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A horse rider at Ashridge Estate, Hertfordshire in spring
Follow the Hoof Trail at Castle Ward, County Down | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey
Northern Ireland

Castle Ward Hoof Trail

The Hoof Trail is a 7.5-mile route through woodland, farmland and along the shore of Strangford Lough. There are plenty of sights to enjoy along the way including Audley's Castle, which dates back to the 15th century and Old Castle Ward, which is part of a historic farmyard. The trail is designed specifically for use by horse riders and must be used in a clockwise direction only. Hoof Trail users must have either a daily or annual Hoof Permit.

Livestock on route

Be aware that as this trail crosses farmland you may encounter livestock.

Total steps: 9

Total steps: 9

Start point

Horse car park, OSNI grid reference: NW672027

Step 1

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.

Step 2

Descending to Downpatrick Avenue, there are several places with steep drop-offs to the side. After the short road section, horses must follow way-markers 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.

Step 3

The trail then follows the line of the boundary wall through the West Park, with stunning views across Strangford Lough and Castle Ward Demesne.

Step 4

At the end of this long section, turn left behind the walled garden before entering into woodland. This is a slow zone area.

Step 5

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.

Step 6

On reaching the farmyard gates turn left along the shore and follow the grassy track between the boundary wall and the lough.

Step 7

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.

Step 8

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.

Step 9

A short two-way section through farmland leads back to the horse car park.

End point

Horse car park

Trail map

Route map for the Castle Ward horse riding trail in County Down, Northern Ireland.
Castle Ward horse riding trail map, County Down | © Crown Copyright (2013) Land and Property Services permit no. 100153

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Get in touch

Strangford, Downpatrick, County Down, BT30 7BA

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We’ve partnered with Cotswold Outdoor to help everyone make the most of their time outdoors in the places we care for.

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