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Carnlough Bay and Harbour

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Overview





Carnlough is located on the northeast coast of Ireland about sixteen miles south of Fair Head and three miles northwest of Park Head. The harbour situated at the north end of Carnlough Bay offers berths to visiting yachts, with the possibility of anchoring in the bay itself in favourable conditions.

Tucked into the northern end of Carnlough Bay under the sheltering mountains, the harbour provides complete shelter and protection. Access is straightforward owing to the absence of offshore dangers, and two very conspicuous cylindrical towers at the entrance, plus leading marks. Drafts may vary substantially to more or less what is listed, depending on the build-up of kelp and the dredging schedule. Therefore it is recommended that the harbour should be approached at about half flood tide or enquiries made in advance.
Please note

Expect poorly marked marine farms to be in the surrounding area about a mile offshore. Carnlough harbour should be avoided in any developed onshore winds of force five or above. The harbour is small and constrained, and any vessel longer than ten metres will find the location challenging. Although there are berths for visiting yachts Carnlough harbour has limited wall space and is liable to be congested with local boats.




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Keyfacts for Carnlough Bay and Harbour
Facilities
Water available via tapDiesel fuel available alongsideGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableSlipway availableShore power available alongsideShore based toilet facilitiesHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet via a wireless access point availableDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaMarine engineering services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaBus service available in the areaTourist Information office availableHandicapped access supported


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsQuick 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
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierRestriction: may be subject to a sand barRestriction: may only reasonably accommodate vessels less than a specific lengthNote: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this locationNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require considerationNote: harbour fees may be charged

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
1 metres (3.28 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
September 21st 2018

Summary* Restrictions apply

A completely protected location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Water available via tapDiesel fuel available alongsideGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableSlipway availableShore power available alongsideShore based toilet facilitiesHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet via a wireless access point availableDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaMarine engineering services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaBus service available in the areaTourist Information office availableHandicapped access supported


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsQuick 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
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierRestriction: may be subject to a sand barRestriction: may only reasonably accommodate vessels less than a specific lengthNote: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this locationNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require considerationNote: harbour fees may be charged



HM  +44 28 272677      Ch.M1, 16
Position and approaches
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Haven position

54° 59.590' N, 005° 59.260' W

This is the position of the North Pier Head where a distinctive white tower stands with two black bands Fl G 3s 4m 5M.

What is the initial fix?

The following Carnlough Harbour Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
54° 59.437' N, 005° 59.009' W
This is approximately 400 metres southeast of the harbour upon the recommended line of approach. Track in on 310° into the harbour entrance where guiding leading marks will be seen.


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.

  • Avoid the fish farm to the east of Glenarm.

  • Approach on a bearing of no more than 305° T of the head of South Pier, to clear Black Rock, and then 310° T on the harbour’s leading marks.


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 Carnlough Bay and Harbour for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Glenarm Bay and Harbour - 1.2 miles SE
  2. Red Bay Pier (Glenariff Pier) - 3 miles NNW
  3. Cushendall - 3.3 miles NNW
  4. Ballygalley Bay - 4.4 miles SE
  5. Cushendun - 5.1 miles NNW
  6. Ferris Bay - 6.8 miles SE
  7. Brown’s Bay - 6.9 miles SE
  8. Larne Harbour - 7.2 miles SE
  9. Torr Head - 7.5 miles NNW
  10. Portmuck - 7.8 miles SE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Glenarm Bay and Harbour - 1.2 miles SE
  2. Red Bay Pier (Glenariff Pier) - 3 miles NNW
  3. Cushendall - 3.3 miles NNW
  4. Ballygalley Bay - 4.4 miles SE
  5. Cushendun - 5.1 miles NNW
  6. Ferris Bay - 6.8 miles SE
  7. Brown’s Bay - 6.9 miles SE
  8. Larne Harbour - 7.2 miles SE
  9. Torr Head - 7.5 miles NNW
  10. Portmuck - 7.8 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?
Carnlough Harbour
Image: Tourism Ireland


Located at the head of Carnlough Bay the village of Carnlough is situated on the shoreline fronted by a small old harbour. It sits at the foot of the beautiful Glencloy, the second of the ‘Nine Glens of Antrim’ with lush green surroundings.

