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Glenarm Bay and Harbour

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Overview





Glenarm is situated on the northeast coast of Ireland about eighteen miles south of Fair Head and two miles northwest of Park Head. The harbour offers a small marina which has some moorings available for visitors, with the possibility of anchoring outside in the bay in favourable conditions.

Tucked into the foot of Glenarm Bay under the sheltering mountains, the marina provides complete shelter and protection. Straightforward access is provided by the absence of offshore dangers or any tidal restriction and the entrance is unaffected by all winds between east-southeast through south to the north-northwest. However, expect poorly marked marine farms to be in the surrounding area about a mile offshore.
Please note

VHF communication with the harbour master can be unreliable owing to a signal blanket from adjacent hills. Also, poorly marked marine farms are reported to be in the area. In severe north-easterly conditions, the entrance would be highly challenging so it should not be taken for granted that this is a safe haven to run to in all conditions.




2 comments
Keyfacts for Glenarm Bay and Harbour
Facilities
Water available via tapWaste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsideGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableSlipway availableLaundry facilities availableShore power available alongsideShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaBus service available in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationMarina or pontoon berthing facilitiesAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Dangerous to enter when it is Beaufort force 5 or more from NNE, NE and ENE.Restriction: may only reasonably accommodate vessels less than a specific lengthNote: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this locationNote: harbour fees may be charged

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
2 metres (6.56 feet).

Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
5 stars: Complete protection; all-round shelter in all reasonable conditions.



Last modified
August 22nd 2018

Summary* Restrictions apply

A completely protected location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Water available via tapWaste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsideGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableSlipway availableLaundry facilities availableShore power available alongsideShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaBus service available in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationMarina or pontoon berthing facilitiesAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Dangerous to enter when it is Beaufort force 5 or more from NNE, NE and ENE.Restriction: may only reasonably accommodate vessels less than a specific lengthNote: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this locationNote: harbour fees may be charged



HM  +44 28 2884 1285      glenarmmarina@larne.gov.uk      Ch.M1 16, 37
Position and approaches
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Haven position

54° 58.156' N, 005° 57.068' W

This is the position of the pontoons in Glenarm Marina.

What is the initial fix?

The following Glenarm Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
54° 58.490' N, 005° 57.030' W
This is set 600 metres directly north of the entrance to the marina on the 10 metre contour.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in the northeast Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Malin Head to Strangford Lough Route location.

  • Vessels approaching from the south or southeast can choose to pass either side around the well-marked Hunter Rock and Maidens.

  • Avoid the fish farm to the east of Glenarm.


Not what you need?
Click the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons to progress through neighbouring havens in a coastal 'clockwise' or 'anti-clockwise' sequence. Below are the ten nearest havens to Glenarm Bay and Harbour for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Carnlough Bay and Harbour - 1.2 miles NW
  2. Ballygalley Bay - 3.2 miles SE
  3. Red Bay Pier (Glenariff Pier) - 4.2 miles NNW
  4. Cushendall - 4.5 miles NNW
  5. Ferris Bay - 5.6 miles SE
  6. Brown’s Bay - 5.7 miles SE
  7. Larne Harbour - 6 miles SE
  8. Cushendun - 6.2 miles NNW
  9. Portmuck - 6.6 miles SE
  10. Ballydowan - 6.6 miles SE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Carnlough Bay and Harbour - 1.2 miles NW
  2. Ballygalley Bay - 3.2 miles SE
  3. Red Bay Pier (Glenariff Pier) - 4.2 miles NNW
  4. Cushendall - 4.5 miles NNW
  5. Ferris Bay - 5.6 miles SE
  6. Brown’s Bay - 5.7 miles SE
  7. Larne Harbour - 6 miles SE
  8. Cushendun - 6.2 miles NNW
  9. Portmuck - 6.6 miles SE
  10. Ballydowan - 6.6 miles SE
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

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Chart
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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How to get in?
Glenarm Marina and the Altmore River
Image: Tourism Ireland


Situated at the head of Glenarm Bay the village of Glenarm lies at the mouth of the Altmore River where there is a small old harbour inset with a modern marina. The village sits at the foot of the first of the ‘Nine Glens of Antrim’ with its surrounds covered in woodland and fronted by a beach curving out eastward to Peaks Point.

