Well, in typical Northern Irish fashion, Summer decided to make a bit of a belated visit this weekend. Temperatures weren’t exactly soaring but on Saturday the sun was shining – the perfect day for a bit of sightseeing!
I had done a little research during the week about interesting places to visit in Northern Ireland as I had booked a few days off work to get the kids (and me) settled back into the school routine and just knew when I opened the blinds Saturday morning that we had to make the most of the good weather. My head was telling me to clean the house as it is in a state of disarray as the de-cluttering and decorating continues. However, the heart won the battle, and the cleaning still awaits!
We decided that it would be good to stay fairly local on our first outing with ‘fresh tourist eyes’ (see my previous post if you are confused). It’s actually pretty amazing how many places there are within a one hour drive from our home that we have never visited. Pretty shocking, but it also means there is lots to explore in the future.
So, snacks and drinks packed, we headed off in the direction of Killyleagh. A small village about a forty minute drive from our home and a place we had never ventured to before. Little did we know what we were missing out on. For at the top of this quiet, pretty village is a beautiful castle that we didn’t even know existed! Having just returned from the Loire Valley I was excited to learn that Killyleagh Castle was designed to resemble the magnificent Loire Valley Chateaux. Unfortunately, the castle is still inhabited (lucky family) and so is not open for tours, but it is still worth a visit.
The setting overlooking Strangford Lough is idyllic and as it was such a lovely day we were able to stroll around Killyleagh admiring the beautiful buildings and we even stumbled across a ‘Brocante’ – a French style antique shop selling all sorts of wonderful collectibles. My children were particularly drawn to the toy cars! What a little gem of a find, and somewhere we will definitely be returning to when pocket money has been saved!
After enjoying ice-cream we continued on around the Ards Peninsula, stopping off at Sketrick Castle ruins and enjoying a stroll along the beach looking for fossils (a favourite pastime of my middle son).
I have to say, with the sun shining and everyone in good form there really is nowhere prettier! All in all we had a lovely day out together, we spent a grand total of £10 on some chips for tea (the obligatory seaside supper) and had the added bonus of a short drive home. Being a tourist at home definitely has its benefits.