Cycle Northern Ireland -

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 TownComber
Distance82 miles (132km) miles
OS MapOS 21
Route TypeCoastal
Route ShapeCircular
Public RoadsOn Public Road
AONBStrangford Lough
Grid Ref (Start)J457693
Grid Ref (End)J457693


Tarmac roads, some hilly sections.

Point of Interest

Strangford Lough
Castle Ward Demesne
Exploris (closed to Easter 2016 due to a refurbishment)
Castle Espie
The Poet & Playwright Louis MacNeice is buried at Christ Church Carrowdore
St Cooey’s Holy Wells (near Portaferry) which were founded in the 7th century by Saint Cowey

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

This route has accessible toilet facilities.

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

Available Publication

Discover Strangford Lough, Sustrans.


This information is provided by Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland, The Stableyard, Barnett's Demesne, Malone Road, Belfast, BT9 5PB.

Tel: 028 9030 3930
Fax: 028 9062 6248

Every care has been taken to ensure accuracy of the information. We cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions but where such are brought to our attention, the information will be amended accordingly.