Southern Approach Vessels approaching from the south will find few local hazards along this coast. The only outlying danger that needs to be circumvented are the well-marked rock clusters of the Maidens and Hunter Rock. The Maidens are situated eight miles to the southeast of Glenarm and Hunter Rock lies between the Maidens and Larne. Glenarm may be approached on either side of the Maidens and Hunter Rock.

Hunter Rock, with 0.8 metres of water over it, is a single well-marked shoal with North and South Cardinal Light buoys. Located between the Maidens and Larne it is the singular and only danger in this area.

North Hunter - VQ position: 54° 53.046’N, 005 45.114’W

South Hunter - VQ (6) + LFl 10s position: 54° 52.691’N, 005 45.284’W

The southern section of the Maidens consists of two clusters of rocks called the West and East Maiden that are separated from each other by a deep and wide sound.

They are situated 4 miles east out to sea from Ballygalley Head and are steep-to all round. The Maidens are marked by a lighthouse with a white tower and black band on the East Maiden plus the remains of a West Maiden lighthouse that was taken out of service in 1903.

Maidens Lighthouse - Fl (3) 20s 29m 24M position: 54° 55.748’N, 005° 43.709’W

The north cluster consists of three small rocks that are arranged in the form of a triangle. The western Russell’s Rock is 1.00 metre above high water, the eastern Highlandman Rock covers one hour before high water, and the southern or Allen Rock covers at high water. Rocky ledges extend both to the northward and southeast of the Allen Rock whilst the others are steep-to. A Highland Rock beacon shows their position.

Highlandman (Highland Rock) – unlit 1.5m position: 54°57.286'N, 005°43.935'W

Vessels passing between the mainland and the Maidens will find the four-mile stretch of water free from dangers. The entire inshore coastline from Larne Head to Park Head is steep-to and entirely clear of off lying dangers. Good depths will be found close with 400 metres from the rock clearing all dangers. Those working against the tidal streams may freely come close inshore here to take advantage of the reduced streams and useful counter-eddies in the bays.

Ballygalley Head is an 89 metres high round knuckle of a headland with a steep cliff and a base that is fringed by craggy basaltic rocks. Nearby stands the ruin of the ancient castle of Ballygally. It is possible to wait for a tide here tucked in around the head. From there the coastline is backed by a rocky mountain range attaining a height of 380 metres, and terminating in Park Head. This is a conspicuous headland of a nearly perpendicular 140 metres high cliff; there are some rocks at its foot and it is best to pass outside the yellow outflow buoy 300 metres to the northeast.

Peaks Point Buoy – Yellow Fl.(4).Y.12s position: 54° 58.275'N, 005° 55.861' W

Glenarm Bay then lies just over half a mile west of Park Head; a fish farm is situated to the east of Glenarm Bay.

This is an unusual stretch of water, as across the North Channel the Scottish Islands of North Islay, Mull of Kintyre, Rhyns of Galloway, Paps of Jura and Paddy's Milestone or Ailsa Craig, should also be visible.


Northern Approach Vessels approaching from the north will find few hazards in the immediate offshore area. The most significant landmark is the impressive Fair Head, Ireland’s northeast corner, situated eighteen miles north by northeast of Glenarm.

From Fair Head, the rugged Antrim mountain slopes push almost vertically out to the coast to Glenarm. At their foot, the water is steep-to and entirely clear of off lying dangers. Good depths will be found close in with 400 metres out from the rocks clearing all dangers. Likewise, those working against the tidal streams may freely come close inshore to make use of reduced streams and useful counter-eddies in the bays.




Carnlough Bay may be considered as part of Glenarm Bay, being separated only by a slight projecting curve of the coast called Straidkilly Point between Glenarm and Carnlough. Less than 150 metres off Straidkilly Point there is a single rock, Black Rock that is always visible above water. Avoid the fish farm in the east of Glenarm Bay on final approaches.


Glenarm Marina entrance as seen from inside the marina
Image: Tourism Ireland


Initial fix location From the Glenarm initial fix come south to enter the harbour between the east and west harbour pier heads. Both are marked with port Fl. R. 3s 3M and starboard Fl. G. 3s 3M lights. Expect 2.7 metres of water in the entrance to the marina set within the old harbour.


Glenarm Marina as seen from the north
Image: Joe Crawford


Haven location Once inside the pier heads there is a large sheltered area within the harbour with plenty of swinging room to prepare for berthing. The well-lit 60 berth marina is situated to the southwest of the entrance. It consists of two well-spaced finger pontoons supporting vessels up to 14 metres.

