Hoof trail at Castle Ward
Castle Ward, Strangford, Downpatrick, County Down BT30 7LSRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
This trail is designed specifically for use by horse riders and must be used in a clockwise direction only.
- Bus stop
Start: Horse car park, grid ref: NW672027
Leave the car park and head through farmland on a short two-way section before turning right onto Colonel's Walk. This wide track meanders through woodland for several miles before a single track section that leads through mature trees and the farmland of Tullyratty.
Descending to Downpatrick Avenue, there are several places with steep drop offs to the side. After the short road section, horses must follow waymarkers keeping left on entering Mallard Plantation and continuing through woodland. At the top of the woodland, pass through the gate and merge into a multi-use trail with cyclists and walkers approaching.
The trail then follows the line of the boundary wall through the West Park, with stunning views across Strangford Lough and Castle Ward Demesne.
Strangford Lough is a large sea lough or inlet in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is separated from the Irish Sea by the Ards Peninsula. The name Strangford is derived from Old Norse: Strangr-fjërðr meaning 'strong fjord'; describing the fast-flowing narrows at its mouth.
At the end of this long section, turn left behind the walled garden before entering into woodland. This is a slow zone area.
On reaching the Audleystown Road take care crossing the road before heading towards Audley's Castle, through Audley's Wood and then along the shore of Strangford Lough.
The castle probably dates from around the 15th-century, but the early history is unknown. The castle is named after its late 16th-century owners, the Audleys, an Anglo-Norman family who held land in the area in the 13th-century, although it is not known if they built the castle. It was sold, with the surrounding estate, to the Ward family in 1646 and used in 1738 as an eye-catching focus of the long vista along Castle Ward's artificial lake, Temple Water.
On reaching the farmyard gates turn left along the shore and follow the grassy track between the boundary wall and the lough.
Built in the late 16th or early 17th-century by Nicholas Ward, Old Castle Ward is a 3-storey tower house built of split stone rubble with sandstone dressings. At present Old Castle Ward is part of a 19th-century farm with a saw mill belonging to the estate.
The trail then leads back into the estate through the arched gateway at Coal Quay. Turn left and follow inside the boundary wall until reaching Strangford Avenue close to the caravan park.
Tucked away on Strangford Avenue in the stunning 820 acre demesne the caravan park offers a beautiful location for a relaxing holiday.
Follow the uphill path known as The Screen to reach Ballyculter Gate Lodge, and then follow the historic Colonel's Walk leading along the boundary wall once more.
A short two-way section through farmland leads back to the horse car park.
End: Horse car park
- Trail: Horse Riding
- Grade: Hard
- Distance: 7.5 miles (12km)
- Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
- OS Map: NI Discoverer Map 21
This trail has an even surface throughout and is narrow in places, with some steeper gradients and numerous gateways. Be aware that as this trail crosses farmland you may encounter livestock.
- How to get here:
By boat: ferry from Portaferry
By bus: Ulsterbus 16E, Downpatrick to Strangford
By car: 7 miles (11.3km) north-east of Downpatrick, 1 mile (1.6km) from Strangford on A25
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