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Salt Island Bothy



Salt Island bothy provides a fantastic overnight camping experience but requires the complete cooperation of all visitors to help with maintenance and upkeep.  Please read the downloadable bookings notes carefully and ensure your whole group are aware of them before your visit.



 The Bothy was restored in June 2008 and is located on Salt Island on Strangford Lough just south of Killyleagh. It is a bunkhouse which provides basic shelter, accommodation and camping facilities.  It is very popular with canoeists, boat users, youth groups and families.  



The bothy can accommodate up to ten people and offers -

  • Water for washing dishes etc. is available from a water butt
  • A flush toilet is located inside the bothy
  • A Composting toilet is located at the rear of the bothy. (This is a backup if the main flush toilet fails). Please follow the instructions displayed inside the toilet. 
  • A Wood-burning stove is located inside. Please only use dry wood (burning damp wood can damage the stove). At certain times of the year, there may be a small supply of wood in the lean-to.
  • Kitchen area, table and chairs.
  • There is no cooker, so you need to bring your own cooking equipment, such as a Trangia.
  • The Bothy has a drying-room beside the toilets (where water tanks are located).
  • Fire wood can be scavenged from the woodland, but only branches. *Under no circumstances is it permitted to cut trees in the woodland*
  • National Trust has donated a modest supply of kitchen utensils, cutlery and crockery. However, it is best that you aim to be self-sufficient and bring your own.
  • A number of areas have been set aside for composting. Please avoid these marked areas.

 Don’t forget to bring everything you need with you to the Island, including –

  • Drinking water
  • Toilet paper, washing-up liquid, pots and pans etc. Some of these items may be in the Bothy from previous visitors, but this cannot be guaranteed.
  • Please do not leave any perishable items of food which will go off or attract vermin.
  • The Island has no electricity supply, but you are welcome to bring your own portable generator in order to provide power to the Bothy’s existing power-points and fittings.
  • You should bring a torch.
  • There is one permanent barbecue outside the Bothy situated at the corner of the wall in the grassy area to the front of the Bothy.
  • Harvested rain water is provided from water butts for washing up etc. *This water is not for drinking*.
  • When using the water butt tap, please ensure you turn it off completely to avoid the tank running dry.
  • It is advisable to bring a mobile phone or VHF radio with you in case of emergencies. There is good (4G) mobile signal on the island.


The bothy is located on the South Eastern side of the island (GR J531501), near the old jetty.  The jetty is in disrepair and not safe for use, however, the area immediately beside the jetty is free from boulders, which allows small boats to land and be hauled up onto the beach.  The area in front of the bothy is shallow and becomes mud flats at low tide which has the potential to strand boats until the tide returns.

However, the beach at the North West bay (GR J528502), is accessible at all states of tide and is only a few minute’s walk to the bothy.  There is no jetty here, so if you arrive on a larger boat, you may still have to step into shallow water or anchor and row ashore in a tender. The canoe trail guide can be referred to for further advice on tides.

Booking and Charges

All bookings for the bothy are coordinated through Mount Stewart reception on 028 4278 8387.  The charges, which go towards running, administration and maintenance costs, must also be paid in full before key collection. Charges are as follows:

 Bothy              £10 per person per night sharing OR

                        £80 for exclusive use of the bothy.

Please note that booking the use of the bothy includes the walled camping area at the front of the bothy and the fenced woodland at the back.  If you have booked exclusive use of the bothy, you have the right to ask others to vacate these areas if you so wish.  Having booked for an evening stay, we would expect visitors to be ready to vacate by midday, to allow the handover of use to the next visitors.

There is no charge for camping on the island, however some areas are designated ASSI and we would ask that no campfires are lit here (see attached map). If you are wild camping, we would encourage visitors to comply with the “Leave No Trace” policy, taking particular care to remove all litter and burry all human waste. 

Conditions of use and bothy ethos

The National Trust has made the island available for use in the understanding that all visitors will take an active role in the maintenance and upkeep of the bothy and island.

Please remember that this is a bothy and not a hotel. There are no members of staff responsible for regular maintenance and house keeping.  After you leave, nobody will clean it before the next group of visitors arrive.  If you choose to stay on the island, it is understood that you are also agreeing to help with the maintenance.  You can help us by ensuring your group complies with the following:

  • Please leave the bothy in the condition the following group would expect to find it.
  • Leave all furnishings and utensils clean and tidied away.
  • Brush and mop the floor before departure. A floor brush and mop are provided. 
  • There are no litter bins so you must take all your rubbish away with you.
  • Empty the ash from the wood burning stove and barbecues.
  • Prevent your group from climbing on the dry stone walls and replace any stones that have fallen off.
  • Leave the camp site tidy and free from stones and other objects.
  • The island is  grazed by sheep most of the year.  Dogs are therefore forbidden from the island. Unfortunately we have had incidents in the recent past where dogs have chased sheep off the island and these animals have then drowned.
  • The gate to the camping area in front of the bothy should be left open when the camp site is not in use.  This will allow the sheep to graze the grass short, preventing the growth of weeds etc.
  • Be considerate to the following group and leave dry firewood by the stove.
  • Please report any breakages or problems to National Trust.

If the bothy starts to create major maintenance issues for the already overstretched Strangford Lough Rangers, the National Trust will be forced to close down the bothy.  Please help us to ensure that this doesn’t happen. 

Further Volunteering

During your stay, there are many other ways you can help us to look after the island and its wildlife.  Why not collect litter washed up on the shore or help to repair some of the old walls?  You could help by recording any interesting wildlife observations in the bothy’s visitor.

The National Trust has set up a ‘Friends of the Bothy’ group to help keep the bothy and the island in good order.  We also organise regular volunteer projects at other sites all around the Strangford Lough area.  

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Tomasz Ciesielski on 07483335473


In an emergency, contact the coastguard (999) or the National Trust Strangford Lough Rangers – Will: 07796 312 550 or Tomasz: 07483 335 473.


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