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Gilford Riverside Walk - Stramore Park

Enjoy a stroll next to the River Bann in the village of Gilford. Located between Portadown and Banbridge in the rolling hills of County Down it is at the centre of a former linen producing heartland. The village grew up around a former linen spinning mill powered by the water from the river. In the 19th century is was one of the largest linen mills in Ireland. The walk is located in a small riverside park next to Gilford Community Centre. Why not stop off in Gilford and have a picnic at the tables provided next to the river and a enjoy short stroll?

County

Down

Distance

0.2 miles

OS Map

Craigavon Sheet 20

Nearest Town

Gilford

Route Shape

Circular

Route Type

Highway to Health, Hill, Parkland & Grassland, Riverside, Urban

Terrain

Surfaced flat trail.

Grid Reference (Start)

J065483

Grid Reference (End)

J065483

Point of Interest

The meandering River Bann and great views of the historic Gilford Mill

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Other Area

Route Description

Please note that the trail is located on the flood plain of the River Bann and is prone to flooding following periods of extreme rainfall.

 

Start the walk at the lower car park at Gilford Community Centre, off the Stramore Road. The centre opened in 2012. It is located in Stramore Park, a small area of open space - next to the River Bann. At that time, a footbridge was erected across the River Bann to link the Centre with the village via another small area of open space on the other bank, off Bridge Street. This created the possibility of achieving a long held objective of linking other Council owned open space along the river . The new Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council is working on plans to extend the riverside trail along the mill race wall and past the former mill building to link, via a new footbridge, with Woodlands Park to the north.

 

The riverside trail was developed by the former Banbridge District Council, officially opening in March 2015, with investment from the Down Rural Area Partnership under the NI Rural Development Programme (2007-13). Despite the widely fluctuating water levels in the river canoeing on the River Bann is popular. Canoe steps and a canoe slalom course were provided here by the Council with assistance from the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure Water Recreation Grant programme 2012/13 and the Landfill Community Fund (2013).

Visible from the trail is the large red brick edifice of the former Gilford Mill. In the 1840s ’s Dunbar McMaster & Co. opened a large 5 storey spinning mill for flax spinning and thread production and constructed the industrial village of Dunbarton grafting it onto the existing village at Gilford. The mill was described by a factory inspector in 1846 “as one of the largest in Ireland” - at its peak in 1870 the mill employed up to 2000. It produced prize winning and world renowned linen yarn and thread in its day. The doors of the great spinning mill closed for the last time around 1987 - it has yet to find an alternative use. Also visible is the striking frontage of Gilford Presbyterian Church - a classically styled building overlooking the park dating from 1846.

Follow the circular trail next to the Community Centre pausing at the viewing platform over the river which gives great views along the river to the mill. The wall along the opposite bank is part of the old millrace. "It was the advantage of the hydro-power created from the fast flowing River Bann that prompted Dunbar McMaster & Co to choose Gilford as it yarn spinning base during the 1830's." (Gilford Heritage Trail). The Gilford Heritage Trail produced by the Gilford Community Forum provides a fascinating insight into the built heritage of the village. The trail states: " Despite the closure of the mill, Gilford continues to thrive as a rural village where people can live and work together, and through partnership with local government bodies, statutory agencies and community groups, Gilford has developed enormously in recent years with shop front improvement schemes, as new state of the art community centre, development of the town centre and numerous community activities that offer something for everyone."

To extend your walk combine with the Gilford Highway to Health Walk(s) which start at the Bridge Street car park. Note these walks include/ have the option of using unsurfaced tracks which can be uneven and muddy.

You can join Walk (1) the Yellow Walk of the Highway to Health Walk (approx.2.12 km/1.3 miles) - by crossing over the footbridge across the River Bann - to the village bank of the park. On crossing take a R and then, almost immediately, a L passing through an open gate and along an alley (only open during daylight hours - if closed stay on path to car park and take the pedestrian link to the left to Mill Street) which runs past the former library onto Mill Street, near its junction with Castle Hill. Follow the H.to H. walk directions from this point.

This route includes a public right of way known as ‘Keady Row Loanin’’ a reminder of the skilled textile workers from Keady, South Armagh, who with others from across the country, relocated to Gilford in the 19th century to work in the Mill. The lane or loanin’ meets Hill Street which was formerly known as ‘Keady Row’.

 

As an interesting detour, include Woodlands Park in your walk. To visit - turn R out of Hill Street into High Street continuing to the pedestrain crossing - using it to cross this busy road. It is accessed via Woodlands - a housing development. The entrance to the park is beside the crossing and is marked by the former north gate lodge of the former Bannvale House estate - once owned by the Uprichard family. The gate lodge, now an attractive private residence, is one of a pair built c. 1880 of black basalt with decorative yellow fire-clay brick decoration. The other, the south gate lodge, is in a state of dereliction. It is located off the Portadown Road. Woodlands Park still retains some of the lovely, old trees of the parkland planting of the Bannvale Estate and is worth visiting.

Return to High Street and walk back into the village retracing your steps to your starting point. .

The walk can be further extended by approx. 2.65 km/1.7 miles by also following Walk (2) the Green Walk Highway to Health route.

Getting to the Start (by Car)

Commence the walk at Gilford Community Centre, 5 Stramore Road, Gilford, BT63 6HL or the Bridge Street car park, off Gilford Bridge.

Dogs

Dogs are allowed. Must be under control at all times

Facilities

8 outdoor fitness stations are located around the circuit which include Pull-Up Bars, Triceps-Dip Bars, Sit-Up and Balance Beams.


Parking, seating, picnic tables, benches, pump track and river viewing platform. Toilets available in Gilford Community Centre. Shops and cafes nearby.

Gym, climbing wall and sports hall at Gilford Community Centre. Please note Gilford Community Centre is closed to the public at weekends (except for private bookings on Saturday). Monday to Friday the Centre is open from 12 to 10 pm. If the Centre is closed you can access the park from the car park off Bridge Street, beside the road bridge.


The Newry Canal Towpath and National Cycle Route is accessible from Madden Bridge approx. 1.3 miles to the SW via the A51 Tandragee Road.

Publication

Gilford Heritage Trail; Gilford Highway to Health Walk; Highway to Health Walk Leaflet produced by NICHS

Publication Availability

On request

Walk Location
Map of Northern Ireland
 
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