Viewed 890 times, downloaded 2 times
near Belfast City Centre, N Ireland (United Kingdom)
As we sat and watched the world go by we shot the breeze, and several cappuccinos later we realised that similar interests were ideal for a biking weekend. I love National Trust(esque) houses and properties, and the roads to them are usually fun on a bike, so we decided to go to Ardress House – a smaller manorial site, but quainter as a result. The A29 road turned out to be a bit of a peach; even the leaden skies could not constrain the grin within my helmet. The road cuts through rolling drumlin countryside, pierced only by the occasional farms and hamlets, with plenty of banked switch-back corners before you pass through small to medium towns. We passed through my father’s hometown of Dungannon....a place I haven’t been to since I was a boy, mores the pity. We turned off for Ardress House, a rough stone laneway flanked by apple orchards gives way to a more impressive mature tree-lined driveway, past the front facade of the building to the farmyard at the rear. Here you can wander round feeding the inquisitive chickens, avoiding the hissing geese and trying to pet the baby goats, all the while Kivi (complete with his Fred Dibnah t-shirt) marvelled at the plethora of period farm machinery; “by ‘eck it were grand” as Fred would no doubt have said! The farm buildings are, unsurprisingly, functional and ‘chunky’ in design and build. You get the sense of a working environment, rather than there for ornament. We took the tour of the main house, initially a 16th century grand-ish farmhouse later extended in a mock Georgian style. However, the property would be dwarfed by the larger National Trust properties (e.g., Mount Stewart etc) and is definitely more of a functioning farm house rather than a grand palace or manor site. But it has a quaint feel and you are able to walk around with only a few other visitors, rather than crowds. The furnishings are both original and borrowed from other Trust properties. As we stood under the sheltering oak after the tours, it started to rain but this was of no consequence. We knew where we were heading next.....Springwell.