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The Lower River Bann

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Overview





The River Bann exits Ireland’s northern coast about midway between the entrance to Lough Foyle and Ramore Head where Portrush Harbour is located. The river offers the potential to freely anchor off the main channel or to pick up moorings, berth in a marina or explore inland waterways.

The River Bann provides complete protection and all round shelter. River access is straightforward between well-lit stone training walls assisted by alignment beacons and leading lights. Once through the entrance there are no issues progressing up the well-marked river to Coleraine Marina. The entrance however is subject to swell, outflow overfalls, and a dangerous surf in moderately adverse conditions where careful planning is required. In the worst case, with north and northwest gales, the sea breaks right across it rendering it impassable. Consequently no attempt should be made by a newcomer in any onshore winds of Force 6 or above.
Please note

As a rule when overfalls are visible on the approach or the sea is noticeably breaking upon the pierheads, an entry should not be attempted. Furthermore, it is best to plan an approach to be at slack water or the first of a rising tide. The town quay requires a bridge lift for vessels of any airdraft.




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Keyfacts for The Lower River Bann
Approaches
2 stars: Careful navigation; good visibility and conditions with dangers that require careful navigation.
Shelter
5 stars: Complete protection; all-round shelter in all reasonable conditions.


Considerations
Note: strong tides or currents in the area that require considerationNote: overfalls, tidal rips or breakers in the vacinity


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring location
Facilities
(None)


Last modified
May 30th 2017; suggest a correction?

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Now Force

Summary

A completely protected location with careful navigation required for access.

LWS draught

3 metres (9.84 feet).

Today's tide estimates

LW 03:19 (0.8m) HW 09:49 (2.2m)
LW 15:51 (0.8m) HW 22:26 (2.3m)
Now approaching Neaps

Swell today




Approaches
2 stars: Careful navigation; good visibility and conditions with dangers that require careful navigation.
Shelter
5 stars: Complete protection; all-round shelter in all reasonable conditions.


Considerations
Note: strong tides or currents in the area that require considerationNote: overfalls, tidal rips or breakers in the vacinity


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring location
Facilities
(None)


Last modified
May 30th 2017; suggest a correction?

Position and approaches
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Haven position

55° 9.893' N, 006° 44.766' W

This is just over a mile upriver from the entrance. The river tends to the northeast here behind the beach’s sand-hills. It is on the northeast side of the river, upstream of the old Coastguard Station, and is a well used anchorage locally known as Dougan’s Bay.

What is the initial fix?

The following River Bann Entrance Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
55° 10.656' N, 006° 46.493' W
It is approximately six hundred metres north-northwest of the river entrance. It is set in open water, upon the 10 metre contour, in the 165° alignment of leading lights that lead between the pierheads. An approach of 165° will lead through the entrance from here.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in the east and southbound Route location or north and westbound Route location sequenced 'Malin Head to Strangford Lough' coastal description.

  • Approach Barmouth's conspicuous training walls east of north and identify the leading marks.

  • Steer in keeping the transits in-line on 165°T and then follow the marks upriver.



Not what you need?
Try our Advanced Havens Search tool to find locations with the specific attributes you need, or click the 'Next', coastal clockwise, or 'Previous', coastal anti-clockwise, buttons to progress through neighbouring havens. Below are the ten nearest havens to The Lower River Bann for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line distance
  1. Seatons Marina - 1.2 miles ESE
  2. Coleraine - 1.7 miles ESE
  3. Portrush Harbour - 2.4 miles NE
  4. White Bay - 4.5 miles WNW
  5. Portnocker - 4.5 miles WNW
  6. Portballintrae - 4.7 miles ENE
  7. Cornashamma Bay - 4.7 miles WNW
  8. Portkill - 4.8 miles NW
  9. Silver Strand - 4.8 miles WNW
  10. Magilligan Point - 4.8 miles WNW
Ten nearest havens by straight line distance
  1. Seatons Marina - 1.2 miles ESE
  2. Coleraine - 1.7 miles ESE
  3. Portrush Harbour - 2.4 miles NE
  4. White Bay - 4.5 miles WNW
  5. Portnocker - 4.5 miles WNW
  6. Portballintrae - 4.7 miles ENE
  7. Cornashamma Bay - 4.7 miles WNW
  8. Portkill - 4.8 miles NW
  9. Silver Strand - 4.8 miles WNW
  10. Magilligan Point - 4.8 miles WNW
Alternatively the above can be ordered by compass direction or coastal sequence


How to get in?
Please use our integrated Navionics chart to appraise the haven and its approaches. Navionics charts feature in premier plotters from B&G, Raymarine, Magellan and are also available on tablets. Open the chart in a larger viewing area by clicking the expand to 'new tab' or the 'full screen' option.

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The River Bann is the longest river in Ulster, with the Lower and Upper Bann combined its length is 129 km or 80 miles. Exiting into the Atlantic at Barmouth, on the north coast, the river winds its way from its source in the Mourne Mountains, situated in the southeast corner of Northern Ireland, pausing in the middle to widen into the enormous Lough Neagh.


