Rowallane gardens owned by the National Trust just outside the village of Saintfield have long been a favourite place for a peaceful stroll. However, as we were away for a large part of 2012 it is well over 6 months since we were last there. There has been a transformation. The house which used to be the HQ for the NT in Northern Ireland has now a shop and cafe in the ground floor with the offices relocated to the courtyard. The conversion has been well done. Where my reservations are focused, however, relates to the parts of the gardens which have been extensively opened up with large gravel paths. Presumably, these changes are designed to attract families pushing buggies. No doubt the rather stark paths will mellow over time but we are delaying our judgment on what has been done: we do have reservations.
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