After we’d had a look round the house we donned our boots and set out for a walk around the extensive Castle Ward estate.
A path through the woods led down to the shores of the Lough.
Strangford Lough is a sea lough with a narrow inlet into the Irish Sea. The tide was out revealing extensive sand and mud banks.
We approached a group of old buildings including the old Castle Ward, the original building on the estate – a fortified house.
an old mill
and a saw mill.
This collection of buildings has become well known to fans of the TV series Game of Thrones as it was used as the location for Winterfell. In fact there are a number of sites around the estate that were used as locations for the series and a number of companies run tours out of Belfast and Dublin.
We had a look inside the old fortified house and then set off along the shore of the Lough. Looking over to the east we could see the village of Portaferry
and looking back we could see the Gothic face of the big house
There were pleasure boats out on the water
Carrying on we could see another old fortified house – Audley’s Tower.
An old stone jetty that used to be used by Maxwell Ward, the last member of the Ward family to live in the house to launch his yacht Bonito.
We followed the path and climbed up to Audley’s Tower, which is named after its late 16th-century owners, the Audleys, an Anglo-Norman family who held land in the area in the 13th century. It was sold, with the surrounding estate, to the Ward family in 1646.
Yes, another Game of Thrones location
A tour group were just leaving
Looking out over the Lough from the tower
We carried on through pleasant wodland
Turning inland we followed the path along Temple Water. It’s a long, narrow lake that was was dug in 1728.
Water from the lake is taken via an underground culvert to the farmyard where it is used to power the corn mill. In the past it also was used to power the sawmill.
Looking down the length of the Temple Water we could see Audley’s Tower.
From the lake we walked backed towards the house through this tunnel of beech trees
returning to the old fortified house and mill complex
and then made our way back up towards the main house where we took a turn around the formal Sunken Garden
We could have spent longer here, wandering around the estate, but time was getting on so it was back to the car to drive to Killyleagh, a few miles away, where we would be staying for another couple of nights.