Top National Trust places open for free

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European Heritage Open Day 2017 on Saturday September 9 will see over 300 properties in Northern Ireland open their doors for free, including top tourist attractions cared for by the National Trust.

Now in its 20th year, European Heritage Open Days (EHOD) is a Europe-wide event, held annually to promote interest in historic and modern buildings by the public. This year’s theme is Heritage and Nature.

The thrill of crossing the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge has tempted visitors since the 18th century.

The thrill of crossing the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge has tempted visitors since the 18th century.

As a conservation charity, the National Trust play a huge role in the protection and preservation of coast, countryside, mansions and gardens in Northern Ireland and the EHOD gives everyone with an interest the chance to visit these special places free of charge (please note, advanced booking required for Giant’s Causeway and Carrick a Rede).

This ever-popular celebration of our rich and varied historic environment is organised by the Department of the Environment, and attracted a record number of visitors last year.

Come along to one of the National Trust places below free of charge on Saturday 9 September to see the great conservation work that they do. If you like what you see, you can consider becoming a member so you can explore them time and time again.

There’s something for all the family to enjoy in County Fermanagh on September 9. Set against a beautiful backdrop of mountains and forests the 18th-century Florence Court has much to explore, both inside the Georgian house and out or escape to the tranquil lakeside setting of Crom on Upper Lough Erne and discover wildlife and nature.

Enjoy a visit to the award-winning gardens at Mount Stewart in County Down; take a tour of the house and let imaginations run wild in the new natural play area. Nearby is another wonderful garden, Rowallane Garden in Saintfield where the formal and informal gardens captivate with their dazzling array of exotic and rare species from around the world. On the shores of Strangford Lough is Castle Ward. A film location for Game of Thrones, this estate features an 18th-century house, miles of walking and cycling trails, and stunning views across Strangford Lough.

Head north for an exhilarating visit to the Causeway Coast where you can join an Architectural Interest tour at the Giant’s Causeway, take the rope bridge challenge at Carrick-a-Rede, explore the stunning Mussenden Temple at Downhill Demesne or visit the rural 17th-century cottage of Hezlett House.

Around Belfast, catch up with friends over coffee at the café at Rowallane Garden, before exploring the exotic gradens. Or for something completely different take a guided tour at Patterson’s Spade Mill in Templepatrick, the last working water-driven spade mill in daily use in the British Isles, which vividly captures life during the Industrial Revolution.

There’s plenty to see in Mid Ulster too where a tour of The Argory reveals the story of this Neo-classical house and its hidden treasures which remain unchanged since 1900. Visit the farmyard at the charming 17th-century Ardress House or discover the charms of Springhill in Moneymore, home to a celebrated collection of costumes, woodland trails and a children’s play area. For a flavour of our industrial heritage, visit Wellbrook Beetling Mill near Cookstown or take a step back in time at Gray’s Printing Press in the heart of Strabane, once the famous printing town of Ulster.

For more information on places to visit, opening times and booking requirements on European Heritage Open Day visit