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Taking out a kayak is beautiful way to explore Strangford Lough. Down at water level, you are in tune with the tides, time of day and weather conditions. Gliding softly brings you closer to the lough’s wildlife, including seal pups and wild geese. There is something magical about this place.
You’re only 30 minutes from Belfast, but it feels like you are in another world. It’s just you, the kayak and the water. There are no interruptions here, no devices, crowds or rush hour traffic.
Your guide, John Hubbucks, is a kayak expert who has been teaching people to kayak since 2005 and taught many people, of all abilities, to paddle. He knows the Lough intimately and can help you explore its crystal-clear water, islands and inlets.
One thing you might be greeted by as you explore the Lough and its many islands is a friendly seal pup. “They’re very curious and want to come and say hello!” says John.
There are Brent geese, porpoises and, if you’re really lucky - either early in the morning or late at night – you just might spot an otter, too.
Strangford Lough is of international importance for wintering wildfowl. A designated area of outstanding natural beauty, the landscape here is diverse, from the tranquil shores to nearby woodland, meadows, marshes, farmland and streams.
As well as kayaking, John is also a trained chef and, if the tide is right, he will take you foraging for mussels which he'll cook in front of you before serving with a local Irish whiskey cream sauce.
On other days, you’ll stop at an island to stretch your legs and enjoy an Irish smorgasbord of some of the finest foods from local Strangford producers – some delicious cheese and a taste of Northern Irish small-batch pickle.
"People are usually amazed by how beautiful the Lough is,” says John. “They just want to get out here and get away from everything, and they come back relaxed.”