We fly to Belfast and transfer to La Mon Hotel & Country Club. Later, we enjoy a welcome drinks reception hosted by our tour manager.
Monday: Benvarden Garden & Lissanoure Castle
Our first visit is to Benvarden Garden, part of the historic Benvarden estate established in the late 17th century and owned by the Montgomery family since 1798. The grounds extend down to the banks of the River Bush and include a lovely walled garden with fruit trees, herbaceous borders, roses, a box parterre and kitchen garden. The woodland pond is planted with azaleas and camellias and down by the river stands a fine, Victorian iron bridge built by Robert James Montgomery in 1878.
From here we make our way to Lissanoure Castle, set at the foot of the Glens of Antrim, surrounded by lakes, parkland and woods, where we enjoy a guided tour. Built in 1770 by George Macartney, 1st Earl Macartney (the first British Ambassador to China), Lissanoure is situated on the site of an earlier castle built in the 14th century. The main part of the castle was destroyed by a massive explosion in 1847 but the courtyard remains with an impressive Tudor revival archway and clocktower entrance. The estate is now privately owned by Peter and Emily Mackie.
Tuesday: Belfast & Titanic Belfast
We enjoy a guided city tour of Belfast, Northern Ireland’s vibrant capital. Belfast is now a thriving, modern city with a fascinating and sometimes turbulent history. It was also a key player in the Industrial Revolution, being the centre for the Irish linen and tobacco industries.
Afterwards we visit Titanic Belfast, a fantastic interactive museum located on site of the original shipyard in which the famous liner was built. Hear heart-breaking tales about the vessel's passengers, discover the detail behind the mammoth task of building the ill-fated ship and dive into the depths with an immersive video exploring the wreckage on the ocean floor.
Wednesday: Causeway Coastal Route scenic drive & Glenarm Castle
We head out on a scenic drive along the north coast, known as the Causeway Coastal Route, winding between picturesque villages and drinking in the striking sea and cliff views. We arrive at one of Northern Ireland’s most beautiful estates, Glenarm Castle, which has been the private residence of the Earls of Antrim for 400 years. After lunch here, we enjoy a guided tour to learn more of the castle’s history. Throughout the castle are superb examples of Irish furniture as well as portraits of family members from the early 17th century onwards. The castle’s walled garden is one of Ireland’s oldest, originally created to supply the house with fruit and vegetables and now filled with lovely flowers and specimen plants.
Thursday: Ballywalter Park
We visit one of Ireland’s most important Historic Houses, Ballywalter Park, where we enjoy an exclusive guided tour by the owners followed by refreshments. Home of Lord and Lady Dunleath, it was built in the Italianate Palazzo style for the present owner’s great, great, great grandfather between 1846 and 1850 to the designs of the eminent architect, Sir Charles Lanyon. A conservatory and billiard room wing, also by Lanyon, was added around 1870. The house has been afforded Grade A* listing as being of exceptional architectural importance and is situated within a walled demesne of some 270 acres containing pleasure grounds plus a fine collection of specimen trees and rhododendrons.
We check out of our hotel and transfer to Belfast airport for our return flight home.
Please note: the itinerary order is subject to change.