England Ireland Find Havens
England Ireland Find Routes
Boat
Maintenance
Comfort
Operations
Safety
Other



NextPrevious

Whitehead

Tides and tools
Overview





Whitehead is a town on the northeast coast of Ireland, about two miles to the south of Black Head lighthouse, and on the northern shore of the entrance to Belfast Lough. It is a pretty seaside location where a vessel may anchor off, approximately midway between Carrickfergus and Larne Lough.

The anchorage off Whitehead is exposed and only offers protection from offshore winds, west through northwest to north. With no offshore dangers, access is straightforward, at any stage of the tide in all reasonable conditions.
Please note

The enclosed harbour south of the town is private and should not be approached. Regular fast ferries travel in and out of Belfast Lough, and if crossing the entrance a good watch must be maintained, and a vessel should be prepared to be struck unexpectedly by the wash at all times.




Be the first
to comment
Keyfacts for Whitehead
Facilities
Water available via tapTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansMini-supermarket or supermarket availableLaundry facilities availableShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot 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 areaDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the areaRegional or international airport within 25 kilometresShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterSailing Club baseUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large cityScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Note: 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
2 stars: Exposed; unattended vessels should be watched from the shore and a comfortable overnight stay is unlikely.



Last modified
July 18th 2018

Summary

An exposed location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Water available via tapTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansMini-supermarket or supermarket availableLaundry facilities availableShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot 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 areaDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the areaRegional or international airport within 25 kilometresShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterSailing Club baseUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large cityScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Note: strong tides or currents in the area that require consideration



Position and approaches
Expand to new tab or fullscreen

Haven position

54° 45.303' N, 005° 42.233' W

This is the head of the yacht club slip.

What is the initial fix?

The following Whitehead Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
54° 45.193' N, 005° 41.812' W
The initial fix is 500 metres out from the yacht club slips on the 10 metre contour. A north-westward course from here will lead into the anchoring area off the club slip.


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.

  • Approaches to the lough can be found in the Bangor Harbour Click to view havenentry.

  • Track into the anchoring area off the club slip from the southeast.

  • Keeping well clear of the area between the slip and White Head.


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 Whitehead for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Mill Bay - 2.8 miles NNW
  2. Magheramorne Point - 2.8 miles NNW
  3. Carrickfergus Harbour & Marina - 2.9 miles SW
  4. Ballydowan - 3 miles NNW
  5. Helen’s Bay - 3 miles SSW
  6. Bangor Harbour & Marina - 3.3 miles SSE
  7. Ballyholme Bay - 3.4 miles SSE
  8. Groomsport - 3.4 miles SSE
  9. Portmuck - 3.5 miles N
  10. Larne Harbour - 3.6 miles NNW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Mill Bay - 2.8 miles NNW
  2. Magheramorne Point - 2.8 miles NNW
  3. Carrickfergus Harbour & Marina - 2.9 miles SW
  4. Ballydowan - 3 miles NNW
  5. Helen’s Bay - 3 miles SSW
  6. Bangor Harbour & Marina - 3.3 miles SSE
  7. Ballyholme Bay - 3.4 miles SSE
  8. Groomsport - 3.4 miles SSE
  9. Portmuck - 3.5 miles N
  10. Larne Harbour - 3.6 miles NNW
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try our resources search

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.

Expand to new tab or fullscreen



How to get in?


Whitehead is a small coastal town on the northern entrance to Belfast Lough. It is situated a mile to the southwest of Black Head with its lighthouse marking the entrance to the lough. The small seaside town is fronted by a large promenade and is home to the County Antrim Yacht Club.

Convergance Point Directions for Bangor Harbour Click to view haven may be used for approaches to the lough.

Whitehead is located at the base of Muldersleigh Hill and with its neighbouring lighthouse of Black Head presents a conspicuous landmark for all points of approach. The initial fix may be freely approached from seaward but vessels approaching from inside the lough should give the Cloghan Jetty a wide berth.


