Things to see & do
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Strangford Lough offer visitors a variety of seascapes and activities that make the area one of the most popular holiday destinations in Northern Ireland.
The towns and villages surrounding the Lough are steeped in history and are just waiting to be explored.
What you can see: September - December
Autumn brings the arrival of a variety of birds to Strangford Lough, during the next few months you can expect to see:
- Arrival of light-bellied brent geese from Arctic Canada - up to 90% of the global population
- Arrival of waterfowl and waders from the Arctic and Siberia
- Peak time for red squirrel sightings at Nugent’s Wood
- Grey seal pupping on islands within Strangford Lough
The mild winter climate, sheltered shores and rich feeding all combine to make Strangford Lough the perfect over wintering location for more than 70,000 seabirds that migrate here from northern latitudes. These include over 75% of the entire population of Light Bellied Brent Geese that make the journey from Arctic Canada.
There are over 2000 different types of marine creatures living within Strangford Lough. If you venture down to the shore at low tide, you will be amazed at the diversity of life you can discover lurking within the rock pools. Some of the best shorelines to explore include Ballyhenry Island and Kearney Village.
Both Common and Grey Seals can be seen here all year round. The best places to spot them are at Cloghy Rocks and Granagh Bay; on either side of the entrance to the lough. Other marine mammals to keep an eye out for are porpoises and otters. Earlier in the year, a humpback whale swam through the Narrows.
Around the shores of the lough, we manage a number of interesting woodlands. Killynether, below Scrabo Tower, has a terrific display of woodland flowers every spring. Nugent’s Wood, at Portaferry, is one of the last refuges for the native red squirrel. The big estates of Mount Stewart and Castle Ward deserve a day’s exploration.
We ensure our farmland is managed in a way that encourages wildlife. At Gibbs Island, you will see a meadow of wild flowers, teeming with butterflies, bees and other insects. Ballyquintin is one of the best places to spot Irish hares and flocks of farmland birds such as finches, linnets, tree sparrows and skylark.