Greencastle (Londonderry), Ireland
Information Not Currently Available
Approximately 4 Hours
Meals not included
There cannot be a wilder or more dramatic headland in Northern Ireland than Downhill Demesne. With fabulous views that stretch over the whole of the North Coast of Ireland and open windswept cliff-top walks, it is not surprising that the demesne (pronounced 'domain') is part of the Binevenagh Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is a well-known icon. During your half-day excursion, you will see this for yourself. This tour will be guided.
The landscaped demesne, gardens and buildings at Downhill reflect the vivid personality of their creator -- the flamboyant and eccentric Earl Bishop Fredrick Hervey. In the early 1770s, Hervey deliberately chose the bleak headland at Downhill to build a grand country house, and surround it with a landscaped estate. He said: "A tree is no longer a rarity since above 200,000 have this winter been planted in the glens around my house. Come and enjoy the rapidity with which I have converted 60 acres of moor, by the medium of 200 spades, into a green carpet covered with white clover." At the heart of the Demesne is the house, which once contained treasures from throughout Europe. It suffered a disastrous fire in 1851, which destroyed most of the contents. It was rebuilt and lived in until shortly after World War II, but is now in ruins. However, its setting and architecture offer more than a hint of its former glory.
In the grounds, a mausoleum (1778) is dedicated to the memory the 2nd Earl. The Lion's Gate stands beside the remains of a doubled walled garden with a dovecote and ice house still intact. The Bishop's Gate is a well-known feature with its Gothic gate lodge and garden. Many of these buildings are now listed with the Historic Places Trust, reflecting their architectural and historical significance.
Perched on the edge of cliffs is the most spectacular of the buildings -- the Mussenden Temple. You will enjoy a private visit inside the temple. Built as a library and modeled on the Temple of Vesta in Italy, it is dedicated to the memory of Hervey's cousin, Frideswide Mussenden. Less than a century ago, a horse and cart could be driven around the Temple's perimeter. Due to erosion of the cliff, the National Trust carried out stabilization work in 1997 to prevent the loss of the building.
All too soon you'll depart this spectacular corner of the north of Ireland for your return to Londonderry and your waiting ship
Please note: Not advisable for guests using a wheelchair or for those with mobility limitations.