The Trails of Barnwell Farm
Barnwell Farm is a special place for wildlife. In 2009, we won the prestigious UK Nature of Farming Award for our work in attracting and increasing farmland birds.
The Linnets, Yellowhammers and Tree Sparrows seen at
Barnwell represent the good environmental health of the
farm. What they show is that the insects and plants on
which these birds feed are here too. Such a haven attracts
larger animals such as badgers, foxes and birds of prey.
Elsewhere in the country our familiar farmland wildlife
is in decline due to changes in agriculture and land
management. At Barnwell Farm we operate within the
Government agri-environment scheme to encourage
Rough grass margins
Rather than cultivate to the edge of the field we leave a
wide buffer strip of several metres of rough tussocky grass.
This gives birds somewhere to nest and encourages insects
and spiders, some of which feed on crop pests. The small
mammals in this strip attract kestrels and owls.
Conservation cereal margins
On some cereal fields we restrict herbicides and pesticides
on the margins, leaving a weedy edge that can be left
throughout the winter to provide bird seed.
Retained winter stubble
Cereal fields were once commonly sown in spring,
harvested in autumn and the stubble left standing over the
winter. The spilled seed and weeds provided food for birds
at a time when they needed it most. Modern cereals are
sown in autumn with no benefit for birds.
This is why, at Barnwell Farm, we
sow our cereals in spring.
Wild bird cover
Special seed mixes are sown and
left standing in winter as bird food.
We do this on the margins of some fields.
Trails and hides
To get the most out of your Barnwell visit we have developed farm trails that explore all the best places to see wildlife. A short walk up the hill behind the carpark gives
panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. On a
clear day you can see as far as the Isle of Man, Scotland
or nearer to home, the Mourne Mountains.
Our Bird Hide is situated to give the best views of the
pond, its marsh, the woodland edge and hedges. A special place at dusk is the Badger Hide. In spring and summer you may be lucky to see these secretive animals as they head off for a night’s feeding.
Of course you do not need to be interested in wildlife to
enjoy Barnwell Farm Cottages. Just relax and enjoy our
peaceful countryside and great outdoors.
Walking - Cycling: The quiet country roads of the Ards Peninsula are an ideal location for rambling through the breathtaking scenery of the Strangford Lough shores and Irish Sea coast.
Bird watching: We are located 1 mile from Strangford Lough which is one of the most celebrated wild bird sanctuaries in Europe.
Fishing: We have a recently stocked lake at the cottages for those who are keen fishermen.
Sea angling can also be arranged.
Horse Riding: Bring your own horse and take part in many of the local equestrian events, (stabling and grazing are available).
Golf: There are five 18 hole golf courses within an 8 mile radius of the cottages. (The closest is 15 minutes away).
Motor Sport: Kirkistown Race Circuit is 15 minutes from the cottages. There are car and motorcycle races held here throughout the spring, summer and autumn seasons.
Local Sandy Beaches
There are three main long sandy beaches within 5-10 minutes drive from the cottages. These are safe and quiet, providing ample playspace for the most boisterous of children.
Other Activities Nearby Diving, Game and Clay Bird shooting, Sailing.
Mount Stewart House and Gardens (2 ˝ miles). This National Trust property is of world renown.
Greyabbey Ancient monument (1 ˝ miles). Ruins of the Cistercian Abbey (12th century).
Exploris Aquarium (8 miles). Probably the best in Ireland.
Ballycopeland Windmill (Windmill restored to full working order) (4 miles).
Ulster Folk and Transport Museum Cultra (15 miles). Cultural heritage centre and transport museum (Titanic memorabilia). Very worthwhile. (Take a day here).
Castle Espie Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre on the shores of Strangford Lough (8 miles).
A wonderful variety of wetland birds can be seen at close quarters ( great for the children).
Castle Ward (9 miles) Situated in Strangford, this National Trust property is worth a visit (Take the ferry at Portaferry).
Windmill Hill Portaferry (8 miles). This is the best viewing point in the lower Ards Peninsula. You can see (on a clear day) Scotland, Isle of Man, Mourne Mountains, English coast (Cumbria), Republic of Ireland (County Louth). Bring your camera!
Nendrum Monastic Site (10 miles) on Mahee Island. Ancient monastic site.
Rowallane Gardens (National Trust) Saintfield. Another wonderful National Trust garden well worth a visit.
This list is by no means exhaustive. There are many other attractions and activities in the locality