Saturday 7 July saw the Walkers assemble for their usual first Saturday of the month outing. The Co Armagh venues on this occasion were the National Trust property of Ardress House and the nearby Peatlands Park.

On arrival at Ardress around 10.40 the property seemed deserted with a quick search revealing a notice board showing the opening time at 11.00! A quick confab resulted in motoring a little further to the Argory, another NT property a few miles away, where the Coffee Shop had just opened.

An hour later, well refreshed, we were back at Ardress where an initial exploration of the farmyard was followed by an hour–long conducted tour of the property. Somewhere around 1705 Thomas Clarke, a farmer and landowner, built a simple 2 storey farmhouse in the Parish of Loughgall. A couple of generations later in 1760 Sarah Clarke, described as an heiress, married George Ensor a Dublin architect with family origins in Shropshire. Among other things George had won first prize in a Dublin architectural competition and acted as Surveyor of Works during the construction of Christchurch Cathedral. George soon set about improving the original farmhouse resulting in the impressive building which stands today and which eventually came into the hands of the National Trust. A significant amount of restoration work has been undertaken by the Trust in recent years including refurnishing the house with items from the time of its heyday in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Packed lunches on picnic tables in the grounds followed our tour after which we moved on the few miles to Peatlands Park where we quickly got underway following the easily signposted walking route maintained by the Environment and Heritage Service. Walks in the Park are well surfaced using bark and boardwalks with frequent information points describing flora and fauna and peculiarities located in the area. Just a couple of these were the Pyramidal Orchids we spotted and photographed, and the existence thankfully unobserved, of 5–foot–high Scottish Wood Anthills. The ants were apparently introduced by landowners in the 19th century as a source of food for game birds!

Following our enjoyable walk with lots of interesting sights and equally interesting conversations, plus a stop while the Peatlands Tourist Train crossed our path, we headed for home arriving in Bangor around 5.30pm. A super day out with thanks to Betty and Brian for the planning involved.

Added by: RobbieJackson
Added on: Wednesday 10th July 2019

Category: Walkers

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