Family Days Out in County Down: NT Rowallane Garden

Kieron Gribbon and family go for an October Woodland Walk at Rowallane Garden – a popular National Trust property in County Down.


Sunday 14th October 2018

Rowallane Garden is located just outside Saintfield in County Down. Being one of the closest National Trust properties to Belfast, it is also one of the most popular. 

From my house, Rowallane Garden is only a 20-minute drive away, and is the National Trust property I visit with my family most often.

When we go to Rowallane, we usually follow the paths through the woodland area called the “Pleasure Ground”. This can be accessed from behind the main building.

The Pleasure Ground provides tranquil walks through mature trees. The autumnal colours were stunning and probably close to being at their best while we were there.

Despite the numbers of tall trees at Rowallane, it is also possible to treat yourself to panoramic views from the top of a small hill in the property. To get to this hill, you have to cross a stile to access an open grassy field. At the top of the hill, you can sit on a little timber bench as you admire the Mourne Mountains, Strangford Lough and Scrabo Tower.

The day we were there, the view over Rowallane’s colourful tree tops was stunning. This little hill is one of the quietest spots in the property, and we’ve always had it to ourselves.

Rowallane Garden has a good selection of facilities on offer. In the main building, you will find a café, gift shop and toilets. There is also a pottery shop near the courtyard. 

Rowallane doesn’t currently have a children’s playground, although there are timber sculptures dotted along the paths which will provide some additional entertainment for the children.

Rowallane gets particularly busy on days when special events are being held. These include Easter Egg Hunts in Spring, Halloween-themed activities in October, and a Christmas fair in December. We have been to all of these in the past and they have always been very popular. It is easy, however, to loose the crowds away from the main building, courtyard and walled garden.

Being so close to Belfast, we often find ourselves bumping into people we know at Rowallane. This time it was the Millers – a couple my wife and I regularly went hillwalking with before children arrived on the scene. Like us, the Millers tend to walk mostly at lower levels these days and make regular use of their National Trust membership.

Rowallane Garden is also home to the National Trust’s regional office in Northern Ireland.

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