Probably (though open to correction) named after a Thomas Delahey who acquired land from Viscount Limerick in 1733- for £1117 ! The “Mont” part of the Placename refers to the hilly nature of the estate as does the town land – Mullagh – in which it lies, meaning “hilltop.”
A most interesting Country Park with magnificent views over Strangford Lough.
Evidence for occupation of the land dates back to 600- 1100 AD in the rath- (sometimes referred to as “Danes’ Forts” or Fairy Forts). These were built as farmstead mounds, surrounded by a ditch and enclosed by wooden fences as protection against wild animals and intruders : there are thousands throughout Ireland.
The 12th Century saw control pass from the Mc Cartan clan to the Anglo-Norman de Courcy, but it was not until the early17th Century, with the Plantation of Ulster that much of County Down was “settled” by tenants introduced by the Hamiltons and Montgomerys. One such tenant established a bawn (fortified dwelling) close to the present Delamont House.
In 1793 David Gordon came to Delamont – the estate possibly acquired by earlier marriages – and furthered his financial interests by the creation of the Belfast Banking Company. With his wealthy wife Mary Crawford of Crawfordsburn he improved the Mansion, outbuildings and land as did subsequent inheriting family members. In 1910 Delamont passed to Sir Alexander Gordon (1882-1967) who was MP for East Down for 30 years and Minister for Northern Ireland and leader of the Senate from 1951.
It was in the inter-war years 1918- 39 that the estate flourished, with fruit and vegetables being sold from the walled gardens, generated its own electricity and pumped water, thus being largely self sufficient. After Sir Alexander died, childless, in 1967, Delamont was held in Trust by his niece and later her son who further improved the house and let the land.
Ambitious plans for a hotel, marina, golf course and leisure park were not implemented though the “big house” was- for a time- used as a restaurant /private functions. From the early 1970’s the estate “ran down” and was sold in 1985.
Today the estate is in joint ownership of Down District Council which runs it as a Country Park and the Belfast Education and Library Board which owns the “big house” and adjoining buildings as an Outdoor Education Centre.
Scooters overall: 2/3
Manual Wheelchairs: 3/4
In general surfaces are sound though erosion can produce tricky channels. The hilly terrain will present challenges to the hardiest of pushers! …… but it is worth the effort to sample at least some of the beautiful scenery Delamont offers.
Four Rambles are described, the choice of which depends on your ability and/ or that of your walking partner to handle the fairly hilly pathways! You can of course “mix and match” – that is move from one route to another but if you do so it is important to follow the direction of the arrows as shown.
Ramblers are advised to use this leaflet along with that supplied by DCP: there is a maze of paths/roadways : it is easy to get lost !
All the rambles are shown as starting from the Disabled Car Park beside the toilets.
Part 1:Strangford Stone (Approx 1 mile)
Turn right from car park and follow wide tarmac road. Left hand side is another space for disabled parking and a ramp to the visitor’s centre and shop (sweets, minerals etc..)
Shortly is a narrow gravel / quarry dust path on the left leading to a display board describing the idea behind and erection of the Strangford Stone on 26th June 1999. Take time to read the complex organisation behind the creation of this nearly 40 feet, 47 tonne landmark. Proceed to the stone and enjoy what must be one of the best views in Ulster featuring the Mournes, Slieve Croob, Strangford Lough and the drumlin (small hills) landscape.
Return by this gravel path to the display board and turn right and follow it until it meets a broader gravel path. Bear left but avoid taking the path signposted to the rath and lookout tower- the rath is inaccessible and the view from the lookout no better than that you had at the stone!
For keen bird watchers a bird hide is below you on your right down a gravel path. (Scooters could not enter and wheelchairs would have difficulty. ) Following the gently curving path takes you to Delamont House. Shortly you come to a pathway junction: take the right and proceed down a broad tarmac road to the Rangers’ Hut on your LHS. By turning left along the narrow quarry dust path beside the miniature railway you come to refreshments (tea coffee, ice cream) and the railway station. You are back to base.
