A spectacular wildlife haven at Strangford Lough

Breathtaking natural beauty and great for walking and wildlife © Joe Cornish

Breathtaking natural beauty and great for walking and wildlife

A visit to Strangford Lough, a unique and wonderful place of immense international importance for nature conservation, is a must this spring.

Uncover its tidal treasures and enjoy everything from bracing coastal walks to the delicate wild flowers and butterflies in abundance, from rock pools brimming over with marine life to some of the best bird watching in the UK and Ireland. Strangford is the largest sea Lough in the British Isles and one of only three designated Marine Nature Reserves in the UK.

A dedicated team of National Trust wardens and volunteers based at Mount Stewart are responsible for managing 3,773 hectares of shore and seabed across the Lough, and above the tide a further 270 hectares of land, including 14 islands. Their careful management of habitats and monitoring of wildlife has resulted in a natural haven, unrivalled in Europe.

  • Up to 75 per cent of the world population of light-bellied Brent geese over-winter at the Lough. Last autumn, after an excellent breeding season we welcomed record numbers of over 38,000 geese.
  • One-third of all Ireland's terns nest in dense colonies on its islands during late spring and early summer.
  • In recent years there has been a big increase in the numbers of nesting eider ducks.
  • Its sheltered tidal waters are host to Northern Ireland's most important common seal population, which you can see almost all year round.
  • Ballyquintin Point is one of the best areas in Co. Down to see our only endemic mammal, the Irish hare.
  • Ballyquintin has recently seen the successful nesting of up to five pairs of lapwings, an increasingly rare species.
  • The Ards Peninsula is one of the last strongholds of the red squirrel in Northern Ireland and Mount Stewart is the most accessible site in the province to see this endangered species.
  • The number of species supported below water totals more than 2,000.

The Lookout at Mount Stewart has an interactive camera and provides an opportunity for bird watching on a nearby island. There are also wildlife hides and viewing points around the Lough, including a number of car parks and lay-bys owned by the Trust to help you enjoy this spectacular area. Daily ferries cross back and forth between Strangford and Portaferry.