Initial fix location The initial fix is set 500 metres out to the southeast of the yacht club jetty. It sets up a north-eastern approach that clears the outlying Hancock Rock, drying to 0.9 metres, and Cloghan Rock, covered by 0.9 metres. These lie in the area between White Head and the Club Spit along with other inshore rocks, stretching out about 100 metres, which make it important to stay out of this area. A course of northwest from the initial fix will lead into the anchoring area off the club slip.




Haven location Keep out and anchor in 3 to 4 metres with very good sand holding offshore, or closer into the slip where sand and gravel will be found. The anchoring area is known to be foul so a tripping line is recommended. Land at the club slipway.


Why visit here?
Whitehead derives its name from a direct translation of its original Irish name Kinbaine the conjunction of Cionn Bán ‘the white head’. Located at the foot of Muldersleigh Hill, close behind the contrasting black volcanic cliff of Black Head, its name originates from the distinctive 90 metres high white limestone cliffs that it presents to seaward.


The towns’ development was largely driven by the railway but prior to its arrival, it had a very strong connection with the sea. In the mid-1600s, there was a regular packet service between Scotland and Whitehead, delivering goods and mail. Prior to the completion of the county road from Carrickfergus to Larne in 1854, and the subsequent arrival of the railway, most trade and travel to and from Whitehead was undertaken by boat. But it was during the late Victorian and Edwardian times when Whitehead made its real mark as a popular seaside holiday destination.


In 1892 the railway company opened up the coastline to Whitehead and Black Head and visitors flocked there from Belfast and the surrounding areas. The potential to bolster passenger traffic, not to mention lighten the pockets of the new moneyed middle class, was not overlooked by canny Victorian railway entrepreneurs. Seeking to maximise Whiteheads' leisure potential a series of cliff paths were constructed to provide for dramatic coastal walks. The railway engineer and architect Berkeley Deane Wise, 1853-1909, was called upon for design and he left his mark here in the ‘Black Head Path’, the ‘Gobbins Path’ as well as the Whitehead Promenade.




The most important of these was the popular ‘Gobbins Path’ seaside walk constructed along the front of the cliffs of Islandmagee near Whitehead. The name is derived from the Irish ‘An Gobain’, meaning 'the points of rock'. Bridges were constructed in Belfast and floated out from Whitehead on barges before being lifted into position above the sea. The scenic path included staircases along the cliffs, dramatic tubular and suspension bridges, that in places trailed as little as a metre above the waves, and caves and tunnels cut out of the Islandmagee cliffs. It eventually stretched more than three miles and the first section of the path opened in 1902.


Wise, the chief engineer for the Belfast and Northern Counties Railway, tied in the promotion of his Gobbins path directly to rail travel. An advertisement proclaimed a “new cliff path along the Gobbins, with its ravines, bore caves, natural aquariums .... has no parallel in Europe as a marine walk”. The result was an outstanding success. Visitors arrived at Whitehead station in their droves and then would either walk or be taken onwards by jaunting car to the Gobbins. For several decades, until the outbreak of the Second World War, the Gobbins was one of the most popular tourist destinations in Northern Ireland and one of the most popular sites in Ireland. In its day the Gobbins cliff walk had more visitors than the now hugely popular Giants Causeway.

But its fame came at a price. When Wise retired in 1906 the railway company seemed to lose interest in the walkway. Over time gales and rock falls meant that it required substantial annual maintenance to keep it safe. A lack of funds caused its repairs to lapse and a temporary closure was ordered during World War II. After the war, the Ulster Transport Authority refurbished and reopened the path. But by 1954 the burden of the high maintenance costs forced them to abandon the task. The path was finally closed in 1962 for safety reasons. Photographs of the walkway in its heyday are on show in Belfast’s Ulster Museum. But fortunately, the story does not end there, as at the time of writing 2015, the pathway is currently in the process of being reinstated as a major tourist attraction. In its 21st century reincarnation, it will retain its vertiginous walks along the beautiful cliffs, but will now include a café, exhibition space, and a shop as well as a tourist information point.

