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Visiting Portstewart Strand with your dog

A small dog on the lead standing at the beach
Dog walking at Portstewart Strand, County Londonderry. | © National Trust Images / James Dobson

Dogs are welcome on Portstewart Strand and with two miles of golden sand to enjoy, there are plenty of opportunities for walking and splashing along the beach.

Our pawprint rating system

We’ve been working on making it easier for you to find out how dog-friendly your visit will be before you and your four-legged friend arrive. To help with this, we've created a new pawprint rating system and given all the places in our care a rating. You can find this information in the National Trust members’ handbook.

Portstewart Strand is a one pawprint rated place.

Dogs are welcome here, but facilities are limited. They’ll be able to stretch their legs in the car park and walk in the nearby open spaces, depending on the season. Read on to discover exactly where you can take your dog.

Best places for dog walking on Portstewart Strand

Pull on your walking boots and stride out for a coastal adventure with your pooch. Portstewart Strand is the starting point for the 33-mile (53km) Causeway Coast Way to Ballycastle.

If you fancy a shorter walk you can choose between walks along the strand or a 2-mile (3.2km) circular route through the dunes. The trail meanders through the 6,000-year-old dunes to the river's edge at the Bann Estuary.

Where can my dog go?

Dogs on leads are welcome on the beach. You can let your dog off the lead past post 10.

A couple sitting on a bench with their dog at Dunwich Heath and Beach, Suffolk
Dog at the edge of the dunes at Portstewart Strand, County Londonderry | © National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

What do I need to be aware of at Portsteward Strand?

Please keep your dog on a lead at all times on the beach. Cattle graze within the dunes and can be spooked by dogs off leads. Dogs running off lead can also disturb ground nesting birds and local wildlife. You can let your dog off the lead past post 10.

The Canine Code

We’ve worked with our partner Forthglade to come up with this Canine Code, which helps to make sure everyone can enjoy their day:

  • Keep them close: using a short lead helps to keep your dog from disturbing ground-nesting birds and farm animals. It's essential to use a short lead around sheep. But if cattle approach you, it's best to let your dog off the lead, and call them back when it's safe to do so.
  • Pick up the poo: please always clear up after your dog. If you can't find a bin nearby, take the poo bags home with you.
  • Watch the signs: keep an eye on local signs and notices wherever you're walking. They'll tell you if a beach has a dog ban, for instance, or if a path has been diverted, or if you're in an area where dogs can run off-lead.
  • Stay on the ball: remember that not everyone loves dogs, and some people fear them. So make sure your dog doesn't run up to other people, especially children.

Keeping control of your dog

Our definition of close or effective control is: ​

  • Being able to recall your dogs in any situation at the first call
  • Being able to clearly see your dog at all times (not just knowing they have gone into the undergrowth or over the crest of the hill). In practice, this means keeping them on a footpath if the surrounding vegetation is too dense for your dog to be visible
  • Not allowing them to approach other visitors without their consent
  • Having a lead with you to use if you encounter livestock or wildlife, or if you are asked to use one

Facilities available for my dog

Water for dogs is available at reception and Harry's Shack, and dog waste bins are provided across the estate.

Aerial view of Portstewart Strand, County Londonderry

Discover more at Portstewart Strand

Find out when Portstewart Strand is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

Our partners


We've partnered with natural pet food maker Forthglade so that you and your dog can get even more out of the special places we care for.

Visit website 

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