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A Brief Introduction to Northern Ireland’s Ards Peninsula

The Ards Peninsula forms the majority of County Down’s east coast and is ideal for long walks by the sea during a spot of good weather. One of the most popular stretches of the coastal path is from Bangor to Crawfordsburn Country Park. The best 3 beaches are Helen’s Bay, Ballyholme Bay and Groomsport.

Bangor is approximately 30 minutes train or car journey away from Northern Ireland’s Capital – Belfast – and is also the biggest town on the peninsula followed by Newtownards (commonly shortened to Ards by locals).  The rest is mostly quaint little villages such as:
Donaghadee – with its iconic Lighthouse
Ballywalter – home to Fast Track Farm, the place for Quad Biking and Mini Golf
Cloughey – with its sand dunes
and Portaferry – with its own Sea Life Centre/Aquarium, Exploris
The previously mentioned Country Park at Crawfordsburn boasts its very own waterfall and wooded glen, also worth a look is Grey Point Fort.

Bangor Town Hall

Bangor is home to Pickie Fun Park beside the Marina, the very aesthetically pleasing Walled Gardens as well North Down Museum in the grounds of The Town Hall. Currently being built beside the walled gardens is an Olympic sized swimming pool.
Groomsport holds the Eagle Wing Festival in early July each year celebrating links with America.
A couple of miles up the coastal path from all that, towards Belfast, is The Ulster Folk and Transport Museum and Holywood (pronounced holly-wood, with too ‘L’s). Holywood has the only surviving Maypole in the whole of Ireland which is situated right in the centre of town. For a nice photo opportunity there are the ruins of Holywood Priory and, not far away, the Motte.


If, after that, you’re still not convinced then perhaps you could be tempted to head to the southerly tip of the county to check out Newcastle (not to be confused with the English city of the same name). Newcastle is not only by the sea but is at the foot of the beautiful Mourne Mountains. Not far away is Dundrum which is the birth place of comedian Patrick Kielty and an excellent picnicking spot.
About The Author
This article was written for The Blighty Traveller by Ellie Rose McKee. Ellie is a native of Northern Ireland and past student of the University of Lincoln. When not writing, she enjoys reading, photography, art and making videos.

3 Responses to A Brief Introduction to Northern Ireland’s Ards Peninsula

  1. The Blighty Traveller Reply

    February 16, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    I could happily spend some of the summer rambling along the coast. I hope this year to take a few trips to Northern Ireland so I may just get to visit a few of the places mentioned.

  2. Janet Hayes Reply

    December 17, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    Do you have any information, or directions to historical records, concerning the town of Balleyboley on the Ards Peninsula? My great grandfather was born in Balleyboley. He settled in Key West, Florida,USA. I would appreciate your suggestions.

    • Rory McAvoy Reply

      May 12, 2015 at 10:01 pm

      Janet I live 1 mile from Ballyboley, what was your great grandfathers name?

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