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Ballyholme Bay

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Overview





Ballyholme Bay is located on the northeast coast of Ireland, on the southern shores of Belfast Lough and immediately east of Bangor Bay. The extensive well-sheltered bay provides an anchorage that is home to the Ballyholme and Royal Ulster Yacht Clubs.

Ballyholme Bay is located on the northeast coast of Ireland, on the southern shores of Belfast Lough and immediately east of Bangor Bay. The extensive well-sheltered bay provides an anchorage that is home to the Ballyholme and Royal Ulster Yacht Clubs.

The bay provides good protection from the east round through south to west but is exposed to all northerly component winds. Although unmarked there are no off-lying dangers in the area making daylight access straightforward at any stage of the tide.
Please note

Regular fast ferries travel in and out of Belfast Lough. If crossing the entrance to Belfast Lough a good watch must be maintained, and a vessel making way or anchored in the bay should be prepared to be struck unexpectedly by the wash at all times.




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Keyfacts for Ballyholme Bay



Last modified
July 18th 2018

Summary

A good location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Water available via tapSlipway availableShowers 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 locationPleasant family beach in the areaBoatyard with hard-standing available here; covered or uncoveredScuba diving cylinder refill capabilitiesBus 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 locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderJetty 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 city

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



Position and approaches
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Haven position

54° 40.080' N, 005° 39.157' W

This is the seaward end of the Ballyholme Bay Yacht Club jetty. It is located between the two club slipways on the western side of the bay.

What is the initial fix?

The following Ballyholme Bay Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
54° 41.250' N, 005° 38.820' W
This is a mile north of the bay providing a clear line of approach from South Briggs in the east. A bearing of 175°(T) from here will lead into the centre of the bay.


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.

  • From the north pass Black Head and the Cloghan Jetty to starboard.

  • From the east pass north of Mew, Lighthouse and Copeland Island keeping them well clear to port.

  • From the south, with a favourable tide, pass between the south side of Copeland Island and the mainland coast through the well-marked Donaghadee Sound shipping fairway.

  • Belfast Lough's navigable area is free of dangers and Bangor Bay has no obstructions.

  • Track in from the north into the gradually shelving bay keeping well clear of the headlands.


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 Ballyholme Bay for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Bangor Harbour & Marina - 0.4 miles W
  2. Groomsport - 0.8 miles ENE
  3. Helen’s Bay - 1.7 miles W
  4. Port Dandy - 2.3 miles E
  5. Chapel Bay - 2.4 miles E
  6. Donaghadee Harbour - 2.8 miles ESE
  7. Copelands Marina - 2.8 miles ESE
  8. Whitehead - 3.4 miles NNW
  9. Cultra - 3.6 miles W
  10. Carrickfergus Harbour & Marina - 3.7 miles WNW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Bangor Harbour & Marina - 0.4 miles W
  2. Groomsport - 0.8 miles ENE
  3. Helen’s Bay - 1.7 miles W
  4. Port Dandy - 2.3 miles E
  5. Chapel Bay - 2.4 miles E
  6. Donaghadee Harbour - 2.8 miles ESE
  7. Copelands Marina - 2.8 miles ESE
  8. Whitehead - 3.4 miles NNW
  9. Cultra - 3.6 miles W
  10. Carrickfergus Harbour & Marina - 3.7 miles WNW
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

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How to get in?
Ballyholme Bay
Image: Andrew Muir


Ballyholme Bay, a mile eastward of Bangor and westward of Groomsport Bay, provides a wide open and deep bay with a good clean anchorage in any offshore winds. The headquarters of the Royal Ulster and Ballyholme Yacht Clubs are situated on the west side of the bay.

Convergance Point Approach directions to the area can be found in the Bangor Harbour Click to view haven situated close to the west.
Please note

The bay is clear but the headlands on either side are foul, give Ballymacormick Point a berth of at least 400 metres and Lukes Point a berth of 200 metres.






Initial fix location From the Ballyholme Bay initial fix track south into the gradually shelving bay. Anchor according to draft and conditions in a mixture of sand with mud and shells that provides very good holding. Land by dinghy at one of Ballyholme Yacht Club’s two slips or alight on the beach at the head of the bay.


Why visit here?
Ballyholme is derived from the Gaelic Bhaile Hóm of which baile is the Irish for ‘townland, town, homestead’. The second element of the name is a little less certain but most likely related to the Vikings who had a stronghold in the bay. The old Norse word holmr meant ‘river meadow’. It was borrowed into English as ‘holm’ and in Scots parlance means ‘a piece of flat low-lying ground by a river’. It could also relate to a Danish surname as the name Holm(es) is derived from Old Norse holmr.

The Vikings would not have overlooked this most highly sheltered and easily accessed bay of Belfast Lough, and especially one that at the time was adjacent to the most prized monastic settlement in Western Europe. It is thought that they not only landed here but held the area with a stronghold. An important Viking burial site discovered near the shore attests to the bay’s Viking past. The grave was found in 1903 and it contained a pair of bronze brooches, a bowl, fragment of chain and some textile. The brooches were of a type that dates the grave to the latter part of the ninth century. Although no human remains were found with the artefacts, it is believed to be the burial site of a female as males were normally buried with weapons.

