Words by Maureen McCoy, photography by Paul McCambridge
Walk through the grasslands of Killard Nature Reserve to the beautiful Benderg Beach, home to sand martins and seals. Perfect to spend a sunny day swimming, picnicking and investigating the rock pools.
This superb strand stretching just over half a kilometre from the rocks of Killard Point to the sand cliffs and farmland which separate Benderg from its more popular neighbour Ballyhornan Beach.
You may see seals lounging at Mill Quarter Bay, where the strength of Strangford Lough’s tidal run creates whirlpools. This is not the place to swim, leave it to the seals. A twenty-minute walk from here through the orchid-filled grasslands of the nature reserve leads to the Beach. Tucked out of the way of Strangford’s powerful tidal race here you can swim in crystal-clear shallow waters as sand martins swoop from the cliffs across the bay.
Getting there: take the A2 Shore Road out of Strangford. At Kilclief veer left towards Mill Quarter Bay. Park at the roadside lay-by from where signs point to the track leading into Killard Nature Reserve. Follow the path past the mouth of Strangford Lough. The rough track cuts through the grassland to Benderg Bay Beach. Roadside parking, no facilities, twenty-minute walk to beach.
Excerpt from Wild Swimming in Ireland 2016
Scenic walk / family friendly / secluded / snorkelling / rock pools / adventure swim /
Grid ref:J 60722 43067
Hi I live in killinchy near whiterocks I would like to know the nearest place to swim
Hi Alastair, you’re not too far from great spots for a dip and swim…Whiterocks and Ballymorran Bay…beware there can be strong eddies and currents as I’m sure you know living close to those spots…stay close to shore and within your depth!…there are a few small groups but I don’t know what time they gather…Hope this helps…Paul