Walk of the Week: Comber
This intriguing town heritage trail provides a flavour of Comber and enables the walker to learn more about the buildings, monuments and streetscapes which have given the town its historical character.
The name Comber is derived from the Irish “An Comar” meaning the confluence. The town is famous for its Comber spuds and also for its whiskey, which was last distilled in 1953. Any remaining bottles can now fetch a considerable price.
Comber is also famous for being the birthplace of Thomas Andrews, the Titanic shipbuilder.
From Newtownards, if you are travelling by car, turn right before reaching The Square onto Bridge Street link (signposted.) If travelling from Belfast, travel along the Upper Newtownards Road and take the A20 entering Dundonald. At the traffic signals, turn right onto the A22. Continue forward onto the Belfast Road, A22 entering Comber. At the roundabout, take the first exit onto Killinchy Street. |At the traffic signals continue forward onto Castle Street. Take the first right into Bridge Street link to make use of the usually ample parking spaces around Comber Leisure Centre.
This walk starts at the car park at Bridge Street Link before turning right towards the Georgian House, originally constructed on the site of an old farmhouse back in 1610.
The Square is situated directly in the very heart of Comber’s commercial centre, just across the street from the Georgian House. Looming high above you is Major General Robert Gillespie, hero of the Himalayas, who keeps a silent vigil atop an impressive 55ft column.
Exit the Square, and turn right towards the corner of The Square to see St Mary’s Parish Church which stands on the site of a Cistercian abbey which was built in 1198.
As you approach the entrance, pay attention to the right-hand pillar of the church gate which bears an interesting inscription. The name of Thomas Andrews, the eighteenth century church warden, is engraved into the upper stone.
If the gates are open, pass through the entrance and look to the left. Here you will see the Andrews family vault. The grandparents of Thomas Andrews, Titanic’s architect, are buried here. Walk past Tescos and take the next left on to Killinchy Street. On the right hand side is The Cooperage, the last remaining building of the Old Comber Distillery.
At the end of Killinchy Street, take the first left into High Street. Nearing the top of the hill, turn right at the signposted laneway which is Windmill Hill, leading to the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church.
Retrace your steps down Windmill Hill. Turn right to High Street and continue to the Andrews Memorial Hall.
The final point of interest on this walking tour is the former Andrews Spinning Mill. It was recently converted into a series of luxury apartments.
Retrace your steps past Windmill Hill on the left and the First Presbyterian Church opposite, on the right hand side. |Move back into The Square and take the second left into Bridge Street link and the car park.
For further information on walking or any other outdoor activity, please contact Countryside Access and Activities Network at, tel: 028 9030 3930 or walkni.com
Countryside Access and Activities Network (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 will be amended accordingly.
Walk Name: Comber Town Trail.
Area: Strangford Lough Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Nearest big town: Comber
Distance: 1.5 miles
Terrain: Mainly town centre footpaths.
Refreshments: Large number of refreshment stops dotted throughout Comber.
Publications: The Comber Walking Guide is available from Ards Tourist Information Centre, tel: 028 9182 6846.
Map: Sheet 21 Strangford Lough of Ordnance Survey of NI Discoverer Series, available from (lpsni.gov.uk)