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Thread: Strangford Lough

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Newtownards, Northern Ireland.

    Default Strangford Lough

    During My Strangford Quest I identified and landed on 164 islands. An island is defined as having grass above the high tide line. I have divided the islands into 9 groups.

    West side
    1 Comber Group 9 islands
    2 Nendrum group 15
    3 Whiterock Group 19
    4 Ringhaddy Group 15
    5 Killyleagh Group 16

    East side
    6 Mount Stewart Group 12
    7 Kircubbin Group 19
    8 Ballywallon Group 26
    9 Narrows Group 33
    Total 164 islands

    Outline Map of the Strangford Island Groups

    1 Comber Group, 9 islands.

    1 Comber Boat Club Island 1 2 Comber Boat Club Island 2
    3 Comber river Island 4 Rough Island
    5 Ogilby Island 6 Black Island
    7 Horse Island 1 8 Horse Island 2
    9 Ringneill Bridge Islet

    Comber Group Map

    At the northern end, on the west side of the lough is the comber river, up which is the Comber Boat Club. At this club there are islands 1 and 2. For larger boats the club is only accessible at high tide. Access to the water at the club is for members only. Further up the river is a small slipway at the playing fields behind the Police station giving canoe access. The river is best paddled at high tide, but can be run downstream if the river is in flood, with a little wading at the shallow bits.
    Halfway down the river is island 3, this can be covered by spring tides, and access onto the island is not easy as the banks have soft mud.

    Comber River Blogs.
    The first run up the Comber River was a test run using a spring tide to see how far I could get up the river. I was not at this point trying to land on all the islands. It was a great day out.

    Coming into Comber at the top of the tide.

    Comber River blog.
    Some time later I made up a video of that run, blog.

    When I had commenced my island Quest I had to retrace my steps and repeat the run up to the boat club, done with a neap tide, thus I had to start earlier in the tide cycle. Blog.

    The southern access for the Comber River is at the Islandhill carpark where there is a slip.
    Islandhill is now landlocked with farm buildings on it. Connected to the carpark by a causeway is Rough Island (4). This is my favourite dog walking site. I have paddled to this island at high tide.
    The best paddle here is to set off 2 hours before high tide up the river, take a lunchbreak by the boatclub, and then follow the tide back out again.
    Close to Rough Island are Ogilby (5) and Black (6) islands. I have walked to these at low tide.
    Ogilby is a bird island and should be avoided during the nesting season.
    Black Island is a sparse patch of weeds hardly classing as an island, but has an interesting ancient fish trap made from a large ring of stones. A large area of tidal mud flats at the north end of the lough comes alive twice a year with thousands of migrating geese and is a spectacle worth seeing.

    South of Rough Island is a pair of islands on their own called Horse Island (7 and 8). This is too far across the exposed north end of Strangford to be practical to reach from the Islandhill slip. They are easier to reach from the mainland end of the causeway to Reagh Island. Just inland from the Horse islands is a small inlet of Ringneill Bridge which makes for a scenic paddle at high tide. A small islet (9) is at its mouth.

    Horse 2 from Horse 1

    Horse Island blog.

    2 Nendrum Group, 15 islands.

    10 Reagh Island 11 Duck Rock 12 Cross Island
    13 Rolly Island 14 Long Island 15 Wood Island
    16 Watsons Island 17 Big Gull Rock 18 Mahee Island
    19 Bird Island 20 Gull Rock 21 Rainey Island
    22 Calf Island 23 Lythe Rock 24 Sketrick Island.

    Nendrum map.

    Reagh Island (10) is accessed normally by car on the way to Mahee Island and Nendrum Monastic site. There is a car park on Reagh Island good for a picnic and possible to launch at high tide. From the Mahee Island (11) car park you can launch to the north over a medieval fish trap and watermill, high tide only. With a bit of brass neck you can launch to the south at any tide state by trollying through private property.
    We did a circumnavigation of Mahee, setting off to the north and arriving back from the south.

    Approaching the monument of the tip of Mahee.

    Duck Rock battery boat, blog.

