Boundary trail at Castle Ward

Castle Ward, Strangford, Downpatrick, County Down BT30 7LS

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Enjoy the views at Strangford Lough © National Trust, Castle Ward

Enjoy the views at Strangford Lough

The 15th-century Audley's Castle on Strangford Lough © Craig McCoy

The 15th-century Audley's Castle on Strangford Lough

Spend the weekend in our bunkhouse and enjoy the outdoors © National Trust, Castle Ward

Spend the weekend in our bunkhouse and enjoy the outdoors

Classical facade of Castle Ward © Nick Meers

Classical facade of Castle Ward

View through to the farmyard at Castle Ward © National Trust, Castle Ward

View through to the farmyard at Castle Ward

Route overview

The longest trail at Castle Ward is an excellent option for spotting wildlife and to enjoy the stunning scenery of the demesne. Suitable for competent cyclists and walkers.

 

Route details

See this step-by-step route marked on a map

Boundary trail map at Castle Ward
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Shore car park, grid ref: NW677031

  1. Follow the line of the shore trail.

    Show/HideStrangford Lough

    Strangford Lough is a large sea loch 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.

    Enjoy the views at Strangford Lough © National Trust, Castle Ward
  2. The trail leads you around Audley's Castle.

    Show/HideAudley's Castle

    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.

    The 15th-century Audley's Castle on Strangford Lough © Craig McCoy
  3. Cross the Audleystown Road onto the farm trail. Follow the trail through mature woodland to West Park behind the old walled garden.

  4. Turn right towards the boundary wall before contouring through the farmland to reach Mallard Plantation, a mature coniferous woodland. Up to this point, this trail is multi-use so expect horses, bikes and a range of other users.

  5. The trail branches left and becomes narrow single track for cyclists and walkers only. Follow the trail to Base Camp, soon crossing a bridge and continuing through beautiful landscape.

    Show/HideBase Camp

    Castle Ward offers several places to stay around its 820 acres of woodland. The Bunk House is an ideal venue for corporate or private groups of up to 14 individuals and can also accommodate up to 12 tents with two gas BBQs provided.

    Spend the weekend in our bunkhouse and enjoy the outdoors © National Trust, Castle Ward
  6. Crossing the road at the main entrance to the property continue through the historic grounds of Windmill Plantation and cross Church Walk with a view of Castle Ward house to the left.

    Show/HideCastle Ward mansion

    Home of the Viscounts Bangor since 1781 until the death of the 6th Viscount in 1950, the 18th century house is built in two contrasting architectural styles, the solid Classical facade to the lawn and the Gothic facing Strangford Lough.

    Classical facade of Castle Ward © Nick Meers
  7. Continue across Deer Park to Strangford Avenue and the shore car park.

    Show/HideOld Castle Ward

    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.

    View through to the farmyard at Castle Ward © National Trust, Castle Ward

End: Farmyard

  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Hard
  • Distance: 8 miles (13 km)
  • Time: 3 hours
  • OS Map: NI Discoverer Map 21
  • Terrain:

    This trail has an even surface throughout and is narrow in places, with some steeper gradients and numerous gateways.

  • 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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