Ancient annals record that Strangford Lough was formed around 1650 BC by the sea sweeping in over the lands of Brena. This created a beautiful, calm inlet, the archipelago-like pieces of land along its inner arm fringed with brown and yellow bladderwrack and tangleweed, and tenanted by a rich gathering of bird life during the warmer months and vast flocks of geese and waders in the winter. It’s an attractive haven for small boats and yachts, and several picturesque halts for the land-bound make the road along the lough’s western shore the most interesting route leading south from Belfast.
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PORTAFERRY, at the mouth of Strangford Lough, is the home of the Exploris aquarium, which has a touch-tank for the brave to stroke a stingray, and an open-sea tank where you can view the odd roaming shark and basking seals. However, the town’s main attraction is the marvellous sunset looking across the “Narrows” to Strangford, a view enhanced by a ten-minute climb to the stump of the old windmill just behind the town.