As I mentioned in a previous post, we spent a lovely weekend in the Strangford Lough area a few weeks back. As well as trips further afield, I really enjoy mini breaks close to home..it’s a chance to get away from it all for a while without the hassle of airports. You can just throw a bag in the boot of the car and drive and within an hour or two, you’ve reached your destination !
Our destination was Killyleagh, a small town on the western shores of the lough. The journey from Belfast is a scenic one and there are many lovely spots and villages to stop off at along the way. We stopped off first at Comber, home to the wonderful deli Indie Fude, where we stocked up on a few foodie treats before heading next door for breakfast at The Goose ( warm cinnamon brioche with banana and maple syrup – divine !).
Then it was back in the car for a short while before stopping again at Whiterock – a small village right on the shore of the lough. It is really beautiful here and with the sun shining, and the sky and sea a deep blue, it made for picture postcard views. We walked along the edge of the lough until we reached a small causeway which leads over to Sketrick Island.
From there, we could look out across the lough on both sides and to the fields beyond full of neatly planted lines of cabbages.
Crossing back over the causeway again, we wandered further around the lough’s edge, admiring the boats when a much larger boat came into view.
This was Ballydorn, an Irish Lights lightship built in Dublin in 1911, decommissioned in 1968 and then bought by a local cruising club to serve as their base.
We made our way back to the car then for a short drive of a mile or two to Balloo House, a cosy 400 year old country pub and restaurant in the village of Killinchy. The food is great here, but as we were hoping to eat later in Killyleagh, we settled for coffee on this occasion. Next door there is a well stocked general store so while hubby went for a nosy, I wandered around outside the pub, content to photograph the flowers (as always !).
From there, we continued on to reach our destination – Killyleagh. Another small town on the edge of the lough but home to a beautiful castle and birth place of Sir Hans Sloane, a famous physician, benefactor to the British Museum and inventor of drinking chocolate. Not bad for a local lad, is it ?
You can also walk along the promenade which is lined with colourful houses and that’s exactly what we did during our stay, taking in the views in the afternoon and then again the following morning.
The castle is still used as a private residence, believed to be the oldest inhabited castle in the country with parts dating back as far as 1180. You can’t visit it as such, but they do allow tourists to stop by the gates so you can take a peak …it’s like something from a fairytale.
We stayed for the night at the Dufferin Coaching Inn, an old Ulster bank which has been converted into a boutique hotel. Handy for us, there is also a pub next door and that’s where we went for dinner in the evening. Good food and a glass of wine rounded off a lovely day ‘s sightseeing along the lough.
Have a lovely, and hopefully sunny, Bank Holiday weekend 🙂
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