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.
Keyfacts for The Lower River Bann
SummaryA completely protected location with careful navigation required for access.
Position and approaches
Haven position55° 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?
What are the key points of the approach?
- 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?
How to get in?
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.
A vessel can effectively anchor anywhere in the river provided they are close to 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.
Why visit 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.
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 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.
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.
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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