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Loughbrickland Walk (Whyte's Estate)

Enjoy a quiet stroll through woodland and country lane within the historic Whyte Estate. This small County Down estate is located at the northern end of Scarva Street in the attractive village of Loughbrickland and has been the home of the Whyte family since the 18th century. The current owner, Dr. Jean Whyte, kindly permitted permissive public access on foot along way marked trails developed within in the estate.

The walk offers an interesting and diverse mix of woodland, open farm and parkland with two scheduled historic monuments, and traces of the estate's use as an army base during World War II to be found along the route.

The woodland trail of approx. 0.90 mile (1.45 km) was extended with the opening of the Boundary Trail approx. 1.25 mile (2 km) in 2008. They can be combined to create an approx. 2.5 miles (4.02 km) circular walk. .

County

Down

Distance

2.5 miles

OS Map

Sheet 20

Nearest Town

Loughbrickland

Route Shape

Circular

Route Type

Parkland & Grassland, Woodland

Terrain

Woodland trail & rough lane.

Grid Reference (Start)

J104425

Grid Reference (End)

J104425

Point of Interest

Coolnacran Fort and Johnston's Fort. Bluebells in spring along the woodland trail.

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Other Area

Route Description

This route forms part of the Loughbrickland Historic Trail developed by a partnership between the former Banbridge District Council, the former Loughbrickland and District Community Association, Loughbrickland Historical Group and Dr Jean Whyte.

Please note the trail follows woodland trails and country lane and can be uneven and muddy. Suitable footwear is recommended. There are 2 sets of steps leading to Coolnacran Fort and a longer set have to be climbed to gain access to Johnston's Fort.

Located within a privately owned estate public access is welcome but along the way marked trails and on foot only. Please stay on the designated route as all other areas are private.

Entry to the estate is free of charge and normally open at all times. However, Ballyvally Archery Club use the woodland at the Whyte's Estate for training and outdoor competitions. For public safety the route is closed on competition days which take place occasionally throughout the year with The Archery Club posting notices at the entrance.  The walk will closed on the following dates in 2017:

Jan 14th /15th April 22nd /23rd May 20th /21st . June 10th /11th . July 23rd . August 27th Sept 16th /17th

Walk along the avenue for a short distance and look out for a wooden fingerpost marking the start of walk to the right of the avenue, just beyond the gate lodge. This section of the route runs parallel to the Old Newry Road. The walk travels through a woodland strip with glimpses of the parkland to the left. The surface can be uneven, look out for the sections of concrete - vestiges of an army training camp of up to 2000 troops which was based here during World War II.

At the junction of the path - ignore the entrance to the Boundary Trail for now and follow the Woodland Trail up the hill through the ash plantation and climb 2 sets of steps to Coolnacran Fort, a scheduled historic monument.

Just beyond the steps you will be pass the original entrance to this ringfort or rath on the eastern downhill side of a drumlin. The current entrance to the fort is further along, near the interpretative board. With its peaceful location surrounded by trees Coolnacran Fort has an almost mystical feel. In spring bluebells transform this area of the walk. The interpretative board features an artistic impression of how the fort might have looked soon after its construction. The fort was nearly completely overgrown with laurels and the laurels were cleared with assistance from volunteers as part of the work to open up the woodland trail c. 2000. This first part of the project was provided with grant assistance from NIEA. Take time to explore the interior of the fort before following the yellow way mark posts out of the wood to an avenue and turn left and walk towards a set of gates. Go through the gap beside the gates turn right onto the back avenue, away from the house and gardens which are strictly private.

You may see grey squirrels scampering from tree to tree here and hear the call of the rooks in spring. To the left of the avenue is a large rookery with reportedly 285 active nests. Walk towards the Coolnacran Road gates at the back entrance to the estate. There is a choice of routes here with the turn to the left (way marked yellow) completing the Woodland Trail and leading back to the Scarva Street entrance. The path to the right is the Boundary Trail and follows an old ride that runs around the perimeter of the estate.

The wide, tree lined lane that forms the Boundary Trail is an old 'ride' - a path made specially for use by the owners of the house and their guests for riding and exercising horses. Over the years this fell into disuse and much of it was impassable. In 2008, with the kind agreement of the owner of the estate, the former Banbridge District Council with assistance from Heritage Lottery funding and assistance with ground works from Probation Service for NI brought the ride back into use as the 'Boundary Trail' walk. This section of the trail follows a rough country lane terrain and the surface can be uneven, wet and muddy with rough crossing places, steps and gates.

