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A tiny village in one of the country's prettiest locations


Audley's Castle
Audleystown Court Cairn
Strangford village isn't a big place. Only 500 people have a permanent home here. They get to enjoy the rows of pretty 19th century cottages, and the attractive harbour. They can also enjoy views of Strangford Castle, a small tower house overlooking the water. It dates from the 16th century, but there was probably an older building here before that. Although the castle is just a single 3 storey square, it manages to maintain a dignified air.
Strangford is a pleasant enough place, but this village's real appeal lies in its location, and all the things you can do nearby. It's at the southern end of Strangford Lough, so it's easy to access all the activities that 100 square miles of water have to offer. There are watersports of every type, and more animals than there are people.

Strangford Lough.
Photo Northern Ireland Tourist Board
The closest destination is Portaferry. It stands across from Strangford on the opposite side of the tidal narrows. The two settlements are connected by a ferry service that has been in constant operation for 4 entire centuries. It runs every day of the year except Christmas, and takes 8 minutes. Portaferry is a busy tourist town with plenty of cafs and hotels. It's home to Exploris, an aquarium and seal sanctuary. There's also a castle here. Portaferry's fort is similar in both size and age to Strangford's, but it's in considerably worse condition.

Strangford Quayside.
Photo Northern Ireland Tourist Board
There's a prettier stronghold back on the other side of the water. It's called Audley's Castle, and it's just a mile north-east of the village. The name comes from its 16th century owner, John Audley. It's on the estate of Castle Ward, a mansion owned by National Trust. It seems to have split personality disorder; one side is built in a Classical style, while the other is Gothic.

The classical side of Castle Ward.
Photo Northern Ireland Tourist Board
John Audley also gave his name to the nearby village of Audleystown. The settlement doesn't exist any more, but its memory lives on through Audleystown Court Cairn. This ancient grave proves that people were living here many centuries before any of the local castles were ever built. It's 27 metres long, and it housed the remains of 34 individuals. They were buried with important possessions like pottery and arrowheads.
If you want to stay in Strangford while you explore the area, there are a couple of small inns. The village also has a few pubs and shops to explore. There are more amenities in the nearby town of Downpatrick, but Strangford has a much quieter, rural appeal.
Visitor Information
Strangford/Portaferry Ferry operates daily. Ferry departs Strangford on the hour and half past the hour. Ferry departs Portaferry quarter to and quarter past the hour (7.30am to 10.30pm). Tel: Tel: 028 4488 1637
Castle Ward is open daily, 10am to 5pm (House open March to October from 11am). Entry costs around £6 for adults, £3 children, £15 families. Strangford, Downpatrick, County Down BT30 7LS. Tel: 028 4488 1204
Exploris is open daily, 11am to 5pm (from 1pm on Sundays). Entry costs around £7 for adults, £4.50 children. Exploris Aquarium, Castle Street, Portaferry, Co. Down, BT22 1NZ. Tel: 028 4272 8062

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