Scrabo Tower, County Down, Newtownards

Standing 540 feet (160 m) above sea level and 125 feet (38 m) high, Scrabo Tower is located to the west of Newtownards in County Down.
The landmark, which is visible from most of north Down, was built above Newtownards in 1857 as a memorial to Charles Stewart, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry who was one of the Duke of Wellington’s generals during the Napoleonic Wars.

The tower houses two floors of displays and a climb of 122 steps gives visitors access to an open viewing level. In April 2014, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency said that the tower had suffered “serious water ingress”, which had damaged the electricity supply, and citing concerns for visitor safety, advised that the tower would close to visitors. However, as of August 2014, the tower has been open to visitors.

Scrabo Country Park, in which the tower stands is also open to the public, and has several woodland walks and parkland through Killynether Wood. The view from the hill extends across Strangford Lough.

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The tower on a beautiful Autumn morning.

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One of the old stone monuments in the surrounding woodland.

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From a distance.

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An ancient stone. Part of the rocks the tower stands on.

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Two men chat below the iconic tower. The town of Newtownards in the distance.

Mount Stewart, County Down

Mount Stewart is an 18th-century house and garden in County Down, Northern Ireland, owned by the National Trust. Situated on the east shore of Strangford Lough, a few miles outside the town of Newtownards and near Greyabbey, it was the Irish seat of the Vane-Tempest-Stewart family, Marquesses of Londonderry. The house and its contents reflect the history of the Vane-Tempest-Stewart family, who played a leading role in British and Irish social and political life.

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On a beautiful early September morning we had a visit (today) to the last day of the Summer car boot sale at Mount Stewart, County Down which was actually really good (we came home with an armful of CDs, DVDs, and some jewellery) and afterwards we went into the amazing National Trust gardens surrounding the impressive property (above)

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All over the grounds there are amazing hidden curiosities among the trees and around the bushes, looking as if every nation on earth has been represented in some small way.

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From this picture, you could easily imagine you were in some lush Japanese garden.

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This old tree trunk looked quite impressive in the fading light of a 2014 Summer.

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On a day like today, its easy to see that Northern Ireland can shine once the Sun comes out from behind the clouds. This is the lake in the middle of the grounds at Mount Stewart. Gorgeously green.

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An entrance to a private burial ground within the park. You cant enter here, but there’s plenty of places to see inside if you wish.

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Almost like a tiny bit of the great wall of China.

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A mermaid who peeps out permanently from the lake.

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If you find this little pier jutting out into the water, look to the right and you’ll see the mermaid.

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A carved wooden head at Mount Stewart, their very own piece of an Easter Island tribute. For further information on Mount Stewart opening times and events, see here: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mount-stewart/

Whitehead, County Antrim

Whitehead is a small seaside town on the east coast of County Antrim, lying almost midway between the towns of Carrickfergus and Larne. It lies within the civil parishes of Island Magee and Templecorran. Before the Plantation of Ulster its name was recorded as both Whitehead and Kinbaine (from Irish an Cionn Bán, meaning “the white head”).

Located at the base of Muldersleigh Hill, at the entrance to Belfast Lough, Whitehead lies in a small bay between the limestone cliffs of Whitehead and the black volcanic cliff of Blackhead, with the Blackhead Lighthouse on top, marking the entrance to the Lough. Whitehead is notable in that there are no streets with the suffix “Street” in their name, giving rise to the nickname ‘The Town With No Streets’.

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This picture (and the two below) were taken from a moving train so the quality isn’t just up to scratch, but the bay at Whitehead still looks quite nice in this.

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Quite a strange cloud formation. I expect its to do with the wind hitting the two land masses at this point (Ireland and Scotland) which are very close together here separated by just a few miles of ocean.

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Another sunset picture just a few miles South of Whitehead. Even an oil refinery can look good with the Sun in the background.

Holywood, North Down.

Holywood (HOL-ee-wuud) is a town and civil parish in County Down, Northern Ireland. It lies on the shore of Belfast Lough, between Belfast and Bangor. It boasts one of the last may-poles in Ireland, said to go back to 1700. Its used annually at the towns popular May Day festival.

 

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Holywood Priory. The tower dates back to 1800, but the oldest ruins are said to go back to the 13th Century. The old Priory graveyard is the resting place for many distinguished citizens.

 

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The tower and clock.

 

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Holywood seafront. The town sits right on the edge of Belfast Lough.

 

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The library in the town center, which used to be a school many years ago. The pic was taken by me at Christmas, hence the tree.

 

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Bit of an eyesore, but this is now gone. I took this photograph just two days before this old butchers shop (Im told) was demolished on the Downshire Road in the town.

 

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At low tide its quite surprising how far you can walk out onto the lough at Holywood. You can just see the ferry heading to Scotland in the background.

Tollymore Forest Park, County Down

Just a few pictures of Tollymore Forest park for now. Tollymore Forest Park is the first state forest park in Northern Ireland, established on 2 June 1955. It is located at Bryansford, near the town of Newcastle. Covering an area of 630 hectares (1,600 acres) at the foot of the Mourne Mountains, the forest park offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the sea at nearby Newcastle.

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A stone laid on the edge of the forest commemorating the work of David Stewart.

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One of the “folly’s” of the park (making a building look like something it isn’t). This is actually a barn, but its made up to look like a Gothic church.

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The bridge over the Shimna river within Tollymore.

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Another view of the folly above.

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Some winding steps near the entrance to the forest.

Portrush, White Rocks, County Antrim

The Antrim Coast is without doubt one of the nicest places in the whole of Northern Ireland. Boasting miles of beautiful sand, coves, bays, ancient ruins, bridges, the world renowned Giants Causeway and Royal Portrush golf course, there’s more than enough to keep even the well heeled traveler amused. I took the pictures below just a few days ago on what could be said to be the last two days of our Summer 2014 – August 30th-31st.

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Just a few hundred yards from the White Rocks, this is the second largest sand dune in the whole of Ireland (the largest is in Donegal), and its pretty amazing when you see just how big it is. If you ever decide to come here, try and find one of the plastic sand sleds you can buy locally (a snow sled works too) as you’ll have hours of fun sliding down it (the climb up isnt easy though).

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This is the view of the world renowned Royal Portrush golf course from the top of the sand dune above (the course is behind the dunes).

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Looking the opposite direction from the top of the dune. You can see the White Rocks in the distance and just beyond that (not clear in the picture) is Dunluce Castle.

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A horse has a cool off in the water at Portrush.

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Sunday morning 31st August 2014. The waves here are frequently ridden by surfers and there are parking spaces, showers, and toilets at the end of the beach to facilitate this. On a fine day like this, Portrush White Rocks (with its blue flag) can compete with the best beaches in Europe.