Convergance Point The Glenarm Click to view haven entry provides directions for general approaches to the area as Carnlough is about two miles to the north of Glenarm, and Carnlough Bay and Glenarm Bay being separated only by the slight projecting curve of Straidkilly Point, may be considered as being the same.




Vessels passing between the two bays should stand out to avoid the always visible Black Rock situated immediately offshore of Straidkilly Point. A line of bearing of 305° T or less of the head of South Pier will keep a vessel clear of Black Rock. It is best to avoid Carnlough in fresh to strong onshore winds.

The small harbour tends to silt up and is dredged periodically so depths may vary dramatically. It has been reported that the harbour was dredged in 2010 to provide 2 metres but in 2013 the entrance is said to be as little as half a metre at LWS.


Initial fix location From the Carnlough Initial Fix come in on 310° T until the harbour entrance becomes visible.

The entrance is clearly marked by two six-metre cylindrical towers, white with two black bands, on either side. Both are lit with the North Pier Head Fl G 3s 4m 5M and the South Pier Head Fl R 3s 6m 5M, with the entrance between them being 18.5 metres wide.

South Pier Head - Fl.R.3s.6m.5M position: 54° 59.601'N, 005° 59.300'W

Closer in, the harbour’s leading marks will become discernible. They describe an in-line bearing of 310° T and consist of two inverted red triangles with white vertical lines. The rear leading mark is lower than the front and situated on the side of the shop store room which can make it difficult to identify. It is nevertheless essential to come in on transit to avoid rocks on either side of the harbour entrance that cover at high water.

Depths in the approach channel can be limited as silting takes place. It is said that there is 1.7 metres in the channel when the ledge on the port hand wall is covered.




Haven location Best berths are to be found alongside the 152-meter long Main Quay. This lies on the west side of the harbour, directly ahead on entry and below the leading marks.



Alternatively, the northern breakwater in the northeast section of the harbour may be used. However, the only place to come alongside this pier is the outer half; a vessel should not come in any closer than halfway between the slipway and the outer end of this wall.

Smaller boats can turn to port into the well-sheltered inner harbour. This opens the 60-metre long South Quay located on the south-eastern side of the harbour. However, this area is most likely to be taken up by local boats and their moorings.



In offshore winds, it is also possible to anchor in the bay 200 metres outside the harbour where good holding will be found in sand and gravel. It is reasonably shallow at the head of the bay and provides a good anchorage with westerly and north-westerly winds, but is exposed to easterly winds from north-northeast to south-southeast.




Why visit here?
Carnlough derives its name from the Irish Carnlach meaning ‘place of cairns’. It is believed that the name stems from a historical abundance of flint that was available in the valley area.


It was this abundance flint that attracted stone-age settlers to the valley as early as 6000BC. Flint was an essential ingredient for Mesolithic hunters and fishermen to fashion their tools and weapons at that time. Add to this multiple food sources such as the glen’s deer, wild pig, hare, fox, and wolf, and with the seashores fish and shellfish, it made for the perfect environment for primitive settlers. Numerous sites of archaeological significance refer to the ancient history of the glen and village.


The area was in turn invaded by the Vikings and the Normans during the age of conquest. But it was not until the 14th century that the area was completely controlled by the MacDonnells of Antrim. Also known as the MacDonnells of the Glens, they were a branch of warlike mercenaries from the Western Isles of Scotland ‘Clan MacDonald of Dunnyveg’. They came here in 1395 when John Mór MacDonald, then chief of the Clan MacDonald of Dunnyveg, escaped after a failed Scottish rebellion and was forced to flee. In Antrim, he entered into the service of King Richard II of England, and later King Henry IV.


