Portstewart Strand and Barmouth , Co Derry

Between Portstewart and the mouth of the River Bann lies the golden sands and domineering sand dunes of Portstewart Strand. This area of natural beauty and of scientific interest is owned and managed by the National Trust.

A year round mecca for holiday makers, Portstewart Strand holds the prestigious Blue Flag award for the management, cleanliness and quality of water and it is also one of the few remaining beaches in Ireland where cars still have access and permission to drive onto the beach- perfect for families who wish to picnic on the golden shores.

In addition to this, it has also won the Seaside award for 2011. The beach attracts a range of visitors wishing to partake in activities such as, surfing, swimming, horse riding and scenic walks on the way marked nature trails with excellent views of the North Coast. Visitors to the beach will benefit from new toilets, external showers and improved first aid facilities. A new shop will enable visitors to pick up accessories for the beach, such as bucket and spade or games to play, or a souvenir to take home with them.

All income generated from the shop will go towards the conservation of this special area. Barmouth is a nearby nature and wildlife reserve offering an attractive habitat to migrant waterfowl, waders and nesting birds throughout the year. Bird hides offer excellent opportunities to spectate the views and local wildlife and have facilities for disabled visitors.

Keys to bird hides are available from The National Trust North Coast Office at Giants Causeway. Accommodation in the area ranges from holiday parks offering caravans and tent pitches, traditional bed and breakfasts and luxury self catering accommodation.