Millin Bay dig 1953 copyright crown

Cairns & castles

For a rural destination, Strangford Lough has an astonishing amount of built heritage sites...

Audley's Castle

Perched on a hill giving excellent views of the lough, this 15th century castle is complete with three storeys, flanking towers and murder hole. Exterior accessible all year, interior open during summer months Thurs to Mon 2-4pm. Check first: 028 3885 3955. Free.

Located 2 miles NW of Strangford on foot via Castleward or 5 miles by car. Take A25 from Strangford. Turn right after three miles onto Audleystown Road. Follow to end.

Castleward

Built in the 1760s, Castle Ward and its estate combine history and architecture with breathtaking views. This National Trust property includes extensive grounds, a farmyard with medieval tower, working mill (set days only), a sunken garden, quay and forest. Tours of the house are available in peak season 12-4pm. Check availability first: 028 4488 1204.

Located one mile north of Strangford on A25.

Derry Churches

The two pre-Norman churches, when excavated, were found to be on the site of an earlier stone and wood church.  A small cross and carved stone are set in the larger church and may be viewed. Open all year. Free.

These ruined churches are situated one and a half miles north east of Portaferry on the A2 to Cloughey, just before the intersection with the Tullymalley Road and are signposted from Portaferry. Access is by a gate at the roadside and along a fenced path. 

Millin Bay Cairn

Millin Bay dig 1953 copyright crown

A late Neolithic burial ground, approximately 4000 years old. It was excavated in 1953 and the remains of at least 15 people were found. Open all year. Free.

Situated 2 miles south east of Portaferry overlooking Millin Bay. The site is signposted on the road and access is by gate and pathway at the side.

Portaferry Castle

Portaferry castle circa 2000

Overlooking Portaferry Harbour, the Castle is within easy sight of Strangford and Audley’s Castle across the Lough.  This 16th century Tower House was built by the Savage family but now stands as a ruined shell.

There is access to the Castle from Easter to end of August through the nearby Portaferry Visitor Information Centre.

Slans Graveyard

The graveyard is situated within a former rath. Within are the ruins of a medieval church believed to be the Church of Ardmacossce or Ardmacaisse, mentioned in the Taxation of Pope Nicholas, 1306, along with an unusual cross-carved boulder. Most of the oldest gravestones are of slate and the earliest readable date is 1677. Open all year. Free.

Off the Ardminnan Rd, approximately one mile south of Cloughey.

St. Cooey's Wells

St Cooey's Wells

Holy Wells founded in the 7th century by St. Cooey and reopened in 1977. According to tradition, it was here that St. Cooey performed his penitential exercises in the late 7th and 8th centuries. A drinking well, washing well and eye well are still visited by pilgrims and are reputed to have healing powers. Beyond the Wells a path leads to the salt marshes with beautiful views and an abundance of wildlife and flowers. Open all year. Free.

Situated south of Portaferry, towards Ballyquintin Point (signposted).

St. Patrick's Church, Lisbane

A small, simple gabled church built in 1777 and restored in 1966. Charmingly situated on a serene inlet, the church is of architectural importance. Open all year. Free. Located on Rowreagh Road in Ardkeen, between Kircubbin and Portaferry.

Parking available at the adjacent Saltwater Brig public house.

Templecranny Graveyard and Ballyphilip Church, Portaferry

Templecranny Templecraney ballyphilip

This small circular graveyard contains graves dating from the 17th century and the remains of an old church. A medieval church is also thought to have stood on this site. In the 17th century this was where Presbyterians worshipped and many memorials of Ulster-Scots ancestry can be found here including the grave of James Maxwell who died fighting for the United Irishmen in 1798.

Currently receiving conservation work. Check access: 028 4272 9882 / 028 9182 6846.

The White House, Ballyspurge

Built in 1634 by Roland Savage, this ruin is a rare example of the defensive houses that succeeded tower houses. The gables are thick and show sizeable fireplaces and chimneys. Defensive capabilities are evident in the numerous gun-loops on each side. Open all year. Free.

Access can be gained from the adjoining caravan site southeast of Cloughey village.

The Abbacy

The Abbacy

Kearney Village

Kearney village aerial

Kearney is a picturesque 18th century fishing village restored by the National Trust with scenic walks, myriad coastal flowers and spectacular wildlife.
A small visitor centre is open from dawn to dusk, as are the public toilets and car park. Open all year. Free.

Take the B173 Kircubbin to Cloughey Road and follow the signposts for Kearney.