Hi, its Bailey, here’s the first installment of my new ‘Lovin’ Life’ blog. I hope to be bringing you lots of stories of my adventures with my sisters Autumn and Ollie, as we love going to new places. Mum even got a new van for us to travel in so that should bode well for the summer months! She’s a teacher, some say their life is a holiday, but personally I wish she had more time off!

Here’s a run down of my top 10 places to go for sniffs and runs in North Down!

1. 21 Acres, Crawfordsburn

This is a regular for us, and we love it, not only are there loads of sniffs in the forest and lots of room to stretch our legs, but theres also access to the sea! We love swimming, Ollie only learned to swim last year so we go in with her as she’s not as confident as Autumn and me. We always see lots of dogs here, so it’s a top spot for socialising and its designated as an off lead area.

Crawfordsburn Map

Pros

  • My sisters and me are allowed off the lead in this area.
  • Its huge, so we get lots of exercise…mum particularly likes this because we go home and conk out on our beds.
  • This area is mostly used by dog lovers and their dogs, and I LOVE to meet new people and new dogs!

Cons

  • I don’t think everyone knows that this is an off the lead area (especially as there is only a sign at the coastal path entrance and not the main one, yes I can read). Sometimes I go to say hello to someone and they don’t want to say hello back…my mum said that they are non dog lovers!
  • It can be difficult to get a parking space, and sometimes my mum needs to improvise! But she always checks for traffic to keep us safe.
1.21AcresCrawfordsburn2-14Jul15
1.21AcresCrawforsburn3-14Jul15

2. Cairn Wood

We used to go here A LOT, it’s a great forested area for interesting sniffs, and to meet new friends. There are lots of hills for us to run up which is great exercise, I’m the fittest of the sisters, Ollie cant run as much as I can, but I put this down to her short legs, if she was taller I might have some competition. One time we found a tyre hanging from a tree which mum went on, we all jumped on her because we didn’t know that it would make her fly, but it looked like a lot of fun. Lately we haven’t gone here as much as we have to be kept on a lead due to larch disease, which can be spread to other parts of the forest on our feet, and we don’t want to do that so we’ve been visiting lots of other places, but we will go back soon and check out the signs again.

Cairn Wood Map

Pros

  • The wood is a very large area to run around, there’s lots of streams to jump in and there’s loads of sniffs to keep us busy.
  • This area is owned by the Forest Service, so I am allowed off the lead as long as I am fully under control…I am much better at this.
  • The wood is generally better sheltered from the elements if it is a bad day, and I don’t feel the coastal breeze.

Cons

  • It can be very busy at the weekends so we try to avoid that!
2.Cairnwood1-14Jul15
2.Cairnwood2-14Jul15
2.Cairnwood3-14Jul15

3. Groomsport to Ballyholme Coastal Route

We all love it here, mums included. It’s a great walk, and a lot of fun as there are various terrains to cross, lots of areas which we can go off to sniff in, I get to meet lots of other dogs and their hoomans, and best of all there is the sea to swim in. I try to say hello to the seagulls but I never can, they always seem to fly away before I get the chance. Mum likes to sit on the benches and look out across the sea…its nice to do this, but sometimes we just want to get going!

Groomsport to Ballyholme Coastal Route Map

Pros

  • Generally the route is quite quiet, and we only ever seem to come across a small number of people which are mostly dog lovers with their four legged children.
  • I love this route as I get great sniffs from the sea, fields and gorse bushes.
  • It is National Trust land so as long as I am under control, there are no restrictions to be on a lead.

Cons

  • Parking at the Groomsport end is a little bumpy! So far this is all I can come up with.

3.GroomsportBallyholme1-14Jul15

4. Redburn

We went here for the first time just last week, and we loved it soooo much! Its such a vast area for us to run around, we spent a couple of hours running around and we were sleeping almost before mum had gone out the main gate. There are lots of trails to follow, but we like to go off the beaten track and explore the other areas, it was a shame mum didn’t bring her wellies as she ended up taking the long way round in some mucky places! We don’t mind a little much, in fact, we don’t mind a lot of muck! Ollie loves mud the most, she has a way of finding it, even if its warm weather and you’d think that the mud would have all dried up. But out she appears with her little ‘brown boots’ on. I digress, back to Redburn…its also great for meeting new dogs, and everyone we met was so friendly, and the views over the lough and Belfast are superb.

