On this page we give details of activities nearer to home mostly without any cost
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
- Walking and nature trails in the immediate area – walking distance
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- Slieve Gullion Forest Park: Just off the southern roundabout of the Newry bypass. Open all year; No admission charge. Farm animals.
- Clare Glen: A park in a winding river valley in County Armagh. Open all year; No admission charge.
- Walks in the Mournes: Qualified mountaineer Domnall McComish heads walks in the Mournes.
- www.mournelive.com: The Mourne Heritage Trust also runs guided walks.
- Seaside at Cranfield, Tyrella, Dundrum, Murlough Bay (25 miles)
- 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.
- Lough Neagh Discovery Centre and Oxford Island Nature Reserve
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 email@example.com.
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.
There is a wide range of sporting activities within an easy drive of Loughbrickland Coach House. These include:
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.
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.
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.
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?
- Within walking distance: in Loughbrickland Village
- The Seven Stars – local pub – conventional pub meals. Very popular with locals.
- 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
- 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
- The Hillside, Main St., HIllsborough Good quality home style cooking. Lunch and dinner.
Book for evenings. 028 9268 2765
- 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
- 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