Strangford Lough Circular Cycle - Castleward Bay, Delamont Park, Newtownards
This circuit of the beautiful Strangford Lough follows National Cycle Network Route 99 and 20.
The route starts at Strangford and begins with a section around the lovely Castleward Bay and through the fantastic Castle Ward Estate. The estate covers 332 hectares (820 acres) with an 18th-century mansion, landscaped gardens and miles of great cycling and walking trails. It's a major highlight on the route and well worth exploring further if you have time.
The route continues through Raholp and Saul to Downpatrick with nice views of the Quoile River on the way. Here you pick up National Cycle Route 20 to take you north towards the lovely Delamont Country Park. This Lough side park has nice walking trails with fantastic views across Strangford Lough to the Mourne Mountains.
You continue north through the villages of Killyleagh and Whiterock where there are great views to Sketrick Castle. The castle dates from the 12th century and sits on Sketrick Island. From here there are also nice views towards Mahee Island where you can see the fascinating ruins of Nendrum Monastery which dates from the 5th century.
The next section takes you to the town of Comber and Newtownards where you will pass Scrabo Tower. The 19th century tower is a well known landmark standing 125 feet (38 m) high and visible for miles around. The tower sits on Scrabo Hill and is surrounded by a country park with miles of woodland trails.
From Newtownards the route heads towards the coast where you'll pass Ballyhalbert and Portavogie on the east (Irish Sea) coast of the Ards Peninsula. On the eastern side of the lough it's well worth taking a small detour to visit the wonderful Mount Stewart.
The final section of the route takes you past Quintin Castle to the finish point at Portaferry across the water from Strangford.