Weekend Walk: Mount Stewart Lake and Garden
Area: Co Down
Distance: 2.3 miles circular
Map: Sheet 15 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discoverer Series available from Land & Property Services osni.gov.uk or nidirect.gov.uk/map-shop-information.
Nearest town to start: Newtownards.
Facilities: Cafe, toilet and car park.
Developed By: The National Trust.
Terrain: Gravel pathways through woodland and gardens. Level access.
Walk Description: Treat yourself to a gentle autumn stroll at Mount Stewart on the shores of Strangford Lough. Beginning at the front of the mansion, you will soon spot the monkey puzzle tree and Californian Redwood, your first indication of the remarkable variety of species within the estate. Follow the gravelled path past the beech trees, rhododendrons and magnolias, turning left around the lake now in full autumnal bloom.
Passing the little wooden jetty, you will reach a seat set into the wall; take a moment to admire the grounds. Further along, you will find 'Tir Na nOg', Irish for Land of the Ever Young. Described by Lady Londonderry who lived in the house with her family till the early 20th century as "not a place of mourning and sorrow but a joyful spot of hope, rest and peace".
Rejoining the path, follow the trail alongside Jubilee Avenue looking out for the White Stag of Legend, a clue to Lady Londonderry's interest in Celtic tales. This pathway will return you to the house and gardens.
With a rich tapestry of design and planting artistry, the formal areas of the gardens have a strong Mediterranean feel resembling an Italian villa landscape, while the wooded areas support a range of plants from all corners of the world. Recently the gardens were listed in the top 10 gardens of the world compiled by Unesco World Cultural Heritage due to the "extraordinary scope of its plant collections and the originality of its features, which give it world-class status".
Wrap up warm and get ready to experience the colours of nature in a whole new light as you explore the grounds at night during this year's Festival of Light between Friday and Sunday November 20 and 29. Tickets can be booked online at nationaltrust.org.uk/mount-stewart.
Responsible Walking: Please remember to practice the principles of 'Leave No Trace' when enjoying the outdoors in order to minimise your impact on the environment. For more information, visit leavenotraceireland.org.
This information has been provided by WalkNI.com in association with The Irish News. Every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information. However, neither WalkNI.com nor The Irish News can accept responsibility for errors or omissions. Where such are brought to our attention, the information for future publications will be amended accordingly.
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