Bangor Castle, Bangor, County Down.

Bangor Castle was built for the Hon Robert Edward Ward and his family in 1852. It is presently the headquarters of North Down Borough Council who use the mansions spectacular grand salon as the council chamber. The building is situated in the grounds of Castle Park alongside North Down Museum and is just a short walk from Bangors Walled Garden.

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The castle can be hired reasonably cheaply for wedding services and is a popular venue for those seeking a non-religious event.

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Picture taken Christmas 2015 (spot the tree).

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Bangor Castle overlooks the town of Bangor and its really worth having a walk around it and Castle Park behind. The walled garden (about ten minutes walk away) has just been used in the brand new film by Ben Wheatley called High Rise.

 

 

 

 

Helens Bay, Co.Down 10th January 2016

I haven’t posted anything in a while with a few personal things going on, but new year brings new intentions to get things going again, and as ever, the idea is to show just what Northern Ireland has to offer beyond its troubles of the past and its big ship that sunk in the night. There’s much more to our tiny country than those black taxis around tainted murals, or even the wonderful Giants Causeway. Have a look and see what has lay hidden for decades from most travellers eyes, and where most sights are never more than 120mins apart.

All photos were taken with only my Sony compact camera, so my pictures actually are of what you will see (no hyper-realistic SLR pix here as I prefer to show reality). Heres to a great new year of 2016 and I hope it brings each and every one of you much happiness 😀

 

 

HELENS BAY – SEAHILL Coastal path, on the evening of January 10th 2016

 

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The weather in the north of Ireland (in fact all of the UK and Ireland) has been the wettest ever on record this winter, so we’ve barely seen the sun in weeks. Last night however there was a little glimmer of gold as the day began to fade so we went out for a walk along the shores of Belfast Lough and grabbed a few pics.

 

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You cant really see it here, but this is looking across the lough towards Carrickfergus from Helens Bay

 

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A rocky beach between Helens Bay and Seahill

 

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You might just be able to see a little bench to sit on to the left here, but we decided not to given it was very, very cold!

 

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After all that rain, much of the path was muddy and puddled, but it made a nice feature in this picture.

 

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Daylight almost gone now, the last embers of light fading into a January night.

Creightons Woods, North Down, County Down

Having lived in this area for over 10 years now, it came as a bit of a surprise to go for a drive a few days ago and discover a place Id never seen before, literally 15 minutes from my home. Theres almost nothing about Creightons Wood on Google in terms of information or location, and judging by the condition of the place it seems as if it doesn’t see many visitors these days. The sign at the entrance is badly rotting, and many of the trees have fallen over and are diseased. Such a shame, as on this mild November morning I had the whole place to myself and didn’t see any wildlife in there, not even a bird (which felt slightly weird!). The woods are hundreds of feet above sea level (which is at Belfast Lough below). As the wind blew that morning it made an eerie wailing noise through the trees, really fantastic stuff. There were many varieties of mushroom growing there too, none Id take a chance on eating however, as I’m not at all educated on all things fungi. But I hope to visit this abandoned and melancholy place again soon.

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The old sign into the woods. An old poster of a lost dog remains stuck to one leg of it. I wonder was he ever found?

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Trees tower high into the November sky. Not a sound but the wailing wind.

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Many trees have fallen over a long time ago it seems. Leaving big pools of dark water where their roots used to be.

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Strangely, parts of the woods seemed to be flourishing too however, with a stream here bursting with green leafy life even at the edge of an oncoming Winter.

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Another tree sits precariously after falling, and a green blanket of moss covers the foreground in Creightons Wood.

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A circle of mushrooms.

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Picture taken from the top of a big mushroom.

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A fungi giant. If I had know he was edible I would have taken him home.

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Looks like someone in the past had placed a piece of old picket fence to cross the stream.

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The roots and base of a fallen tree looks like some creepy witch figure here.

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No, not a six foot long piece of broccoli, but a little fallen tree covered in moss.

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Flooded land at Creightons Wood. November 2014.

Crawfordsburn Country Park, County Down. In the snow

Right now we are having a pretty mild autumn here in Northern Ireland. Its mid October but the weathermen have forecast temperatures up to 17C by Friday which is almost unheard of for this time of year. In fact, our Summer temperatures have been known to only get that high so its quite crazy for us indeed. Anyway, I’m sure Winter isn’t too far away, and when it comes it’ll probably be quite sudden. A few years back NI had temperatures as low as -18C (yes that’s minus 18C) during Winter. I really hope we never get those again. Below are a few pictures I took back in February 2013. I was off work that day and when I woke up and saw a blanket of snow outside I quickly ran and grabbed my camera to walk down to the beach where I live and get a few shots before the thaw. As it was a weekday, there wasn’t a soul around, totally silent apart from the waves on the frozen shore. Fantastic.

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The little sign at the Southern end of Helens Bay beach where you enter the lower reaches of the Country Park.

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During Summer, if the weathers fine, this beach will be packed with day trippers who travel in from Belfast. I guess not many of those have seen it look like this. Like most seaside towns however, those who live there probably look forward to the end of Summer when their areas regain their peace and tranquility. I cant really argue with that.

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Looking through an iced twig towards Crawfordsburn bay (from Helens bay). The Winter Sun has just begun its slow and shallow climb into the morning sky.  No one around but me.

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Quite a beautiful scene. Crawfordsburn Bay frozen in the early morning sunrise.

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The promenade beside Crawfordsburn beach. The snow actually only lasted a few hours that morning as the thaw took place quite quickly. I think I took these pictures around 8am, but by 10am it was mostly gone. Lucky shots then.

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During the Summer, this little bench would likely be in high demand. Not today however, only the snow rests here now.

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Crawfordsburn beach boasts an award of a Blue Flag, an indication that the sea water is above a certain standard of cleanliness, and the beach has good hygienic conditions too. You might just be able to read some of the sign here which sits at the North end of the beach. Without the snow, this area has lush green grass overlooking the sea, where many families sit having a picnic in the warmer months. This year I was actually down here with my children in March and it was lovely.

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Im not entirely sure if this little guy is a woodpecker or a kingfisher. Hes been carved out of a tree and sits beside the main carpark at Crawfordsburn forest. This morning only him and me braved the cold. Everyone else was at work or huddled at home near the fire. Brrrr!

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.

Groomsport & Donaghadee, County Down (August 2014)

Groomsport (from Irish Port an Ghiolla Ghruama, meaning “port of the gloomy servant”) is a village and townland two miles north east of Bangor in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is on the south shore of Belfast Lough and on the north coast of the Ards Peninsula. Donaghadee is probably best known for its lighthouse and harbour. For centuries, it has been a haven for ships, and the harbour has been there from at least the 17th century.

 

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I took this picture looking across a bay just before arriving in the town of Groomsport.

 

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Groomsport bay with its rocky outcrops, this was early on an august morning, almost no one around.

 

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Fading Summer 2014

 

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A gate to where? Groomsport beach.

 

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This old boat sits out of the water at Donaghadee harbour. Its days at sea have long since gone. Looks like the starlings have chosen it as a perch now.

 

 

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A boy fishing off the harbour wall at Donaghadee, beside the towering lighthouse.