Free open day for conservation charity’s special places

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The National Trust is opening some of its spectacular places across Northern Ireland on Saturday, March 12.

With spring on its way, the free days are an opportunity to explore the great outdoors, step back in time at an historic mansion or explore colourful gardens.

Heather Thompson, National Trust Director for Northern Ireland, said: “Our free days in Fermanagh on March 5 and 6, and many other places in Northern Ireland on March 12, are the chance to get outdoors to breathe in the spring air and take inspiration from the unique stories of our many special places.

“It’s a perfect opportunity for those that have not been to National Trust sites to discover what Northern Ireland has to offer.

“We encourage you, with your friends and family, to join us and discover the amazing work that goes on behind the scenes conserving collections and caring for spectacular landscapes, grand mansions and beautiful gardens.

“As Northern Ireland’s largest conservation charity we are committed to looking after our places for ever, yet conservation costs rise faster than inflation every year. By visiting National Trust places you’re helping to protect Northern Ireland’s natural and built heritage for future generations. So we really do appreciate the support of our visitors and members.”

Here’s a taster of where to go for your free day out:

In County Fermanagh there is something for all the family to enjoy at Florence Court, set against a beautiful backdrop of mountains and forests.

You can also savour the stately grandeur of Castle Coole with its Lake Walk carpeted in stunning snowdrops. Or escape to the breathtaking Crom Demesne, set in the tranquil landscape of Upper Lough Erne. (National Trust places in Fermanagh are open for free on March 5 and 6.)

Described as one of the best gardens in the world, the impressive garden at Mount Stewart in County Down makes the most of the unique microclimate of the Ards Peninsula – did you know it is the sunniest place in Ireland? See the Londonderry family home restored to its former glory with new rooms open for the first time.

Also on the shores of Strangford Lough is Castle Ward, with miles of walking and cycling trails and stunning views. Nearby, Rowallane Garden in Saintfield is a captivating natural garden with a dazzling variety of rare trees and shrubs from across the globe.

Along the North Coast follow in the footsteps of giants at the Giant’s Causeway, take the exhilarating rope bride challenge at Carrick-a-Rede, visit the stunning landscape of Downhill Demesne or stroll along Portstewart Strand and White Park Bay.

In Mid Ulster a tour of The Argory reveals this Neo-classical masterpiece has unchanged since 1900. You can also visit the charming 17th-century Ardress farmhouse or Springhill in Moneymore which has a beguiling spirit that captures the heart of every visitor. For a flavour of our Industrial Heritage visit Wellbrook Beetling Mill near Cookstown.

For more information on the work of the National Trust, how to become a member and places to visit see www.nationaltrust.org.uk