Quoile Pondage Nature Reserve

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Contact details


Quoile Countryside Centre 5 Quay Road, Downpatrick, County Down,
Mr Rory Mellon
T: (028) 4461 5520
F: (028) 4461 3280

The Quoile estuary is steeped in legends of Saint Patrick who landed in the area.

The Quoile estuary is steeped in legends of Saint Patrick who landed in the area. Steamboat quay, Quoile quay and the timbers of a sailing ship are a reminder that the Quoile was once a busy port for nearby Downpatrick. A tidal barrier put across the estuary in 1957 created the freshwater lake present today and its rich variety of habitats. Oak and ash woodland is slowly developing on the higher, stony shores.

Take a stroll along the river’s edge and watch for otters and the flash of turquoise kingfisher hunting over the water. Use the comfortable bird-watching hide at Castle Island for close up views of waders, ducks and swans. The area is an excellent spot for bird watching as it attracts migrating wading birds in spring and autumn. In summer look for gadwall and graceful swans. In winter there are large flocks of colourful widgeon and tufted ducks. Take a break and enjoy the scenery at the picnic area near the Old Floodgates.

The best time to visit is April to September for breeding waterfowl, kingfishers and butterflies, October to March for wintering teal, widgeon and mallard and all year round for a peaceful walk along the water’s edge and a chance of spotting otters.

There is a superb visitor’s interpretation centre with toilets, picnic areas and a 1.5 mile riverside walk, with extensive car parking facilities on Quay road. The remainder of the reserve has been established as a wildlife sanctuary. A marvellous bird hide is located within the reserve on the Castle Island road. (The hide key is available from the visitor centre at weekends, if not open).