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Castle Ward, Down

Badger Rating 3.5/5
Nearly 40kms of off-road multi-purpose trails for walking, cycling and horse riding are currently in development. Includes about 15km of singletrack, purpose-built for mountain-biking and designed by world-class MTB trail designers. Open to the public 25 June.

Getting There

7 miles north-east of Downpatrick, 1.5 miles west of Strangford village on the A25, on south shore of Strangford Lough. Follow brown road signs for Castle Ward. For car park, follow main avenue for half a mile and main car park is on the left just by the adventure playground.

Trail Description

This new trail network is a flagship product for the National Trust and is the largest recreational project that has ever been undertaken by them in the UK. These trails are set to make Castle Ward one of the best outdoor recreation venues in Northern Ireland.

The trails are fully waymarked and there is also a bike wash on site. Café facilities and bike hire, including 2 KHS tandem bicycles are also available.

Normal Castle Ward entry times and entry fees apply ( at the minute ;-) ).

The trails were designed by renowned trail designer Dafydd Davis MBE who says that with a unique mix of rural farmland and forests set within the stunning backdrop of Strangford Lough, Castle Ward is simply breathtaking.

The design and construction of the trails has been funded through the Northern Ireland Tourist Board’s Tourism Development Scheme, Down District Council, The National Trust and The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas programme.


trail head marker Trail Head

Movies of Castle Ward, Down


Reviews for this trail

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0 5
1= Rubbish      5= Badgertastic!
  • Darren summed it all up and the best bit is a year on it's still there, it's still maintained and as an intro for 7 year olds and Dads who need the practise, it was great.
  • Sunday 12th Feb and what a calm day. Overcast but warm enough for a comfortable trip over from the peninsula on the ferry. Maiden voyage on two new bikes. Really enjoyed the track over from the causeway at Strangford to the castle grounds. Tracks really well kept and everything well sign posted. Great day until the pedal fell off my bike (thanks Halfords). Still, we were helped by some very friendly fellow cyclists and got back on track. Then the coffee shop lifted the spirits more! Would recommend the trip to beginner mountain bikers or anyone looking for a relaxing trip whilst taking in some amazing scenery!
  • Saturday the 13th August 2011. £6, yes £6 entry fee PER PERSON!!! Nice for an expensive day out with the kids but nothing to offer the actual avid mountain biker (I ride mainly XC and I was bored!) The organisations building these trails need to worry less about people hurting themselves and make the trails interesting. Family runs in Scotland for example are challenging and interesting enough for everyone. No harder options on this trail. There is also a charge for the bike wash which you will need after riding through lots of cow, horse and dog faeces. If you like mountain biking, then don't bother going to Castle Ward.
  • Super venue for a good xc verging on a trail blast out. Rarely gets above green difficulty though and fairly flat.

    For the first 20 mins or so you are cycling on pathway tyhrough fields concerned that there is no fun to be had. Then you come across a super little 5 min loop of singletrack through the forest. We had 4 runs through the swoopy single track before heading on. It is not technically difficult. The fun is had be maintaining your flow without losing sppeed and flow through some of the fast flat corners with no berms to bail you out.

    Following on from that there is plenty of open countryside xc and two or three nice bits of 5-10 min forest single track trail.

    Do not head to Castle Ward if you are seeking jumps and drops as there are none.

    It is however a superb mix of xc with swoopy single track forest trail. A hardtail is plenty of bike for Castle Ward. Friend on Turner 5 Spot was massively overbiked.

    My one and only complaint is that there are too many gates to pass through which do disrupt some of the run. They do not interrupt the forest singletrack sections though.

    Of great benefit are all of the Castle Ward and Clear Sky facilities.

    It is a great illustration of what the MTB scene in N Ireland could become with a little moree financial support from Stormont.

    Pity they could not have thrown in a few bermed and tabletop/small double sections.

    Perfect spot for bringing people out for their first proper taste of mtb or for kids on their formative rides. We met several fathers with 7/8 year olds showing them the way.

    All in all we had a great morning in glorious sunshine.


NOTE: The trails on this site have been ridden before, but you should not interpret their inclusion as an indication that mountain-biking is officially sanctioned on them. Seeking permission from landowners is your own responsibility, as is conducting yourself in a manner that is courteous, respectful to the environment, and conscious of the safety of others.