Today we headed down towards Downpatrick, I had passed the Quoile Countryside Centre many times on the way to Castle Ward but have never actually stopped so we decided today was the day!
Downpatrick is located approximately 20 miles from Belfast. The Quoile Countryside Centre and Pondage is just a few miles outside of Downpatrick and is clearly signposted.
On arrival at the Countryside centre we continued further along the road past the car park at the Quoile Countryside Centre and parked in the car park on the left. There are a few picnic tables there located beside the pond and a grassy area, this was a lovely area to have lunch!
After lunch we were able to walk along the path back to the Quoile Countryside Centre which is free admission. This is a great place for kids to investigate the various wildlife in the area and learn about the history of the Pondage. One of the highlights was a microscope which was connected to a TV screen and lots of bugs to look at! There is also a toilet located here!
On leaving the Countryside Centre we headed to Quoile Castle which is located right beside the Centre. You are able to get inside the castle and have a look around downstairs and upstairs, although it is not overly big it was fun to investigate all the nooks and crannies!
We then left to go for a walk around the Pondage. This is a beautiful, tranquil walk with bridges to cross and little streams. We followed the path for 20 minutes and then turned round to head back to the car. In total we spent about 2 hours here.
The next stop was Cloghy Rocks, it took about 20 minutes to get there from Quoile. If you head to Strangford village and turn right onto Shore Road after a mile you will come to a car park on your left. This is known as the best place to see seals in their natural environment. Viewing is strictly from the car park and there is no access onto the beach to protect the seals. Unfortunately on the day we were there, there was not a single seal on the rocks!
Our last stop was Kilclief Beach. This is approximately a mile from Cloghy Rocks. It is a small but sandy and beautiful beach with a lovely view out to the Mourne Mountains. The beach was great to rock pooling and the highlight of the day was finding starfish under the rocks! It was amazing to find so many starfish all in the one place. The kids were in their element and had so much fun seeing how many starfish they could find!
It was such a beautiful day and we had such a fun time making memories!
Have fun, live free, enjoy the moment.