Melancholic Moods at Downhill House

Situated just behind Mussenden Temple (see below), Downhill House seems to exude sadness into the air around it. I don’t know what it is about old abandoned buildings, but you can almost feel a sense of loss of past grandeur. Downhill House doesn’t get the same attention as the famous Temple in front of it, but as you step through its big iron gates you soon realize it has as much to offer by way of awe for its past history. Even in its heyday though, it was insulted for its silly location exposed to just about the worst weather Northern Ireland can ever have, perched on a clifftop exposed to the North Atlantic Ocean. But on this last November day of 2014 (with no one around) the echoes of its old beauty still seemed to resound for me – though very faint now. Wiki page here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Downhill_House

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Downhill House appears like some Irish Stonehenge in the distance.

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You’d be forgiven for thinking it was a castle from this angle.

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As you step inside through the iron gates (they should be open) this is the sight you see.

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Theres a small labyrinth of broken rooms and walls to explore.

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In the distance here you can see whats known as the mausoleum (though no one was buried there), it is a memorial monument to this guy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_William_Hervey,_2nd_Earl_of_Bristol and its much taller than it looks when you get closer. I will post pictures of it here soon. The house looks very imposing on this second picture.

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Some history of the house on a post inside.

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Some shots of the front of the house. Be advised, watch your step around the entire surrounding fields, sheep are regularly grazed here and have left many little brown presents hidden in the grass haha. Ive been told too that during the really cold days they actually get allowed into the house for shelter. Not many sheep would have a barn like this.

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The house really does catch the eye on the flat landscape here.

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The view from the “Lions Gate” as you enter from there. And a photo from the (opposite) Castlerock side. This entire area is magical. A must see.

Mussenden Temple, Downhill, County Derry (November 2014)

I guess many photographs have been taken of Mussenden Temple, its used continually in almost all of Northern Ireland tourist advertisements, its iconic image likely known the world over. But even for someone who lives in the country, its still a pretty impressive sight to see, and its really worth the trek up to see it. What we did was drive to Castlerock (the seaside town at the opposite side of the headland – also worth checking out) and walked all the way up, crossing the valley below via the small dam like structure at the pool. You see much more of the cliffs and impressive approach to the entire Downhill Demesne this way.

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Coming from Castlerock, one of your first sights of the temple.

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Some impressive cliffs before you reach there.

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Looking back towards Castlerock beach in the distance.

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From the far side of the valley here, you can see how the trains enter the tunnel underneath the temple. Don’t ever try taking a shortcut through this tunnel to get to Downhill beach on the other side however. Theres a high chance you could be killed. At Downhill these are the two longest tunnels on Northern Ireland’s railway network and its pitch dark inside. If a train were to come (while you were in there) you’d never get out.

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This is a panoramic pic I took of the temple and Downhill House (will be posting it later) showing the distance between them. Obviously the quality is a little lower as you have to pan the camera to get these stills. But not bad for my little compact.

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Getting closer now (heed the sign) if you walk towards the left of this picture you will see a pool and a small dam below. Thats where you cross to climb up to the other side. Don’t worry, it looks much harder than it actually is lol.

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Cross over here.

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You’ll see this sign.

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The temple. Which I suppose isn’t too impressive until you walk around the back and get a glimpse of this….

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Yup, a real wow moment. Even on a dull November day like today.

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A wider shot of the gorgeous Downhill Strand below. Not a bad view for a picture taken just 4 weeks before Christmas 🙂

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Theres a wall that gives visitors protection from certain death with a fall up here. Not for climbing on haha.

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Heading back, and goodbye to Mussenden Temple.

Tamlaghtard Church, Cemetery, and School, County Derry

Its hard to know where to locate this church based on what it says on Google. Some sites state its in Bellarena, others near Limavady, and some in Magilligan. Safe to say its in County Derry however (parish of Tamlaghtard), and sits just below the stunning Binevenagh plateau. Tamlaghtard is said to mean “the cemetery on the height” which is hardly surprising based on its position. It was built somewhere around 1784 and has a wonderful setting in this designated area of outstanding natural beauty. You can see the little church clearly in the distance if you travel from Castlerock to Derry by train. The denomination here is Church of Ireland, and the grounds contain an old school (now abandoned) which may have doubled up as a robing room. There is also a (creepy) tomb of sorts at the back of the attached cemetery which you can see below.

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Tamlaghtard Church. Simply lovely location.

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Seen from the front on an early Winter morning 2014.

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A distant plane leaves for places afar, above Tamlaghtard Church.

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The attached old graveyard, with the imposing Binevenagh cliffs towering behind.

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At the very back of the old graveyard lies this tomb in the right hand corner.

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One of the headstones on the tomb.

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The door was open.

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A look inside.

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These stone coffins were old based on the dates.

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Pretty creepy in here.

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In front of the church is this little building which apparently is an old abandoned school (if anyone knows more let me know).

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The front of the “school” – the door at the back had blown off in the wind it seemed…

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We had a look inside. Very dark, very creepy.

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With the flash on, things became much more illuminated.

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A little desk. We didnt touch or move anything for the few minutes we had a look inside.

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The paint and windows from inside.

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Somebody didn’t want anyone to come in this door, that’s for sure.

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Obviously electrics had been added at some time. The building is mentioned as being used as a robing room as far back as the late 19th century. Apart from that, the internet seems to give up nothing else about the building. Those little coat hooks on the wall could probably tell a story though.

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Is that the book from the Evil Dead movie on the ceiling? I hope not lol.

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Time to leave Tamlaghtard Church. So many more things to see in this area.