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Anchoring at Killyleagh in Strangford Lough – We LOVED this place!

After sailing along the coast from Port Oriel (Clogher Head) we anchored in Strangford Lough, just off of the club moorings belonging to Killyleagh Yacht Club on the western shore of the Lough.

Killyleagh is a village in County Down, Northern Ireland and the anchorage here provides good holding in mud. We had dropped the hook in position 54°23.493N 5°38.493W, south of the prominent Town Rock beacon and outside of the mooring field.

Moody skies over Killyleagh Yacht Club moorings

Killyleagh Yacht Club, located at Cuan Beach, have a pontoon jetty where it is possible to come alongside for loading and unloading but overnighting is not permitted. You will also find a water point on the jetty. Access to the shore is gated so you will need to contact the club on arrival. Tenders can also be left on this pontoon or alternatively you would need to land your dinghy at the nearby old town dock, but do be aware that this is tidal with only ladders or old rings to tie up to.

Killyleagh Yacht Club – The Friendliest Sailing Club EVER!

Over the past 6 years of sailing we’ve often found ourselves at sailing clubs, usually when trying to land our dinghy, and we’ll be honest…not all are overly welcoming, despite the ‘we welcome visitors‘ claims on their websites! However Killyleagh Yacht Club are the complete opposite; these guys here are some of the most genuine, helpful people we’ve ever met!

Yachts racing in Strangford Lough

As soon as we arrived we were given a fob to allow us access to the shore and facilities. We went yacht racing with the club, enjoyed a free BBQ and had way too many drinks in the bar (Fireball Whiskey’s have a lot to answer for!). Nothing was too much trouble and their hospitality was truly touching.

Quoile Yacht Club

However we did need to move briefly due to yet another summer storm, this time with strong easterlies meaning Killyleagh would have been rather exposed. We therefore headed just a mile down the Lough to Quoile Yacht Club , probably the most sheltered spot in the Lough. The club have a handful of visitor moorings and a pontoon, which is accessible at all states of tide. The clubhouse has a bar, showers, toilets and a washing machine.

Quoile Yacht Club

We were kindly given a mooring buoy to use for the duration of the storm (thank you Isabel!) and we’ll admit, this was probably the worst storm we’ve rode out whilst away from the security of a marina. Storm Betty battered Ireland and even in this sheltered spot we felt very much at the mercy of Mother Nature. Fortunately the mooring and our lines held firm, albeit we didn’t get an ounce of sleep that night!

The Village of Killyleagh

After surviving Betty we headed back to Killyleagh. Whilst Quoile is very pretty there aren’t any amenities within walking distance.

The centre of the village of Killyleagh is just a 10 minute walk from the yacht club. Here you will find a Eurospar supermarket which opened in early summer 2023. Now we’re not the sort of people to ‘rave’ about a supermarket but as supermarkets go this one was amazing! The choice of delicious meats provided by local butchers Castle Meats was incredible, the freshly baked breads and cakes was hazardous to our waistlines and the hot food counter was just impossible to resist!

The village also has a selection of small independent businesses such as a hairdressers, barbers, community shop, pharmacy, cafes, takeaways and off licences, to name but a few. And if you’re after a traditional pub with good food and a decent pint then the Dufferin Arms was a favourite of ours.

Probably the most noticeable landmark in the village is Killyleagh Castle, which is one of the oldest inhabited castles in the country dating back to 1180. Privately owned by the Hamilton family, the castle which resembles a Loire Valley château, is not open to the public however visitors can go as far as the gatehouse.

Finally if you fancy venturing further afield then buses run to nearby Downpatrick and even up to Belfast.

Strangford Lough with Mourne Mountains in the distance

We cannot stress enough how welcoming Killyleagh Yacht Club is, and true to their word when they state on their website ‘We’re proud of our playground but it’s our hospitality that sets us apart. Whether it be members, guests or visiting sailors, Killyleagh is known for its warm welcome to all.’ A warm welcome was certainly what we received 🙏🏻

So if you plan on cruising Strangford Lough then we’d highly recommend Killyleagh Yacht Club. You can contact them via email at info@killyleaghyachtclub.co.uk, by calling +44 (0) 28 4482 8250 or message them on Facebook .