Wander through the 98 acres of beautiful gardens of Hillsborough Castle. The gardens were developed from the 1760s onwards, and offer the visitor a contrast of ornamental grounds, woodland, waterways and lawns. The Castle itself, built in the 1770s, is a working royal palace that functions as the official residence of the Royal Family when they are in Northern Ireland, and it has been the home of the Secretary of State since the 1970s.

The Castle reopened its doors to visitors in July 2018 after completing extensive renovations on its State Rooms. The final stages of Hillsborough Castle’s transformation are still underway as work continues ready for April 2019.

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Hillsborough Castle Boundary Trail

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  • Note: from 2018 this walk will require admission via a ticket to the gardens. For more details see the Hillsborough castle website. Until early 2019 it’s likely that construction and other work will mean some areas of it are out of bounds. In my opinion the site is not suitable for wheelchairs etc.

    James at 6:08 pm
  • County Down

    Distance 1.6 miles

    OS Map 20

    Terrain Gravel trail, farm track, garden

    Nearest Town Hillsborough

    Route Shape Circular

    Grid Reference J242 586

    Route Type Lakeland, Parkland & Grassland, Woodland

    Route Description

    From the visitor entrance, turn right and follow the tarmac path down the hill (this route is not waymarked). After passing the buildings on your right and the path becomes steeper, take the path to the right and descend the steps. Follow the non-surfaced track around the edge of the lake, with the lake on your left hand side. Enjoy the sight of Swans and Mallard Ducks swimming on the lake. Continue straight where there is a path junction leading left, you will now no longer be following the edge of the lake.  Continue to follow this track, with the Gas Works Meadow on your left hand side. This path can be muddy after wet weather and appropriate foot wear should be worn. Turn right at the next path junction to continue following the track, again keeping a large meadow on your left hand side.

    Upon reaching the walled garden, turn left and follow the track before turning right at the corner of the walled garden. The restoration of the Walled Garden is part of a large development project due to take place in 2017/18 and is not currently open to visitors. Continue on for a short distance before turning right onto the impressive Lime Tree Walk. The trees here are approximately 150 years old and are linked by a spectacular moss covered path. The Lime Trees are flanked by a stunning bluebell display in May of each year. At the southern end of Lime Tree Walk, you will come across the Lady Alice Temple and Pond. The Temple was built in 1880 and was named after Lady Alice Maria Hill. You will also be able to enjoy impressive views across the pond and up Yew Tree Walk towards the Castle from here.

    Continue along the gravel path until reaching a T-junction on the path. Turn right and continue along the track with the Wood Stream on your right hand side. Continue along the gravel path until it merges with an area of lawn in front of Hillsborough Castle itself. Continue through the Jubilee Garden and ascend the steps to follow the path round the left side of the Castle. Pass the Granville Garden on your left, a delightful rose garden beside which there is a magnificent ‘Cornish Red’ Rhododendron, which is in the Guinness Book of World Records as being the largest specimen of its type in the world. Continue to follow the path for a short distance before turning right to return to the start of the walk.

    Other shorter distance routes are available on site, namely the Castle, Glen and Lake Walks (see map).

    *Please note there is an admission charge to access the gardens, please see below for details


    Point of Interest

    Lake, Cromlyn Ruin, Lime Tree Walk, Lady Alice Temple and Pond, Quaker Burial Ground, Hillsborough Castle, Jubilee Garden, Granville Garden.

    Getting to the start

    Hillsborough Castle and Gardens are accessed via The Square, just off Main Street, Hillsborough. Parking is not available at the site itself, but on street parking is possible within the town or at two public car parks within the village (at the Northern end of Main Street or at Hillsborough Forest).

    Public transport

    Translink – journeyplanner.translink.co.uk

    Dog Policy

    Only guide dogs and other assistance dogs are permitted within the gardens


    • Public toilets• Opening hours – March – October: Open Daily 09:30 – 18:00November – February: Mon – Sat 09:30 – 16:30 (closed Sundays)Last admission is one hour before closing.(Please check www.hrp.org.uk/hillsborough before your visit for any closure dates.)• Admission – £3.50 per person or £10.00 per family (2 adults/up to 4 children). Members of Historic Royal Palaces benefit from free access to the gardens daily all year round. Access to the house is not included. From February 2016, tickets will be available in advance via www.hrp.org.uk/hillsborough or on the day from Hillsborough Visitor Information Centre located in the Courthouse.• Guided House Tours – Weekends in April, May, June and September including Bank Holidays. Open daily from 19 March – 3 April and from 2 July – 4 September. Tour times: On the hour every hour from 11.00 to 16.00. Pre-booked tour groups welcome. The following facilities are available for users with limited mobility: – Disabled toilets

    Accessibility Grade

    Grade 4

    • The path may not be hard and firm in all weathers with loose stones (not bigger than 10cm) with occasional tree roots and pot holes and will be at least 80cm wide for its entire length.
    • The path gradients and cross slopes will be greater than 6°.
    • Obstacles such as steps or stiles are to be expected and surface breaks may be larger 75mm in width.
    • There will be a clear head height of greater than 2.10m for the entire length of the route.
    • Passing places and rest areas may not be formalised or provided.