Glenarm Marina Pontoons
Image: Tourism Ireland


The marina is owned and operated by Larne Borough Council. No visitor berth bookings can be taken in advance as they are provided on a 'first-come-first-served' basis. However, the marina staff do all they can to accommodate all visitors. Typical overnight fees as of 2014 were in the order of £21 for an 11 metre (36 feet) vessel.

It is also possible to anchor outside in 2 to 4 metres directly north of the harbour. The bay affords good anchorage with westerly and north-westerly winds but is exposed to south-easterly winds.
Please note

There is no reception of RTE in the Glenarm area owing to radio shadow from the surrounding hills.




Why visit here?
Glenarm derives its name from Irish Gleann Arma meaning "valley of the army". In keeping with this deeply historic coastline, Glenarm’s story goes back to the dawn of recorded Irish history. In its time it has served as a Norman stronghold, a power base for Irish warlords and been a very important Irish port.

In the 5th to 7th centuries A.D., the beginning of the Early Christian period and earliest recorded Irish history, Glenarm was noted as the southeast point of the ancient Celtic Kingdom of Dal Riada Anglicised to 'Dalriada'. The kingdom straddled both sides of the Irish Sea covering the northeast corner of Antrim, from a line between Glenarm to Bushmills and the west side of Scotland that its people had conquered. The people of Dal Riada were known as 'Gaels' or 'Scotti' and the latter would give their name to the nation that would become Scotland. Today the Dal Riada side of Scotland is remembered in the name Argyle, derived from Ard - Geal 'coast of the Gael'. Dal Riada Chieftains frequently crossed the narrow sea to Scotland, most notably Derry's St. Colm Cille who converted the nation to Christianity, and ever since then there have been close links between the two lands. The inland boundary was formed by a watershed ridge of the Antrim hills with the area to south and west belonging to the Dal nAraide. Pronounced Dalnary this was another group of tribes who called the area Latharna.

During the early period of the Norman invasion they called the area Twescard. Derived from the Irish word Tuaisceart, meaning "north", it consisted of a much larger northern coastland from Glenarm and round to the Glens of Antrim to Inishowen in modern County Donegal. In 1210 the Anglo-Norman King John, 1199-1216, had taken control of the Earldom of Ulster. De Courcy was the original Norman leader to conquer Ulster but he backed King Richard in his power struggle with John. When John succeeded Richard he dismissed de Courcy from office and sent Hugh de Lacy to capture de Courcy and his lands. He then had to control Hugh de Lacy and granted land to those who had given him aid, primarily the Scoto-Norman de Galloways. This territory had only been partially conquered beforehand and the de Galloways fought hard to win the land.

At this time it is believed that King John, granted Glenarm a municipal charter. The charter incorporated Glenarm as a borough, which suggests that the Normans had established a presence in Glenarm in the early 13th Century and it would make Glenarm one of the oldest towns in Ireland. After King John's death in 1216, the resentful de Lacy sought to retake the earldom, even though it meant defying the new king of England, Henry III. In 1227, in return for giving two of his sons as a hostage, de Lacy was given the Earldom of Ulster back without the northern coastlands that had been granted to the de Galloways. De Lacy wasted little time in ignoring the terms of his reinstatement and drove the de Galloways out by granting a portion of their land to one of their traditional enemies, John Bisset. Henry III indulged his defiance of this reinstatement due to de Lacy's help in conquering the province of Connacht.

Bisset had previously lived in Scotland but the family forfeited their lands there and fled for their lives to Ireland after Walter de Bisset was accused of the murder of Patrick, Earl of Atholl, at Haddington, East Lothian in 1242. He promised to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but instead went to Glenarm where he rented a castle from the Bishop of Down and Connor, the castle that had probably been built by the de Galloways. The Bissetts would establish themselves as the Lords of the Glens of Antrim. They quickly became involved in the politics of the Irish province and were among the most Gaelicised of all the so-called Anglo-Norman families in Ireland.

During the medieval period, a settlement had developed around this castle situated at the mouth of the river. But this was a very unstable area especially in the 16th century after the flight of the Irish chiefs. Then the MacDonnell's, the O'Neill's, plus the Maguires and O'Donnells from across the river Bann, and the Crown all competed for power here. The area was a mercurial shifting landscape of political intrigues, quixotic allegiances and open warfare that was, as often as not, strategically manipulated by Queen Elizabeth agents empowering one clan over another. After a long war with Elizabeth I of England the area was earmarked for King James for the ‘Plantation of Ulster’.

