Monday, 29 August 2016

Castle Ward Walk

The Sunken Garden and Castle Ward House

I spent a glorious afternoon on Sunday, 28th August, 2016, at Castle Ward estate, County Down, a property of the National Trust.

I arrived just before noon and, parking the two-seater in the main car-park, stretched the legs on a circuitous route round the outside perimeter of the courtyard.

When I reached the stableyard the shop was open, so I spent some time browsing.

They have a very good selection of books and other National Trust merchandise at this property.

I purchased a small book called How To Read Buildings: A crash course in Architecture, by Carol Davidson Cragoe.

The café had just opened, so I ordered the fresh vegetable soup and a slice of brown bread, and brought it outside to the sunny courtyard which, by the way, has free wifi.

After lunch I tightened up the laces on my walking shoes and ventured forth, along the estate's Downpatrick Avenue, towards Downpatrick gate lodge.

I think this used to be the main entrance, if the rather grand, elaborate gates are anything to go by.

The little lodge boasts the armorial bearings of the Viscounts Bangor on its gable wall.

The crest, a man's head adorned with feathers, is missing. A little hole where it had been attached to is visible.

Thence I passed the gates and continued along the avenue, past the Mallard Plantation, until I came to a gate.

This townland is known as Tullyratty.

I walked along a narrow track or trail, passing many plump, ripe, wild blackberries and, would you believe it, raspberries.

I indulged in several of the juicier ones and advanced along the path.

It leads through woodland and emerges, eventually, in a clearing at the former gamekeeper's cottage, now called The Bunkhouse, I think.

Former gamekeeper's cottage

Revisiting Castle Ward is always nostalgic for me, since we spent twenty-five summers at the caravan park at the edge of the demesne closest to Strangford.

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