Scrabo Tower: when to visit, what to see, and things to know

Standing proudly atop Scrabo Hill in Newtownards, County Down is Scrabo Tower, a 19th-century lookout tower that can be seen for miles around. Here is everything you need to know about visiting Scrabo Tower.

Built between 1854 and 1856, Scrabo Tower in County Down is an impressive monument and lookout tower that stands at 135 feet (41 m) in height.

Perched atop Scrabo Hill, the tower can be seen for miles around and standing beside it on Scrabo Hill, you will be able to enjoy unrivalled views out over North Down.

Built in the Scottish Baronial Revival style, the tower was initially known as the Londonderry Monument as it was built as a memorial to Charles Vane, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry.

Today, the tower is mainly visited for the incredible views it offers of the surrounding area. So, if you’re thinking of visiting Scrabo Tower, here is everything you need to know.

When to visit – check the weather before visiting

Scrabo Tower.
Credit: Tourism Northern Ireland

Due to its location on top of Scrabo Hill, Scrabo Tower is particularly exposed to the elements. So, it is best to check the forecast before visiting.

While the grounds around the tower are open all year round, we advise visiting on a clear and dry day to make the most of the views from the hill. So, spring, summer, and early autumn will be your best bet.

If you want to look inside the tower itself, please note that it is closed during the winter. Its opening hours vary throughout the rest of the year, so make sure to check ahead of visiting.

What to see – incredible views and a historic monument

Amazing views for miles around.
Credit: Tourism Northern Ireland

Obviously, one of the must-sees after climbing Scrabo Hill is the tower itself. Steeped in history, this impressive monument is well worth the visit.

The walls of Scrabo Tower are over a metre thick, and the entire building is built using stone from Scrabo Hill. If you’re lucky enough to get a look inside the tower, you will be treated to an exhibition and short video detailing its history.

From the top of Scrabo Hill, you will get to enjoy incredible views out over County Down. You will see Strangford Lough and the rolling countryside for miles around – a truly amazing sight, especially on a clear day!

Directions – how to get there

Scrabo roundabout.
Credit: geograph.ie / Eric Jones

From Belfast, take the A2 east out of the city and continue straight onto the A20 or Newtownards Road.

After about nine miles (14.5 km), you will come to a roundabout. Take the third exit onto Blair Mayne Road before reaching another roundabout where you will continue straight through.

A few hundred metres after the roundabout, turn right onto Scrabo Road. Continue following this road until you reach the Scrabo Tower car park.

How long is Scrabo Tower walk? – duration and route

How long is Scrabo Tower walk?
Credit: Instagram / @evagrosman

The walk up Scrabo Hill is a 2.3 mile (3.7 km) circular route over rough terrain and steep climbs.

From the top end of the main car park, cross the road to reach the tarmac path leading up the hill. You will see a picnic site to your right. Continue straight up to reach Scrabo Tower.

Descending from the summit, turn into the picnic site. At its opposite side, follow the path downhill. At the end of this path, turn left through the South Quarry.

Leaving the South Quarry, follow the signposts to the North Quarry on the left. Continue straight along this path along the bottom of the quarry. Here, you will climb a set of steps to a higher level arriving at a junction of four tracks.

Continue straight across this junction and follow the path to return to the car park.

Things to know – facilities and more

Scrabo Tower offers amazing views over North Down.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

The walk to Scrabo Tower is over relatively rough terrain; however, a good pair of trainers will be sufficient for this short trek.

There is free parking available onsite at Scrabo Tower. However, there is a fee to enter the tower.

There is also a picnic area just below the summit of Scrabo Hill. This is a perfect spot to enjoy a BBQ or picnic on a sunny day.

There is a toilet block situated at the main car park at the start of the walk, and an accessible toilet fitted with a RADAR lock.

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