The MacDonnells of Antrim became their own branch in 1558 when Somhairle Buidhe Mac Domhnaill, circa 1505 to 1590 and Anglicised to ‘Sorley Boy MacDonnell’, obtained the lordship of the territory in Ireland from the 6th chief of the Clan MacDonald of Dunnyveg. In exerting his control his clan came into open warfare with crown forces. ‘Sorley Boy’s’ fourth son Sir Randall MacDonnell, the first Earl of Antrim, made peace with the crown in 1603 and in return, the king granted him the Glens of Antrim and the north Antrim Route. He in turn granted around 25 lowland Scots families leases in the glens area. This 'plantation' of the glens gave rise to the unique mixture of Irish and Scots-Irish heritage in a place where both countries lay within sight of each other.




The village of Carnlough began life in the early seventeenth century as a small fishing settlement. The current harbour was built of limestone around 1850 by the Marchioness of Londonderry, who owned the quarries to the west of the village. Like the harbour, the railway bridge and a former town hall were all built from this local white limestone. After their construction, large quantities of the limestone were exported until 1945 having been transported from the quarries in the hills by a tram road. The harbour continued in service until the late 1950s when silting became a problem. In 2010 it was dredged and renovated for pleasure and small fishing boats.


An unexpected Carnlough ‘architectural claim to fame’ is the Georgian Londonderry Arms Hotel set in the centre of the village, which was once owned by Sir Winston Churchill. The attractive and stately hotel was built in 1850 and came to Churchill when he was Secretary of State for War. He took ownership as part of the estate he inherited from his great-grandmother, Frances Anne Vane, Marchioness of Londonderry.


Today Carnlough is an attractive and neat 18th-century village located in a stunning part of the country. Situated at the foot of Glencloy, the second of the nine beautiful Glens of Antrim, it is another walker’s paradise.

The Cranny Falls and Gortin walk is located just behind the village with steps leading uphill from the ‘Harbour Lights’ building to the return path. The off-road path on which it lies was the bed of the railway line to the quarry. The line was built in 1854 to transport limestone to the mill at Cranny Falls, a distance of about 4.8 km. It is an easy walk on a very gentle incline and well worthwhile. The 0.8km detour to the viewpoint in Gortin Quarry viewpoint is steeper but should not be missed as it offers superb views across Carnlough Bay.


Cranny Falls is a Local Nature Reserve where ‘Cranny’ is Gaelic for "place of many trees". However today the spring carpets of bluebells on the surrounding agricultural fields are all that remain of the former woodlands. A viewing platform over the Carnlough River provides a beautiful vista of the falls. A short distance south of Carnlough, nearby Glenarm has many other walks. Also, Glenariff to the north has the ‘Queen Of The Glens’ with its forest park and magnificent waterfall. So although a quaint and restful village, there is plenty to explore in Carnlough.




From a sailing perspective, Carnlough offers another good base from which a coastal cruiser may explore the beautiful ‘Glens of Antrim’.


What facilities are available?
Freshwater is available from a standpipe in the inner harbour, fuel is available nearby, and there is a slip for small craft. Amongst the village’s small general shops that serve a local population of 1500, is a post office which usually has a tourist representative in attendance. Refreshments are available in the many hostelries and small cafes in Carnlough village which are all near the quay. WiFi and Public toilets are also available beside the car park at Herbert Street.

A bus is available to Larne 15 miles (24.2km) to the south along the A2 Coast Road, and taxis can be called upon if required. Hull repairers, engineers and electricians are available in the vicinity.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred in Carnlough.


With thanks to:
Terry Crawford, local boatman of many decades and Charlie Kavanagh - ISA/RYA Yachtmaster Instructor/Examiner. Photography with thanks to Arnold Price, Robert Ashby, Oisin Patenall, VirtuaaliAnu, David Smith, Richard Luney, Kenneth Allen, Rossographer, KyleH, Donna Rutherford, David Hawgood, Dr Neil Clifton and DColt.


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