Bluebells in the woods around Loughbrickland House, on the woodland walk
Check on www.discovernorthernireland.com for experiences awaiting you when you come on holidays in Northern Ireland. There is something there for everyone. And they are all within easy reach of
Loughbrickland.

On this page we give details of activities nearer to home mostly without any cost
to you.

a. Walking and nature trails in the immediate area – walking distance
b. Walking and nature trails within 20 miles
c. Cultural and historical sites
d. Sporting activities
e. Health, Beauty and Fitness
f. Shopping and Culinary delights

  1. Walking and nature trails in the immediate area – walking distance

    1. Loughbrickland Historic Trail: This trail on the very doorstep of the Coach House takes the walker not only on a journey through the village of Loughbrickland, but also through time, from the earliest traces of settlements in the area to the latest developments. It starts by the lake, proceeds through the village and into the grounds of Loughbrickland House; it circumnavigates the house starting from the front gate-lodge, going through the woods and past an impressive rath or ring fort over 100 feet in diameter and then returning to the front gate via a different route. If you prefer you can take a longer loop along the Boundary Trail, which passes through a second ring fort, Johnston’s Fort, and then returns to the Gate Lodge. Both trails may be joined just beside the car park for the CoachHouse and are waymarked. The Historic Trail was developed by the Loughbrickland and District Community Association with assistance from Banbridge District Council and Conservation Volunteers. An explanatory leaflet and map is available. Information about this walk and other walks on the area, including maps, can be downloaded from the Banbridge District Council website. This walk has recently been accredited as a ‘Quality Short Walk’ by CAAN (Countryside Access and Activities Network). You can see a slideshow of photos from the walk on the Walk NI website (click on the photo thumbnails on the right to start the slideshow). This website also contains information on other walks in the area.

      You can read a Belfast Telegraph article about the trail here.

      Ring fort on the Historic Trail
      Legananny Dolmen
    2. Local archaeological sites: Three ancient sites were uncovered during recent work on the A1, one just south of Loughbrickland village, another at the Fourmile and a third in the Derrycraw townland, near Beech Hill. Neolithic houses (dated to between 3710BC and 3602BC) were found as well as evidence of habitation up to and during the Bronze Age ( 1600 BC – 800BC). These have been mapped (see link), but on the whole not marked, except for the Legananny dolmen (see photograph) – for which transport is necessary. You can download a pdf map of them here. Another archaeological site that is close by is Finnis Souterrain.

  2. Back to top

  3. Using transport: Walking and nature trails within 20 miles

    If you require transport so as to go further afield, consider contacting the Car Rental Dublin website at Dublin airport for comparisons of car hire rates.

    1. The Newry Canal Towpath: A 20 mile cycling and walking route between Portadown and Newry. Nearest point of access from Loughbrickland is Scarva. The towpath offers all users the opportunity to observe the varied flora and fauna and to discover the historical and archaeological heritage of the area.
    2. Murlough National Nature Reserve: Fantastic walking country and a haven for bird watchers. A network of paths and board walks enables you to explore this amazing nature reserve. Access all year; Admission charge when facilities open. Email: murlough [at] nationaltrust.org.uk.
    3. Castle Espie Wetland Centre: Set on the shores of the stunning Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland where almost the entire population of Light-bellied Brent Geese reside during the winter months.
    4. Drumkeeragh Forest, Castlewellan: A range of walking trails varying in length and difficulty. Choose the trail you wish to walk from the map on display in the car park. Admission free.
    5. Quoile Countryside Centre, Downpatrick: Wander through lush woodlands and wetlands of this tranquil riverside haven where wildfowl nest among the reeds and riverbanks. Open every day April – August; Saturdays and Sundays only September – March. Email: quoilecc [at] doeni.gov.uk.
    6. Tollymore Forest Park: One of Northern Ireland’s largest and most attractive forest parks. Admission charge. Open all year. Email: customer.forestservice [at] dardni.gov.uk
    7. Strangford Lough and Wildlife Centre: Located within Castle Ward Estate, the Wildlife Centre provides information on the marine,plant life and birdlife of Strangford Lough. Open March 17 – September 30th. Varying hours. Admission charge. Email: strangford [at] nationaltrust.org.uk
    8. Hillsborough Forest Park. A comfortable 20 minutes drive brings you to this lovely park with a circular walk (about 1 hour) around the picturesque lake with swans and ducks. Admission free all year. Parking.
    9. Slieve Gullion Forest Park: Just off the southern roundabout of the Newry bypass. Open all year; No admission charge. Farm animals.
    10. Clare Glen: A park in a winding river valley in County Armagh. Open all year; No admission charge.
    11. Walks in the Mournes: Qualified mountaineer Domnall McComish heads walks in the Mournes.
    12. www.mournelive.com: The Mourne Heritage Trust also runs guided walks.
    13. Seaside at Cranfield, Tyrella, Dundrum, Murlough Bay (25 miles)
    14. Further afield:

