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Torr Head

Tides and tools
Overview





Torr Head is situated on the northeast coast of Ireland about three miles south of Fair Head and twenty three miles north by west of Larne. Vessels may obtain an anchorage out of the main tidal stream here for a lunch stop or a tide-wait.

Torr Head is a stay-aboard anchorage in an area with extreme currents where a vessel should not be left unattended. Utilising both sides of the headland it offers good protection in settled or westerly component conditions but is completely exposed to anything from the east. Access is straightforward thanks to the absence of offshore dangers or any tidal restriction.
Please note

The direction and velocity of the tide should be the central feature of any navigation planning in this area.




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Keyfacts for Torr Head
Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
1 stars: Stay-aboard; lunch stop or tide-wait exposed or tenacious holding location where a vessel should not be left unattended.


Considerations
Restriction: strong to overwhelming tides in the locality


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterRemote or quiet secluded locationScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity
Facilities
Marked or notable walks in the vicinity of this location

Last modified
May 30th 2017; suggest a correction?

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Now Force

Summary* Restrictions apply

A stay-aboard location with straightforward access.

LWS draught

3 metres (9.84 feet).

Today's tide estimates

HW 01:46 (1.8m) LW 07:06 (0.5m)
HW 13:39 (1.9m) LW 19:36 (0.5m)
Now approaching Neaps

Swell today




Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
1 stars: Stay-aboard; lunch stop or tide-wait exposed or tenacious holding location where a vessel should not be left unattended.


Considerations
Restriction: strong to overwhelming tides in the locality


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterRemote or quiet secluded locationScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity
Facilities
Marked or notable walks in the vicinity of this location

Last modified
May 30th 2017; suggest a correction?

Position and approaches
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Haven position

55° 11.467' N, 006° 3.733' W

This is in Portaleen Bay 400 metres south of the Torr Head.

What is the initial fix?

The following Torr Head Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
55° 12.087' N, 006° 3.449' W
This is on the 30 metre contour 500 metres northeast of the headland.


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 the headland and anchor on its north or south sides according to prevailing conditions.



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 Torr Head for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line distance
  1. Murlough Bay - 1.3 miles WNW
  2. Cushendun - 2.4 miles SSE
  3. Ballycastle - 3.8 miles W
  4. Cushendall - 4.3 miles S
  5. Red Bay Pier (Glenariff Pier) - 4.7 miles S
  6. Church Bay - 4.7 miles NW
  7. Ballintoy Harbour - 6.8 miles WNW
  8. Carnlough Bay and Harbour - 7.5 miles SSE
  9. Glenarm Bay and Harbour - 8.6 miles SSE
  10. Portballintrae - 10.4 miles W
Ten nearest havens by straight line distance
  1. Murlough Bay - 1.3 miles WNW
  2. Cushendun - 2.4 miles SSE
  3. Ballycastle - 3.8 miles W
  4. Cushendall - 4.3 miles S
  5. Red Bay Pier (Glenariff Pier) - 4.7 miles S
  6. Church Bay - 4.7 miles NW
  7. Ballintoy Harbour - 6.8 miles WNW
  8. Carnlough Bay and Harbour - 7.5 miles SSE
  9. Glenarm Bay and Harbour - 8.6 miles SSE
  10. Portballintrae - 10.4 miles W
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 picturesque Torr Head provides an anchorage in a remote and beautifully unspoilt location. There is a small pier with a slip and a single house on the south side of the headland but apart from that there is nothing else here.

Convergance Point Vessels converging on Torr Head will find no outlying hazards north of Hangman and Maiden Rocks situated 18 miles to the southeast. Four hundred metres out from the slopes of the Antrim Mountains, which push out almost vertically to the coast in the vicinity, clears all dangers.




Initial fix location From the Torr Head initial fix, set approximately 500 metres to the northeast of the head, select the side of the headland that offers best shelter from the prevailing conditions and round the head as appropriate.




Haven location Work in to a depth of preference and find a sandy spot where it is possible to anchor in 3 to 9 metres. In Poertaleen Bay, on the south side of the head, shallower drafts will be available.


What's the story here?
Torr Head derives its name from the Irish Tor meaning ‘steep rocky height’. This aptly describes the headland that is an excellent example of metamorphosed limestone and indicative of Ireland and Scotland’s volcanic rock sequences.




With its very exposed location and its remarkable projecting headland jutting out into open sea, Torr Head provides a focal point for one of the most dramatic coastal landscapes in Northern Ireland. Throughout history it would often have been the last hope for Scottish clans beckoning aid from allies in Argyllshire which is highly visible across the North Channel. The walls and ruins of nearby Altagore Cashel, Altagore being English but Cashel means a heap of stones, mark its defensive nature. The structure dates back to the early Christian period 500-1200 A.D. and circular fortified farmsteads such as this were usually earthen mounds called raths inland. But Altagore Cashel remains today because areas such as Torr had rock in abundance as a construction material. Much larger versions such as Grianan of Aileach between Derry and Letterkenny were the residences of major clan chiefs.




Torr Head’s most important years date back to the 1800s when it recorded the passage of transatlantic ships. At this time, similar to Malin Head, it had a semaphore signalling station that relayed shipping information to Lloyds of London. It was one of the first places that had Marconi’s wireless telegraphy system installed. The old ruined buildings below Torr were once a customs house, and on the point the old lookout station. At the small harbour nestled in close to the shore on the south side of the headland, close north of Portaleen Bay, was an old salmon fishery.

Today Torr Head is off the beaten path and largely inaccessible. This lends an unspoilt nature to this coastline along with a strong sense of remoteness, tranquillity and naturalness. If time permits and a competent crew member can be left aboard to maintain an anchor watch, it is very much worthwhile launching the dinghy to land a shore party here. A hike aloft is rewarded by extensive panoramic views across the North Channel towards Islay, Kintyre, Ailsa Craig, Arran and the Rhins of Galloway. Likewise the area’s rolling moorland hills provide excellent walks through varied coastal geology that contain large swathes of semi-natural grasslands, scrub, pockets of broadleaved woodland and small rippling streams. But a boat watch must be maintained here as these dramatic slopes shelve quickly and fall away into deep turbulent waters. Currents roar through the North Channel here appearing like a fast flowing river off the headland.



From a purely sailing perspective Torr Head, akin to nearby Murlough Bay, provides a place to step out of the run of the current along this coastline. Although Torr Head's holding is not as good, it does offer higher cliffs that provide better shelter from the prevailing winds. This is a considerable advantage in this area making it a good place to await a favourable tide or to have a lunch break. With enough crew aboard to watch the boat and land a shore party, there is also the opportunity to enjoy the strong sense of remoteness and tranquillity the headland has to offer.




What facilities are available?
Apart from the small pier and slip on the south side of the head there is nothing ashore here.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred to a vessel anchored off Torr Head. Any vessel here will most likely be alone in this isolated corner of Ireland.


With thanks to:
Terry Crawford. Photography with thanks to Tracey Adams, Bernd Bragelmann, Giuseppe Milo, Michael Clarke, Van Helsing, Will Bakker, Anne Burgess, Colin Park, Ardfern, Bob Jones and Colin Park.


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Please zoom out to see the 'initial fix' for this location.
The above plots are not precise and indicative only.






















The following videos may be useful to help first time visitors familiarise themselves with the Torr Head area.

This video presents an overview of an approach from the road.





This video shows and aerial view of Altagore Cashel situated on private lands.





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