Red Bay provides the best anchoring on this part of the coast. It offers good protection from all winds between southeast, through west to northwest. Additionally, tucked into the bight of the bay it is out of the current and has excellent fine sand holding. 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 restriction. However, expect poorly marked marine farms to be in the area.
Keyfacts for Red Bay Pier (Glenariff Pier)
SummaryA good location with straightforward access.
Position and approaches
Haven position55° 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?
What are the key points of the approach?
- 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?
How to get in?
The extensive and picturesque Red Bay is entered between Garron Point and Limerick Point situated 3.25 miles to the northwest. It has the small Red Bay Pier, also known as Glenariff Pier, at the head of the bay which is capable of sheltering 4 or 5 vessels rafted up.
The Glenarm entry provides directions for general approaches to the area as Red Bay is about five miles to the north of Glenarm, with Carnlough and Glenarm Bays being separated from Red Bay by Garron Point.
Garron Point is a bold and precipitous headland that rises abruptly to a height of 230 metres. It is a highly conspicuous headland with no outlying dangers and good depths close in. A berth of 400 metres clears all dangers here. Expect a poorly marked fish farm to be in the south side of Red Bay.
The Red Bay initial fix is 1.9 nautical 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.
Vessels may anchor in any part of Red Bay in depths according to personal preference. The most used options are as follows:
Off the pierhead in 4 metres with depths decreasing gradually to the shore. 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 that do not have a fender-board. It is also possible to lie at moorings with stem warps out to the pier.
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.
Vessels that can dry out 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’.
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’ that is derived from the Irish word Foirbh meaning ‘pasture’.
This area is steeped in history as is well witnessed by Tievebulliagh, situated close northwest of Lurigethan, where a famed Neolithic flint factory existed as covered in the, see neighbouring Cushendall entry. The magnificent slopes of the Lurigethan, whose summit towers above Glenarriff, Red Bay, and the town of Cushendall, plays 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.
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, that 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. 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 the megalithic court cairn on a hillside in Lubitavish, near the Glenaan River, is the burial place of Ossian.
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 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.
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. 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.
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. 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. Photography with thanks to Eric Jones, Richard Webb, Burke Corbett, Imagea.org, Peter Dean, Keith Ruffles, Richard Webb, Albert Bridge, Anne Burgess, Kenneth Allen, Robert Ashby, Mat Tuck, Motacilla, Jennifer Boyer and Will Bakker.
Aerial footage of the bay
Red Bay and the beach at Waterfoot
Add your review or comment:
Please log in to leave a review of this haven.
Please note eOceanic makes no guarantee of the validity of this information, we have not visited this haven and do not have first-hand experience to qualify the data. Although the contributors are vetted by peer review as practised authorities, they are in no way, whatsoever, responsible for the accuracy of their contributions. It is essential that you thoroughly check the accuracy and suitability for your vessel of any waypoints offered in any context plus the precision of your GPS. Any data provided on this page is entirely used at your own risk and you must read our legal page if you view data on this site. Free to use sea charts courtesy of Navionics.