Visiting Strangford Lough and the Ards Peninsula with your dog
Dogs are welcome around Mount Stewart and the Ards Peninsula, and with acres of coast, countryside and woodland to explore there are plenty of opportunities for bounding, jumping, sniffing and splashing.
Our pawprint rating system
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.
Strangford Lough and the Ards Peninsula is a one pawprint rated place.
Where can I take my dog?
From 1st April and 1st August access is not permitted on ALL breeding seabird islands including those that are not cared for by the National Trust. Most islands on Strangford Lough will have signs that provide access guidance.
Dogs to be kept on a lead in the immediate vicinity of the car park and village, on the coastal walks a dog’s under control policy is adopted BUT no dogs are permitted within the coastal grazing plots when cattle are present. When cattle aren’t present the gates are all left open inviting walkers/dog walkers to vary their coastal walk through the grazing enclosures with dogs under control. When the grazing plots are ‘in use’ there is still a path that enables walkers to walk parallel to the shore but on the outside of the stock fence.
Access for dog walkers is on the road to the car park, the track from the car park to the Look Out hut overlooking the National Nature Reserve and through one field that is within a sign-posted walk, it is accessed over stiles and links the farm road to the Port Kelly Road. If there is a bull in this field then this is advertised and visitors are requested not to enter the field. If there are only cows in the field then dogs are permitted but must be under control.
Access is permitted along the edge of the field to the viewing point where dogs must be under control. Access to the rest of the farmland at Bar Hall is not permitted other than along way-marked paths.
Please ensure that you maintain close control over your dog, keep them within your sight at all times and ensure that your dog will respond immediately to your recall.
Orlock Coastal footpath
Please ensure that you maintain close control over your dog, keep them within your sight at all times and ensure that your dog will respond immediately to your recall. However there is no access permitted to the farmland at Orlock at any time of year.
All walkers are requested to avoid crossing to ‘The Island’ during the autumn and winter to avoid disturbing wintering waterfowl. Please ensure that you maintain close control over your dog, keep them within your sight at all times and ensure that your dog will respond immediately to your recall.
Dogs are permitted within the field under control when cattle are not present. When cattle are present the entrance gates off the caravan park road and coastal footpath are locked and walkers/dog walkers are not permitted on the site.
Mid-Island and South Island
If the field gates are open, dog walkers may use these sites with their dogs under control. If the gates are shut then cattle are present or an arable crop has been sown and visitors are requested to stay off the islands diverting their walk to the mudflats and shoreline.
When cattle are present no dog walkers are permitted within the stock-fenced areas. When livestock are absent please ensure that you maintain close control over your dog, keep them within your sight at all times and ensure that your dog will respond immediately to your recall.
Greyabbey Shore car park
Access to the shore from Greyabbey car park, Sloe bushes car park, Islandview & Community Hall woodlands and Skillen’s Wood is discouraged during the autumn and winter due to the presence of large numbers of wintering waterfowl. Please ensure that you maintain close control over your dog, always keep them within your sight and ensure that your dog will respond immediately to your recall. If walking on the mud flats dogs must be on lead.
Please ensure that you maintain close control over your dog, keep them within your sight at all times and ensure that your dog will respond immediately to your recall especially when cattle are present.
Glastry ponds (north and south)
In the north dogs should be under control at all times as there is intermittent cattle grazing. At the south end of the ponds, access is permitted but we ask that visitors maintain close control over their dog.
What facilities are available for my dog?
At some locations you will find water taps and dog waste bins.
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
Dogs in cars
Please do not leave your dog in your car unless you are quickly popping in to use the facilities. On a warm day the car park becomes very hot. If a dog is left in the car and appears distressed our policy is to inform the USPCA.
With water bowls, hitching posts and plenty of ground to cover, the places in our care aren't just for history-loving hounds. The sandy beaches and woodland trails on offer are a dog-walker's dream. From dog exercise areas to dog-friendly accommodation, discover a slice of canine heaven when visiting with your four-legged friend.
If you’re bringing your dog to the places we care for, here’s information on the Canine Code and pawprint rating system to plan your visit.
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