Time: 1- 1½ hours: going- grade 2 (moderately easy – pushed wheelchairs grade 2/3)
At the Rangers’ hut you may wish to continue on Parts 2 and or 3 described below.
Part 2 – Circuit around miniature railway (½– ¾ mile)
This is a very simple ramble, requiring no navigation as only a single fairly narrow track goes round the track perimeter fence. In general the going is good but there are a few fairly short but steepish inclines. The narrow path leads back to a broad path (play area) is on your Right Hand Side leading to the Rangers Hut.
Time: 30 minutes: scooters and wheelchairs grade 2 .
Part 3 – Corbally & Nut Woods and Pond Ramble (Approx 2 miles)
The most challenging of the rambles, with some steep inclines and eroded, gullied paths, which require concentration and care, it is also one of the most interesting, with mixed deciduous and coniferous woodland, the pond, and largest heronry in Ireland.
It should be “tackled” in a clockwise direction as shown and ramblers are strongly advised to avoid the path beyond the pond which has a particularly steep incline and return the way they came. Company, even for scooter users, is also advised, for help with a push!
Take the narrow quarry dust path from the restaurant (opposite the Rangers’ Hut) following it to the pedestrian crossing to the caravan/camping site area (take care with incoming and outgoing traffic!). There is a long, gradual incline and ignore sign posts to Corbally Plantation to your left on the way up and on the long, quite steep hill down.
Travel on, enjoying the honeysuckle, superb rowan tree plantation in season and Nut Wood (Woodland Trust). Just before a sharp left bend leading to the pond are some quite large stones on the path, these are passable but can prove bumpy and tricky! The attractive pond and heronry is (or should be!) on your left hand side. Look out for the herons and other bird life. You can travel right to the end of the pond but then it is strongly advised you return by the way you came. There is a short but very steep incline just ahead, though followed by a long gentle incline to a main path, which leads right to Delamont House. Returning as advised to the sharp bend you came by, turn left. Shortly you come to a junction – turn right (the left leads to steps) and follow the curving path until you come to the junction at Delamont House. Turn “rightish” (ignoring the Corbally Wood sign also on the right hand side) and follow the very broad tarmac road leading to the Rangers Hut. Back to base.
Time: 1/1½ hours. Grade: 4 (scooters) Wheelchairs 4+
Part 4: Strangford Walk (1½ miles)
Leaving the car park and toilets area turn right and head up the broad tarmac road. On your left hand side is the old walled gardens and stable stores. At the end of the downward slope is a gate easily passable on the left hand side and the road narrows somewhat to a gravel path [resist the temptation to follow the various signposts to left and right: Mullagh Walk, Long Walk etc] At the end of the downward slope you are right beside Strangford Lough and may wish to visit the Grey Point Lookout. There follows a fairly level section. At the fork, ignore the path straight ahead-it leads to a dead end-but veer left up the gravelled long incline (a challenge for pushers!) which again allows beautiful views of Strangford Lough and access to the bird hide.
At the top of this incline ignore the signpost to Rath and Lookout Tower (see part 1) but continue on around the long curve, past Delamont House and continue down the broad tarmac road to the Rangers Hut.
Time: ¾ hour. Grade: 3 (scooters) Wheelchairs 3/4
Disabled toilets, shop (tea, coffee, ice-cream etc available), caravan and camping site, organised boat trips, play area, the “Herons’ Nest” (a secluded barbecue area and room with kitchens available for private hire.
Two mobility scooters are available for use, together with recommended route maps and leaflets. Booking essential
Tel: 028 4482 833
25miles from Belfast City Centre on the A22 Comber – Downpatrick Road (1 mile from Killyleagh, 5miles from Downpatrick)
Open every day of the year from 9.00am to Dusk
Cars £3.50 (no concessions)
Other Transport charged pro rota