Boundary trail at Castle Ward
Castle Ward, Strangford, Downpatrick, County Down BT30 7LSRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
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.
- Bus stop
Start: Shore car park, grid ref: NW677031
Follow the line of the shore trail.
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.
The trail leads you around Audley'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.
Cross the Audleystown Road onto the farm trail. Follow the trail through mature woodland to West Park behind the old walled garden.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Continue across Deer Park to Strangford Avenue and the shore car park.
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.
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- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Hard
- Distance: 8 miles (13 km)
- Time: 3 hours
- 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.
- 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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