By / 31st May, 2015 / Things To Do / Off

Looking for some fun and adventure in County Down, Northern Ireland, without the hassle of driving? Look no further our guide to car-free days out in the area!

So grab your walking shoes and let’s hit the road for a day of fun and discovery!

Option 1 – Downpatrick Walking Tour

Take a leisurely walk down our lane to catch the 9.40am bus to Downpatrick. (note : there isn’t an official stop at the end of the lane but the bus will stop for you if you wave it down – we’re in the country!)

On arrival in the town, follow the self-guided Downpatrick walking trail which will take you to such places as Down Cathedral, St Patrick’s Grave, the Down County Museum and The St Patrick’s Centre. The brochure is available from our office or you might like to download the App – and make it a paper free day as well!

There are lots of cafes and restaurants to stop in for lunch – many serving home made local produce – some have won “Taste of Ulster” awards (look out for signs).

Buses back to Slievemoyle leave the bus station at 4pm, 5pm and 6.05pm. Don’t forget to tell the driver where to drop you off – again at the bottom of our lane!

Option 2 – Castle Ward National Trust Estate

This option involves a good walk in the country and the possibility of taking in an activity.

Follow the safe walking route into the Castle Ward estate. Greer or Maureen can provide you with a map and give directions. Go right through the estate till you come to the farmyard. Clearsky Adventure Education operate a range of activities including archery, canoeing and bike hire from the farmyard. (there are 21 miles of cycle routes through the estate). They can also provide a Game of Thrones Winterfell experience (much of the Winterfell filming took place in Castle Ward). It is probably best, although not essential, to book these activities in advance – phone 028437239332.

Lunch is available in the Estate stable yard or you might like to bring a picnic and eat it on the lawn. This could be followed by a tour through the very interesting and unique Castle Ward house. Guided tours take place regularly during the holiday season.

Obtain a map of the estate and choose an alternative route for your walk back to Slievemoyle.

Option 3 – Visit Strangford and Portaferry

After a relaxed morning at Slievemoyle, catch the 11.20am bus at the end of the lane – just hail the driver and he/she will stop even though it’s not an official bus stop.
We recommend brunch in The Pantry before you set out learn about the village’s historic past by following the Strangford Heritage Trail (brochure available in our office).

A trip to Portaferry on the car ferry is well worth the £1 charge. It’s always best to do some research before visiting new places and the Strangford Lough and Lecale partnership web site is a good place to get information about what to look for in Portaferry.

Make a booking to come back to the Cuan for dinner – or just drop in. Peter and Caroline are excellent hosts and will make sure you are well fed and looked after.
Then ring Greer to come and pick you up as you will have missed the last bus back to Slievemoyle! – and we don’t recommend walking after your meal at the Cuan!

Option 4 – Cycle around Lecale

Slievemoyle is situated in a beautiful part of Ireland and what better way to experience the sights, sounds and smells of Lecale than to go on a bike ride.

Bicycles (including cycle helmets) can be hired from either Clearsky Adventure Centre (028437239332) or Life (02843770714 ). Both will deliver pre-ordered bikes to Slievemoyle for a very reasonable cost and Life will give a 10% discount to our guests by quoting a code which we can supply from our office. For those who don’t like pedaling up hills and don’t mind paying a little extra, Life have a few electric bikes. These allow you to pedal on the flat but, at the flick of a switch, the electric motor takes over on the hills. Great fun for those who are not regular cyclists!

Greer or Maureen can provide you with a map of the area and give advice on some of the most scenic routes to follow. There are many interesting places to stop off on your trip – Killard Nature Reserve and Ballyhornan beach ( there’s a sweet shop and pub there too) to give two examples. Depending on how adventurous you feel, routes can vary from a few miles to 20+ miles.

Option 5 – Walking further afield

If you enjoy getting to know the history of the area and having some exercise at the same time, many of the local towns and villages have developed Heritage Trails. Castlewellan, Dundrum, Killyleagh and Ardglass are examples and all can be reached by public transport. Brochures are available in our office, as is the local bus timetable (or look up the Translink web site). There is abundant evidence of human settlement in this area for over 4000 years – so there is a rich heritage to explore. St Patrick made this his first port of call when he brought the Christian gospel in 432AD and the Vikings and Normans also visited and left much evidence of their sojourn here. There are Neolithic burial sites, stone circles, ruins of monasteries, castles, tower houses and coaching inns all within easy reach of Slievemoyle.