    15. The Lagan Valley Regional Park runs a series of events throughout the year including guided birdwatching, discovery walks treasures hunts, butterfly and mothhawk observations, spider safaris and art in the park.
    16. Lough Neagh Discovery Centre and Oxford Island Nature Reserve

    Back to top

    Local scenery: drumlins, wildflowers, and Loughbrickland Lake

  4. Cultural and historical sites

    The F.E. McWilliam Sculpture Gallery and Studio just down the road on the way into Banbridge commemorates F.E. McWilliam from Banbridge, widely regarded, after Henry Moore, as the most gifted sculptor in Britain in the 1930s and 1940’s. After his death in 1992 his daughters presented his studio and a number of sculptures to Banbridge. In partnership with Drogheda Borough Council, funding was obtained from the EU Interreg 111 Fund and a magnificent Sculpture Centre was opened in 2008 comprising an interpretative centre, the reinstated studio, a landscaped sculpture garden, a sculpture park and a sculpture workshop gallery. It is a landmark in the cultural infrastructure of the area. Good for a rainy day but even better on a sunny day! The complex also includes a Tourist Office and a very attractive coffee shop for lunch and snacks.
    Address: 200, Newry Rd., Banbridge. Tel 0044 28 4062 3322, email femcwilliam@banbridge.gov.uk.

    Loughbrickland is a good base for excursions such as the Bronte Homeland Drive, a tour of the Linen Homelands, , visits to the historic cathedral city of Armagh with its two cathedrals, the prehistoric Navan Fort, the Archbishop’s Stables, the County Museum, and the Planetarium etc. Gosford Forest Park and Castle, in County Armagh, are well worth a visit.

    You can also venture south to Co. Louth and explore the towns of Dundalk and Drogheda (famously sacked by Cromwell). And the famous prehistoric sites (Newgrange) and monastic sites (Old Mellifont Abbey, Monasterboice) of the Boyne Valley are but a step down the road .

    Slightly further afield to the north, Belfast has now a well-developed set of tourist attractions, including the Ulster Museum, St. Anne’s Cathedral, Queen’s University. The Ulster Folk and Transport Museum is a well laid out attractive display of buildings and living crafts of times gone by in Cultra on the road to Bangor. Find out what’s on in Belfast at the Belfast Welcome Centre website.

    Northern Ireland has a fair share of historic homes cared for by the National Trust. Those within easy reach of Loughbrickland include:
    Ardress House, and The Argory in Co. Armagh, and Rowallane Gardens (especially spectacular when the rhododendrons are in bloom in May) , and CastleWard in Co. Down.

  5. Back to top

  6. Sporting activities
    There is a wide range of sporting activities within an easy drive of Loughbrickland Coach House. These include:

    Golf,
    Horse riding
    Adventure Sports
    Fishing and Shooting
    Sailing and watersports,
    Cycling and hiking.

    For full details see Banbridge District Council, and www.downdc.gov.uk. There’s a helpful overview of things to do in the Mourne Mountains area on the Mourne Mountains website. You can also explore the Countryside Access and Activities Network websites at www.walkni.com, www.cycleni.com, www.canoeni.com and www.outdoorni.com.

  7. Back to top

  8. Health, Beauty and Fitness

    A number of Centres around Co. Down offer programmes of relaxation and therapy – in Ballynahinch, Killyleagh, Downpatrick, Newcastle and there are also Seaweed Baths in Newcastle.

  9. Back to top

  10. Shopping and culinary delights
  11. Banbridge, a historic market town, provides excellent shopping facilities and boasts recently opened (Easter 2007) The Outlet, a major shopping precinct with international stores situated beside the A1 where it bypasses the town.

    Newry has two modern shopping centres: The Buttercrane Centre and The Quays.

