Kieron Gribbon goes for a family walk in the grounds of Ardress House – a National Trust property in County Armagh.
Saturday 1st September 2018
Ardress House is very easy to get to by car from Belfast. Most of the journey west is via the M1 motorway to junction 13, then along minor roads following brown signs.
Any time we’ve been to Ardress House in the past, there have been very few other visitors. In fact, we’ve had the place to ourselves more than once on sunny weekend afternoons.
Ardress House was built in the 17th century and is surrounded by a 100 acre estate comprising orchards, woodland and fields. Guided tours of the house are available. If you want to stretch your legs, the Lady’s Mile is a looped walk through mature broad-leafed woodland which was planted in the 19th century.
Other facilities include shop, toilets, children’s playground and picnic tables. There is also an interesting traditional farmyard to explore if you don’t mind being followed around by the resident flock of chickens. Don’t worry, they are friendly.
The children’s playground lies beyond a gate at the far end of the farmyard. The play equipment is made of timber, chains and tyres, giving a more traditional appearance that blends in with the surroundings. However, care needs to be taken in the wet as the timber surfaces on the equipment can become slippery.
We did the Lady’s Mile walk while we were there. It was easy for our 5-year-old son, but his 2-year-old brother needed to focus a lot on the ground to avoid the many exposed tree roots. He tripped a couple of times at the start of the walk, so we explained to him what the exposed roots were and referred to them as “tree toes”. This worked very nicely. He didn’t want to hurt the trees and didn’t trip again after that.
Extra care should be taken on wet days as the roots would probably get quite slippy. I suspect it might be a bumpy ride in a buggy without suspension.
The Lady’s Mile is a very peaceful looped walk through oak, ash, beech, lime, horse chestnut, sycamore and Scot’s pine trees. It was a bit early for autumn colours, but I’m pretty sure this would be a spectacular October Woodland Walk.