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Visiting Castle Ward with Family

A young child and her mother bending down to look at flowers in the Sunken Garden in May at Castle Ward, County Down, Northern Ireland
Family Autumn visit to stableyard, Castle ward | © National Trust Images/Annapurna Mellor

Castle Ward is full of adventures waiting to happen. Borrow a balance bike, explore the garden and woodland, and set your imagination free in the great outdoors.

Upcoming family-friendly events

Summer of Play at Castle Ward

This Summer, treat the whole family to a world of adventure at Castle Ward during our summer of play. Running from 6 July to 26 August, make your way around our five play zones and find thrilling & engaging activities for the whole family.

For full listings of events at Castle Ward visit our What’s On page

Handy tips for families

  • You'll find toilets and baby-changing facilities at the Stableyard and in the Courtyard next to the old farmyard.
  • The stableyard tearoom offers tasty kids lunchboxes containing sandwiches, fruit, a treat and juice or water. Indoor and outdoor seating is available.
  • You're welcome to bring a picnic. There's plenty of picnic tables, benches, and spots to lay out a blanket. Please use the bins provided when you're finished.
  • Balance bikes and small bikes with stabilisers are allowed. We have over 34km of trails for the whole family to explore.
  • Build up a sweat in the outdoors by playing in the Woodland and Adventure playpark. These are open daily
  • Borrow a 'Calm Bag' from reception for those who need a little extra support during the busy summer periods. Our calm bags include fidget toys, ear defenders, and other sensory items to help create a calm and comfortable environment.

Outdoor activities for the Family

Swipe through the selection of Outdoor Activities available on offer at Castle Ward

A family smiling as they cycle along the trail at Castle Ward, County Down; Strangford Lough is just visible on the background.
A family cycling along the trail at Castle Ward, County Down | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Father and daughter enjoying a cycle along the trails at Castle Ward

Bring the whole family and enjoy 34km of trails around the estate grounds. Check out the wildlife by the shore, stop off at the Stableyard tearoom for refreshments and visit the historical grounds of Audley's Castle.

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Outdoor Activities for the Family

Build up a sweat at the Adventure Playpark

Get ready for some serious fun at the Adventure Playpark at Castle Ward! Swing, slide and play to your heart's content on our fantastic range of play equipment. Perfect for both little and older kids, our playpark has everything you need to ensure your children have an absolute blast.

Go wild in the woodland play area

Let the kids go wild. Hidden away in the magical woodland, there are lots of exciting challenges for them to take on, including a wobbly wood-and-chain bridge, a hill of stepping stones and outdoor balancing obstacles. Can you make it all the way around?

Get set to ride a balance bike

Will you be able to keep up with your children once they’ve learned to cycle? Balance bikes are the perfect way to help your future cyclists learn how to ride, in beautiful, traffic-free surroundings.

The balance bikes and helmets are available to borrow from the reception. You don’t need to book anything and the balance bikes are free to use on a first come, first served basis – just turn up and get going.

There are plenty of paths to follow through the garden and the wide-open space of the farmyard makes it a great place to ride around.

Secret Shore Trail

Create your own adventure as you explore the Secret Shore Trail. This hidden gem is waiting for you to explore and get up close and personal with some of the wildlife that lives along the loughshore.

Follow the trail and you'll discover the bird 'hideout', where you can observe some of the feathered friends that call Strangford Lough home. Keep your eyes peeled and see how many different birds you can spot on your journey.

This adventure is perfect for the little explorers in all of us! Pack your bags, grab your walking shoes, and get ready for an adventure like no other at Castle Ward's Secret Shore Trail.

Visit the Farmyard

In the farmyard, immerse yourself in a historical setting, the very one used as the set of Winterfell in the famous 'Game Of Thrones' series.

The pond at Castle Ward is home to a variety of ducks, including the beautiful mallards, who love to splash around and play. Your children can watch these charming creatures as they swim, dive, and quack in the crystal-clear water. Don't forget to bring some bread to feed them, as they love a tasty treat!

Interacting with animals is not only fun but also educational. Your children can learn about animal behavior, feeding habits, and the role of animals on a working farm.

