Belfast Telegraph

Shore is pretty... Portstewart is named one of UK's top beaches

By Linda Stewart

We've always known that Portstewart Strand is an amazing place - but now it's official.

The stunning two-mile north coast beach has been ranked among the top 12 beaches in the UK by Rough Guides.

"Portstewart Strand is well-known as a place to picnic, play or kick back with a decent book. But there's much more to this two-mile stretch of super-soft sand in the far north of Northern Ireland," the guide reveals.

"Take a walk through the undulating dunes, where wild flowers quiver in the gentle breeze, or grab your binoculars for some twitching at the adjacent Bann Estuary, a natural gathering place for wading birds."

The beach welcomes tens of thousands of holidaymakers every year despite the challenging Ulster weather, as its beauty shines through in all seasons.

The National Trust, which manages Portstewart Strand, recommends the area as the perfect spot for a refreshing stroll and to take long walks into sand dunes, which are a haven for wild flowers and butterflies.

National Trust manager Toby Edwards said: "We're delighted that the strand has been ranked in the top 12. The team here take great pride in looking after the beach, with help from local residents who have a deep connection with the strand and strive to keep it looking beautiful.

"With Blue Flag recognition year after year, Portstewart Strand never fails to leave a lasting impression with visitors, young and old."

The trust recently teamed up with local business Harry's Shack, which has renovated the visitor centre to create a beach restaurant offering mouth-watering fresh fish dishes. Earlier this year Portstewart Strand's famous dunes suffered a tremendous battering from the elements, causing sand levels to drop by about a metre.

In February massive storm surges pounded the beach and powered up the access road, sweeping away waste bins and life line posts. National Trust staff were kept busy in spring carrying out rebuilding dunes that had been carried away.

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