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Cranfield Beach In Down: Parking, Swimming + Scenery Galore

Cranfield Beach In Down: Parking, Swimming + Scenery Galore

Spectacular serenity is name of the game at Cranfield Beach.

It’s here that you’ll be treated to some truly gorgeous views over the mighty Carlingford Lough!

This charming corner of County Down is also the southernmost point of Northern Ireland 

Below, you’ll find info on everything from where to park to what to look out for while you’re there!

Some quick need-to-knows about Cranfield Beach

Cranfield strand

Photo via Shutterstock

Although a visit to Cranfield Beach is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.

1. Location

You’ll find Cranfield Beach at the southernmost tip of County Down (next to Cranfield Point) on the shores of Carlingford Lough. The Mourne Mountains are also located a few miles behind the beach. It’s a 20-minute drive from Rostrevor, a 25-minute drive from Warrenpoint and a 35-minute drive from Newry.

2. Parking

A car park can be found on the northern side of Ameracam Lane, with access to the beach down a ramp. The car park includes disabled parking and there are also toilets and showers (bear in mind that it closes at 9pm and will be locked afterwards). 

3. Swimming

Cranfield Beach is a Blue Flag beach and achieved ‘standards of excellence’ at the Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful annual Beach and Marina Awards in 2021. All of which is to say that its waters are very clean (always use care when entering the water).

4. Lifeguards

During July and August, RNLI lifeguards are on duty from 11am to 6pm daily. This service is continued on weekends only during September (please note: times may change, so check locally when you arrive).

About Cranfield Beach

The beach is a mix of sand and shingle and is backed by the Cranfield Bay Holiday Park (which means it can get pretty busy in the summer months). 

As I mentioned in the intro, this is pretty much as far south as you can get in Northern Ireland. If you just walk a little further east to quiet Cranfield Point, then you’ll be at the Southernmost tip of County Down (and thus, Northern Ireland). 

Sat in the entrance to Carlingford Lough, Cranfield Beach also directly faces the tapering stone shape of Haulbowline Lighthouse.

The multi-purpose light was completed in 1824 and designed to help mark the area’s hazardous rocks and to act as a landfall light for ships entering from the Irish Sea.

The clean waters off Cranfield are a cracking spot for watersports too, so if you feel like getting wet (or splashed at the very least!) then there are opportunities to go surfing, canoeing, kitesurfing, windsurfing and jetskiing. 

Things to do at Cranfield Beach

Cranfield Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

There’s a handful of things to see and do in and around Cranfield Beach near Kilkeel. Here are some suggestions:

1. Pick up a coffee from the Beachcomber Cafe

There are some deadly views to enjoy at Cranfield Beach so you’re going to want a warm drink to go with the scenery. And handily, there’s a friendly cafe just a stone’s throw from the sandy shores!

Turn left off Ameracam Lane up Benagh Road and through the gates on the right will be the welcoming embrace of the Beachcomber Cafe

As well as a fine selection of teas and coffees, they also serve heartier food like fish & chips and burgers to warm you up during the colder winter months. 

2. Soak up some stunning views and go for a paddle

Make the hop, skip and jump back to Cranfield Beach where its extensive shores and gently sloping sands will be waiting. 

Beyond Haulbowline Lighthouse and across Carlingford Lough is County Louth, and you’ll get some deadly views of the majestic Cooley Mountains rising in the hazy distance.

And speaking of mountains, behind Cranfield Beach are the awesome Mourne Mountains so you’re spoiled for choice!

If the weather’s nice and warm then kick off your shoes and go a paddle in the water clear waters. And if the weather’s really warm then don’t be afraid to dive in for a dip!

Places to visit near Cranfield Beach

One of the beauties of Cranfield is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Down and Louth.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Cranfield Beach!

1. Take the Scenic Carlingford Ferry (5-minute drive)

Carlingford Ferry

Photos via Shutterstock

For some of the most unique views of this picturesque corner of Ireland, definitely go for a quick spin on the scenic Carlingford Ferry!  The journey time is a leisurely 15-20 minutes and it’s just £5.40 (€6) for an adult return ticket. Make sure you sample some of the cracking pubs of Carlingford town too!

2. Kilkeel (10-minute drive)


Photo by Tourism NI via Ireland’s Content Pool

For a good bite to eat, make the short 10-minute drive north to Kilkeel where Bridge Street is packed with places. They have quality fish and chips offerings from Sharky’s, but keep an eye out for more exotic eateries such as Tsunami Sushi Mourne and the China Inn. 

3. Kilbrony Park (15-minute drive)

Cloughmore Stone

© Tourism Ireland photographed by Brian Morrison via Ireland’s Content Pool

When a park contains a viewpoint known as Kodak Corner, you know it’ll be worth checking out! As well as the corner’s lovely views over Carlingford Lough, Kilbroney Park Forest also features riverside walks, an arboretum and the famous Cloughmore – a 30 ton stone that’s been the subject of all sorts of myth!

4. Mourne Walks (25-minute drive)

Mourne Mountains

Photos via Shutterstock

Rising up behind Cranfield Beach, the nearby Mourne Mountains offer some of Ireland’s greatest hikes and there are a bunch of different trails to take on. From the underrated Slieve Doan walk to tackling the mighty Slieve Donard, these mountains are a unique and satisfying challenge. 

Cranfield Strand FAQs

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Where do you park?’ to ‘Are there lifeguards?’.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

Can you swim at Cranfield Beach?

Yes, once you’re a capable swimmer and the conditions are good, you can. Please note that lifeguards are only on duty at certain times of the year.

Where is Cranfield Beach?

You’ll find the beach not far from Kilkeel, at the southernmost tip of County Down (next to Cranfield Point) on the shores of Carlingford Lough.

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