    The channel between Mahee and Rainey has a good tidal flow and with suitable timing makes for a good ferry gliding site.

    Calf Island, blog.

    The inner bay at Nendrum dries out at low tide to glutinous mud. The islands here can be best accessed from the jetty and slip at the Down Cruising Club. This jetty is posted as private.
    The inner bay is known as The Dorn locally, not to be confused with a similar bay on the other side of Strangford.

    The Dorn from Cross Island

    Rolly Island, blog.
    Last edited by Mr Nick; 13th-October-2014 at 07:29 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Newtownards, Northern Ireland.


    3 Whiterock Group, 19 islands.

    25 Hen Island 26 Ganaway Burn Islet 27 Braddock Island
    28 Trasnagh Island 29 Craigaveagh Rock 30 Innisharoan Island
    31 Inishanier Island 32 Roe Island 33 Drummond Island
    34 Little Minnis’s Island 35 Great Minnis’s Island 36 Parton Island
    37 Darragh Island 38 Conly Island 39 Feeharry Island
    40 Bush Island 41 Marl Island 42 Ballymoran Bay Islet
    43 Shamrock Island.

    Whiterock map.

    Whiterock has a public access slipway and is the best launching point in Strangford with sheltered access to some of the most beautiful islands. Good at all tide states.
    This was where I first tried my electric outboard motor to help extend my range for a days paddling, a grand success.

    Whiterock from Inishanier.

    Whiterock, Battery boat, blog.

    Ballymoran bay is a high tide paddle with some very good small islands, very good for a picnic run.

    Marl Island

    Ballymoran, Marl Island, blog.

    4 Ringhaddy Group, 15 Islands.

    44 Green Island 45 Castle Island 46 Dunsy Island
    47 Dunsy rock 48 Islandmore 49 Ringhaddy sound islet
    50 Pawle Island 51 Black Rock 52 Ringdufferen Islet
    53 Simmy Island 54 Island Taggart 55 Mervue Islet
    56 Dodds Island 57 Dunnyneill Island 1 58 Dunnyneill Island 2

    Ringhaddy Group, north map

    Ringhaddy is an excellent sheltered mooring with public access on the slip beside the jetty. Parking for only four cars, and no room for trailers. The jetty itself is private property. The north half of this group can be explored from the Ringhaddy jetty.
    Pawle Island (50) is owned by the farmer that my wife works for, and is available for camping with permission.
    I did a great battery boat run around this group.

    Dunsys Rock

    Dunsy rock, blog.

    Ringhaddy Group, south map

    The southern half are better reached from Killyleagh. Big Al accompanied me on a battery boat /sailing exploration of this group. The owner of Simmy Island (53) is fiercely proud of his kingdom, beware all who attempt to land there.

    Blackrock, blog.

    The Dunnyneill Islands (57 and 58) are out in the centre of the lough and require a confident forecast of calm weather to reach them. I have been on them about 35 years ago on a rowing boat with an outboard, I need to plan a paddle in the canoe some day.

    5 Killyleagh Group, 16 islands.

    59 Green Island 60 Island Oske 61 Chapel Island
    62 Jackdaw Island 63 Shark Island 64 Launches Little
    65 Launches Long 66 Salt Island 67 Rat Island
    68 Shones Island 69 Gores Island 70 Midge
    71 Gibb Island 72 Hare Island 73 Bird Island
    74 Castle Island

    Killyleagh map

    Access is normally from Killyleagh village across an exposed section of the lough. A more sheltered launch is available on the Shore Road south of the village. Salt Island (66) has Bothy and camping area.

    Big Als blog of a winter trip to Salt Island (66) covers the start of my formal Quest to land on all the islands..
    Salt Island, blog.

    Bird Island is a small island at the south west corner of the lough.
    Bird island II, blog.

    I landed on most of the rest of the Killyleagh Group with a small dingy and petrol outboard duing a camping trip with my son. I need to go back there with the canoe.
    One small that got missed on that trip was Island Oske.
    The Mystery of Island Oske, blog.

