We continue our series of recommended routes in conjunction with NIWalks.com with a glimpse of the treasures to be found on the Castle Ward Castle Trail in Co Down.
Each walk is designed to be accessible and not too challenging. Regardless of how near or far you live from the destination, it’s the perfect excuse to plan a day, or a weekend away.
The area now known as Castle Ward was previously known as Carrick na shanna (the rock of the fox) and there are traces of human habitation from Neolithic times, evidenced by the a standing stone and beside it a matching stone lying on the ground, which may be the remains of a dolmen or portal tomb.
The social rise of the Ward family, from colonists in the 16th century to the nobility in the 18th, is encapsulated by the small fortified tower house of old Castle Ward and their more recent Georgian mansion, set in landscaped parkland. The stylistic changes in landscape gardening are represented by the remains of the 18th century formal garden with what is probably the most impressive ornamental canal of this period in Ireland, together with terraces lined with their original yews and picturesque classical temple.
The succeeding naturalistic movement is exemplified by the pastoral and wooded parkland around the manor house and adjacent 18th century stable yard, which contains a tea room and gift shop. The return to formalism in Victorian times is represented by a formal garden with terracing adjoining the house.
Victorian industrial innovation is also represented on the property by a corn mill and saw mill which where operated by a culverted water course from the temple water lake. The corn mill is still operational and demonstrations are held periodically during the summer months.
There are other walks within the estate to choose from, of varying distances and terrains. Copies of the trail maps can be obtained from reception in the stable yard, so you can pick and choose where you want to discover, like for example Audley’s Castle; a magnificent example of a 15th Century Anglo-Norman tower house commanding panoramic views over Strangford Lough.
The castle is now famous for being Winterfell, home of the ill-fated Ned Stark, in Game of Thrones.
Visit WalkNI.com for more information on this walk and over 270 other quality walks across Northern Ireland including route descriptions, maps, transport and facility information.
RESPONSIBLE WALKING: Please remember to practice the principles of ’Leave No Trace’ when enjoying the outdoors in order to minimise your impact on the environment.
For more information, visit www.leavenotraceireland.org
IMPORTANT: Every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information. However, neither WalkNI.com nor Johnston Press NI can accept responsibility for errors or omissions. Where such are brought to our attention, information for future publications will be amended accordingly.