From the main car park cycle down the main avenue with the mansion house on your left. Just before the entrance gates turn right onto Colonel's Walk. Climb up through the woodland and pause to enjoy the view towards the Mournes at the top. Carry on past some freshwater ponds until you come to the old Gamekeeper's Cottage (now 'Base Camp' used for groups). Choose an alternative trail to take you west through Mountain Wood from where Strangford Lough comes into view. Descend the gravel path to an quaint Victorian Gate Lodge. Turn right, with open farmland and the estate wall visible to your left, follow the rough, stone road back to the carpark.
Public roads: Off Public Road
Getting to the start:
Bike: NCN Route 99
Bus: Ulsterbus No 16E between Downpatrick and Strangford, bus stop at Castle Ward gates (check re space for bikes).
Car: On A25, 7ml from Downpatrick and 1.5 ml from Strangford. 45 mins drive time from Belfast. Follow brown road signs for Castle Ward.
Car park: Follow main avenue for half a mile and main car park is on the left just by the adventure playground.
Traffic: Walkers, horse riders and estate vehicles. Cars on main avenue.
Terrain:Mostly woodland floor and gravel tracks. Main avenue is tarmac. Trails may be boggy in wet weather.
Point of interest:Views over Strangford Lough, eccentric 18th century mansion house, Irish hares.
Facilities:Car park (disabled parking at Stable Yard), toilets (including disabled), seasonal tearoom, mansion house with tours, adventure playground, gift and book shop, farmyard and corn mill, camping and caravan site, picnic areas, bike and canoe hire
Accessibility information:Main avenue and Farm Yard suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs. Downpatrick Avenue suitable for pushchairs, mobility scooters or fit wheelchair users / users with a strong pusher. Woodland floor is unsuitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs.
Accessible toilet facilities:Yes
Publication:Castle Ward trail leaflet and property leaflet (National Trust)
Publication availability:Reception in Stable Yard