Starfish, Seals and Swans

This is the post excerpt.


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.

Mountains, Wildlife and Icecream

This adventure was one of my favourite days with the kids. It was one of those days were we set out not really knowing what to expect but ending up having the best day and the weather was lovely so it really helped!

My son recently has got really into walking up mountains, I like the challenge and enjoy it but haven’t yet ventured into a very big mountain with the fear of getting lost! So I had a look around the internet for a mountain that was do-able for everyone and came up with Slemish. From what I read on the internet it was a mountain that wasn’t too big and you could walk walk up and down in a couple of hours- perfect! So we set off towards Ballymena, found the brown signs for Slemish and off we set!


When we found the mountain, and the car park, the sun came out and it was just beautiful. The mountain from the bottom didn’t look that big so I thought this is perfect! So off we walked….now, shortly after we started going up the mountain I soon realised that this was a steep mountain, with a lot of big steps up onto different parts. We got about half way and I started feeling like I was clinging onto the side of it!! We got to a set of flat rocks and sat down and what a view we had! Now, at that point I was really feeling like I wasn’t so sure if this was my best idea, the thought about how we were going to get down again kept coming into my head but my son was not for giving up and we headed to the top and I am so glad we did!! Such a sense of achievement and we had such a great view all round us for miles!

Now for the descent…what I thought was going to be really difficult actually wasn’t. It was a bit slippy and there were a few jumps down but we just took our time and eventually reached the bottom feeling like we had a great walk and such an adventure and a great achievement for us all!!

At Slemish car park there are toilets and picnic tables.

Next we headed to Broughshane, about 5 miles away. I had never been to Broughshane and was pleasantly surprised. There is a lovely park, with a forest, playground, river and wildlife park. We walked along the river and entered into the free wildlife park. There was a vast array of birds of all different species, I had never seen a black swan before! There was also a lovely rabbit hopping free which the kids loved to stroke, he is very tame. Definitely worth a stop by. There is also a fairy village there if that’s your thing!

Lastly we walked to the end of the river and stopped in the Parlour in the village for some ice cream and a crepe. This is Morelli’s ice cream- our favourite! The crepe was delicious and after our walk, we definitely felt we deserved it!!

This was a fun day but I think if you are going up Slemish be prepared for quite a strenuous walk and I think it would be more suitable for older children due to the steepness of the walk.

What a day we had, loved the memories we will keep with us.

Have fun, live free.

Welcome to family adventures in Northern Ireland!

I am a mother of 2 children and have lived in Northern Ireland all my life. Over the past few years my children and I have developed a love of the outdoors and having what my children would call adventures in and around Northern Ireland!

I decided to start this blog to help other parents who hear the most frequently used phrase in our house “what are we doing today?!”. At weekends and holidays my kids love to get out and about and we delight in finding new places, we love stopping for ice cream, picnics, sometimes a cafe and looking for fun!

We have been to many places around Northern Ireland but I have had to research a lot to find different places to explore so in this blog you will find lots of days out and hopefully you and your families will enjoy the adventures too!