Rowallane a true dog friendly delight!September 2, 2019
Do you ever go a ‘wee run’? Is it just Northern Irish people that say it or is it said in the rest of the UK and Ireland too? Anyway, as it was Sunday yesterday I decided to go a ‘wee run’ somewhere? It was the 1st Autumnal day of the year, and a few places sprung to mind, beaches, forests and coastal paths, but as I haven’t visited that many National Trust properties this year with my membership card, I decided to use it nearer to home, and opted for a wee run to Rowallane Gardens, Saintfield. Under the ownership of National Trust NI, it’s been a few months since I last visited. It’s a mere 12 miles from Belfast, and one of the most accessible venues in their NI portfolio.
Georgie my dog (aka @ladygeorgieofnorniron on Instagram), led me around the outer path, which passed the tall monkey puzzle and the lake.
The sun came out after a few showers, and we headed out past the ‘Play and Explore’ area for kids, and on towards the Rock Garden. It was a pretty dander with plenty of plant varieties and little snippets of information as you walk. The National Trust have truly embraced a dog walking experience, by installing a dog poop bag dispenser and wooden poop bins along the trails.
As we headed back towards the visitor centre via the courtyard, there was a little pottery shed, with beautiful hand crafted pottery including mugs, plates, jugs and more. At this point I was dreaming of an Americano. Relieved that it was a warm day because from memory, dogs were only permitted on the cafe terrace on my previous visit.
Well, get out your trumpets and play a fanfare! They’ve only gone and made a dog zone inside the coffee shop! Yes…jump for joy and wag your tails, we have lift off! Fantastic!
As you walk through the rear entrance door, the small gift shop offers a selection of favourite items such as rugs and mugs before you reach the ‘naughtiness’ that is the cake and bun selection of the National Trust cafe.
A big blackboard draws your attention to the new dogzone, before you order your cakes and coffee (sandwiches and soup also available). I was so happy to be welcomed indoors with Georgie, I proudly walk over to a table to drink my coffee feeling very chuffed with myself! We weren’t the only dog owners enjoying the experience as there were two cairn terriers beside us, and a Samoyed and retriever eyeing up the gift section!
After our little coffee break, we left the visitor centre and headed back towards the car, but not before stopping off to nosey at the large off lead area for dogs.
I was more than impressed with Rowallane Gardens and their new dog friendly approach. It really does fill me with joy when you can take your dog for a walk and enjoy indoor surroundings for a post walk cuppa. Well done National Trust NI. I will definitely be back much more often.