Growing up in Armagh the only time I got to a beach was during the summer or when we were lucky enough to hop on a plane so it wasn’t until I lived in Australia that I fell in love with the ocean and feeling the sand between my toes. It became the place I sought solace and whenever I felt a little homesick I would get in the car and drive to the nearest beach, park myself in the sand and watch the sea pull back and forth from the coast for hours.
Now that I’m home I’m not quite as free to jump in the water but the draw is still there. We’re lucky to live within a 10 minute drive of some lovely beaches and I have been able to take full advantage of losing myself for an hour or two by the Irish Sea. Sometimes I bring Andrew along with me so we can catch up on our days but mostly I’ll come on my own with a blanket or towel, watch the ferries slowly gliding out of the Lough and let the sound of the waves soothe whatever wild thoughts need taming.
If you’re in need of some inspiration, I’ll clue you in on a few spots close to where we are in Belfast and a bit further beyond. There are hundreds of beautiful beaches around the northern coastline but these are just a few of my favourites…
This my hiding place. I will take myself off here and do a bit of a yoga, read or just stare at other people’s dogs so I can play with them. Not pathetic at all but I hope that if Andrew sees my pitiful ‘I reallllly want a dog’ face for the millionth time he might give in! It’s only about a 10 minute drive for Belfast so it’s perfect for us city slickers when we need a decent head shower. Crawfordsburn Park is right behind the beach as well and is a great place to take cover if the rain ever descends.
Just beside Holywood, Seapark is a bit of coastline that makes a great wee walk and takes you past the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club – a century old institution with original buildings. Watching the yachtsmen haul their boats in after a day at sea is quite lovely and I like to walk out to the end of the jetty so I get a good view of our wee Belfast.
About 25 mins from Belfast, Groomsport is a very cute village with a lovely harbour hidden within it. The beach is small but delivers just what is needed along with plenty of places for a wee ice cream after. Even if it does have to be eaten in the car because it’s Baltic outside!
Without doubt my favourite beach in the North! It’s found just outside Newcastle so about 50 minutes drive from Belfast. It’s a perfect sandy stretch you can reach after climbing over some very old dunes and once you’ve reached the top, you can look up to find the Mourne Mountains towering over you. It is everything I love about Ireland – wild and endless that makes you feel like you’re the first person to discover it.
About a half hour north of Belfast, this wee beach is found along the Causeway Coastal Route. We stayed in a haunted tower within the hotel across the road back in January which was so beautiful. In the morning we walked along the beach in the freezing cold, blinded by the white mountains covered in snow. It’s just as beautiful in the summer under blue skies but in the winter, you can have the entire beach to yourself.
Have you got any favourite beaches of your own that you escape to??