Countryside Access and Activities Network


Name: Countryside Access and Activities Network
Location: Castle Ward, Strangford
County: Down
Axis: AXIS 3 : Down Rural Area Partnership


The creation of a network of off-road trails through Castle Ward demense, Co. Down, one of Northern Ireland’s most scenic landscapes.


Set in the picturesque parkland, forest and farmland on the shores of Strangford Lough, the Castle Ward Demesne has been attracting visitors for many years. The estate boasts an 18th Century mansion house, exotic gardens, stunning mixed woodland, children’s adventure play area and access to Strangford Lough. Project promoters CAAN, were eager to capitalise on the natural beauty of the demesne to boost local use and tourism potential.


Funded under Axis 3, through Down Rural Area Partnership, almost 21 miles of trails leading through the picturesque Castle Ward demense, incorporating Northern Ireland’s first long-distance, cross-country mountain biking trail has been established.  Sustainable tracks for horse riders, walkers and runners alike, are available for all to enjoy . There is also an all-ability path constructed along the shores of Strangford Lough, suitable for buggies and prams as well as wheelchair users and those with limited mobility. The trails were meticulously designed by trail developer Dafydd Davis MBE who has designed sustainable off-road trails all over the world. The project also received funding from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Down District Council.