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Exploring the estate at Castle Ward

A family exploring the gardens at Castle Ward, Co Down, Northern Ireland, in summer
A family exploring the gardens at Castle Ward, Co Down, Northern Ireland, in summer | © National Trust Images/Annapurna Mellor

If you are in need of some fresh air this spring, come and explore over 34km of trails. Spot visiting birds by the shore, enjoy the views and tune into the sounds, sights and scents of the season. Look out for seals and terns as you explore the miles of trails through woodland to the water's edge.

Spring Walks

With acres of woodland, meadows and shoreline, Castle Ward is the perfect place to explore on a walk this spring. There’s miles of trails to explore – choose from one of six walking routes or why not come back and complete them all?

Soak up coastal views and see if you can spot any seals. Enjoy sweeping vistas across to Portaferry on the Shore Trail or follow the Boundary Trail by heading head to take in woodland scenes. Mountain Wood is perfect for exploring as it's home to lots of evergreen trees which provide shelter from sun and showers. Dogs on leads are welcome and downloadable maps and step-by-step guides are available for each walk.

Who can use the trails?

The trails at Castle Ward are multi-use, meaning that walkers, wheelchair users, cyclists, horse riders and dogs can all enjoy the scenic paths. With tracks to suit all abilities, the routes are perfect for little legs and older ones too.

Game of Thrones filming locations at Castle Ward

Step into a fantasy world of castles and dragons as you explore the farmyard and the lough shore. Castle Ward is well known for being a key filming location for the first series of Games of Thrones, when the historic farmyard was transformed into ‘Winterfell’, the seat of the Stark family.

It’s also where you'll find the Whispering Wood and key scenes including Robb Stark’s Camp, the Baelor battle and when Brienne confronts the Stark men.

Dad and sons exploring Temple water at castle Ward
Children exploring the estate in Spring | © Christopher Heaney

Tick off more of your ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’

Head outdoors and get your little ones closer to nature this winter. Are you ready to try out 50 of the wildest, most fun-packed and exciting things to do in the great outdoors? Do your favourite activities over and over again, or try all 50: the choice is yours.

Two members of National Trust staff looking up and discussing the ornate plaster ceiling in the Gothic Boudoir at Castle Ward, County Down

Discover more at Castle Ward

Find out when Castle Ward is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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A family  of three walking their dog in the grounds of Castle Ward, County Down, with the Classical front of the house in the background.

Visiting Castle Ward with your dog 

Castle Ward is a three pawprint rated place. Discover Castle Ward with your dog. With miles of trails to explore there's plenty of space for them to bound, sniff, jump and splash.

View of the Palladian-style side of Castle Ward house, with Strangford Lough and rolling hills beyond.

History of Castle Ward 

Unique and unusual, this eccentric 18th-century house is famed for having been built with two completely different architectural styles, both inside and out. Find out why.

The Stableyard tearoom at Castle Ward, County Down, Northern Ireland

Eating and shopping at Castle Ward 

Tuck into a seasonal menu and treat yourself or someone special in the shops. Watch artists in action or pick up a Game of Thrones memento.

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Discover how and why we created the ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ list to help children connect with nature and the natural world.

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Countryside and woodland 

Plan a visit to one of the special countryside places in our care and discover the benefits of being in the great outdoors. Pack your walking boots and get ready to explore woodlands, valleys and rivers.

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Whether you're looking for a heart-raising hike up Northern Ireland's highest mountain or a ramble by the river at The Argory, there are many countryside and woodland places to experience in Northern Ireland. Enjoy woodland respite at Minnowburn with the forest bathing beds or escape to the wild landscape of County Fermanagh with the countryside adventures at Florence Court, Castle Coole and Crom.