View through archway of the farmyard at Castle Ward, County Down
Explore the farm on the Castle Ward farm trail | © National Trust / Peter Muhly

Indoor Activities for Families

Swipe through the selection of Indoor Activities available on offer at Castle Ward

A small girl with a man in c18th costume, he is pointing out something to her with a cane, in front of the house at Castle Ward
A small girl with a man in c18th costume, he is pointing out something to her with a cane, in front of the house at Castle Ward | © National Trust Images/Ian Shaw

Journey Through Time: Exploring the Mansion

Step back in time and discover the rich history of our unique mansion. Our knowledgeable guides, like this 18th century costumed gentleman, will take you on a journey through the past, sharing fascinating stories and insights into the lives of those who once lived here. Bring your little ones along for an unforgettable and educational experience.

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Indoor Activities for the Family

Visiting the Castle Ward house

The Gothic Georgian house is filled with treasures and fascinating stories. Inside the mansion, you will find magnificent collection pieces that will really get children's imaginations flowing. They can see Bertha the bear in the Dining room or re-enact the ‘boxing squirrels’ in the morning room.

The second-hand Bookshop

Our bookshop is full of interesting titles, from heartwarming bedtime stories to exciting travel guides, delicious cookbooks, and page-turning novels perfect for enjoying by the fire.

Not only will you be helping to support Castle Ward, but you'll also be able to take home some fantastic new stories and inspirations for the whole family to enjoy. Please remember to pay for your books in the honesty box provided or in the shop with your card.

Castle Ward Gift Shop

Visit the gift shop for a curated selection of goods, many of which unique to Castle Ward. Find historical mementos, delicious goodies, and local crafts to take home a piece of Castle Ward's charm. Whether it's a keepsake to remember your visit or a thoughtful gift for family and friends, Castle Ward's National Trust gift shop offers a selection of treasures to cherish and share.

Clock Tower and Cornmill

Have you ever wondered how flour is made from corn? Look no further than Castle Ward's historic Cornmill and clock tower! Dating back to 1835, this incredible mill was once a bustling center of activity that ground corn into flour for the estate. Bring your children to this fascinating historical site and give them a chance to learn about the fascinating process of milling corn. It's an educational and fun experience that the whole family will enjoy! You might even recognize the farmyard from the first season of Game of Thrones, where it was featured as Winterfell.

Somewhere a little quieter

Castle Ward recently opened the Lough View Quiet Space, an accessible quiet room, which is a sensory-friendly, safe space, to relax, unwind and get away from the hustle, bustle and loud areas of Castle Ward. It is designed for anyone who may need a quiet space, including those who are neurodivergent, have a sensory condition, those with mental health conditions such as anxiety or simply a place to think and reflect. Previously an underused information hut, the space is close to the play area and car park, but not so central to be a distraction for its users. The space is open Monday to Sunday 10am to 4pm.

Lough View Quiet Space at Castle Ward
Lough View Quiet Space at Castle Ward, County Down, Northern Ireland. An accessible quiet room, which is a sensory-friendly, safe space, to relax, unwind and get away from the hustle, bustle and loud areas of Castle Ward. | © ©National Trust Images/Annapurna Mellor

Additional Info

Somewhere to Eat

The stableyard tearoom offers tasty kids lunchboxes containing sandwiches, fruit, a treat and juice or water. Indoor and outdoor seating is available.

You're welcome to bring a picnic. There's plenty of picnic tables, benches, and spots to lay out a blanket. Please use the bins provided when you're finished.

'Calm Bags' available to borrow

At Castle Ward, we understand that places can be busy and overwhelming for some. That's why we're proud to offer 'Calm Bags' for those who need a little extra support during this time.

Our calm bags include fidget toys, ear defenders, and other sensory items to help create a calm and comfortable environment. Our Loughview Quite Space, an accessible quiet hut, which is a sensory-friendly, safe space, to relax, unwind and get away from the hustle, bustle and loud areas of the estate, is also open daily. Please note; these bags are available to borrow only and are to be returned after use to visitor reception.

A woman holds a baby dressed in a summer outfit and hat next to garden foliage.

Upcoming events

This summer, treat the whole family to a world of adventure at Castle Ward.

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