Redburn Map

PROS

  • Its an off the lead area so we are free to roam!
  • There’s a huge area to explore, we cant wait to go back.
  • Great for socializing!

CONS

  • Its quite steep and maybe not suitable for everyone or all dogs.
4.Redburn1-14Jul15
4.Redburn2-14Jul15

5. Helens Tower

This was an interesting place, I had never been before, so there was lots of new sniffs for me to explore. There are lots of trails and we made our way up to the tower…after taking the long way round! Although we weren’t so bothered on the way up to the tower, on the way back, we were very interested in the swamp! So we all jumped in and things got a little muddy…and smelly! I though it smelt nice but mum didn’t think so.

Helens Tower Map

Pros

  • Its all off lead so I got to stretch my legs
  • Lots of forest to explore

Cons

  • There can be a lot of mountain bikers at the weekends especially, so watch out for those
  • The swamp, mum says next time she will put my lead on as we go past!
5.HelensTower1-14Jul15
5.HelensTower2-14Jul15
5.HelensTower3-14Jul15

6. Stricklands Glen

We like it here as there are so many little paths and trails to go along, and lots of areas we can explore in and get our sniffs.

Stricklands Glen Map

Pros

  • There are lots of different little trails to explore
  • I like to splash about in the river and at the bottom of the glen I can go into the sea

Cons

  • Can be very muddy in winter but that means that only dedicated welly walkers go here.

6.StricklandsGlen1-14Jul15

7. Bangor to Holywood Coastal Path

This is a great route, especially on a beautiful sunny day! Ive gone this route with Autumn before, and even did it while mum cycled. I absolutely love running, its one of my favourite things after meeting new friends.

Bangor to Holywood Coastal Path Map

Pros

  • The coastal path is a very pretty route and I can walk all the way to Holywood, mum says the Dirty Duck at the other end is the best thing, but I don’t understand the appeal.

Cons

  • It can be very busy with walkers, joggers and cyclists, so I have to watch out.
  • There are areas that I am not allowed off my lead which I understand…but then again, there is only a sign at one end of this area, which means that I could walk through it off the lead and only realise that I should have been on the lead once I reach the big yellow line that I’ve heard is visible from space.

7.CoastalPath1-14Jul15

8. Castle Park

This is a great place, and much bigger than it looks! It is very pretty to walk around and has a great variety of trees and landscape features. Dogs are mainly off the lead here but you have to be careful not to go near the road! It is also a squirrel heaven, they are everywhere and they drive me crazy watching them running up all of the trees.

Castle Park Map

Pros

  • Pretty and peaceful walks…unless you like chasing squirrels!
  • Squirrels

Cons

  • Close to a pretty busy road
8.CastlePark1-14Jul15
8.CastlePark2-14Jul15

9. Ballyholme Beach

This is our local, and we used to go here much more often until the council brought in new rules. We weren’t very happy about that because we love the beach and running around it every month of the year, its where we meet lots of other four legged locals and one of my favs, we get to go for a swim!

Ballyholme Beach Map

Pros

  • I love to swim in the sea so me and my sisters have great fun and exercise here
  • I get to meet lots of other friendly dogs

Cons

  • There are restrictions at some times of the year and I need to be on my lead (between May and September between 11am-8pm)
  • My sister Autumn likes to eat seaweed and my mum has to keep stopping her eating it. Sometimes there is so much seaweed washed up to shore that we need to avoid the beach. It’s not a problem though if you don’t like to eat seaweed!
  • If there is a bit of good weather then humans can leave the beach extremely messy!
9.Ballyholme1-14Jul15
9.Ballyholme2-14Jul15

10. Ulster Way from Bangor Road to Helens Bay

I really enjoyed this route, we started at Whitespots Country Park and I ran along side mum who was on her bike. It was quite mucky at the start, mums bike got stuck but with my nimble feet I’d no such problems!

Ulster Way from Bangor Road to Helens Bay Map

Pros

  • It seems a quiet route and we didn’t meet many people at all
  • It’s a nice long route with lots of sniffs

Cons

  • You have to cross a couple of roads, including the main A2, so we had to be careful and put my lead on.
  • We didn’t see any poo bins, but luckily I’d just been before we left!
10.UlsterWay1-14Jul15
10.UlsterWay2-14Jul15

So thats my review of my top 10 walks in North Down, but there are more to come!:)