We are blessed to live on the Ards Peninsula-an area of outstanding natural beauty, between the Irish Sea & Strangford Lough.
Strangford Lough is the largest sea-inlet in the British Isles with 58 square miles of water & rich diversity of marine life.
It’s a bird watchers paradise- especially as the Brent geese arrive in Autumn.
If you’ve never visited this part of Ireland, it’s worth a wee road trip!
Just 10 miles from Belfast, Newtownards is the town at the start of the Peninsula. There’s plenty of bakeries & cafes, family-run shops & a market in the square on Saturdays .For top quality coffee & lunch try Haptik. Huevos rancheros is my favourite for lunch.
Scrabo Tower stands like a sentinel at the top of the lough. Follow the signs & take the short steep walk to the Tower. You’ll be rewarded with a view over the patchwork green fields to the Lough. The Tower should be open during summer Thursday to Sunday.You can also walk Killynether Wood & Country Park at the base of the Tower before heading down the road toward Portaferry. (Follow the St Patrick’s Trail signs)
Park with a view at Ballyreagh or at the picnic area with toilets just before Mount Stewart Road.
You MUST visit Mount Stewart – a beautiful National Trust Estate. You could spend hours between the trails, lake, stately home & formal gardens (Listed in the top 10 gardens in the world) A visit here is always time well spent!
The village of Greyabbey is famous for its Antique shops & the ruined Abbey. We love Lekker Kitchen Cafe Try their Dutch coffee & pannekoeken (specialist pancake)
Tuk Tuk-an award winning Asian restaurant is just up the street (Tuktuk to go provides a takeaway option)
Park with a view
If the tide is out (& you’ve packed your wellies) you can park in the carpark by the loughshore on the edge of the village & walk out to Mid Island. If the carpark is full there’s likely a wedding in Orange Tree House.
For coffee with a view, visit Harrison’s & sit out on the terrace overlooking the Lough. Try their traditional Ulster Fry for breakfast. If it’s later in the day finish off with a trio of dessert (You don’t have to share!)
The next village is Kircubbin . Park with a view over the Bay looking toward the Mournes. For fine food call into Katch 27 (Apparently Brad Pitt had breakfast here when filming Z on Mid Island) For fish & chips The Golden Diner in the carpark of Kelly’s Circle K petrol station is our favourite ( & the share bag fills 3 adults!)
As you continue along the A20, after 3 miles the Salt Water Brig is on your right. The car-park is on the left. The Brig is a registered Stop-over that serves great food. Phone ahead if you want to stay over.
Top up with fuel at Centra & get supplies there or in the Spar on the square.
You can loop back up the seaside of the peninsula or cross on the ferry to the Kingdom of Mourne!
The Ferry goes to Strangford-a quarter to & a quarter past each hour. It’s £1 each way as a foot passenger. You can take your camper on the 10 minute ferry to Strangford, Castleward (AKA Winterfell) & the Kingdom of Mourne (The cost is £7:80 single at time of writing)
The road less travelled
Turn off the main road onto Abbacy Road through Bishop’s Mill or Lough Cowey Road to drive along the quiet but narrow Lough Shore Road. You’ll see views of Castle Ward & Audley’s Castle.
Park with a view & walk onto Ballyhenry Island.
☘️Keep on exploring!
coinnigh ort ag iniúchadh☘️