The Ards Peninsula
A Hidden Gem
Welcome to the beautiful Ards Peninsula
Explore on foot or by bus
The coastline of the Ards Peninsula is stunningly beautiful and is a mix of stretches of coastal path, coastal roads and tracks. The coastline includes the most easterly point on the island of Ireland, Burr Point located at Ballyhalbert harbour. There are many award winning golden sandy beaches dotted around the coastline. The Outer Ards coastline is an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) and the Upper Ards is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The area has a rich Christian heritage with many ancient Christian sites including abbeys, churches and holy wells.
Connect with nature… step into the past
Enjoy a waters’ edge experience in a stunning landscape on one of our specially selected easy walking routes. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty and sounds of nature around you. Hear stories of the people and the places and appreciate the rich tapestry of evidence from bygone eras laid out before your eyes. Take time to drink in the views and savour the tranquil, pastoral countryside.
Travel the Ards Peninsula from north to south taking in the highlights and hidden gems as you go, get a sense of the many centuries of history revealed in the great number of ancient sites spanning some 8,000 years. See ringforts, castles, abbeys, churches and ancient burial sites. Much of your journey will be on coastal roads from which you can admire the sea view, award-winning beaches, coastal harbours, coves, pretty coastal settlements and of course the beautiful Strangford Lough which is home to an amazing diversity of wildlife.
Easily reached by bus or car:
- Downpatrick to Portaferry – 20 minutes.
- Belfast to Portaferry – 1 hour approx.
- Dublin to Strangford – 2 hours – complete your journey using the regular ferry connection Strangford to Portaferry
(Runs every 30 minutes; journey time is less than 10 minutes)
Why choose Ards Peninsula Tours?
- Superior personal service
- Authentic and memorable experiences
- Flexible dates and times for tours
- Hidden gems off the beaten track
- Engaging stories of the place and people
We have just had a brilliant tour of Cloughey with Brigid. The tour of the bay fab was in the sunshine and we loved the chance to explore Kirkistown Castle. Thank you to Brigid for taking time to engage our children with lots of interesting facts and wildlife spotting. Cloughey and Kirkistown Castle walking tour, August 2018
Just back from a fantastic day out on an Ards Peninsula coach tour. It was a very enjoyable day. Brigid Watson, our guide was excellent and was very informative. I would recommend it to anyone. I discovered places I never knew existed and I have been for a drive around the peninsula many times. July 2018
I enjoyed learning interesting historical facts and visiting places I didn’t know existed. Now I intend to revisit them. Coach tour of the Ards Peninsula, July 2018
I enjoyed seeing all the beautiful scenery and the visits to interesting places was excellent. Coach tour of the Ards Peninsula, July 2018
Very informative – wide range of interests covered. Relaxed and user friendly. Easy pace, very enjoyable Walking tour of Cloughey village July 2018
Food for the soul - walking tour Strangford Lough & Ballyhenry Island June 2018
Spent a fantastic day discovering the hidden gems of the Ards Peninsula with Brigid. She is so pleasant and knowledgeable about everything from our Ulster Scots heritage to geography and geology of the area and has a unique insight and stories of the locals. A thoroughly worthwhile trip. Coach tour of the Ards Peninsula, May 2018
enjoyed a great day on a coach tour of the Ards Peninsula.
I recently went on a walking tour around the shore from Portaferry with Brigid and was delighted with the whole experience. She has a great knowledge of the geography and history and is very engaging in her presentation. Her knowledge of flora and fauna made the tour so interesting. Highly recommended. February 2018
My husband and I recently took Brigid’s tour of Portaferry and even though the weather prevented us from walking around the town, Brigid arranged an ‘armchair’ tour for us with a wonderful history of the town and the historic places in it. I’m from Australia, living in Dublin and my mother happened to be visiting Ireland so she came with us. I’ve also recently found out that my ancestors emigrated from Portaferry back in the 1850’s. Brigid has been helping me trace some of the family tree and has put me in touch with some of them that remained in the area. She is an absolute delight and a font of knowledge about the Ards Peninsula. I would highly recommend any tours she organises. I’ll certainly be back in the summer to do another tour!!! We’ll see you in the summer 😊 Kind regards, Carolyn
Hi Brigid Just want to let you know how much I enjoyed yesterdays’ talk and tour. It was great to go back and find out so much about our ancestors in Portaferry. Cheers Kaye (Australian lady who is a descendent of an emigrant who left Portaferry in 1852) February 2018
Hi Brigid Thanks so much for the really interesting walks over the last 5 weeks. Having only lived in Northern Ireland for 2 years now, I thought your walks would give me some valuable insight into the history of this area. Wow - that really is the case. From the geology of the area to the glaciers and the formation of the drumlins to coastal erosion and nature conservation. From the ships wrecked off the coast of Cloughey to the visible wreck of the Dunkirk ship off Ballyhenry Island. From the allocation of townlands and the building up of the area since the very early days of the Vikings and Celts. The original wealth of Portaferry with one of the oldest ferries in the world. I could go on and on. Really interesting stuff. Thank you so much, I will definitely recommend these walks to everyone I know. Kind regards Carol Hatfield September 2017
Kearney is a small village/clachan owned by the National Trust and it alone is worth a visit. The village was thrust into the limelight recently thanks to the BBC production “My Mother and Other Strangers”, a great wee show that highlighted the impact of the American GIs on traditional country life during the Second World War. Brigid, our tour guide, took us out for an hour and a half walk taking in the geological features of the area, explaining about the formation of drumlins (small rolling hills) and raised shale beaches. Brigid managed to weave this together with local history, recalling stories of smuggling and shipwrecks along the coast. We found it fascinating that Portaferry had been a departure point for Irish emigrants heading to America in the mid 19th Century. Photographs and maps were produced to add to the experience, giving context to the history. It was a great afternoon out along the Ards Peninsula, and we were inspired to continue on our own sightseeing tour. We visited St Cooey’s Well, an ancient pilgrimage site, then on to the end of the peninsula to Ballyquintin Point. The Point is also owned by the National Trust and has great views across the mouth of Strangford Lough to the Mourne Mountains in the distance. Brigid is an inspiring guide, and is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic, so if you’re ever in the area, look up the Ards Peninsula Tours Facebook page. You won’t be disappointed. Brian, Lismaine Cottage, County Armagh September 2017