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Strangford Lough Trail

This National Cycle Network route explores one of Europe’s richest wildlife habitats, Strangford Lough. It is managed by the National Trust and is a haven for marine life, butterflies and wild flowers. The route which is linked from Belfast by the traffic-free Comber Greenway meanders along the shores of the Ards Peninsula and Strangford Lough along minor roads with all the scenery and wildlife right at your wheels.



Nearest Town


Route Type



Strangford Lough

Grid Ref (Start)



82 miles (132km)

OS Map

OS 21

Route Shape


On/Off Road

On Public road

Grid Ref (End)



Tarmac roads, some hilly sections.

route description

It is imperative that you are prepared before attempting any long distance cycle. We advise that cyclists purchase a detailed map of the Strangford Lough Cycle Trail before setting off. See Publications.

A brief overview of the route can be found below.

Cycling clockwise from Comber, head toward Scrabo Tower, high above Newtownards town. Then the route moves out into the countryside and takes the rolling back roads down towards Ballyhalbert on the coast. Riding southwards on the coast road, you pass through Portavogie and Cloughey towards Ballyquinton Point and back into Portaferry for a well earned break. Just off the shorefront is the Exploris Aquarium and seal sanctuary, a fascinating introduction to Strangford Lough (Exploris is closed until Easter 2016 due to a major refurbishment).

**Please note a sign is missing at the end of Balliggan Road where it meets Roddens Road / Ballyhemlin Road**

Crossing the surging Narrows on the ferry to Strangford Village you can enjoy the spectacular scenery.

Wheel the bike off the ferry and cycle through Strangford village, down through the magnificent National Trust property of Castle Ward demesne and along the shoreline track. Pass through Saul into Downpatrick where you can park up and visit St Patrick’s Grave in the grounds of Down Cathedral. On the bike again, leave Downpatrick and head towards Killyleagh where the views of Strangford Lough really begin. The tidal water surges in around the small islands in the lough, then retreats leaving the birds free to feed on the emerging mud flats.

Sketrick Island and Nendrum Monastery, just off the route, have fascinating ruins and incredible views. Just before coming back to Comber, call into the wildlife centre at Castle Espie to round off an unforgettable bike journey.

getting to the start

Comber, County Down By Bicycle: From Belfast, use the Comber Greenway cycle route to reach comber. See Comber Greenway. By car: Comber is 8 miles from Belfast. Take the A20 out of Belfast towards Dundonald. At Dondonald take the A22 signposted Comber.


Route follows minor roads with traffic-free sections. Busy through major towns.


Route is scattered with small towns and villages providing toilet facilities, cafes and bars. Accommodation is also available along the route.

information for People with a Disability

Much of the cycling is on minor country roads. For more information on disabled access in the major towns contact Ards TIC.

available publications

Discover Strangford Lough, Sustrans.

Cycle hire

Iron Donkey Bicycle Touring
Iron Donkey Bicycle Touring 15 Ballyknockan Rd Saintfield
Phone: 028 9081 3200

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Just back from Strangford Lough trail - a mostly very enjoyable ride over 3 days. Total beginner to longer distance cycling and thank heaven I had a decent gps on my phone!! Signs on the western side much better but oh boy did we get lost on the first day!! Still... back in one piece thanks to many friendly locals :-) Beautiful route and so quiet! So quiet in fact that it was difficult to get refreshments en route - wasn't prepared for just how rural the area was between the main towns - but road surfaces magnificent despite that - lovely smooth riding with no potholes! Planning next trip to N.Ireland already :-)

Funders Outdoor Recreation NI Leave No Trace NIEA DoE HPA
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