WalkNI.com Your definitive guide to walking in Northern Ireland
Quality Walk

North Down Coastal Path

North Down Coastal Path extends from Holywood in the west to Orlock in the east. The path passes through coastline and parkland. Historic relics and flora and fauna are found in abundance, including the grey seals which can be spotted offshore.

Please be aware that sections of the North Down Coastal Path follow private roads.  Please respect the Highway Code when walking, cycling or running along these sections where residential traffic will have right of way. Northern Ireland has very few public rights of way and therefore in many areas walkers can only enjoy countryside walks because of the goodwill and tolerance of local landowners.  In the interests of your own safety please be respectful when using the area for recreational purposes. 




16 miles

OS Map

Sheet 15

Nearest Town

Holywood, Co Down

Route Shape


Route Type

Beach, Coastal, Parkland & Grassland


Bitmac, stone & grass paths

Grid Reference (Start)


Grid Reference (End)


Point of Interest

Grey Fort Point (battery and gun emplacement), views

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Other Area

Route Description

The walk begins at the Esplanade in Holywood. Walk under the railway arch and turn right. Follow the linear path along the outer edge of Belfast Lough towards Seapark, a recreational area with a play park.

Continue past the park towards the Royal North Yacht Club. From here follow the public footpath as it rejoins the Coastal Path. At this point a detour to the right will lead to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum and the railway halt.

Continuing on the path leads to Craigavad, with the Royal Belfast Golf Club on the right. Beyond this point cross the bridge in front of Rockport Primary School.

About 2 miles further round the coast, a set of steep steps takes you inland at the Seahill Sewage Treatment and rejoins the coast path as you descend at the far end.

From here the path leads to Crawfordsburn Country Park, passing Grey Point Fort, Helen's Bay and through to Crawfordsburn Beach.

Leaving the path briefly, cross Swineley Bay and pick up the path at the far side. Continue walking along the path to Wilson's Point, where the path turns towards Bangor Marina.

From here follow the path round to Ballyholme Beach, which leads to the National Trust area of Ballymacormick Point. The path continues to Groomsport Harbour, where the path becomes rural in nature, crossing the beach area round towards Orlock Point, Portavo. A small lay-by indicates the end of the walk.

Getting to the Start

Translink - journeyplanner.translink.co.uk


Dogs are allowed. Dogs must be kept under close control

Accessibility Grade

Grade 4

North Down Coastal Path (Orlock Point to Groomsport) - Grade 5
North Down Coastal Path (Groomsport to Bangor) - Grade 4
North Down Coastal Path (Bangor to Helens Bay) - Grade 4
North Down Coastal Path (Helens Bay to Holywood) - Grade 5

Accessible Facilities

The following facilities are available for users with limited mobility:

Café (wheelchair accessible) - at Groomsport, Bangor, Helens Bay and Holywood
Shop (wheelchair accessible)
Visitors Centre - at Groomsport, Bangor and Helens Bay
Disabled toilets
Disabled parking


Toilets, accommodation and refreshments are available along the walk including in the villages and towns of Newtownards, Helens Bay, Groomsport & Bangor


1. The Coastal Path – Map guide. 2. A Guide to the North Down Coastal Path

Publication Availability

North Down Coastal Path Leaflet downloadable from this page.

Walk Location
Map of Northern Ireland
Image Gallery

Ratings and Comments

Helen 21 May, 2018 @ 22:21

Love to walk along the coast towards Rockport Do not like the fact that they are talking about upgrading the path as walkers do love the rugged nature of the track. Station Road section the private section needs some work as sink hole dangerous at the moment

Mark 18 May, 2018 @ 07:43

Great walk BUT I'm getting seriously worried about the drive to upgrade what is a fantastic WALKING route into a greenway with cycling given priority. The section from the golf club to Helen's bay is great BECAUSE its a bit wild and rugged. With proposals being made to turn it into a greenway they are going to take away the main reason why walkers love this section. Just imagine it's all tarmac and cyclists rushing past walkers. Not a nice future

Marrowbone youth 6 February, 2017 @ 00:39

Walked yesterday from Marrowbone Youthclub to Bangor via Costal Path supporting Falls Community council

Jane 29 May, 2016 @ 17:39

Started at Carnalea station and walked west to Cultra Station. Beautiful day with plenty of families picnicking at St Helen's Bay but beyond that there were few people and it felt remote even though we were only 8 miles from Belfast city centre. Saw seals, clumps of vivid pink thrift, carpets of yellow trefoil. As visitors we were impressed by the well maintained and litter-free path. Throw in a visit to the Ulster Folk Museum and it makes a wonderful day out.

Leslie 15 May, 2016 @ 17:01

Started at Hollywood station on Saturday 14 th May after arriving by train. Beautiful morning tide just on the ebb and clear blue sky. Great views of the lough on opposite side. Easy walking on path which becomes a fairly narrow track which hugs the shore. Watched some seals diving near Rockport School. New bridge is perfect no more detours. Bluebells out in the woods near Helen's Bay add a real splash of colour. On to Bangor and called briefly in ttourist information office to get a coastal path leaflet. Across beach at Ballyholme to Ballymacormick Point quite narrow track lined with gorse. Stopped by Cockle Row Cottages in Groomsport for a snack before heading on towards Orlock Point. Path is very narrow around caravan park but fine if tide is out. There is a high water alternative. Stopped at remains of searchlight enclosure before heading on towards Donaghadee. Some steep steps in this short section. Walked along main road to Donaghadee passing the golf course. Caught bus back to Bangor and then retraced steps once again to Holywood. Close to 26 miles in all. Long walk but enjoyed it from start to finish. Began at 08:55 and finished just after 16:00. Took lots of photographs so lucky with the weather, scenery stunning! Give it a go,

Cathy and mark 7 September, 2015 @ 10:05

drove to Seapark with our bikes onboard . Cycled from there to Bangor town centre along the coastal path . This is a great route challenging in parts for a. Novice but lovely alternative to Lagan towpath as the seascape and views are constant to keep you company whilst you a make brisk progress towards Bangor .

