlers in North America.

international appalachian way above ballygally

Watch out for standing stones as you wander these ancient hills.

standing stone ballygally

Anything Special to Note?

While I’m not really that knowledgeable about birds, one of the most beautiful and surprising parts of the walk was the constant twerping of birds that hovered just overhead and in the heather during out picnic break. You are up so far above anything else, there are no other sounds and it is incredibly peaceful and calming. We could also see birds on the ground and swooping and out of the cliffs, attracted no doubt by the fly-filled air. Orinithologists will love this! We even spotted a possibly lost frog!

ballygally frog in dry grass

Since Game of Thrones scenes were filmed just below the car park, you can sometimes spot GoT enthusiasts here. On the day we visited, there were a few cloaked cosplay folks taking pictures.

The cliffs provide a great taking off point for hang-gliders, so you may be lucky to spot a local club out for the day’s energetic run-ups, jumps and soars.

Walking Gear

In many coastal and hill walks in Northern Ireland, it makes sense to pack at least a hoodie and a waterproof jacket.

TrekNI is a blog-style website that offers walking and trekking advice on the many routes, experiences and places to stay in Northern Ireland.

classic sunburst hoodie from trekni

Get 10% off this beautifully soft Classic Sunburst Hoodie from Trek NI

Information on the Riverlands Filming Location at the Sallagh Braes Walk

  • We started the Sallagh Braes walk at the style on the corner of the Feystown Road Car Park, just outside Cairncastle. This little car park is securely situated right off the road, is big enough for about 14 vehicles.
  • There are no toilets or any other facilities.
  • Read more at TrekNI’s information blog post, Sallagh Braes circular: a stunning route in the Glens of Antrim or check out other highly rated forest, coastal and hill walks in Northern Ireland.
Dawn Baird
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