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Red Bay Pier (Glenariff Pier)

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Overview





Red Bay is situated on the northeast coast of Ireland approximately thirteen miles south of Fair Head and three miles northwest of Garron Point. The expansive bay offers a range of anchoring opportunities in a stunning location.

Red Bay is situated on the northeast coast of Ireland approximately thirteen miles south of Fair Head and three miles northwest of Garron Point. The expansive bay offers a range of anchoring opportunities in a stunning location.

Red Bay offers good protection from all winds between southeast, through west to northwest and can be considered the best anchorage on this part of the coast. Nevertheless, it is an open bay that is exposed to the north and east. Access is straightforward thanks to the absence of offshore dangers or any tidal restrictions although poorly marked marine farms are in the area.



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Keyfacts for Red Bay Pier (Glenariff Pier)
Facilities
Shop with basic provisions availableHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the areaPost Office in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationJetty 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
Note: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this locationNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require consideration

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
3 metres (9.84 feet).

Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
4 stars: Good; assured night's sleep except from specific quarters.



Last modified
December 24th 2022

Summary

A good location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Shop with basic provisions availableHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the areaPost Office in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationJetty 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
Note: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this locationNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require consideration



Position and approaches
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Haven position

55° 3.940' N, 006° 3.170' W

This is the position Red Bay or Glenariff pierhead, where a light stands Fl 3s 10m 5M, at the north end of Red Bay.

What is the initial fix?

The following Red Bay Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
55° 4.071' N, 006° 0.592' W
This is situated a third of a mile northeast of the fish farm located between the Red Bay pier and Garron Point. This is set to keep southern approaching vessels clear of the fish farm and vessels approaching from other direction may approach directly as the fish farm is the only outlying danger in Red Bay.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in northeast Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Malin Head to Strangford Lough Route location.
  • Avoid the fish farm situated on the south side of the bay.

  • Approach on a bearing of 255° T of the seaward face of Lurigethan the unmistakable steep 350-metre-high mountain that forms a long ridge on the north side of the inshore glen.


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 Red Bay Pier (Glenariff Pier) for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Cushendall - 0.6 nautical miles N
  2. Cushendun - 3.7 nautical miles N
  3. Carnlough - 4.9 nautical miles SSE
  4. Glenarm - 6.8 nautical miles SSE
  5. Torr Head - 7.5 nautical miles N
  6. Murlough Bay - 8.9 nautical miles NNW
  7. Ballycastle - 10.7 nautical miles NW
  8. Ballygalley Bay - 12 nautical miles SE
  9. Church Bay - 14.4 nautical miles NNW
  10. Ballintoy Harbour - 15.3 nautical miles NW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Cushendall - 0.6 miles N
  2. Cushendun - 3.7 miles N
  3. Carnlough - 4.9 miles SSE
  4. Glenarm - 6.8 miles SSE
  5. Torr Head - 7.5 miles N
  6. Murlough Bay - 8.9 miles NNW
  7. Ballycastle - 10.7 miles NW
  8. Ballygalley Bay - 12 miles SE
  9. Church Bay - 14.4 miles NNW
  10. Ballintoy Harbour - 15.3 miles NW
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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What's the story here?
Red Bay as seen from Lurigetha
Image: Tourism NI


The extensive and picturesque Red Bay, also known as Waterfoot Bay, is entered between Garron Point and Limerick Point situated 3¼ miles to the northwest. Red Bay Pier, also known as Glenariff Pier, extends from the northwest shore and the small village of Waterfoot, also known as Glenarrif, stands in the valley a ½ mile to the southwest. A small stream flows along the flat foot of the valley to empty itself near the village. Immediately inland and running far into the interior is the U-shaped valley of Glenariff bounded on either side by precipitous hills. The largest and most popular of the Glens of Antrim, it is often called the 'Queen of the Glens'.


