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The Lower River Bann

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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 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

About The Lower River Bann

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 kilometres, 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 overwintering wildfowl 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 miles 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 boaters may avail of 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.

Other options in this area

Click the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons to progress through neighbouring havens in a coastal 'clockwise' or 'anti-clockwise' sequence. Alternatively here are the ten nearest havens available in picture view:
Coastal clockwise:
Portrush Harbour - 2.4 miles NE
Portballintrae - 4.7 miles ENE
Ballintoy Harbour - 8.6 miles ENE
Ballycastle - 10.9 miles E
Church Bay - 12.6 miles ENE
Coastal anti-clockwise:
Seatons Marina - 1.2 miles ESE
Coleraine - 1.7 miles ESE
Magilligan Point - 4.8 miles WNW
Foyle Port Marina (Derry City) - 13.5 miles WSW
Culmore Bay - 11.8 miles WSW

Navigational pictures

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