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Crawfordsburn Country Park: Walks, Beach + History

Crawfordsburn Country Park: Walks, Beach + History

Crawfordsburn Country Park in Bangor is a mighty spot for a stroll.

Home to Crawfordsburn Beach, heaps of walks (like The Glen Walk) and glorious woodland, it’s not hard to see why this is one of the best places to visit in Down.

Below, you’ll find everything you need to explore this place, from parking info to the various tracks and trails.

Some quick need-to-knows about Crawfordsburn Country Park


Photo by Bernie Brown via Ireland’s Content Pool

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

1. Location     

Crawfordsburn Country Park is an oceanfront park and beach on the southern shore of Belfast Lough in County Down. It’s a 25-minute drive from Belfast and a 10-minute drive from Bangor.

2. Opening hours

This oceanfront country park is open as follows:

  • 1st March to 30th April: 09:00 – 19:00
  • 1st May to 30th September: 09:00 to 21:00
  • 1st October to 31st October: 09.00 to 19:00
  • 1st November to 1st March: 09.00 to 16.30 

3. Parking

There is a main car park serving the country park and admission and car parking is currently free of charge.  You can also park on the exit road lay-by, Fort Road Car Park, Grey Point Fort and Sea Park and on Coastguard Avenue.

4. A stunner of a spot by the sea

With two beaches and spectacular scenery across Belfast Lough, Crawfordsburn Country Park is a breathtaking attraction and a natural haven for birds and wildlife. Rolling green hills slope gently down to the curving bay with woodland walks to an impressive waterfall and a coastal fort.

About Crawfordsburn Country Park

Crawfordsburn Country Park

Photos via Shutterstock

Crawfordsburn Country Park is a magical area for recreation situated on the banks of Belfast Lough.

It has 2.5 miles (3.5km) of rocky coastline and two sandy beaches at Helen’s Bay that are among the best in the Belfast area.

The wooded glen offers shady walks to an impressive waterfall. There are plenty of wildflower meadows and a pond to attract birds and wildlife. 

The Visitor Centre (open 10:00 to 17:00 daily) is a good place to start any visit with maps and an interactive display about the local environment and wildlife.

The park has coach and car parking, toilets and the Woodland Cafe for drinks and snacks. The park has several way-marked trails and an Adidas approved 3-mile running trail .  

Within Crawfordsburn Country Park is Grey Point Fort, an historic battery and gun emplacement to defend the coastal routes to Belfast. They were built at the turn of the 20th century and were updated during WW2.

Things to do at Crawfordsburn Country Park

Crawfordsburn Beach

© Bernie Brown bbphotographic for Tourism Ireland

One of the reasons that Crawfordsburn Country Park is one of the best day trips from Belfast is due to the sheer volume of things there are to see and do here, like:

1. The Coastal Walk  

The Coastal Walk at Crawfordsburn Country Park is a 1.9 mile linear walk (one way). It is Grade 4 accessible with gravel and tarmac paths and minimal slopes making it suitable for bikes, wheelchairs and pushchairs.

From the Visitor Centre, head along the way-marked route through the hay meadow to join the coast path.

Head west skirting the beaches on Helen’s Bay, passing the old fort and ending at Sea Park. Dogs must be kept on a lead. 

2. The Meadow Walk

The Meadow Walk is a fantastic 2-mile circular walk for nature-lovers. It traverses woodland and the Wildflower Meadow as well as a stretch along the coast.

In summer the 21 Acres and Wildflower Meadow are a carpet of colour when tiny orchids and wildflowers bloom in abundance.

From the Visitor Centre, head south along marked footpaths to the Glen, Wildflower Meadow and the area known as 21 Acres.

Return along the coast path to the car park. The trail is rough in places with steps, stiles and minor gradients.

3. The Glen Walk

The Glen Walk is an off-road route through undulating beech woodland following the babbling waters of the Crawford’s Burn.

The 1.5 mile circular walk starts and ends at the Visitor Centre in Crawfordsburn Country Park.

Head south on the way-marked trail through the Glen enjoying views of Lanyon’s Viaduct and the sights and sounds of nature and the proximity to the stream.

The walk is Grade 4 accessible and is considered suitable for those with limited mobility.  

4. Paddle at Crawfordsburn Beach

On a summer’s day, there’s nowhere nicer for a refreshing paddle that Crawfordsburn Beach.

The 700m long sand and rocky beach is a a gorgeous place for a stroll and a paddle when the weather’s fine.   

5. Soak up the beautiful woodland

The established woodland at Crawfordsburn Country Park includes many mature trees that were planted over a hundred years ago.

More recent plantings were added when the park opened in 1971 in addition to natural seeding. The tallest trees were planted by the Sharman Crawford family when they owned the estate. T

hey include beech, pine, cedars, rhododendrons and cherry trees for spring blossom. Look out for the solitary Coast Redwood south of The Burn! 

Places to visit near Crawfordsburn Country Park

One of the beauties of the park is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Northern Ireland.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Crawfordsburn (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).

1. Helen’s Bay Beach (5-minute drive)    

Helen’s Bay Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

Helen’s Bay Beach, aka Crawfordsburn Beach is mainly sandy with some pebbles and rocks. Views from the sloping beach look out across Belfast Lough to Carrickfergus. The beach is considered safe for swimming and there are rock pools. There’s free parking, toilets and a cafe. 

2. The Ards Peninsula (10-minute drive)

Ards Peninsula

Photos via Shutterstock

Just 10 minutes from Crawfordsburn Country Park is the scenic Ards peninsula that curls around Belfast Lough. It includes ancient sites, a megalithic Giant’s Ring, Castle Ward estate and areas of natural beauty at the foot of the magnificent Mourne Mountains.

3. Scrabo Tower (20-minute drive)

Scrabo Tower

Photos via Shutterstock

Scrabo Tower is a 19th century lookout tower or folly on the site of a prehistoric hill fort. Standing 41 metres high, it offers stunning views form its hilltop position. It was originally named the Londonderry Monument to commemorate the bravery of the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry in the Napoleonic Wars.

FAQs about Crawfordsburn Park

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Is it worth checking out?’ to ‘What’s the story with parking?’.

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.

Does Crawfordsburn have toilets?

Yes, there’s toilets in the park’s visitor centre and they’re open from (note: times may change) 10:00 to 16:00. There are other toilets in the park open at the same time.

Can you swim at Crawfordsburn?

We’ve tried to find info on whether swimming at Crawfordsburn is safe, but we can’t find any official information to confirm or deny, so check at the visitor centre.

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