The grave was discovered during landscaping for a housing development and has now been incorporated into the modern town of Bangor of which the bay became an extension as Bangor developed. Particularly so during Bangor’s Victorian seaside resort period. Ballyholme Bay’s excellent beach was the keystone of the Victorian Bangor’s resort success and continues to make the town a popular destination today.

The open clear access and excellent shelter have made the bay a centre of sailing for countless decades. Prior to the construction of Bangor marina, Ballyholme Bay was the town’s primary yacht anchorage. This maritime legacy is carried forward by the Ballyholme and Royal Ulster Yacht Clubs and its sailing popularity remains undiminished. Both of the clubs are situated on the eastern side of the bay and the Royal Ulster Yacht Club’s clubhouse is of particular note. The club was established in 1866 as the Ulster Yacht Club and three years later it received its Royal Warrant. The large and very impressive red-brick clubhouse, with its commanding views of the lough and the County Antrim coastline, dates back to 1897 and is now a listed building of historic interest.

Those who come ashore will find Luke's Point offers a west-bound walker a more scenic route to Bangor by passing Ballyholme Yacht Club and walking around the shoreline of the grassy headland. This longer but more scenic promenade path to Bangor offers views across the lough and onwards across to Scotland’s Mull of Kintyre and Isle of Arran. Turning east along the pathway, into the bay itself, is very much a journey away from the hustle and bustle to a much quieter environment. A tarmac path follows Ballyholme Bay’s Esplanade and promenade making for an enjoyable stroll. Both walks are part of the ‘The North Down Coastal Path’ that begins as far west as Holywood, just outside Belfast, and heads east for more than 20km along the Lough’s southern shore to Orlock Point. Hikers may find the short section of ‘The North Down Coastal Path’ that remains to the east Ballyholme Bay very attractive. Continue around to the car park and children's play area on the eastern side of Ballyholme Bay, and from there the path may be picked up by descending to the beach and walking along the sands beside the seawall for a short distance. The tide, however, needs to be out to walk the short distance alongside the sea wall. Once at the end of the wall come ashore and follow the path along the edge of the field then continue through to Ballymacormick Point.

The next 2 km of coastal heath and scrub crosses property managed by the National Trust. The path is covered in grass or gravel, surrounded by gorse and brambles in places, plus wild gorse covered scrubland that is good for rough walking. Although close to a highly populated area the point is surprisingly secluded and naturally favoured by many species of birds, the combination of rough grass, gorse and rocks forms an inviting habitat for a wide variety of birdlife. Sailing season cruisers will find it a breeding ground for skylarks, oystercatchers, rock pipits, stonechats, willow warblers, reed buntings and linnets. Sandwich terns arrive in the summer and join the native breeding arctic and common terns. Their eye-catching flights, dives and loops in search of fish are a feature of a summer stroll here.

Looking out over Ballymacormick Point’s rocky outcrops to the lough, hikers will enjoy a great view. On the northern shore, Antrim’s escarpment of black basalt, Carrickfergus, the Knockagh monument, and the coast curving towards Whitehead can all be seen. On a clear day, the coast of Galloway may be seen in surprisingly sharp detail to the northeast. Sadly the view is slightly tarnished by the dominant profile of Kilroot power station, but aside from this, the views here are nonetheless spectacular. Just around the point the beautiful little village of Groomsport Click to view haven that is only suitable for smaller craft and best visited by foot from Ballyholme Bay from cruising vessels of any size.

From a boating perspective, Ballyholme Bay is a very good anchorage with easy access and is located only a short distance from the Irish Sea cruising routes. The bay itself has innate charms and provides the cruising boatman with not only an excellent base for Bangor but one for Belfast and the entire area.


What facilities are available?
Ballyholme Yacht Club has changing facilities and showers, Sky television in the Lounge Bar and a large projection screen in the Jubilee Room for match day sporting fans. During the weekend meals are available with outside grounds for BBQs. Additionally diving cylinder compressors, and air & nitrox refills are available here plus dinghy parks and winter boat storage. Vessels drawing less than 1.8 metres can come alongside the club wall at high water to take on water.

The Royal Ulster Yacht Club is situated up the hill from Ballyholme Yacht Club. It is homed in a splendid red brick building that has a commanding view of Belfast Lough. It offers similar facilities to Ballyholme Yacht Club with the addition of a full dining room service during afternoons and evenings, seven days a week. Both clubs extend a warm welcome to members of other clubs visiting Belfast Lough.

For all else there is Bangor Marina one mile west. This is Northern Ireland's biggest and most prestigious marina offering all facilities 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Bangor itself is a prosperous town that is 22 km (13.6 miles) east from the heart of Belfast City Centre on the A2. It has excellent transport connections via trains, and a bus service that connects 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 also frequent ferry crossings from Belfast and Larne.


Any security concerns?
Never an incident known to have happened to a vessel anchored off Ballyholme Bay.


