From secret gardens and ancient heritage sites, to scenic coastal walks and country parks, Ards and North Down has lots of hidden gems and popular spots which are perfect for a romantic walk – on Valentine’s Day or any other time of the year. So, if you’re searching for a special spot to enjoy some quality time with your nearest and dearest, let us guide you to some of the loveliest locations in the borough…

Crawfordsburn Country Park

Although a popular location in the borough, the extensive landscape of Crawfordsburn Country Park is ideal for enjoying a romantic day out, as there are lots of scenic spaces where you can escape from any crowds. The quieter, cooler month of February is also the perfect time to explore the landscape at your leisure, when there are generally fewer seasonal visitors and more opportunities for spotting wildlife. There are also jays and rooks in the wooded glen, while you might also spot seals, along with herons and dippers around the waterways.

Magical in every season, when you’re with that special someone, Crawfordsburn Country Park will sing songs from its streams, cast a spell with its waterfall and charm you with its sandy beaches. A haven for the flora and fauna within, it will similarly leave you feeling relaxed and at peace – a natural place of enchantment made all the more lovely with company…   

Find out more about Crawfordsburn Country Park

Clandeboye Way walk to Helen’s Tower

This scenic walk will take you through various woodland to the enchanting Helen’s Tower in the Clandeboye Estate, an impressive grey-stone folly with magnificent views of the countryside. Beginning at Helen’s Bay Beach carpark, the route takes you through a picturesque corridor of trees which extends for four miles, and across various bridges. There’s the option of walking one direction to Crawfordsburn Country Park, or continuing on to Whitespots Country Park, which borders the Clandeboye Estate and will take you to the tower. 

What better place to share stories and some quality time with the one you love, than at this historic landmark, which inspired Alfred Lord Tennyson to write his poem of the same name and is based, of course, on this very structure? The fairy-tale Helen’s Tower and her sweeping views will add more than a touch of romance to your Valentine’s Day.
‘Love is in and out of time
I am mortal stone and line…’

Find out more about Helen's Tower

An image of Helen's Tower set amongst the woodland

Scrabo Country Park and Scrabo Tower

Enjoy a romantic stroll through Scrabo Country Park, near Newtownards, which includes the beautiful beech trees, mixed woodland and hazel wood of Killynether Wood, along with an assortment of wildlife, such as kestrels and peregrine falcons. Meanwhile, recently named as one of the province’s top romantic locations to explore, Scrabo Tower is another spot worth visiting, where you can take in the panoramic views over Strangford Lough and surrounding countryside. The perfect place to enjoy a walk with a loved one, or a romantic picnic, Scrabo Country Park and Scrabo Tower will provide an impressive backdrop for a special day out.

Find out more about Scrabo Tower and Country Park

A photo of Scrabo Tower and Country Park from across Strangford Lough

Mount Stewart

With spring just around the corner, a visit to the magnificent Mount Stewart for a special Valentine’s Day walk is still very much worth the while, as winter brings its own unique beauty to this sumptuous location. With fewer leaves on the trees, there’s more opportunity to see red squirrels, while charms of goldfinches are also plentiful this year, adding splashes of vibrant colour to the winter landscape. Despite the cold, there are also still lots of plants to enjoy, with greenery in the Shamrock Garden and berries by the lake – a tranquil spot to take a romantic stroll and watch the swans and ducks. By February, you can also look out for snowdrops decorating the Sunk Garden, while the five miles of walking trails will lead you through various scenic woodland and countryside. 

Find out more about Mount Stewart

An image of the little wooden pedestrian jetty and Mount Stewart lake on a bright sunny day

Kearney Village and coastal path

Located on the southern tip of the Ards Peninsula, is the picturesque Kearney Fishing Village, restored in recent years by the National Trust. With its quaint, whitewashed cottages and a rugged coastline where you can enjoy a windswept walk, this historical site is a great place for a secluded trip – somewhere a little more off the beaten track. 

There are plenty of sea birds to look out for, including gannets, cormorants and shelducks, along with views of Scotland, the Isle of Man and the Mountains of Mourne. Quintin Castle also provides a dramatic inland backdrop, while the lighthouse is another landmark worth seeing. You can either walk along the coast from Kearney village to Knockinelder Bay, or go the other direction to Cloughey, which also has a lengthy beach to explore. 