Noelleen 27 August, 2015 @ 15:57

Walked from Holywood to Bangor in August. I loved the new bridge and we also were able to visit Grey Point Fort. A great walk and we were able to get the train back to Holywood.

Kate 14 June, 2015 @ 16:13

Cycled from Ballyholme to Hollywood town center via the coastal path on a warm and sunny June day. Stunning scenery along the way and the paths are mainly very easy for beginners to ride along as they are tarmacked and wide up until just after Helen's Bay when there is a mile of woodland terrain. Around Seahill WTW, for a short distance, the path is narrow & bumpy- the path needs improved! But on the other hand there has been a new bridge added stretching over a few small beaches which makes a huge difference! It took around 3 and a half hours one way and we took the train back from Hollywood to Bangor.

Davy 2 February, 2015 @ 20:53

Walked the path from pickie in bangor was able to make my own detour avoiding the path closure at seahill by going down onto the shore not for everyone as you have to scramble back up to the path at the other side . Completed the rest and then walked to belfast via harbour estate and then onto whiteabbey along the northshore path 6hrs 30 mins an excellent day out.

Derek 24 November, 2014 @ 10:52

I and Murphy, (a Cocker Spaniel) did entire walk on Sat 22/11/14. Pleasent, crisp autumn day.A bit busy around Bangor.but really enjoyed it. Due to muddy paths, it took 5 hours. Recommend finishing in Dirty Duck in Holywood.

Mark 11 November, 2014 @ 22:18

Walk this route as often as i can. Great walk tho was spoiled on monday 10/11/14 as the area around the water treatment works near Seahill was closed thus needing a detour thru Seahill up onto the dual carriageway then along the busy road into Helens bay

Ivan 26 August, 2014 @ 15:05

A bunch of us took the train from Bangor to Holywood station and then walked back. It took us three and a half hours including a potter about at Grey Point Fort. Although it rained for the first half, the trees gave some shelter and we all really enjoyed the outing. Great to see a different angle on things - none of us had walked the Holywood to Helen's Bay section before - and next time we will do it on a sunny day and take a picnic!

David 26 July, 2014 @ 21:50

Loved this walk, we went from Holywood to Bangor and back on the train. Very hot and sunny day, but almost flat and on great paths. The little beaches were packed with families having a great time and the cafes of Bangor were a welcome,

Big G 14 April, 2013 @ 08:27

Got the train from Belfast to Holywood and then walked to Bangor, the rout is easy to do. I have not done the rest yet but will do it this year.

Moira Smyth 27 November, 2010 @ 17:10

We walked from Holywood to Bangor on 26th Nov. 2010. Although the weather had turned wintry we enjoyed our walk. This is a good walk with spectacular views. Even the hailstone storm didn't dampen our spirits!

stephen cooke 5 September, 2010 @ 00:07

ive walked to bangor and back to holywood recently the work to the path just beyond the yacht club is almost completed ,,seems like hand rails going up now ,, doesnt interfere with walk at the moment ,hop[efully will finish in the not to distance future ,,good job there guys still enjoying this walk ;-)

stephen cooke 20 June, 2010 @ 01:53

i would walk this path regurlar maybe two ,three times a week , a fairly flat walk with one set of steps , nothing to difficult ,, at the moment there is work widening the path not to far from the yacht club , i think by now the path should be opened so straight run now from hollywood right through to groomsport or however far you want to walk ,,,enjoy ,,,

Samuel Brush 8 May, 2009 @ 12:20

BEWARE OF LOW FLYING GOLF CULBS! I was walking the costal path with a friend on Thursday 7th May 2009 at 12.12 p.m. when we narrowly escaped being hit with a golf club. We were walking westwards at grid reference 485825 when a golf club came flying through the air missing us by a few inches and landing just behind us. I picked up the club and walked immediately to Carnalea Golf Clubhouse and told the manager what had happened, left the club and my details and asked for the incident to be investigated. This incident could have resulted in serious injury or worse and I will always be wary whilst passing this area in future.

Samuel Brush 21 October, 2008 @ 17:03

A friend and I walked the coastal path from Bangor to Holywood on 7th October. I want to thank all those responsible for the great improvements to the section which was closed during September. I know that there are still improvements to be made but well done so far.

Samuel Brush 20 August, 2008 @ 17:52

Yesterday I walked the costal path from Bangor Marina to Donaghadee. I was disappointed with the condition of the path especially the part around Ballymacormick Point and the part east of Groomsport and Orlock Point. These were overgrown with nettles and gorse and seems to have had no maintanence for some considerable time. As it stands I could not recommend this path to anyone unless they are well prepared for these conditions.

Add Your Rating

Know a good walk that is not included on the site?

Suggest a Walk >