The magnificent Strand at Portstewart conjures up images of lazy summer days, picnics, sandcastles and long walks. The two miles of yellow sand is one of Northern Ireland's finest and most popular Blue Flag beaches, filled with families in the summer and with walkers throughout the year.
The dunes themselves were formed around 6,000 years ago and reach heights of up to 30 metres (100ft). Neolithic pottery and implements have also been found on the site, along with bronze pins and Roman jewellery, reveling a long history of human habitation.
There is a host of leisure choices for you to pick from at this beach, from swimming to dog walking to surfing. The Strand, which protects the mouth of the River Bann, is also an important nature conservation site, particularly rich in insects and plantlife.
Unusually for a National Trust beach, cars can be brought on and parked on the strand - a long-standing tradition the Trust allowed to continue after it purchased the beach in 1980. It is now one of the few beaches in Northern Ireland that families can drive to and enjoy picnics and recreation without having to park elsewhere.
At the western end of Portstewart Strand lies Barmouth, an important estuarine site acquired by the Trust in 1972. The Barmouth is a sanctuary for waders, wildfowl and nesting birds. You can view this spectacle from a purpose-built hide on the west side of the River Bann.
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