Today Whitehead is a very pretty seaside town with a highly attractive seafront sitting on a low gap between White Head and Black Head. Those who venture out will find a walk past Sunshine House, around Blackhead Lighthouse and along the Irish Sea cliffs of Islandmagee, that leads to ‘The Gobbins’.

The easy path running onwards from the promenade around Black Head, crowned by its lighthouse, is itself well worth a visit. It is largely flat, entirely surfaced in concrete, with a flight of concrete steps up the cliff face to the lighthouse. The path commences with a commemorative stone to Berkeley Deane Wise who created it and transformed the area. What remains unchanged from his time are the walks magnificent panoramic views across the North Channel to the Outer Hebrides in the north and to the Lake District and Isle of Man in the south. On the opposite coast of Belfast Lough, the Copeland Islands, Bangor and part of the County Down coastline, are clearly visible.

The importance of the railway to this small seaside town is marked today by it being home to the headquarters of the ‘Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’. The society has a preserved conservation area, Ireland's only remaining mainline steam engineering depot, located close to the present Whitehead station. The model station consists of a station building, a platform, and a short running line for public demonstrations and to allow the shunting of their stock. Beyond the station are the sheds housing the engineering equipment and stores necessary to maintain the societies’ stock of mainline steam-engines. These along with static displays can be studied each Sunday in July, while the Portrush Flyer sometimes runs steam-hauled excursions during the societies Summer Steam days.

Whitehead also retains its historical connection with the sea through its sailing club. The original ‘Whitehead Sailing Club’ held its first Regatta in August 1879 and became known as the ‘County Antrim Yacht Club’ in 1909. In that year they build their current clubhouse that has been added to and improved many times over the past century. It is also the owner and custodian of its boathouse that dates back to the 1870s. Today it is one of the oldest buildings in Whitehead and it was sensitively restored in 2011 retaining a number of its original features, such as ornate timber bargeboards and stone detailing.

Whitehead may not be the most protected anchorage in the area. However, the very pretty seaside town and coastal walks make it a highly appealing stop if an auspicious weather window presented itself to a passing coastal cruiser.


What facilities are available?
With a population of just under 4000 Whitehead village is self-sufficient in terms of businesses and services for daily needs, including fuel, shops, pubs, restaurants and recreation. It is the headquarters of the Co. Antrim Yacht Club that provides showers, water and a bar. Club Opening hours are Sunday at 4.00pm, Wednesday & Saturday at 8.00pm and Friday at 6.00pm.

Whitehead is about 20 miles east from the heart of Belfast City Centre. It has good transport connections to Belfast city and from there on to any location in Ireland. Flights to domestic and international destinations operate from Belfast City and Belfast International Airports. There are frequent ferry crossings from Belfast and Larne.


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


With thanks to:
Terence Stitt, Portmuck Harbour Master. Photography with thanks to Rossographer, Guinness040ST, Will Bakker, Chris Burnell, Albert Bridge, Ardfern, Kenneth Allen
TheTurfBurner and Wilson Adams.


Expand to new tab or fullscreen
Please zoom out to see the 'initial fix' for this location.
The above plots are not precise and indicative only.
















































Footage of Whitehead and Blackhead lighthouse




Aerial views of Whitehead with significant motor and wind noise




A video and photo montage of the area



A photograph is worth a thousand words. We are always looking for bright sunny photographs that show this haven and its identifiable features at its best. If you have some images that we could use please upload them here. All we need to know is how you would like to be credited for your work and a brief description of the image if it is not readily apparent. If you would like us to add a hyperlink from the image that goes back to your site please include the desired link and we will be delighted to that for you.


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.