Convergance Point The River Bann is entered at Barmouth that is detailed in the Colerain Click to view haven entry. Once inside the river it is simply a matter of following the well marked Coleraine river channel that maintains a uniform width of about 200 metres and depth of 3.4 metres to Coleraine.


Haven locationA vessel can effectively anchor anywhere in the river provided they are close into the edge and out of the channel and out of the way of commercial shipping. Vessels must carry an anchor light throughout the night.

The popular anchoring location provided is on the northeast side of the river behind the sand-hills and upstream of the old Coastguard Station. It is known locally as Dougan’s Bay where moorings marked by a yellow buoy are reportedly available. These are maintained by Coleraine Yacht Club for the use of visiting boats.




What's the story here?
The River Bann derives its name from the Irish An Bhanna. This name itself stems from the earlier name Banda that is the conjunction of the words ban and dea that mean 'a goddess'. Naming of rivers after deities was not uncommon in pagan Ireland, Wexford’s ‘Bann’ and Cork’s ‘Bandon’ are derived from similar origins.

Northern Ireland’s River Bann is a significant river being Ulster’s longest, and it ranks amongst a handful of others that contend for being the longest in Ireland. The river flows for a total of 129 kilometres, or 80 miles, from the Mountains of Mourne to Barmouth. It is a river made up of two halves; the Upper and Lower Bann. The Upper Bann is where the river rises in the Mourne Mountains. It flows from here into the enormous Lough Neagh which is the largest inland lough in the British Isles. The Lower Bann flows from the northern end of the Lough, through Lough Beg, to Barmouth and it is tidal for its last eleven km.

The Upper Bann flows 64 kilometers, 40 miles, into Lough Neagh at Bannfoot, County Armagh. This stretch is one of the most popular coarse fishing rivers in Europe. At Portadown the Upper Bann was connected to the now disused Newry Canal. This linked Lough Neagh with Warrenpoint Click to view haven on Carlingford Lough and the Irish Sea beyond. The remarkable waterway was constructed between 1730 and 1741 which makes it the oldest in the British Isles. There have been several unsuccessful attempts to reopen the Newry Canal and talks of its re-establishment are on-going.

The Lower Bann flows from Lough Neagh at Toome to the Atlantic Ocean at Portstewart creating the border between County Antrim and County Londonderry. It is very popular with water sports enthusiasts, anglers and cruisers. The river is 64 kilometres, 40 miles, long and is a canalised waterway with five navigation locks at Toome, Portna, Movanagher, Carnroe and Castleroe. This fifty one km, thirty eight miles, canalised river is navigable from Barmouth to Lough Neagh with just five locks, including a double lock, and with long stretches of open water. Boats no larger than 30 metres, beam 6.0 metres, draft 1.3 metres plus a maximum air draft of 3.3 metres at low water neaps can comfortably cruise to Lough Neagh. Directions for this passage may be obtained from the Department of Agriculture at The Cuts, P: +44 28 70 342357 and a pilot is available from the River Bann and Lough Neagh Association, Drumslade, Coleraine.

For smaller vessels dropping the mast and going all the way through to Lough Neagh is a very attractive proposition. This is a beautiful run with green fields and natural woodlands on the riverbanks plus salmon fishing off the boat. Lough Neagh’s 396 square km, 153 square miles, 24km wide and 29km long, and 12 metres deep, offers sailing freedom without any airdraft restrictions. It is extremely popular for sailing regattas and further serves as a base for numerous canoeing, rowing and sailing clubs that are active throughout the year. The shores of the Lough are steeped in Ireland's most ancient history. For instance the 9000 years old human artefacts discovered at Toome Bay are amongst the oldest in Ireland. Indeed the River Bann’s importance as a source and route has shaped the history of Northern Ireland.

Those who come in and anchor immediately within Barmouth will find the Bann Estuary a Special Site of Scientific Interest and a National Trust Nature Reserve. This is due to it playing host to at least four thousand over wintering wild fowl and wading birds. This area is also the site of some of the U.K's rarest, coastal plants and flowers. The route of the Lower Bann is also accompanied by the two National Cycle Networks of the thirty three mile long NCN Route 96 from Toome to Coleraine and the forty mile long NCN Route 93 from Coleraine to Castlerock.



The Lower Bann is not just a convenient location off the major seaways with a perfectly secure anchorage, it is a destination for boatmen where there are a wide range of local activities. With the complete protection and the potential to cruise Lough Neigh plus the excellent provisioning available at Coleraine, the Lower Bann is a key resource for the Causeway Coast cruiser.


What facilities are available?
There are no facilities at this remote anchorage. Four miles upriver Coleraine has a long commercial quay that is close to the busy town plus a marina, and all facilities are available there.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred to a boat on anchor in the River Bann.


With thanks to:
Terry Crawford, local boatman of many decades. Photography with thanks to Albert Bridge, P Flannagan, Lindy Buckley, Shane Killen and Des Colhoun.


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