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One Hour From: Belfast

Become a knight for just one day

Get out of town to see castles, explore the coast and stock up on Irish linen.

Get out of town to see castles, explore the coast and stock up on Irish linen.

Carrickfergus Castle

Built by John de Courcy in 1180 to guard the approach to Belfast Lough, this massive Anglo-Norman castle is shaped to fit the rocky spur on which it sits. Carrickfergus forms an impressive backdrop to the marina. A plaque on the quay marks the spot where William of Orange landed in 1690 on his way to the Battle of the Boyne.

By car: take M2, then M5; journey time 25 minutes.

Antrim coast road and Glenariff Forest Park

One of the most scenic roads in Northern Ireland, the Antrim coast road runs from Carrickfergus through Larne. Stop in Carnlough for coffee at Londonderry Arms Hotel, briefly owned by Winston Churchill. Carry on to Waterfoot, where signs will point you in the direction of Glenarriff Forest Park. Glenariff is the best of the nine Glens of Antrim and its waterfalls and woodlands are glorious.

By car: M2, M5, then A2; approx 50 mins.

Mount Stewart House

Once the home of Lord Castlereagh, it is famous for its gardens created by Lady Londonderry in 1921. The house contains treasures such as paintings by George Stubbs and the 22 Empire chairs used by the plenipotentiaries at the Congress of Vienna. The gardens incorporate eclectic styles: Spanish and Italian, as well as a sunken and paved shamrock garden.

By car: A20 through Newtowards and follow signs; approx 30 mins.

Ulster Folk and Transport Museum

This living museum takes you back to a typical Ulster town of the early 1900s. Many of the buildings are originals which were removed stone by stone and re-erected here, among them a flax mill, a blacksmith's forge and a bleach-green watchtower. There are also Titanic and "Flight Experience" exhibitions.

By car: M3, A2 and follow signs; approx 20 mins.

Lisburn Irish Linen Centre

A loving recreation of Ulster's greatest industry. After sorting your weft from your web, you can stock up at the gift shop and visit adjoining Lisburn Museum.

By car: M1 and follow signs; approx 20 minutes.

St Patrick Centre

Explore the legacy of St Patrick at this cutting-edge exhibition. Follow in the footsteps of Patrick in the shadows of the scenic Mourne Mountains, an ideal spot from which to begin the Christian Heritage Trail.

By car: A24, then A7; approx 1 hour.

Easyjet (0870 6 000 000; www.easyjet.com) offers returns to Belfast from Gatwick from £25. TenSq (028-9024 1001; www.ten-sq.com), Belfast's new boutique hotel, offers double rooms from £119 per night. Europcar (0870-607 5000; www.europcar.co.uk) offers weekend car hire from £64. Contact Tourism Ireland (0800-039 7000; www.irelandholidays.co.uk).