North Down Coastal Path

(9 reviews)

North Down Coastal Path extends from Holywood in the west to Orlock in the east. The path passes through coastline and parkland. Historic relics and flora and fauna are found in abundance, including the grey seals which can be spotted offshore.

Please be aware that sections of the North Down Coastal Path follow private roads.  Please respect the Highway Code when walking, cycling or running along these sections where residential traffic will have right of way. Northern Ireland has very few public rights of way and therefore in many areas walkers can only enjoy countryside walks because of the goodwill and tolerance of local landowners.  In the interests of your own safety please be respectful when using the area for recreational purposes. 

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North Down Coastal Path



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  • This is a truly lovely walk, with lots of different sections each with its own unique character. The stretch from Bangor to just before Crawfordsburn is accessible to most users, and I see people using wheelchairs and mobility scooters on that stretch frequently. From that point on is can be more rugged, but equally it is more natural, a little more like you might encounter on the English Coastal Path. Keep your eyes peeled. There are lots of seals, but also the odd otter. There are loads of seabirds, including cormorants, guillemots, turnstones, redshank, curlew and often over-wintering lapwing. You might also see little dippers in Stricklands, stone chats, pipits, tree creepers and many more. Go early in the morning in the Autumn or Winter and savour our amazing sunrises. I feel so lucky to live here. So enjoy your walk or cycle, and if you want to do the whole walk from Ballyholme to Holywood, leave a good few hours – or else you can access the path on various points along the way, including Helens Bay and Crawforsburn beaches.

    Kathy Smith at 8:54 am
  • Great walk! Don’t worry about rats/ wildlife that’s where they belong outside LOL.

    Ian rainey at 1:17 pm
  • It’s a shame to see review number 1 about rats!

    I walk this walk almost every day and have done so for almost 20 years and I have NEVER seen a rat!

    So take that ‘rat’ review with a BIG pinch of salt.

    It’s a terrific natural walk though a lovely variety of countryside… rocks… woods…heathland. and almost always beside the sea.

    Beautiful.

    david jones at 11:38 am
  • County Down

    Distance 15.3 miles

    OS Map Sheet 15

    Terrain Bitmac, stone & grass paths

    Nearest Town Holywood, Co Down

    Route Shape Linear

    Grid Reference J397793

    Route Type Beach, Coastal, Parkland & Grassland

    Route Description

    The walk begins at the Esplanade in Holywood. Walk under the railway arch and turn right. Follow the linear path along the outer edge of Belfast Lough towards Seapark, a recreational area with a play park.

    Continue past the park towards the Royal North Yacht Club. From here follow the public footpath as it rejoins the Coastal Path. At this point a detour to the right will lead to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum and the railway halt.

    Continuing on the path leads to Craigavad, with the Royal Belfast Golf Club on the right. Beyond this point cross the bridge in front of Rockport Primary School.

    About 2 miles further round the coast, a set of steep steps takes you inland at the Seahill Sewage Treatment and rejoins the coast path as you descend at the far end.

    From here the path leads to Crawfordsburn Country Park, passing Grey Point Fort, Helen’s Bay and through to Crawfordsburn Beach.

    Leaving the path briefly, cross Swineley Bay and pick up the path at the far side. Continue walking along the path to Wilson’s Point, where the path turns towards Bangor Marina.

    From here follow the path round to Ballyholme Beach, which leads to the National Trust area of Ballymacormick Point. The path continues to Groomsport Harbour, where the path becomes rural in nature, crossing the beach area round towards Orlock Point, Portavo. A small lay-by indicates the end of the walk.

    Point of Interest

    Grey Fort Point (battery and gun emplacement), views

    Getting to the start

    Translink – journeyplanner.translink.co.uk

    Public transport

    Translink – journeyplanner.translink.co.uk

    Dog Policy

    Dogs must be kept under close control

    Facilities

    Toilets, accommodation and refreshments are available along the walk including in the villages and towns of Newtownards, Helens Bay, Groomsport & Bangor. The following facilities are available for users with limited mobility: – Café (wheelchair accessible) – at Groomsport, Bangor, Helens Bay and Holywood – Shop (wheelchair accessible) – Visitors Centre – at Groomsport, Bangor and Helens Bay – Disabled toilets – Disabled parking

    Accessibility Grade

    Grade 4

    • The path may not be hard and firm in all weathers with loose stones (not bigger than 10cm) with occasional tree roots and pot holes and will be at least 80cm wide for its entire length.
    • The path gradients and cross slopes will be greater than 6°.
    • Obstacles such as steps or stiles are to be expected and surface breaks may be larger 75mm in width.
    • There will be a clear head height of greater than 2.10m for the entire length of the route.
    • Passing places and rest areas may not be formalised or provided.