Strangford... it’s like nowhere else on earth

Strangford... it’s like nowhere else on earth

31 March 2021

STUNNING Strangford Lough features prominently in a new Sunday Times guide with the area regarded as one of the three best places to live in Northern Ireland.

While the accolade will not come as a major surprise to those who live and work on both sides of the internationally acclaimed waterway, the area’s recognition by one of the UK and Ireland’s top selling Sundays is nonetheless extremely noteworthy.

While Holywood has been named as the top place to live in Northern Ireland in the Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide — ahead of Magherafelt — local focus will rightly be on Strangford Lough’s inclusion in the top three. 

The Sunday Times’s expert judges behind the guide assess a wide range of factors, from schools, air quality, transport and broadband speeds  to culture, green spaces and the health of the high street.  

They look for improving towns, villages or city centres, for attractive, well designed homes and locations bursting with community spirit which the coronavirus pandemic has shown to be the most vital quality of all.  

Of Strangford, the judges said: “Live in Strangford, Portaferry or any of the villages around this beautiful island-studded lough and you’ve got unbeatable wildlife and scenery on the doorstep – and it’s even better if you can get out on the water. Downpatrick, Newtownards and Belfast are all within easy reach, too.”

Not surprisingly, the judges also liked the excellent restaurants in Strangford including the Lobster Pot, Artisan Cookhouse and The Cuan.

Helen Davies, The Times and Sunday Times Property Editor, said the annual guide has never been so important. 

“The pandemic has taught us just how much we rely on our homes, our communities and our surroundings,” she said.

“With working from home now common, it’s no surprise that many of us are reassessing our priorities and thinking hard about where we really want to live.”

Helen added: “Our focus for this year has been community, countryside and convenience. It hasn’t been a year for big cities or small villages. Instead it is small towns that have shone: big enough to have everything you need within walking distance and small enough for everyone to feel connected.”

Breathtakingly beautiful, Strangford Lough, sheltered from the Irish Sea by the friendly arm of the Ards Peninsula, is a magnet for anyone craving an easy life beside one of nature’s loveliest watery playgrounds. 

It is also where thousands of Brent geese from Canada spend the winter adding a touch of colour and noise to the famous waterway.

Strangford Lough’s tranquil shores offer visitors a 365 days a year destination where a friendly welcome awaits, whatever the weather.

They can experience sailing, kayaking, diving, canoeing, bird watching, fishing, kite surfing, windsurfing, boating and, when the weather is right, paddling and swimming. 

The ferry crossing, while essential for residents and commuters to cross the waterway, is also something of a tourist attraction in its own right.

Located at the tip of the Ards Peninsula, Portaferry, is well known for its fishing, seafront, Triathlon and the annual gala week float parade.

The powerful current which rushes through The Narrows carries 400 million gallons of water with every tide and in addition to being a great place to live, the village is also popular with visitors, many sampling its hospitality and visiting the hugely popular Exploris aquarium.

Portaferry is also home to the impressive Portico, a recently restored grade A listed building modelled on the Greek Temple of Nemesis. 

Portico is a multi-purpose venue that hosts cultural, educational and heritage events and exhibitions. In addition, it  also houses a permanent exhibition about the area’s fascinating archaeological heritage of Neolithic settlements, Norman forts and industrial architecture.

Marty O’Neill, who blogs at Dish You Were Here, said of Strangford Lough: “It’s like nowhere else on earth.”