It is an area of outstanding beauty with amazing wildlife, yet Mesolithic tombs and a cutting edge marine current turbine span over 9000 years of human endeavour.
Drumlin hills create a pleasant, rolling land and seascape dotted with islands and full of curved sheltered inlets – hence Strangford Lough’s ancient name “Loch Cuan”.
The enormous diversity and abundance of wildlife make this area tremendously important for biodiversity and Strangford Lough and Dundrum Bay are part of a network of European conservation sites.
Seals, porpoise, thousands of overwintering birds, nesting terns are just some of the inhabitants.
The human history of the area can be traced back 9000 years to when the first Mesolithic settlers arrived. People would have been attracted by the mild and fertile shores and by the food provided by the Lough. Since then successive waves of people have left a wonderful legacy on the landscape including cairns, exceptional monastic sites, tower houses, great estates and windmills – most of which are open to the public.
Visitor attractions include Delamont Country Park with splendid walks overlooking the Lough, Exploris – one of Europe’s largest aquaria and seal sanctuary, tower houses, National Trust estates, houses and gardens at Castle Ward, Mount Stewart and Rowallane, Killard and Ballyquintin coastal nature reserves, Down County Museum and the newly opened Wildfowl and Wetland Trust centre at Castle Espie. There are also many fine sandy beaches to enjoy.
Some of the local towns and villages have street plans and buildings dating back to the 1700s.
The area is famed for its very high proportion of art and craft workers whose work can be found in local displays and shops.
Picture courtesy of NITB