The mouth of the valley's small stream with Lurigetha in the backdrop
Image: Michael Harpur


Red Bay is a clean bay that provides good anchorage with excellent fine sand holding. The bight's deep recess enables vessels to tuck in out of the current and with its depths decreasing gradually to the shore it is easy to enter and anchor off.


Red Bay Pier, also known as Glenariff Pier
Image: Michael Harpur


However, expect to anchor out and use some chain as most of the inner bay area out to about the 7-metre contour is a preserve for seagrass beds. Likewise be aware that even moderate south or southwest winds blow with great violence down the valley here, coming off in heavy squalls. Vessels working their way in should be prepared for this and when these conditions exist expect it to be a characteristic of any stay. This is typically not an issue owing to the bay’s highly reliable holding.


Red Bay Pier
Image: Michael Harpur


Vessels can temporarily come alongside the pier that has 2.9 metres at its head. However, the wall is rough and is best avoided by vessels without a fender-board. It is also possible to lie at moorings with stem warps out to the pier. But do not rely on this in easterly winds as it is subject to a heavy swell.


How to get in?
Red Bay as seen from the northwest
Image: Michael Harpur


Convergance Point Offshore details are available in northeast Ireland’s coastal overview for Malin Head to Strangford Lough Route location. Red Bay’s approaches are clear of dangers east or north and being about 5 miles to the north of Glenarm Click to view haven its entry can be used for local hazards of the southern approaches. In all cases, the direction and velocity of the tide should be the central feature of any navigation planning in this area.


Garron Point
Image: Tourism NI


The bay is made unmistakable from seaward by the bold and precipitous headland of Garron Point that rises abruptly to a height of 230 metres. It is a highly conspicuous headland with no outlying dangers and good depths close in. The hills of Red Bay then rise immediately inshore to 350 metres in height that are intersected by the valley running into the interior. A berth of 400 metres clears all dangers here. Expect a poorly marked fish farm to be on the south side of Red Bay as well as about a mile offshore of Glenarm.


Lurigethan as seen from a seaward approach
Image: Burke Corbett


Initial fix location The Red Bay initial fix is 1.9 miles from the pier on a bearing of 255° T set on the seaward face of Lurigethan. Lurigethan is an unmistakable steep 350-metre-high mountain that forms a long ridge on the north side of the inshore glen. At first, the pier may be difficult to pick out from seaward but when tracking in it will appear on the shoreline at the foot of Lurigethan.


Red Bay Pier as seen from seaward
Image: Burke Corbett


Haven location Anchor according to conditions. The most used options are off the pierhead in 4 metres with depths decreasing gradually to the shore. In west or northwest winds a good anchorage can be found to the southwest of Glenariff Pier. Depths of up to 2.5 metres will be found here with a sandy bottom shoaling gradually to the shore.

Fishing boats moored in Red Bay
Image: Michael Harpur


In strong south or even southeast gales, the best anchorage is to be found in the southernmost corner about a ½ mile out for the head of the bay. This is inshore of the inner of the two ruined piers that are situated on the southern shore.


Red Bay's lofty southern shore leading in from Garron Point
Image: Tourism NI


The ruins of the pier run out 110 metres with a figure of some sort usually perched on the outermost portion. Anchor to the west of the ruin, and approximately 400 metres north of a white stone arch on the shore where 3 to 4 metres of water will be found.


It is possible to come alongside Red Bay or
lie at moorings with stem warps out to the pier

Image: Michael Harpur


Vessels that can take to the bottom could explore the Glenariff River. It can be entered at half tide with good water obtainable from springs in the vicinity.


Why visit here?
The pier at Red Bay, in Irish 'Cuan an Deirg', close to its village of Waterfoot is known by two names, Red Bay Pier and Glenariff Pier.


