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/

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.

Helens Bay & Crawfordsburn Park County Down

The Helens Bay area in North Down is stunning. Sitting just at the mouth of Belfast Lough, looking out onto the Irish Sea, there are some lovely walks here. In fact the walk from Holywood in the South all the way along to Bangor is a beautiful one (even further to Groomsport if you’re really feeling energetic) but in Autumn (when the visiting daytrippers have gone) a peaceful calm takes over. Thats when many like it best.

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Sunset on a November evening, just slightly South of Helens Bay. If you look really closely you can see one of the old World War 2 lookout posts in the picture. Theres also a great WW2 museum just behind here called Grey Point Fort. See here: http://www.greypointfort.magix.net/public/

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Nobody on the road, nobody on the beach, a feeling in the air, the Summers out of reach…

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Looking across Helens Bay, spoiled only a little by Kilroot power station on the far side of the lough in the distance.

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A small scene of Game of Thrones was shot around here when Brienne had Jaime Lannister prisoner.

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Underneath Crawfordsburn viaduct. The trains to and from Bangor go over this regularly. The walk around here is beautiful (see pics below). Including a waterfall which looks great on a day after rain.

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Deep in Crawfordsburn Country Park, which opened to the public in 1971. Even on a cold Winters day, many local families and visitors frequent the park, which includes a really nice little cafe for hot food and drinks.

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During Autumn, the park bursts with colour. Don’t forget your camera.

Granite trail, Newcastle, County Down.

The “Granite Trail” is one of the easier walks around the base of The Mournes that starts at the harbour in Newcastle. Theres a little sign across the road from the harbour pointing you to the start of the trail, so you shouldn’t get lost.

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This is basically the entrance to the start of the trail. From here you will climb up quite a bit through a wooded area, but there’s a few things to read and exhibits to see along the way.

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One of the old wagons use to bring granite down from the quarry

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This sign explains the use of a “slipe” (a sledge) that was used to move granite when a wheeled wagon couldn’t be.

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You might start to lose a bit of breath by this point, and if you’re tall you will have to duck under those branches like me.

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Nearly there. It gets easier once you get over the stile up ahead (turn right and follow the path).

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Interesting read on this sign, apparently the word “shoddy” (taken normally to mean untidy or badly made) was the name given to broken pieces of stone left over after making plinths etc

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We got a really nice day to come up here, I’m pretty sure that’s not too common, but climb over here and go right. The hardest part of the walk is over.

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Looking back to where you came from in those trees.

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A little pillar at the top points out what you “might” see.

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The quarry at the top. Theres an eerie effect here if anything is going on down the hill in Newcastle. The sound comes up the mountain, hits the wall at the back and you may think that voices or music, or whatever is coming out from inside the rock. Get close to the wall at the back and listen. You might get lucky. Spooky.

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An old abandoned bucket from one of the machines that used to work up here.

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This little stone hut was beside the quarry at the peak of the “Granite Trail”

Details of the entire walk can be found here:   http://www.walkni.com/walks/333/granite-trail/