As you approach Johnston's Fort , the second scheduled historic monument along the trail, you will see the 'Boundary Trail' interpretative board to the right. Johnston's Fort, a raised rath, with its elevated position, affords views down to Loughbrickland village and across the fields to the much larger Coolnacran Fort to the south west. This marks the mid-way point of the Boundary Trail. Steps have to be climbed to enter and leave the fort. On leaving Johnston's Fort the trail drops down to run parallel with the Old Newry Road. Often the banks along the trail have good displays of primroses and dog violets in spring. This section, from the fort to the first gate off the Old Newry Road was improved in autumn 2014 with investment from the Down Rural Area Partnership under the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013.

As the trail re-enters the woodland stay on the upper path and look out for the veteran oak on the left estimated from its girth to be about 350 years old. On re-joining the Woodland Trail retrace your steps to Coolnacran Fort and follow the way markers to the back gates of the estate. Take the Woodland Trail to the left and follow the way marked path to return to the starting point.

Getting to the Start (by Car)

The walk starts at the entrance to the Whyte Estate (Loughrickland House) at the junction of Scarva Street and the Old Newry Road, Loughbrickland.

Please park with due care and consideration along Scarva Street. There is a small private car park next to the estate Gate Lodge. The owner of the estate had the replacement gate lodge built in 2008 and hires it out for community and private classes and events. The adjacent car park is private and was provided by the owner to serve these events.

The walk starts to the right of the avenue - just past the gate lodge. You will see a wooden fingerpost indicating the start of the walk.

Getting to the Start (on Foot)

There are regular bus services from Belfast, Europa Buscentre to Newry/and Newry to Belfast which stop in Loughbrickland.

Dogs

Dogs are allowed. Dogs should be under close control at all times. Please clean up after your dog.

Accessibility Grade

Grade 4

Facilities

Public toilets located in Loughbrickland Park, off the Poyntzpass Road in the village, approx. 0.25 mile from start of walk. Shops, garage, pub and cafe in village.


Loughbrickland Park covers just over 9 acres and is set out in informal style with open grass areas, a small wetland wooded area, stream, play area, toilets and paths. The main access and parking area for the park is located off the Poyntzpass Road and the park also has two pedestrian accesses from Main Street/Dublin Road in the village.

Surrounding area:

The F.E. Mc William Gallery & Studio, 200 Newry Road, Banbridge, County Down, BT32 JNB

This facility houses an art gallery, sculpture garden, café and tourist information point. Opened in September 2008, the F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio is dedicated to the memory of the successful Banbridge born sculptor Frederick Edward McWilliam (1909 -1992). McWilliam is an internationally known sculptor of eclectic style – described as ‘An inventor of styles’. He was a contemporary of Brancusi, Henry Moore and William Scott. When he died his executors left his London studio and many examples of his work in different stages to the state with a view to it being displayed in his native town. The studio has been lovingly reconstructed by Banbridge District Council in a peaceful sculpture garden at this small modern gallery which houses many examples of his work. It is located approx. 2 mile from Loughbrickland, just off the A1, heading towards Banbridge. Join the A1 for a short distance taking the first exit (A26) to Banbridge. Follow to roundabout and pick up signage for the Gallery & Studio here (it is located next to this roundabout).
Free Admission.
Open Monday to Saturday only 10.00 am to 5.00 pm .

Lisnagade Fort: the only large triple-ringed earthwork recorded in County Down. It is a State Care monument located approx. 200 metres across a field (in agricultural use) off the Lisnagade Road, a couple of miles NW of Loughbrickland. (Grid ref: J087441). Leave the village via Scarva Street. Beyond the village boundary take the 2nd road on the right, the Lisnagade Road – continue north thru x-road for approx. ½ mile, looking for a small lay-by and pedestrian gate on the left. The fort is located towards the junction of the Lisnagade Road with the B3 Scarva/Glenloughan Road. To visit Scarva continue along the road to its junction with the B3, turn left onto this road and follow to the village.

Scarva Village & Newry Canal Towpath: The small village of Scarva is located along the former Newry Portadown Canal. It is located about 3.7 miles or 10 minutes drive west of Loughbrickland along the B3. The towpath forms part of the Newry Canal Way and provides an excellent flat cycle or walking route. The village also has an attractive park located next to Scarva Primary School, off Main Street.

Publication

Whytes Estate Historic Trail Leaflet and Woodland Walk Leaflet. Loughbrickland Historic Trail Leaflet. .

Publication Availability

Tourist Information Centre, Old Town Hall, Banbridge

Walk Location
Map of Northern Ireland
 
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