Castle Ward countryside walk

Walking trail

A world of discovery awaits you at Castle Ward - one of Northern Ireland's finest country estates.

A quirky 18th-centrury house, a warren of secret trails, lush woodland, and panoramic views across the Lecale countryside provide a feast for the eyes, while a variety of wildlife can be spotted on nearby Strangford Lough.

Temple water at Castle Ward with two swans swimming


Map route for Castle Ward countryside walk


Main Castle Ward car park, OSNI grid ref: J575497


Start at the main car park, go up the steps at the yew tree and follow the green arrows on the black trail marker posts. Go past the play park, across the tarmac drive and past the front lawn of the classical side of the mansion house.

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Turn left at the T-junction. On arrival at the house, follow the green arrow straight ahead to the area known as Church Walk. 'A stroll through this 820acs (332ha) walled demesne (country estate) takes you through woodland, parkland and gardens, and offers stunning views over Strangford Lough and the surrounding countryside.' John Bettes, Head Warden.

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The path eventually emerges back onto the main tarmac drive. By the Ballyculter Gate Lodge at the main gate, follow the trail marker post with the green arrow to Colonels Walk path.


Emerge from coniferous woodland into a stand of beech trees with fine views across the estate boundary wall to the Lecale countryside and the Irish Sea beyond.


Follow the green arrows past woodland ponds towards the old Gamekeepers Cottage. Before reaching the cottage, turn sharp left at the paths end, and continue to follow the green arrows.


At the next marker post, follow the orange arrow into Mountain Wood. Further along, the path forks to the right ignore this and keep going straight until the next junction. Then follow the orange arrow to the left through a larch woodland.


The Mourne Mountains can be seen over Tullyratty townland, with the Irish Sea on your left and Strangford Lough on your right. Continue following the trail straight ahead, past another trail post and through a eucalyptus grove.

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The path bends to the right and then left, leading to a T-junction. Turn left onto a stone path through beech woodland, where you'll see the Downpatrick Gate Lodge. Turn right down the rough stone road of Downpatrick Venue to return to the main car park.


Main Castle Ward car park, OSNI grid ref: J575497

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Castle Ward countryside walk


A range of flat to moderately sloping off-road paths, some uneven. These may be muddy in places when wet. A further walking guide can be obtained from the ticket office.

Dogs must be kept on a lead as a number of the paths are shared with horse-riders.

Castle Ward countryside walk

Contact us

Castle Ward countryside walk

How to get here

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

7 miles (11.2km) north-east of Downpatrick, 1.5 miles (2.5km) west of Strangford Lough, entrance by Ballyculter Lodge. (N.B. If using GPS, once on Strangford Road, follow signs for Castle Ward only).

By foot

Follow the Lecale Way; see WalkNI for details.

By ferry

Portaferry to Strangford. Daily, except Christmas Day.

By canoe: Strangford Lough canoe trail; see CanoeNI for details.

By bus

Ulsterbus 16E Downpatrick to Strangford, with connections from Belfast. Ulsterbus Lecale Rambler (Saturday and Sunday only, in summer).

By bicycle

National Cycle Network Route 99.

Castle Ward countryside walk

Facilities and access

  • Car park, toilets and tea-room at Castle Ward
  • Bike hire available
  • Gift shop and book shop
  • Dogs welcome on a lead