    Sprucefield on the south side of Lisburn has a range of department stores including Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s, B & Q, Argos etc.

    Culinary Delights – where will we eat tonight?

    1. Within walking distance: in Loughbrickland Village
        The Seven Stars – local pub – conventional pub meals. Very popular with locals.

    2. By car or taxi – on the A1 towards Belfast:

      1. The Coffee Shop at the F.E. McWilliam Gallery – leave the A1 at Banbridge and it’s right there. A truly lovely sculpture gallery; Tourist Office also there; and a gourmet coffee and lunch stop
      2. The Plough in Hillsborough opposite the Court House. Superior Bistro /Restaurant. Wise to book ahead. Lunch or dinner. Music sometimes.
        Book for dinner 028 9268 2985
      3. The Hillside, Main St., HIllsborough Good quality home style cooking. Lunch and dinner.
        Book for evenings. 028 9268 2765
    3. By car or taxi – towards Rathfriland (across the A1)
      1. The Bronte Steakhouse, Ballinafay Rd., – follow signs which lead you to the left off the road to Rathfriland from Loughbrickland. Nice atmosphere. Excellent steaks and choice of other dishes. Licensed.
        Book for dinner. 0284 4065 1338
    4. By car or taxi – towards Gilford via Scarva or via Banbridge
      1. The Pot Belly, Banbridge Rd., Located in a former pottery.
        Superior restaurant moderately priced. Licensed. Lovely cocktails. Sunday lunch; dinner every night. Great choice of dishes; fresh ingredients, well presented.
        Book for dinner 028 3883 1404

      Back to top

    Flowers on the woodland walk

    From our Guest Book“No complaints! This is our second visit and we have found the standards maintained to the same high level!”
    From our Guest Book“Perfect, perfect, perfect. Five star indeed”
    From our Guest Book"Excellent accommodation - great for children"
    From our Guest Book"Great weekend. Brilliant facilities. Warm and cosy. Would love to come back."
    From our Guest Book"Welcome pack a great idea! Accommodation very comfy and warm. Lovely walks in the vicinity"
    From our Guest Book"A very well fitted house with character throughout"
    From our Guest Book"All good! Will return and have already recommended to others this Ace accommodation!"
    From our Guest Book"Lovely accommodation for BBQ this week! Enjoyed watching the owl at dusk. Great area for touring with lots to see"
    From our Guest Book”Thank you very much for allowing us to stay in your wonderful cottage. We very much enjoyed our time here especially the dawn chorus while having breakfast in the garden. We look forward to a return stay"
    From our Guest Book"A wonderful retreat – exceeded our expectations in all areas of comfort; shame we couldn’t stay longer!!"
    From our Guest Book"Fantastic location and loved the cottage. Excellent for wheelchair users. Friendly people made the stay a pleasure"
    From our Guest Book"Thank you so much for the lovely house. Perfect housekeeping and walks and gardens. The brown bread and jam were delicious! Would love to come back. Will tell friends about it"
    From our Guest Book"A lot of careful thought has gone into the planning and execution of this accommodation. Delightful quiet spot with plenty of pleasant walks. Thanks to Evelyn for her attention to detail"
    From our Guest Book"Beautiful setting, love the fort. Internet connection really useful and fun. Loved the sense of history all around"
    From our Guest Book“Had a great stay, traveling to work each day. The facilities were second to none. Great. Looking forward to staying here again. Thanks for all your help.”
    From our Guest Book“All good! Will return and have already recommended to others this Ace accommodation! “
    From our Guest Book"This has proved to be the ideal accommodation for spending Christmas with our daughter and family who live in the area – we hope to do it again!”
    From our Guest Book“Will return, beautiful setting, serene. House lovely, clean and well-equipped”
    From our Guest Book“Best self-catering we’ve stayed in. Well done. Enjoyed our break. Thanks”
    From our Guest Book“A gorgeous house, fantastic setting. Everything you would want. Looking forward to our next visit.”
    From our Guest Book“We really enjoyed the comfort of Coolnacran and the lovely woodland walks from the door”
    From our Guest Book“Fantastic house in a wonderful setting. Kids really enjoyed themselves. Will recommend it to others”
    From our Guest Book“A wonderful retreat – exceeded our expectations in all areas of comfort; shame we couldn’t stay longer!!”
    From our Guest Book“Will return, beautiful setting, serene. House lovely, clean and well-equipped”