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16 October 2014

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Antrim Armagh Down Fermanagh Londonderry Tyrone
The Mournes Strangford Lough Greyabbey Carlingford Lough
Strangford Lough clipWatch Video Strangford Lough map


Key Points

What do you do if a husband prefers one style of architecture and decoration while his wife prefers another?

In most cases the wife would win the argument, but at Castle Ward in County Down, the house is divided between the Palladian style, favoured by the First Lord of Bangor, Bernard Ward, and the fashionable Strawberry Hill Gothic preferred by his wife, Lady Anne.

This is one of the most complete demesne style landscapes in Ireland. A sawmill, corn mill and Victorian laundry occupy the buildings beside the house. Inside the walls, each architectural style keeps strictly to its own side of the building.

The estate, which was landscaped in the 18th century, has a classical temple doubling as a summer house, a wildfowl collection, and a bird hide on the shores of Strangford Lough.

On the lough itself, folklore claims that there are 365 islands - one for every day of the year. We can't be sure if that's true, but the many islands that do exist are home to populations of waterfowl, waders and breeding seabirds.

Bird Island is aptly named, having 400 pairs of cormorants living on it. It's the largest concentration of the birds anywhere in Europe. We have to be content with flying over the area because there are no landing strips, but boat trips offer good views of the cormorants raising and feeding their young.

This area of Strangford is littered with historical and maritime landmarks. Sketrick Castle, in the landscape below us, was involved in warfare during the 16th century but collapsed in a storm in 1896.

Hen Island, just off Sketrick, is the venue for a quaint race each October. People take to the sea on a flotilla of oil drums, crates and home-made rafts.

In the seas below, we're looking at the habitat of an extensive range of gulls as well as the breeding ground of mussels and commercially cultivated oysters.

Castle Ward in County Down was built in two styles: Palladian and Strawberry Hill Gothic.

Castle Ward is one of the most complete demesne-style landscapes in Ireland containing a sawmill, cornmill and Victorian laundry.

The islands of Strangford Lough are home to populations of waterfowl, waders and breeding seabirds.

Bird Island is home to 400 pairs of cormorants, the largest concentration of the species in Europe.

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