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Visiting Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne with your dog

Visitors walking their dog at Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne , County Londonderry
Visitors walking their dog at Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne , County Londonderry | © National Trust/John Millar

Dogs on leads are welcome at Downhill and there are plenty of opportunities for walking jumping and sniffing through the estate. We know dogs are part of the family, so they can join you on every step of the way as you explore this coastal landscape steeped in history and nature.

Caution !

Livestock grazing on the grounds of the demesne, please keep all dogs on a lead !

Our pawprint rating system

We’ve been working on making it easier for you to find out how dog-friendly your visit will be before you and your four-legged-friend arrive. To help with this, we've created a new pawprint rating system and given all the places in our care a rating. You can find this information in the National Trust members’ handbook.

Downhill Demesne is a one pawprint rated place.

Dogs are welcome here, but facilities are limited. They’ll be able to stretch their legs in the car park and walk in the nearby open spaces, depending on the season. Read on to discover exactly where you can take your dog.

Best places for dog walking at Downhill Demesne

Pull on your walking boots and stride out on a coastal adventure with your pooch. Explore the sheltered clifftop garden, including the Walled Garden, orchard and arboretum with its rare and non-native trees.

You can also stroll around the lake, walk along the cliffs and soak up dramatic coastal views of the North Atlantic. Visit the ruins of the old Bishop’s house and stop by Mussenden Temple for a must-have photo at one of Ireland's most photographed places, inspired by the Tivoli Temple of Vesta in Italy.

You can explore the grounds at your own leisure or follow the Downhill Demesne walking trail which hugs the headland, loops through the garden and takes you to the Temple.

A small dog on a lead on the grass
Dog walking at Downhill Demesne, County Londonderry | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

Where can my dog go?

Downhill Demesne is fully dog-friendly. Dogs on leads are welcome in all outdoors areas, including the clifftop garden, arboretum and mansion ruins.

What do I need to be aware of at Downhill Demesne?

Please keep your dog on a lead at all times whilst on Downhill Demesne. Cattle graze on the property and can be spooked by dogs. Dogs can also disturb ground nesting birds and local wildlife and the cliff edge can be dangerous for dogs off lead.

Facilities available for my dog

Water bowls are available for your dog at Lion's Gate and Bishop's Gate.

The Canine Code

We’ve worked with our partner Forthglade to come up with this Canine Code, which helps to make sure everyone can enjoy their day:

  • Keep them close: using a short lead helps to keep your dog from disturbing ground-nesting birds and farm animals. It's essential to use a short lead around sheep. But if cattle approach you, it's best to let your dog off the lead, and call them back when it's safe to do so.
  • Pick up the poo: please always clear up after your dog. If you can't find a bin nearby, take the poo bags home with you.
  • Watch the signs: keep an eye on local signs and notices wherever you're walking. They'll tell you if a beach has a dog ban, for instance, or if a path has been diverted, or if you're in an area where dogs can run off-lead.
  • Stay on the ball: remember that not everyone loves dogs, and some people fear them. So make sure your dog doesn't run up to other people, especially children.

Keeping control of your dog

Our definition of close or effective control is: ​

  • Being able to recall your dogs in any situation at the first call
  • Being able to clearly see your dog at all times (not just knowing they have gone into the undergrowth or over the crest of the hill). In practice, this means keeping them on a footpath if the surrounding vegetation is too dense for your dog to be visible
  • Not allowing them to approach other visitors without their consent
  • Having a lead with you to use if you encounter livestock or wildlife, or if you are asked to use one
Exterior of Mussenden Temple in the grounds of Downhill Demesne at County Londonderry

Discover more at Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne

Find out when Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

Our partners


We've partnered with natural pet food maker Forthglade so that you and your dog can get even more out of the special places we care for.

Visit website 

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