Commencing at the start of the 17th century this was an ad hoc plantation of British mainly lowland Scots settlers, who being Protestant, were thought more likely to be loyal to the English Crown and would most likely tame this hostile and often volatile area. One of the 16-century problems that were targeted to be resolved, was the likes of Somhairle Buidhe Mac Domhnaill circa 1505 to 1590. Anglicised to ‘Sorley Boy MacDonnell’ he was the son of Alexander MacDonnell, lord of Islay and Kintyre and an Antrim Scoto-Irish prince or flaith. ‘Sorley Boy’ was best known for establishing the MacDonnell clan in Antrim by force of arms and for resisting the English crown’s best efforts to expel them from Ireland. ‘Sorley Boy’s’ fourth son was Sir Randall MacDonnell who in 1603 had made peace with the crown and was in good terms with the court. The king not only granted him Glenarm, but also his native Glens of Antrim and the north Antrim Route, during the Plantation.

On his return to Glenarm, Sir Randall McDonnell built a new castle on the opposite side of the river from the old one; the site of the present castle. He was created Viscount Dunluce, in the County of Antrim, in 1618, and Earl of Antrim in 1620. This new castle continued to be improved and added to until Sir Randal MacDonnell's death in 1636. The old castle was also repaired during this period as it was leased to kinsmen of the MacDonnells called the Donaldsons. Records show they still held the old castle until the late eighteenth century when it must have been abandoned and let go to ruin. But during the rebellion of 1641, Alexander MacDonnell, the Earl of Antrim's brother, who resided in Glenarm, fought on the native Irish side. They were crushed in 1642 by an invading Scots parliamentary army, under the command of General Robert Munro, who burnt Glenarm and laid low its castles. A peace settlement restored all the MacDonnell land but they chose not to rebuild their Glenarm castle, but moved to the north coast’s Dunluce Castle and later Ballymegarry.

The eighteenth century saw the return of Alexander the fifth Earl of Antrim to Glenarm and, with his funding, a number of major construction works were begun. In 1756 a new castle was built as a Palladian mansion over the remains of the castle destroyed in 1642. Likewise in 1763 Lord Antrim agreed to the construction of St. Patrick's Church of Ireland on the site of the domestic quarters of an abandoned Franciscan friary. St. Patrick’s Church, or Tickmacrevan, was completed in 1769 in an early Gothic style. The name Tickmacrevan means ‘The house of MacCrevan'. MacCrevan was a disciple of St. Patrick whose remains are buried as venerable relics inside the original church which stood on a site further up the glen 1100 years ago. St. Patrick's Church was altered in the 1870’s by the then Lady Antrim to reflect her preference for the English Anglo-Catholic revival known as the Oxford movement. Similarly the castle has been extended ever since particularly by Anne Catherine McDonnell, Countess of Antrim, in the 1820’s. She had the dream of a romantic fairytale castle and added the towers, turrets, crenellations, and the dramatic Barbican Gate that is the entrance to Glenarm Castle.

Alongside this, Glenarm port developed to be an important port of some standing as far back as the 1400s. The harbour was unique in that some Scottish destinations were visible due to its strategic position. The Harbour at New Row dates from the 15th century. The river moorings continued to the other side of the road bridge to the warehousing behind the merchants' houses in the current Toberwine Street. The present pier dates from the 1860s, when thousands of tonnes of limestone and iron ore were exported every year, feeding the iron foundries of Scotland.

Today the village is now a Conservation Area with many quaint shops and pubs centred around the imposing Barbican Gate at Glenarm Castle. The gate makes for a major feature of the village which also has fine examples of Georgian architecture. From the top of the main street, Altmore Street, a short walk leads through the gate to Glenarm Forest. It is the first of many outstanding walking opportunities that are the major feature of Glenarm.

Entered off Altmore Street, Glenarm Forest Park is an 800-acre nature reserve once part of the demesne of Glenarm Castle that is now in public ownership. This is a very gentle two-mile forest walk in pleasant and quiet surroundings providing views across the glen to Glenarm Estate and Castle. Much of the walk is along the bank of the little river that runs through the village to the sea. A picnic site is provided under a delightful tree canopy and is an ideal location for a rest or meal.

