Castle Ward Shore Trail

Difficulty
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Easy
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
1h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
3.9 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
64 m
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Directions to Trailhead
Castle Ward Shore Trail

The Castle Ward Shore Trail is a spectacular family-friendly walking route in County Down that will provide stunning views and the chance to visit historical and pop culture sites. While out on the trail, you will explore the grounds of the unique and extravagant 18th Century Castle Ward before heading towards the shores of Strangford Lough to visit Old Castle Ward, one of the Game of Thrones filming locations. This is an amazing adventure that is packed full of interesting architecture and beautifully scenic views.

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Route Description for Castle Ward Shore Trail

Other than the crowds of visitors that will inevitably be walking around the grounds of Castle Ward, there isn’t anything bad that can be said about the Castle Ward Shore Trail. Be sure to arrive early to secure parking and keep your dogs on a lead, as there will be other people in the area.

Whether you are a history lover, outdoor enthusiast, or a fan of big budget television shows, the Castle Ward Shore Trail is an amazing experience that will be anything but boring. The 18th Century manor house known as Castle Ward is a unique place, as it is split entirely in half by two different architectural styles inside and out. This is due to the differing preferences between Lord Bangor and his wife, Lady Ann Bligh. As such, one half of the castle was constructed in the Palladian style, while the other was built in the Georgian Gothic Style. Also along the trail is the 16th Century Old Castle Ward, which is best known for its use as a filming site for Winterfell in Game of Thrones. Add in some stunning waterside views of Strangford Lough and you have a winning recipe for a fantastic day on the trails.

Setting out from the trailhead at Old Castle Ward, you will head to the northeast to meet up with shores of Strangford Lough, following along the water’s edge as you take in the beautifully scenic views. After passing by the sailing club and Audley’s Castle, you will turn to the south and climb up the forested hillside of Audleystown Wood. Take your time and enjoy this forested portion of the walk, relaxing in the peaceful setting as you work your way to the southwest.

After crossing over Audleystown Road, you will make your way around the walled garden to explore the extravagant grounds of the castle, taking in the views of the 18th Century Castle Ward House located uphill to the southwest. If you want to visit the architecturally distinct building up close, you can take a detour to the southwest along the Laurel Walk. Once you have arrived back at Old Castle Ward, take some time to explore the Game of Thrones filming location, before heading back to the car park having completed the Castle Ward Shore Trail.

Trail Highlights

Castle Ward

Owned by the National Trust since 1952, Castle Ward is an estate located in County Down, Northern Ireland near to Strangford Lough. The property and its various buildings were formerly in the possession of the Ward family dating back as far as 1570.

While the original 18th Century manor house was destroyed around 1850, the current building that was constructed during the 1760s still stands. Additionally, an even older building along the shores of Strangford Lough, known as Old Castle Ward (c.1590), still survives and was featured in Game of Thrones as the filming location for Winterfell.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you stay at Castle Ward?

National Trust camping/caravan sites and camping pods are available at Castle Ward for overnight use.

When was Castle Ward built?

The current building was finished construction in 1766; however, Old Castle Ward located nearby was built in 1590.

Insider Hints for Castle Ward Shore Trail

  • Toilet facilities and a cafe can be found near the manor house.
  • Make sure to keep your dog on a lead for this walk.
  • Comfortable walking shoes are recommended.
  • Don’t forget to head over to Old Castle Ward to explore the filming location of Game of Thrones, Winterfell.

Getting to the Castle Ward Shore Trail Trailhead

To reach the trailhead for the Castle Ward Shore Trail from Strangford, head southwest on Downpatrick Road for 1.0 km and turn right. Continue on for 1.1 km to arrive at the car park.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    No

  • When to do

    Year-Round

  • Pets allowed

    Yes - On Leash

  • Family friendly

    Yes

  • Route Signage

    Average

  • Crowd Levels

    High

  • Route Type

    Circuit

Castle Ward Shore Trail Elevation Graph

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