Northern Ireland

Game of Thrones closes public beach in Portstewart

Game of Thrones filming scenes on Portstewart Strand Image copyright BBC Sport
Image caption Portstewart Strand was completely closed to the public on Wednesday and Thursday due to filming for the next series of Game of Thrones

The hit TV series Game of Thrones has taken another area of Northern Ireland by storm.

Their trucks and equipment, actors, technicians, backroom staff and even their horses have been parked on the famous Portstewart strand this week.

It has meant that neither holiday makers nor locals have been able to take their customary strolls on the sand or a dip in the sea.

Some were a bit annoyed, but many said they were willing to put up with the inconvenience for the good of the area's economy.

The National Trust owns the strand and has rented it out to the makers of Game of Thrones.

They would not say how much they were paid, only that the money will go into its budget for running all its properties.

The beach was closed Wednesday and Thursday and only partially accessible on another six days.

A new barrier stops people getting to the beach, but a lot of activity is visible on the sand and in the dunes.

Paths nearby have been thronged with dog walkers and sightseers, curious for a glimpse of the action, the horses in particular.

Some even came prepared with binoculars.

Hazel Mulholland from Belfast is on holiday in the seaside town.

"I've been watching for hours trying to see the horses," she said.

"I can spot them down on the beach, but am waiting to see what action they're involved in."

One local walker said the filming was good for the economy, but said he felt "sorry for the visitors who had only a few days' holiday and are missing the beach and the waves".

Image caption The National Trust, which manages the beach, said many crew members would spend time and money in the local economy

A local who usually walks his dog on the beach said he felt aggrieved: "The National Trust runs the beach and takes membership fees. It's a shame we are not allowed to walk on it."

However, most shops and walkers said the filming, while a minor inconvenience, would be good for the town.

Security staff said most people have been tolerant, as long as they were directed to another beach in the area.

Two years ago, in the same Coleraine council area, the beach at Downhill was hired for two weeks to film scenes scenes in Game of Thrones.

They featured the burning of effigies and although the beach was hardly recognisable, fans have discovered the location.

Richard Baker of Coleraine Council said: "Downhill is a very secluded spot, but it is now far more renowned. The exposure has brought a significant boost to tourism in this area."

This is the fifth series being filmed for Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland.

It has brought a huge dividend and Jason Powell of the Causway Coast and Glens Partnership said they have had to reprint their maps which show the Game of Thrones film locations.

"We've seen a lot more people coming onto our website, it is now the most popular page," he said.

"When I go to shows in North America and Britain, Northern Ireland is now being identified as the place where Game of Thrones is filmed".

HBO which makes the series are a secretive lot and does not like plot lines being revealed - suffice to say some exotic costumes were spotted.

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