A red sandstone cliff exposure and cave beneath the castle ruin
Image: Tourism NI


The place name’s 'red' element stems from the ancient Irish name 'Uaimh Dhearg' 'red cave. This describes the exposed red sandstone cliffs that rise above the pier and continue along on the north side of the bay that had caves. Caves can be seen in the red sandstone cliffs above the pier today, with the three main ones having been used as dwellings in the past. One of which called Nanny's Cave was last inhabited by a woman called Anne Murray as late as 1847, another cave was used as a smith's forge, and the third was an 18th-century school. There is also another cave here that is believed to have been an escape route from the 16th-century MacDonnells castle situated above. In 1849 workmen found two bronze axes, a stone axe and some silver coins in this cave. The 'red' name extended to the bay as a result of eroded sandstone washing down from these cliffs and caves to cause residual reddish sands along the shoreline.


Eroded sandstone give the shoreline its residual reddish sands
Image: Tourism NI


Situated at the foot of Glenariff the pier’s other name clearly comes from its close proximity to the impressive Glen. The name Glenariff stems from the Irish 'Gleann Airimh' meaning 'valley of the ploughman / arable valley'. This describes the glen’s flat central plain that was formed some 10,000 years ago as the result of melting ice caps. The glen’s classic U-shape is that of a typical glacial cut valley. The area name for the valley’s wide foot where the village of Waterfoot is situated also reflects the origins of the Glenariff name. The townland is called Foriff which is derived from the Irish word 'Foirbh' meaning 'pasture'.


Glenariff is derived from the the Irish 'Gleann Airimh' meaning
'valley of the ploughman' or 'arable valley'

Image: Tourism NI


This area is steeped in history as is well witnessed by Tievebulliagh, situated close northwest of Lurigethan, where a famed Neolithic flint factory existed - see Cushendall External link. The magnificent slopes of the Lurigethan, whose summit towers above Glenarriff, Red Bay, and the town of Cushendall, play host to an Iron Age promontory fort. Lurigethan, also known as 'Lurigedan' or simply 'Lurig', derives its name from Irish where 'lurga', means a 'shin', often applied to a long low ridge or a long strip of land, and 'eadan' means the brow or forehead.


The glen's U-shape that is typical of a glacial cut valley
Image: Tourism NI


Lurigethan's fort was called 'Dun Clan na Mourna' and was believed to be manned from approximately 500 B.C. to 500 A.D. The name references the 'Fianna', which was dominated by 'Clan Bascna', led by 'Cumhal', and 'Clan Morna', led by Goll. After the Battle of Knock, 'Cumhal' is killed by the 'Morna' clan and 'Clan Bascna's' treasure bag is stolen. The fort is also known as 'Lignafenia' meaning the 'hollow of the warriors' that refers to 'Fionn mac Cumhaill', or 'Finn MacCool', the leader of the 'Fianna'. He was a mythical hunter-warrior of Irish mythology who also occurs in the mythologies of Scotland and the Isle of Man. Tradition has it that at one time Lurigethan was the home of 'Fionn mac Cumhaill' and his son the Celtic warrior-poet 'Ossian'.


Lurigethan overwatching the pier
Image: Michael Harpur


The banks and ditches that outline early promontory ramparts can be clearly seen on Lurigethan’s slopes today. Enclosed within them are a series of oval-shaped barrows and sub-rectangular hollows that could be the remains of sunken houses. Archaeologists likened this to similar promontory forts, of the early Iron Age, in Western Britain and Brittany. Legend has it that the megalithic court cairn on a hillside in Lubitavish, near the Glenaan River, is the burial place of 'Ossian'.


The commanding vista of the 16th-century castle
Image: Michael Harpur


The remains of the 16th-century MacDonnells castle overlooking the pier took its 'red' name from a cave in the red sandstone cliff underneath it. Situated on a headland that projects into the sea the location commanded magnificent views of the bay and coast. The site was originally a Norman 'motte-and-bailey' built in 1224 by John and Walter Bisset who purchased the Glens of Antrim from the Earl of Ulster, Richard De Burgo.


