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Garden Village stroll is still bloomin’ beautiful

By Linda Stewart

Broughshane is known as the Garden Village of Ulster thanks to its magnificent summer floral displays, with more than 75,000 flowers planted annually, winning the village a host of national and international awards.

While the summer bloom may be over and done with, a few autumn blossoms may still linger on in the sleepy Co Antrim village, which is set in beautiful countryside accessed through this week’s walk.

The Buttermilk Bridge Walk is a tranquil 2.4km circular route along the Braid River, the Knockan Road and the Main Street of Broughshane.


Start this walk from Houston’s Mill Car Park in Broughshane Village and follow the path that leads to Broughshane Main Street. Take care crossing the road to the entry archway of the Buttermilk Bridge Walk.

Follow the path in an anti-clockwise direction, staying close to the river until you reach the play park and car park. Turn left and go down Knockan Road to Main Street, turn left and proceed back to the Houston's Mill site.

The path is well maintained and has no steep inclines or obstacles, making it wheelchair-user friendly. Although there are a few drains and uneven patches in places on the Main Street, it is generally not too bad.

The Backdrop

The route takes you past Houston’s Mill, an old flax/corn mill with a history dating back to the early days of the Irish linen industry.

The mill is located in peaceful rural surroundings in the beautiful award-winning village of Broughshane, known by communities all over the world for its success in the competitive floral arena, having won Ulster in Bloom, Britain in Bloom, the European Entente Florale and Nations in Bloom, some events several times.

In the millennium year of 2000 the mill was fully restored to its original state to provide a facility for the local community, which, in addition to the cottage accommodation, has a community office with fax, photocopying and e-mail facilities.

Little Acorn Wood is a 16-acre community woodland developed and managed by the Woodland Trust that has been created along the riverside path.

Wildlife to look out for on the walk includes the dipper, heron, kingfisher, mallard, moorhen, yellow wagtail and meadow brown butterfly and a collection of exotic ducks in the pond. Fishing permits are available locally.

The quaint pub, The Thatch Inn, has a thatched roof and is a Grade A listed building. It was originally a planter’s house. The local Masonic lodge used to meet upstairs in The Thatch. Now a Masonic hall built in 1904 stands next to the pub.

Broughshane was the ancestral home of Sir George White VC, the most decorated soldier in the British Army and the hero of the Siege of Ladysmith. A memorial to him can be found in the Presbyterian Church graveyard.

His son, Captain James Robert ‘Jack’ White, co-founded and drilled the Irish Citizen Army before the Easter Rising of 1916 and later went on to fight the Fascist Regime in the Spanish Civil War.

A more contemporary figure is actor James Nesbitt, who grew up in Broughshane before moving to Coleraine.

Further information

For further information on walking or any other outdoor activity, please contact Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN), tel: 028 9030 3930 or

CAAN in association with Belfast Telegraph have provided this information. Every care has been taken to ensure accuracy of the information. CAAN and Belfast Telegraph, however, cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions but where such are brought to our attention, the information for future publications will be amended accordingly.

Walk Name: Buttermilk Bridge.

Area: Braid River.

Nearest big town to start point: Ballymena.

Distance: 1.5 miles / 2.4 km.

Terrain: Public paths. Level surface.

Refreshments: There are toilet facilities and refreshments available in Broughshane village.

Publications: Ballymena Walks — your guide to short walks around the borough. Available from TIC The Braid Ballymena Town Hall Museum and Arts Centre.

Walk Developed By: Ballymena District Council.

Map: Sheet 9 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discoverer Series, available from Land & Property Services Map Shop, Lincoln Buildings 27-45 Great Victoria Street Belfast BT2 7SL (

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