Another immediately accessible walk is the 'Layde Walk' around the village on the Coast Road. Pass along the main Toberwine Street that leads uphill onto the winding side street 'The Vennel' to the 'Layde Walk'. This was once an artificial waterway, which took water from further up the glen down to the early business installations at the harbour. This old waterway now makes an almost purpose-built mile-long circular walk walkway with rewarding views. It is mostly on a road ascending to a viewpoint that offers spectacular views of the village and its surroundings. At the end of this delightful path, there is the possibility to turn left onto Dickeystown Road where the remains of the old limestone quarry can be seen at the end of this road.

Finally, there is the Glenarm Coastal Walk which is a two-mile route south of the village beside the famous County Antrim Coast road. It commences at The Forest Service car Park which is about 150 metres through the "Town Gate" at the top of Altmore Street in Glenarm village. Picnic tables are also provided along the path and there are several opportunities to descend to the stony beaches via well-worn rough tracks. The towering white limestone cliffs of Minnis North, tower above the route. These were formed from deposits of skeletal remains of fish when the area was submerged in a warm tropical sea about 140 million years ago. The walk features spectacular views to the north which include Glenarm Forest, Carnlough Bay, Gortin Quarry and Garron Point. To the east, the Scottish Islands of North Islay, Mull of Kintyre, Rhyns of Galloway, Paps of Jura and Paddy's Milestone or Ailsa Craig can be seen across the North Channel.



Glenarm Castle continues to be the private residence ancestral home of the McDonnells, Earls of Antrim, who have been in Glenarm for nearly 600 years. The imposing Barbican Gate entrance is set at the heart of the village. It opens for two days a year, during a very popular festival held in July, where a guided tour may be a possibility for vessels visiting at this time.

From a boating perspective, Glenarm has long been a port of call for sailors and yachtsmen. For boats making north or southbound passages through the North Channel, or indeed crossing from the Western Isles of Scotland, it makes for a very convenient stop off point. Moreover, it offers a deep, secure Marina with quick access and, being both non-tidal and having the benefits of navigational lights, is available at all times. This also allows mariners to make a perfectly timed exit to take full advantage of a favourable tidal stream which is essential for passage making along this coast.



But there is much more than practicalities to bring a yachtsman to Glenarm. It is a very attractive berth set into a historical limestone harbour with the most charming and interesting village immediately ashore. The Glen, in which it lies is beautiful and the southernmost of the magnificent nine Glens of Antrim. It is one of the most beautiful coasts in Ireland, and for those interested in venturing ashore into a walker’s paradise, Glenarm is the gateway for exploring these glens situated throughout the northeast. It is fair to say Glenarm has effectively got it all.


What facilities are available?
All the marina berths are serviced with water, diesel and electricity, and a shower and toilet block is available in the marina facility. General shopping that includes a very good SPAR mini-supermarket, and a butcher, are located in the village plus there are public toilets beside the car park. There is a good restaurant in the adjacent town of Carnlough, which is a two to three miles walk or a £5 taxi journey, and the town has more shops, pubs and a hotel.

Glenarm lies on the A2 Coast Road 11 miles from Larne, and a bus service is available to Coleraine, Larne and Belfast.


Any security concerns?
The Marina has secure coded gate access to pontoons.


With thanks to:
Terry Crawford, local boatman of many decades, Charlie Kavanagh and John Leahy, ISA/RYA Yachtmaster Instructor/Examiner navigation and sail trainers. Photography with thanks to GlenarmCastle, Man vyi, Nygel Gardner, Albert Bridge, Will Bakker, Oisin Patenall, Colin & Glenda Clarke, Jo Turner, Iker Merodio, Kenneth Allen, Jonathan BIllinger, Bob Jones, Rossographer and Sue Adair.


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






























A quick view of the marina area




Photo montage of Glenarm and Carnlough.



A photograph is worth a thousand words. We are always looking for bright sunny photographs that show this haven and its identifiable features at its best. If you have some images that we could use please upload them here. All we need to know is how you would like to be credited for your work and a brief description of the image if it is not readily apparent. If you would like us to add a hyperlink from the image that goes back to your site please include the desired link and we will be delighted to that for you.


Add your review or comment:


Dave Wall wrote this review on Aug 20th 2018:

The pic above 'looking out through Glenarm's Marina entrance' is actually the entrance to Carnlough harbour, to the north of Glenarm.

Average Rating: Unrated


Michael Harpur wrote this review on Aug 22nd 2018:

Hi Dave,
Thank you for spotting that. I have now updated the photo with the correct Glenarm image. Many thanks for spotting that issue. Any further issues, please do not hesitate.
Many thanks again, Michael Harpur.

Average Rating: Unrated

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