“We’re so lucky to have this on our doorstep”. This would be the daily chitchat of locals on our ‘self-isolation escapes’ as we follow the nearby stretch of the North Down Coastal Path in the Bangor West area. And Strickland’s Glen would be a quieter and more convenient middle point between the two busier sections of the path at Bangor Seafront and Crawfordsburn Country Park. So Stricklands Glen, or Fairy Glen as it is also known, is a scenic woodland park connecting between the Bryansburn Road and Bangor West area to the pebble beach cove of Smelt Mill Bay. It is also a handy starting point for walks towards Bangor Town Centre (to the right), or Crawfordsburn, Helens Bay and Holywood (to the left). But here I sharing a more popular local walk which loops between Strickland’s Gel and Ker Wood (Carnalea) following a scenic coastline stretch of the North Down Coastal Path.
A Walk in Strickland’s Glen
So we have been covering the tracks recently through the Spring months when the trees, and nature, and wildlife are coming out in full bloom. In the top duck ponds, there are fresh-hatched ducklings and moorhen chicks. Throughout the forest are wildflowers, spring blossoms, and I was foraging for wild garlic. We always find these ‘painted rocks’ as well which I found to be a game played by local families/walkers where they paint and decorate stones at home then set them out to be taken or moved around the different parts of the coastal path walks. And their just a lot of wee immersive things to keep you immersed and engaged along the way.
Strickland’s Glen and Smelt Mill Bay
Stricklands Glen (Glen is Irish for small valley) is a fairly small woodland park, easy to cover in 30-minutes following the 3 winding pathways that follow the ‘babbling brook’ river between the ponds by the top entrance of the park to the sea at Smelt Mill Bay. The bay itself was named after an old lead mill near the coastline that was powered by the river running through the glen. There was also once a famous refreshment room ‘tea house’, known as ‘The Bungalow’ before it was demolished in 1948. Although these days no real sign of these structures exist other than names.
Strickland’s Glen – Ker Wood Loop
So each morning we would complete a circle from the main road at Stricklands Glen Carpark, where we’d follow down Stricklands Glen to turn left onto the North Down coastal path at Smelt Mill Bay. From here follow the coastline until just past Carnalea Golf Club where the winding hill (left) leads up to the Golf Club Entrance and Carnalea Train Station. Continue under the stone bridge and the forest trail of Ker Wood until the main road. From here it is a straight walk along Crawfordsburn / Bryansburn Road until reaching the entrance to Stricklands Glen car park again. (Note, it is also possible to continue along the North Down Coastal Path which leads to Crawfordsburn Country Park, Helen’s Bay and further…
Ker Wood (Carnalea)
Ker Wood West is also known as Ker Wood, Kerr Wood, Kerr’s Wood and the Lover’s Walk. But locally we just called ‘The Woods’. Because that’s what they are, there are no signposts, they’re just a one-track river tail woodland between the back 9 of Carnalea Golf Course and the residential area opposite (Station Road). Eventually leading to the main roads at Bryansburn/Crawfordsburn Road. It is probably similar in length to Stricklands Glen tbh but it is thinner in breadth and stuff/things to see. It’s just a nice romantic walk between tall evergreen woodlands. There is also a layby for parking at the entrance of Ker Wood if you fancy flipping the route.
Bangor West / Bryansburn
This part of the loop is by far the least scenic, and there is always the option of walking the same route back. Otherwise this is more for convenience in time and just to not retrace steps on return. So at the top entrance to Ker Wood take a left and it is then just over a kilometre following the same road (Crawfordsburn/Bryansburn) before reaching the Stricklands Glen Car Park at the 3rd roundabout on the left. It’s hard to miss. Places of interest along the route include West Church on the right, another small wooded area called Ker Wood East (confusing?) just after Carnalea Golf Course on the left, then there’s Bangor West Train Station on the right, as well as the Bryansburn Inn for some cheerful drinks and top-notch grub. You can make a day of it.
Where is Strickland’s Glen?
Address: 5AG Bryansburn Road, Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland
Stricklands Glen is located at the roundabout junction (1st left) on the Bryansburn Road leading to Bangor Town Centre. There is normally more than enough parking at the entrance. It is also possible to reach by train on the Belfast – Bangor line with stops at both Bangor West Train Station and Carnalea Train Station.
From Bangor West Train Station (5-minute walk): Exit the station on the side of the bridge. Take a right onto the Bryansburn Road. Cross the road. The entrance to Stricklands Glen is then on the left at the roundabout.
From Carnalea Train Station (10-minute walk): Exit the station under the bridge then take a right until Carnalea Golf Club. Take a left down the hill before a right at the bottom then follow the shoreline until Smelt Mill Bay/Stricklands Glen.
The Bangor West Treasure Hunt: Check out our Bangor West Treasure Hunt following the Strickland’s Glen – Ker Wood Loop.