Lecale Conservation have written to the National Trust to place on record our formal complaint about the ongoing unavailability of the bunk-style accommodation and kitchen facilities on the Trust’s Salt island that was previously widely used by visitors to Strangford Lough. We are calling on the National Trust to relinquish control of the Bothy to other tourism interests if they cannot manage it.

Lecale Member and Councillor for Downpatrick, Cadogan Enright said; “This is a great loss to local water enthusiasts and tourists alike. I represent Newry Mourne and Down District Council on the Strangford Lough and Lecale Coast Management Advisory Committee these last 15 years. I am also the Chair of the largest canoe club in these parts – the Loch Cuan Canoe Club.”

“I have always been a strong supporter of the National Trust and have so far to date limited myself to friendly encouragement of the staff at Mount Stewart. But my youngest child has grown up during the period the Bothy has not been available. This is not acceptable, and the situation needs to be fixed now”. The Bothy on Salt Island made an excellent base for Lough visitors. I made several polite requests to the NT when it was closed for 5 years over some minor vandalism. I also had volunteer groups seeking to repair the Bothy at no charge to the National Trust, but we were turned down.”

“We had a brief period of months where it was opened before it was once again closed due to Covid19. We are now entering the third years of closure over Covid. This means that next year we will be looking at a situation where the Bothy has not been available for 8 of the last 10 years. This is not acceptable. I will now be raising this issue at the Strangford and Lecale Coast Committee to bring pressure on the Trust. I know the Trust sees itself as a Charitable Trust that operates like an old-fashioned landlord, but with an environmental and conservation ethos. But they are also dependent on ongoing support of the population here in County Down. They need to manage their assents and provide access to the public by way of walks like the Dundrum Coastal Path or on water like the Bothy. Their facilities and public access offerings need to evolve to adapt to the increasing need to see our local population both active and healthy in the natural environment in a manner sensitive to nature that surrounds them.”

Lecale Conservation undertake an annual clean up of Strangford Lough and it’s 108 islands, camping overnight and partaking in the Big Butterfly Count at the same time – a staple activity of the Youth Group. See more about the Youth Groups work here.