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Walk of the Week: Donaghadee Town Trail

By Linda Stewart

This walking tour takes you on an historical journey exploring the developments of Donaghadee, once considered the main shipping port between Ireland and Scotland.

This long history extends from medieval times to the Scottish plantation and to the development of trade in the area and its current position as an unassuming coastal destination.

Access to walk

Donaghadee is situated six miles from Bangor and eight miles from Newtownards on the north east coast of the Ards Peninsula. Regular bus services run from both Newtownards and Bangor to Donaghadee.

The walk begins at the car park beside the bus station and leads you to the Lighthouse, sitting at the end of the pier. It was constructed in 1836 and was visible for more than 18 miles. Moving along the pier towards the town, the trail moves into the old quarter of Donaghadee by taking the first left into Manor Street.

Once you have reached the top of Manor Street, turn left onto the Millisle Road to admire the Admiral Leslie Hall, built by Mrs Martin Leslie in 1872 in memory of her husband, Rear Admiral Leslie.

A little further on the Millisle Road is Rosebank, one of the oldest houses in Donaghadee. Retracing your steps back down the hill from Rosebank towards the centre of the town, turn left at the Killaughey Road junction, and observe an ancient walled garden and Café Manor.

This important building was the first stone house built in the town around 1605 by the Montgomery family, whose leading light became Viscount Montgomery. His successors, the Earls of Mount Alexander, were the town’s landlords until 1771 when the Huguenot (French Protestant) wife of the fifth and final Earl died, leaving her lands and property to her descendants, the Delacherois family.

Continue back along the Killaughey Road and take a left down the hill towards the town centre and you can see Grace Neill’s Bar and Restaurant, which claims to be the oldest pub in Ireland and dates back to 1611.

Situated farther down the hill on the left hand side is the Methodist Church with a prominent octagonal dome marking the spot where Methodist founder John Wesley once preached.

Proceeding up the hill from High Street into Moat Street, the walker reaches the Parish Church of Ireland hidden on the left at the bottom of Church Place. It was constructed in 1626 on the stump of an old tower house.

Continuing back down from the church and linking back into Moat Street, continue onwards for approximately five minutes and you will see the entrance to the Moat on the right hand side. This was actually built for storing gunpowder while the new harbour was being constructed.

Climbing back down to Moat Street, continue right and past the Moat Inn on the left.

Moving forward along Moat Street, past the Manor Hall development, you will see a small laneway on the right, just opposite the entrance to Manor Farm. This lane is Carnathen Lane; follow it to the end and take a right onto New Road. At the end of New Road, turn right and you will pass Shore Street Presbyterian Church on the left.

At Donaghadee Sailing Club on the right, dinghies are parked on the site of a former hotel. Next comes Union Street, on the right hand side once known as Tanner’s Row and later as Sailors Row. Following down the parade you arrive at the Copeland Antiques building. It is reputed to have been the occasional residence of the Duke of Cumberland.

After you pass Bridge Street, there are two narrow laneways on the right leading back up the hill to High Street. One was once known as Murder Lane, reputedly because of the number of inebriated travellers and sailors who fell prey to robbers!

Moving into New Street, halfway up the street is the old Market House later used as the courthouse. A few further steps and you reach High Street and the end of the trail.

Further information

For further information on walking or any other outdoor activity, please contact Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN) at, 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: Donaghadee Town Trail.

Area: Ards Peninsula.

Nearest big town: Donaghadee.

Distance: 1.5 miles.

Time: This walk takes approximately an hour to complete at an average pace.

Terrain: The walk is based on town centre footpaths. A slope leads uphill to Moat Street and there are steep steps leading to the Moat itself.

Access Restrictions: The walk is based around the town centre which is accessible at all times. Some of the locations mentioned in this tour are privately owned and therefore cannot be accessed.

Refreshments: There are many refreshment stops, from coffee shops to restaurants, dotted throughout the town.

Publications: You can pick up a copy of the Donaghadee Walking Guide from Ards Tourist Information Centre, tel:|028 9182 6846 or Portaferry Tourist Information and Visitor Centre, tel:028 4272 9882.

Walk Developed By: Ards Tourism, an Ards Borough Council initiative.

Map: Sheet 15 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discoverer Series, available from Land & Property Services Map Shop (

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