Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 26 October 2014

Walk of the Week: Loughgall Country Park

Few scenes could be more beautiful than rural Armagh during apple blossom season.

The Orchard County or the Orchard of Ireland, as it is known, comes alive with colour as the flowers of the apple trees blanket much of the deep green landscape with an array of beautiful pinks ranging from delicate soft pinks to bright vibrant fuchsia.

This is a two-mile fairly flat walk on tarmac paths in the natural surroundings of Loughgall Country Park, a magnificent 188-hectare estate of open farmland, orchards and 37-acre Lough. There is one steep hill on the route.

Directions

Loughgall Country Park is situated off the B77 Armagh to Portadown road. All walks start from the main car park.

 Follow the tarmac pathway, keep to the left of the two Y-junctions and continue through the pedestrian entrance at the metal gate before proceeding 20 metres to the T-junction where it meets a tarmac roadway.

Turn left here and continue straight ahead at the crossroads, following the blue walk way markers. Keep to the left along the tarred road, avoiding the first right to the manor house.

Continue straight ahead for 50 metres and avoid the two left turns before proceeding down the hill keeping left at the Y-junction.

Keep to the road until you come to a junction at the bottom of a hill — there will be woodland on your left and an open field with large trees on your right. Follow the path to the right for approximately 100 metres, keeping left at the Y-junctions — there will be an orchard on your right — before continuing 50 metres to the T-junction.

Turn right and proceed 100 metres past the boat slipway on the right, keeping to the tarmac path before taking a left to return to the car park.

Backdrop

As you follow the route in Loughgall Country Park, watch out for kestrels hovering over grassland, buzzards hunting for food and a variety of songbirds. Brown hares and foxes are regularly seen throughout the site.

There are a host of fascinating places to visit in the area. Tucked away in the rolling countryside of Armagh, four miles north of the village of Loughgall, is the site of the famous Battle of the Diamond in 1795.

Dan Winter’s Cottage, the old thatched cottage that dates back to pre-1750, consists of living quarters, spirit grocers and weaver’s quarters with a full working loom.

It is situated at the centre of the site where the battle took place and its timbers still bear the scorch marks from when the house was set alight during the battle. At 94ft long, it is believed to be the longest thatched cottage in Ireland.

 Dan Winter’s ancestral home is the home of the Winter family from before 1700, and an old oak beam has been dendrochronologically dated to 1703. This listed building is an 18th century vernacular thatched farmhouse and is recognised in its listing as ‘The meeting place following the Battle of the Diamond, where the decision to form the Orange Order was made’.

Nearby Armagh is the city of St Patrick and ecclesiastical capital of Ireland.

As Ireland’s oldest city, Armagh has a fascinating history reflecting 6,500 years of activity.

People first came here in 4,500BC and have been arriving ever since to experience the unique historical and cultural legacy that makes it one of the most important locations in Ireland.

Saint Patrick founded his first stone church on the hill of Armagh in 445 AD. The present building dates from the 13th century and although undergoing many restorations over the centuries, it was last restored in 1834.

Further information

For further information on walking or any other outdoor activity, please contact Outdoor Recreation NI (formerly CAAN) at, tel: 028 9030 3930 or walkni.com.

Outdoor Recreation NI (formerly CAAN) in association with Belfast Telegraph have provided this information. Every care has been taken to ensure accuracy of the information. Outdoor Recreation NI 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: Loughgall Country Park – Orchard Walk.

Nearest big town to start: Armagh.

Distance: 2 miles, circular.

Time: Approximately 40 minutes.

Terrain: A few hills at the beginning of the walk; tarmac road walk.

Access Restrictions: There is no charge for walk. However, there is a £2.15 fee for car parking and concession rate of £1.10. Dogs must be kept on a lead.

Facilities: Reception area, car park, toilets, changing rooms, showers, trim trail, junior adventure area, tennis courts, golf course, coarse fishery.

Publications: Country Park brochure, available from the Country Park reception on, tel: 028 3889 2900 or visit|loughgallcountrypark.co.uk

Walk Developed By: Armagh City and District Council in co-ordination with Highway to Health.

Map: Sheet 19 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discoverer Series, available from Land & Property Services Map Shop (lpsni.gov.uk).

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