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Quality Walk

Mussenden Temple & Downhill Demesne

There cannot be a more wild and dramatic headland in Northern Ireland than Downhill Estate. With fabulous views that stretch over the whole of the North Coast of Ireland and open windswept cliff top walks, it is not surprising that the estate is part of the Binevenagh Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is a well known icon.

County

Londonderry

Distance

2 miles

OS Map

Sheet 4

Nearest Town

Castlerock, near Coleraine

Route Shape

Circular

Route Type

Coastal, Parkland & Grassland, Woodland

Terrain

Gravel paths, mown grass tracks

Grid Reference (Start)

C760354

Grid Reference (End)

C760354

Point of Interest

Mussenden Temple, Downhill House (ruins), Dovecote

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Binevenagh

Route Description

Starting at Bishop’s Gate entrance to the Demesne, proceed past a quaint gothic style gate lodge (private residence) and enter into the Bishop’s Gate Gardens – look out for the unusual bog garden. At a fork in the main path, take the right track – a well surfaced woodland path and pass through a relict arboretum with many rare tree species.

At another pronounced fork, follow signs for Mussenden Temple up a steepish grass track. Through a small wooden gate proceed on to gain a majestic view of the gaunt ruins of Downhill House. At this stage you can explore the ruin, or either head to Mussenden Temple which now beckons, perched on the cliff edge. The views of Ireland’s North Coast and some of the Scottish Western Isles (Islay & Jura) on a clear day are very impressive.

At this point, walkers can choose to retrace their steps or the more adventurous can head west (left of the Temple), making sure to correctly locate the mown grass track through the hay meadows and head for another unusual built feature – the dovecote (another circular type building). From the dovecote, with ice house below – a fantasy landscape of a walled garden appears. On exiting the walled garden, all paths lead back to the ruins of Downhill House, but to return to your starting point veer off to the right, just before the front of the house – following a grass track. This grass track leads to the Mausoleum and back to the gardens at Bishop’s Gate.

You have now completed 2 miles…and a bit!

Getting to the Start (by Car)

Mussenden Temple & Downhill Demesne is situated 5 miles west of Coleraine on the A2 main road to Castlerock and Benone Strand. From Londonderry and Limavady follow the A2 coast road to Benone Strand and 3 miles past Benone, Downhill Demesne is located. Signposted both directions, as section of the Causeway Coastal Route.

Accessibility Grade

Grade 5

Accessible Facilities

The following facilities are available for users with limited mobility:

Disabled toilets - Toliets closed October - March
Disabled parking

Facilities

Car park, Toilets (closed October-March), Picnic area & Information
(Note: toilets located at Lion’s Gate car park)
Wardening staff on duty (during visitor season).

Publication

None

Publication Availability

n/a

Walk Location
Map of Northern Ireland
 
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Ratings and Comments

★★★★☆
Uncle Someone 9 August, 2013 @ 17:51

It's now 4.70 per adult to enter via either of the two gates. However, if you hike across from Castle Rock, there is a free entrance parallel to the stretch of railway.

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