Theme : The Great Outdoors
The Ards Peninsula is full of places to enjoy the great outdoors. Known as an area of outstanding natural beauty the Ards Peninsula plays host to natural drumlins, still expanses of water and amazing views. Why not get the kids off the settee and spend the day enjoying the beauty right on the door step.
This is a great sandy beach. The added attractions are the rocks and rock pools, which are great for older kids.
Donaghadee Paddling Pool
A large paddling pool and fountain area with plenty of seating beside it. A short distance away is the harbour and lighthouse or in the opposite direction “The Green” with swings, slides and toilets. Great views across the Irish Sea and over the Copeland Islands.
Millisle Beach Park
This beach is a purpose built area with an enclosed marina and smaller toddler paddling pool. Both are filled with seawater every tide, but because they are enclosed the children are safe.
Scrabo Country Park
Centred upon the tower built on the summit of Scrabo Hill. It includes the woodlands of Killynether, the disused quarries where Scrabo stone was once quarried, a pond and a prehistoric hill fort with adjacent enclosures and hut-circles.
The hill's geology is just one of the points of interest. The quarries are surrounded by disturbed ground which nature is colonising with thorns and scrub.
This contrasts with the fine beech woodlands at Killynether and the hazel wood beyond on the flank of the Hill. In spring, the woodland floor is carpeted with bluebells.
A walk through the hazel wood will reveal other wild flowers. A wide range of bird life can also be observed in the park.
Mount Stewart Gardens
The famous gardens at Mount Stewart were planted in the 1920s by Edith, Lady Londonderry, and have been nominated a World Heritage Site. The magnificent series of outdoor 'rooms' and vibrant parterres contain many rare plants that thrive in the mild climate of the Ards Peninsula. There are dramatic views over Strangford Lough from the Temple of the Winds.
View Mount Stewart Website
Portaferry - this planting is one mile north of Portaferry village on the Deerpark Road from Newtownards.With a small meadow at the entrance. There is a striking Dryad or wood nymph sculpture at the gateway which catches peoples attention, known locally as the `Frump in the Stump'.
The hill has two viewpoints, both with seats and one with two oak trees as a memorial to a local lady. The rolling nature of the area offers views to Strangford Lough and the Portaferry estates with their planted and mixed woodlands. Wildlife has colonised the rough grass which is now found amongst the trees, and many raptors and Irish Hares use it for foraging. The access is via a gravel car park, a gate and a looped grass path through the wood.
View Corrog Wood Website
Kiltonga Nature Reserve
The site incorporates a circular loop around the ponds at the nature reserve with views over the water and up to Scrabo Tower. A variety of wildfowl live and breed at the reserve, including various species of duck, geese, and swans. There is a circular walk (2.87km/ 1.78miles) around the pond with views over the water and seats to stop and rest. The site also provides disabled access.
Owned by the National Trust, the farm is a showcase of environmentally friendly farming methods. A hive of activity for walkers and nature lovers. A way marked trail is signposted from the car park and around the farm. For a relatively small area, Ballyquinton Farm and the neighbouring National Nature Reserve support a wide variety of habitats.Accessible all year from dusk to dawn, car park available, no facilities on site.
Castle Espie Wildfowl & Wetlands Centre
Castle Espie Wildfowl & Wetlands Centre is home to the largest collection of ducks, geese and swans in Ireland. It also has woodlands and walks around the lakes and nature reserve. A truly wonderful day out even if it rains – it doesn’t affect the ducks or the kids. For a small charge children can buy food and feed the ducks. As well as roaming in the woodlands the family can take a seat in one of the hides around the centre and view the wildfowl in its natural habitat.
View Castle Espie website
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