Find out more about Kearney Village

Young man and woman with baby in pram enjoying a stroll around Kearney Village

Grey Abbey

The ancient gothic ruins of Grey Abbey on the Ards Peninsula offer a particularly atmospheric setting for a Valentine’s Day outing with that special someone. And, of course, Greyabbey village is itself known locally as ‘the wedding village of the peninsula,’ which just might be a good omen for any couples who do end up visiting… Rich in heritage and stories of the past, this scenic spot may prove to be the perfect place for you and a loved one to start – or continue – your own story together. 

As you wander amongst the abbey ruins, there are lots of little nooks and crannies to explore and corners to shelter from the elements. Whether it’s mild enough for a picnic on the lawns, or simply a day for feeling inspired by the impressive architecture and being refreshed by nature, Greyabbey might just romance you in more ways than one.  

Find out more about Grey Abbey

A photo of the Grey Abbey ruins and leafy surrounds on a sunny day

Greba Gardens, Greyabbey, Ards Peninsula

If you follow the winding paths through this enchanting three-acre haven you’ll find secluded spaces aplenty, all set against a backdrop of gurgling streams, pretty wildflowers and ornamental trees. This fairy-tale garden is ideal for couples wanting to whisk themselves away from the distractions of the outside world to enjoy the tranquillity of nature.

A former quarry, Greba Gardens is now home to natural woodland and ponds, with a variety of wildlife, including otters, pine martens and red squirrels. The keen-eyed might spot newts in the ponds, while there are all sorts of garden birds and insects to look out for. Take your time wandering over bridges and under wooden archways – across stepping stones and past drystone walls; through the fruit garden and on into the vegetable garden. Immerse yourself in the peacefulness of this beautiful space and enjoy a rest on one of the painted wooden benches tucked away in various viewing spots, or in the summerhouse. 

Listen to the music of the garden – the singing stream and chittering birds; the trees rustling in the breeze – and whisper your own words to that special someone beside you.

Note - Greba Gardens can be viewed by appointment from March to November. The perfect romantic walking spot – somewhere to enjoy beyond Valentine’s Day! 

Find out more about Greba Gardens

These are only a selection of the sights to see and places to visit in Ards and North Down, to explore more check out our Things To Do section.

As always, be aware of what current local COVID-19 restrictions are in place and please follow public health guidance. For information visit, nidirect and the Public Health Agency website.

To avoid disappointment, when planning to visit an attraction in the area please continue to check individual provider websites before you leave the house to confirm if they are open, closed or if pre-booking is required.

Crawfordsburn Country Park
Public Park
a photograph of waves hitting the rocks at the shore

With tranquil walks through peaceful meadows and wooded glens and a stunning waterfall, Crawfordsburn Country Park provides a relaxing natural retreat.

Helen's Tower
Self-Catering
Helen's Tower

Helen’s Tower, perched above the rolling hills of County Down, is an enchanting three storey, stone tower nestled deep in the woods of the Clandeboye Estate, standing on top of the world with panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Adults only

Scrabo Tower
Nature and Wildlife
Photo of yellow gorse bush and Scrabo Tower peaking up from behind framed by blue sky

Scrabo Country Park is centred at the top of Scrabo Hill near Newtownards and boasts incredible views over Strangford Lough and the surrounding countryside.

Mount Stewart
Garden
Image of the front of the Mount Stewart Estate House

Mount Stewart is a stunning estate in the beautiful scenic area of Strangford Lough. The Formal Gardens are ranked as one of the top ten in the world and the within the house there are collections of national and international significance.

Kearney Village
Nature and Wildlife
a photograph of the exterior of some terraced white cottages

Owned by the National Trust, it is a picturesque 18th century fishing village with scenic coastal walks. There is an abundance of wildlife to be seen. A small visitor centre is open from dawn to dusk, as are the public toilets and car park.

Grey Abbey
Historic Sites, Houses, Castles & Buildings
a photograph of the exterior of old church ruins

Grey Abbey, a Cistercian Abbey church and its living quarters were founded in 1193 by Affreca wife of John de Courcy, the Anglo-Norman invader of East Ulster.