The pier was built in 1849 to provide a harbour for Waterfoot and Cushendall
Image: Tourism NI


The Bissets ruled until 1399 when John Mor MacDonald, 3rd chief of Dunnyveg, married Margery Bissett of the Glens of Antrim and acquired the castle of Red Bay as part of her dowry. His descendants known as the 'MacDonnells of Antrim' extended and rebuilt the castle in the 16th century. In 1565, it was burned to the ground by Shane O'Neill chief of the O'Neills of Tyrone. It was later rebuilt by the legendary MacDonnell clan leader 'Sorley Boy MacDonnell' who then let it fall into disrepair. In 1604 the castle was restored once again only to be finally destroyed by Oliver Cromwell in 1652, during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, after which it was abandoned.


Glenariff is a walkers paradise
Image: Tourism NI


The pier was built in 1849 to provide a harbour for nearby Waterfoot and the larger village of Cushendall immediately north. The bulk of the harbour’s trade came from the extraction of iron ore at the Glenravel mines, southwest of Glenariff, and its shipment to Scotland and England. However business declined in 1876 when a railway linked the mines to Ballymena enabling the more capable larger ports of Larne and Belfast to take over the trade. The mines themselves failed a few years later.


Bluebells recollecting Glenariff's forested slope
Image: Tourism NI


Vessels that anchor off Red Bay's southern shore will use the White Arch, over the coast road, as a good marker. This is the remnant of a railway bridge constructed in the 1870s to carry iron ore from the Cloughcor Mines in Glengarriff to the White Arch Harbour, the remains of which are on the shoreline. Between White Arch and Cloughcor, a distance of 6.4 km (4 miles), ran a narrow-gauge railway line and the terrace of limestone houses near the arch were built by the company to house the miners.


Rushing stream Glenariff Forest Park
Image: Imagea.org via CC BY 3.0


Today the beautiful Glenariff, ably crowned by the magnificent peak of Lurigethan on the north side, is the main draw of the area. This is a walker’s paradise with countless spectacular walks ranging from flat walks along the coast, or the more rugged hill walks that provide stunning views over the bay. A highlight among the hill walks is a visit to the 1185-hectare Glenariff Forest Park. This features a number of walking trails with steps and bridges that take a visitor through scenery with waterfalls and crystal clear pools.


Cliff exposures on the south side of Glenariff
Image: Tourism NI


Amongst these is Altnagowna, or the 'Grey Mare's Tail' as it is better known, which is one of the tallest and most spectacular waterfalls in Glenariff and in all of Antrim. The diversity of topography, woodland and wildlife habitats formed here provide visitors with superb natural beauty, tranquillity and panoramic views of the Irish Sea and Scottish Coasts. The most popular approach is to follow the rivers Inver and Glenariff, and their associated waterfalls, where visitors can make use of the café situated in the park.

A Glenariff waterfall that featured in the TV series Game of Thrones
Image: Tourism NI


From a boating perspective, Red Bay provides the most sheltered anchorage on this part of the coast, out of the tide, and safe in winds between the southeast and northwest. Access to the bay is straightforward as it is non-tidal and available at all times plus free of off-lying dangers except for the fish farm. It is the ideal location to seek protection from these quarters on this coast.


Red Bay is ideal for passage makers and for coastal cruisers alike
Image: Michael Harpur


Moreover, with the Antrim coast enduring some of the strongest tides of the whole country, Red Bay offers the ideal stop-off to await a tide for the next leg or have a lunch stop. It is also an ideal staging post for those wishing to cross the north channel to Scotland to the Mull of Kintyre and the Western Isles, which are visible all the way.


What facilities are available?
Some basic stores are to be found at Waterfoot which serves a small population of 500 people. The village is situated on the A2 coast road between the separately covered towns of Carnlough to the south and Cushendall that is situated immediately to the north. Cushendall offers the best choice for provisioning.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred to a vessel anchored off in Red Bay.


With thanks to:
Burke Corbett, New Ross, County Wexford.







Aerial footage of the bay




Red Bay and the beach at Waterfoot



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