Northern Ireland's Mourne Gullion Strangford region has become the UK's newest UNESCO Global Geopark, a selection based on its geological past and its 'culturally rich present."
It doesn't hurt, either, that it's an area that's become familiar to millions of viewers when its lowland forests and jagged coastline were used as dramatic backdrops in the Game of Thrones series.
The new geopark includes three areas, the Ring of Gullion, the Mourne Mountains including Slieve Donard, an 850-metre peak and Strangford Lough, the UK's largest coastal lough. The area includes the 22-mile stone Mourne Wall, built over a century ago of local granite, part of Belfast's water supply. The area's granite has been used in buildings across the world.
Part of getting—and keeping—UNESCO Global Geopark status involves championing sustainable and local tourism experiences, and a number of local artisans have developed local industries making small-batch whiskey, wooden bowls from local timber and reviving other traditional trades and products.