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The Downshire Trail

This ‘lumpy’ ride linking Hillsborough and Moira is rewarding in places with great views over the Lagan Valley and Belfast Hills whilst following in the footsteps of the Marquis of Downshire.



Nearest Town


Route Type



Lagan Valley

Grid Ref (Start)



18 miles

OS Map


Route Shape


On/Off Road

On Public road

Grid Ref (End)



The beginning and end sections of the ride around Hillsborough have some climbing. The middle part is mainly flat.

route description

Leaving Hillsborough’ s Main Street near Hillsborough Castle (or Government House) take the Dromore Road then turn right to pass over the main Belfast to Dublin road on the Ballygowan Road. In approx. one mile at a crossroads turn left into Gulf Lane and continue to a T junction. Turn right and at the next T junction turn left heading up-hill with St John’s Church on the right. Continue to climb and turn right into the Ballyknock Road. Begin to descend and in just over a mile turn right into Magarrystown Road. At the bottom, at a T junction, turn right and at the next T turn left onto Lavery’s Bridge Road. Pass over the motorway and at the next T junction turn left onto Lany Road then pass over the River Lagan at Spencer’s Bridge (Look out for the Downshire Motto on the bridge). Take the first right, Inishloughlin Road and at the next T junction turn left onto Halfpenny Gate road and continue, passing the ruins of a former Quaker School on the left. At the next T turn right and arrive at a crossroads with the main A3 road. Take care crossing straight over and after a level crossing arrive at the main A26 road. Again take care turning right then take the first left, Station Road. Continue past Moira railway station and reach Moira Main Street. Turn right into Moira. At the traffic lights turn left, descend on the Clarehill Road and after crossing over the Lagan once more turn left into Bottier Road. At the next T junction turn right, climb and turn left into the Nut Hill Road. Follow the twisty Nut Hill Road until it reaches Lavery’s Bridge Road again. This time turn right and continue, as it becomes the Kilwarlin Road. This road passes Kilwarlin Moravian Church then begins a twisty ascent to the Moira Road. At the T junction turn right, continue upwards and after passing Trench Road on the left take the next left, Millvale Road. Ignore the ‘no through road’ sign. At the end of Millvale Road take care. There are bollards in the middle of the path preventing motorized vehicles from using the underpass and also note that there is a very steep short climb out of the underpass. Get in a low gear early or walk the short stretch. At the junction with the Culcavy Road turn right and return to the start via Lisburn and Main Streets.

getting to the start

If travelling by car follow signs for Hillsborough. Ample car parking in Hillsborough forest Car Park and off street metered parking.


Mainly light traffic throughout except for Hillsborough’s Lisburn and Main Streets.


Cafés, shops, pubs in Hillsborough and Moira

information for People with a Disability

Suitable for tandems; hand cranks etc.

available publications

Belfast to Ballyshannon Cycle Route (part)

Sustrans, major book shops


Lisburn CC

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