    The eastern shore of the lough is more exposed to the prevailing westerly winds and the islands tend to be more isolated, making trip planning more critical.

    6 Mount Stewart Group 12 Islands.

    75 Pig Island 76 Peggys Island 77 North Boretree Rock
    78 Boretree Island East 79 Boretree Island West 80 Chapel Island
    81 Chanderies 82 Hare Rock 83 Mid Island
    84 South Island 85 Gabbock Island 86 Greyabbey Bay Islet

    Mount Stewart map.

    Pig Island (75) is a small island on its own near a canoe trail launch point and car park. It can be walked to, and was the first of my high tide chapter to paddle to the islands that I walked to on the first round.

    Pig Island, blog.

    The Boretree Islands (77 to79) are beautiful, very natural and a bird reserve. No visiting during nesting season. Chapel Island (80) is good for a campout. Mid Island (83) and South Island (84) can be walked to from a car park on the south side of Greyabbey.
    Gabbock Island (85) is on its own in an exposed part of the lough and needs careful planning of tides and weather.

    Stretching the legs on the Chanderies.

    Boretree Islands, blog.
    Gabbock Island fail, blog.

    Heading for South Sheelahs Island.

    Gabbock Island and South Sheelahs Island, blog.
    Last edited by Mr Nick; 13th-October-2014 at 07:30 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Newtownards, Northern Ireland.


    7 Kircubbin Group 19 islands.

    87 South Sheelah’s Island 88 Doctors Bay Island 1 89 Doctors Bay Island 2
    90 Doctors Bay Island 3 91 Bird Island 92 Horse Island
    93 Hare Island 94 Scaldy rocks 95 Mid Island
    96 Gransha Point 97 Saltwater 1 98 Saltwater 2
    99 Saltwater 3 100 Saltwater 4 101 Saltwater 5
    102 Saltwater 6 103 Near Craiglee Rock 1 104 Near Craiglee Rock 2
    105 Near Craiglee Rock 3

    Kircubbin map.

    Doctors Bay islands (88 to 90) make a great walk at low tide with access from the garage at the south end of Kircubbin.
    Bird Island (91) is on its own in the open lough and needs a calm day. Also not during nesting season.

    Approaching Bird Island

    Bird Island on St. Patricks day, blog.

    Horse Island (92) has a car park beside it and has a great low tide walk out to Hare Island (93), Scaldy Rocks (94), Mid Island (95) and Gransha Point (96).

    The Saltwater Islands (97 to 102) are another low tide walk from the car park opposite the Saltwater Brig pub, taking in the Near Craiglee Rocks (103 to 105).

    8 Ballywallon Group, 26 islands

    106 Long Island 107 Round Island 108 Dorn 1 Phersons Island
    109 Dorn 2 Ballywallon Island110 Dorn Bay Islets 3 111 Dorn Bay Islets 4
    112 Dorn Bay Islets 5 113 Dorn Bay Islets 6 114 Dorn Bay Islets 7
    115 Dorn Bay Islets 8 116 Dorn Bay Islets 9 117 Dorn Bay Islets 10
    118 Dorn Bay Islets 11 119 Dorn Bay Islets 12 120 Dorn Bay Islets 13
    121 Dorn Bay Islets 14 122 Dorn Bay Islets 15 123 Dorn Bay Islets 16
    124 Dorn Bay Islets 17 125 Dorn Bay Islets 18 126 Dorn Bay Islets 19
    127 Dorn Bay Islets 20 128 Dorn Bay Islets 21 129 Dorn Bay Islets 22
    130 Dorn Bay Islets 23 131 Ballyhenry Island

    Ballywallon map

    The Dorn is a traditional Irish name for a bay that mostly dries out at low tide to an expanse of glutinous mud. This Dorn has 23 islands in it that can only be accessed at high tide. Long Island (106) and Round Island (107) are best reached from the Dorn, thus they are a high tide dash. There is very poor access to the north and south of the Dorn.

    Dorn map

    Island hopping in The Dorn.

    Long Island and 15 islands in the Dorn, blog.

    In the Dorn at high tide, island 23 from island 24.

    Round Island and more islands in the Dorn, blog. 32

    Ballyhenry Island is on its own close to the coast road into Portaferry, is easy to walk onto and makes a good picnic site.

    9 Narrows Group 33 Islands

    132 Swan Island 133 Scotchmans Island 134 Isle O’Valla
    135 O’Valla Islet 136 Black Islands 1 137 Black Islands 2
    138 Black Islands 3 139 Black Islands 4 140 Black Islands 5
    141 Black Islands 6 142 Black Islands 7 143 Black Islands 8
    144 Black Islands 9 145 Sandy Island 146 Sheep Islet
    147 Islandacorr 148 Beardy Rocks 1 149 Beardy Rocks 2
    150 Beardy Rocks 3 151 Beardy Rocks 4 152 Beardy Rocks 5
    153 Beardy Rocks 6 154 Beardy Rocks 7 155 Beardy Rocks 8
    156 Beardy Rocks 9 157 Beardy Rocks 10 158 Beardy Rocks 11
    159 Beardy Rocks 12 160 Beardy Rocks 13 161 Beardy Rocks 14
    162 Beardy Rocks 15 163 Beardy Rocks 16 164 Green Island

    Narrows Map

    The Narrows is a strong tidal area, caution is needed when planning trips here. It is recommended to run trips with the incoming tide, as the outgoing can take you to the Isle of Man.
    The Black Island group does not have a good access nearby and is best explored as a tidal run with a shuttle. Swan Island (132) in Strangford village is a nature reserve and landing is discouraged. I used the fact that I am a volunteer ranger for the Strangford Canoe Trail to blag my way on.
    The Beardy Rocks group can be explored on foot at low tide and has its own access and is fun to explore in a canoe at high tide.
    Green Island is on its own at the outer end of the narrows with foot access by a sandbar at low tide. The rock reefs around it are home to a large colony of seals.

    Lining against the tide in the Beardy Rocks

    Beardy Rocks and Islandacorr, blog.

    Black Islands, blog.

    Swan Island, the end of the Quest.
    Last edited by Mr Nick; 13th-October-2014 at 07:31 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008


    Is that known as "throwing down the gauntlet" to others?

    Loads of excellent info, thanks for sharing. Makes me wish it was within short range of me. I'll have to make it over there somehow one day!
    Last edited by Mal Grey; 13th-October-2014 at 08:25 PM.
    Paddler,blogger,camper,pyromaniac: Blog: Wilderness is a State of Mind

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Bangor, Co Down.


    Wow, Fantastic.

    Well done Mr Nick and thanks for letting me join you on this escapade.
    Big Al.

    Only when the last tree has died
    and the last river been poisoned
    and the last fish been caught
    will we realise we cannot eat money.
    ~Cree Indian Proverb

  6. #6
    Crow's Avatar
    Crow is offline こんにちは。私はカラスと私はスコットラ ンドの出身で す。
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Third stone from the sun


    Totally impressed by that!

    Hats off to you, Mr. Nick.

    Here comes the future and you can't run from it
    If you've got a blacklist I want to be on it

    Crow Trip Log

  7. #7


    Wow lots of work went into that - very informative. Thanks for sharing!

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  8. #8


    That's impressive.

    One of the best places to paddle.........

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Pershore, Worcestershire


    Those of us with visual acuity problems thank you for the font!

    The rest of us just thank you for an extremely informative post... and for a very entertaining series of blogs in the past!
    Juvanile delinkwit, vaguely faffing around with a pair of pliers. Du skal ikke tro at du er bedre end mig!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Newcastle, County Down


    Wow, Mr Nick, that throws a lot of light on the seldom visited parts of the lough. Thanks for a good work of reference for future trips.
    "Thus we lead a life of pleasure
    Thus we while the hours away"

    from Thoreau, Voyager's Song

  11. #11


    Thanks Mr Nick for this wealth of info. Herculean efforts made to get to all those islands, and to document it so clearly.

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