With thanks to:
Michael Evans, Deputy Harbour Master, Belfast Harbour. Photography with thanks to Rossographer, Ross, GreyHobbit, Sue Adair and Stephen Colebourne.


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






















































Dinghy racing in the bay


About Ballyholme Bay

Ballyholme is derived from the Gaelic Bhaile Hóm of which baile is the Irish for ‘townland, town, homestead’. The second element of the name is a little less certain but most likely related to the Vikings who had a stronghold in the bay. The old Norse word holmr meant ‘river meadow’. It was borrowed into English as ‘holm’ and in Scots parlance means ‘a piece of flat low-lying ground by a river’. It could also relate to a Danish surname as the name Holm(es) is derived from Old Norse holmr.

The Vikings would not have overlooked this most highly sheltered and easily accessed bay of Belfast Lough, and especially one that at the time was adjacent to the most prized monastic settlement in Western Europe. It is thought that they not only landed here but held the area with a stronghold. An important Viking burial site discovered near the shore attests to the bay’s Viking past. The grave was found in 1903 and it contained a pair of bronze brooches, a bowl, fragment of chain and some textile. The brooches were of a type that dates the grave to the latter part of the ninth century. Although no human remains were found with the artefacts, it is believed to be the burial site of a female as males were normally buried with weapons.

The grave was discovered during landscaping for a housing development and has now been incorporated into the modern town of Bangor of which the bay became an extension as Bangor developed. Particularly so during Bangor’s Victorian seaside resort period. Ballyholme Bay’s excellent beach was the keystone of the Victorian Bangor’s resort success and continues to make the town a popular destination today.

The open clear access and excellent shelter have made the bay a centre of sailing for countless decades. Prior to the construction of Bangor marina, Ballyholme Bay was the town’s primary yacht anchorage. This maritime legacy is carried forward by the Ballyholme and Royal Ulster Yacht Clubs and its sailing popularity remains undiminished. Both of the clubs are situated on the eastern side of the bay and the Royal Ulster Yacht Club’s clubhouse is of particular note. The club was established in 1866 as the Ulster Yacht Club and three years later it received its Royal Warrant. The large and very impressive red-brick clubhouse, with its commanding views of the lough and the County Antrim coastline, dates back to 1897 and is now a listed building of historic interest.

Those who come ashore will find Luke's Point offers a west-bound walker a more scenic route to Bangor by passing Ballyholme Yacht Club and walking around the shoreline of the grassy headland. This longer but more scenic promenade path to Bangor offers views across the lough and onwards across to Scotland’s Mull of Kintyre and Isle of Arran. Turning east along the pathway, into the bay itself, is very much a journey away from the hustle and bustle to a much quieter environment. A tarmac path follows Ballyholme Bay’s Esplanade and promenade making for an enjoyable stroll. Both walks are part of the ‘The North Down Coastal Path’ that begins as far west as Holywood, just outside Belfast, and heads east for more than 20km along the Lough’s southern shore to Orlock Point. Hikers may find the short section of ‘The North Down Coastal Path’ that remains to the east Ballyholme Bay very attractive. Continue around to the car park and children's play area on the eastern side of Ballyholme Bay, and from there the path may be picked up by descending to the beach and walking along the sands beside the seawall for a short distance. The tide, however, needs to be out to walk the short distance alongside the sea wall. Once at the end of the wall come ashore and follow the path along the edge of the field then continue through to Ballymacormick Point.

The next 2 km of coastal heath and scrub crosses property managed by the National Trust. The path is covered in grass or gravel, surrounded by gorse and brambles in places, plus wild gorse covered scrubland that is good for rough walking. Although close to a highly populated area the point is surprisingly secluded and naturally favoured by many species of birds, the combination of rough grass, gorse and rocks forms an inviting habitat for a wide variety of birdlife. Sailing season cruisers will find it a breeding ground for skylarks, oystercatchers, rock pipits, stonechats, willow warblers, reed buntings and linnets. Sandwich terns arrive in the summer and join the native breeding arctic and common terns. Their eye-catching flights, dives and loops in search of fish are a feature of a summer stroll here.

Looking out over Ballymacormick Point’s rocky outcrops to the lough, hikers will enjoy a great view. On the northern shore, Antrim’s escarpment of black basalt, Carrickfergus, the Knockagh monument, and the coast curving towards Whitehead can all be seen. On a clear day, the coast of Galloway may be seen in surprisingly sharp detail to the northeast. Sadly the view is slightly tarnished by the dominant profile of Kilroot power station, but aside from this, the views here are nonetheless spectacular. Just around the point the beautiful little village of Groomsport Click to view haven that is only suitable for smaller craft and best visited by foot from Ballyholme Bay from cruising vessels of any size.

From a boating perspective, Ballyholme Bay is a very good anchorage with easy access and is located only a short distance from the Irish Sea cruising routes. The bay itself has innate charms and provides the cruising boatman with not only an excellent base for Bangor but one for Belfast and the entire area.

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:
Groomsport - 0.8 miles ENE
Port Dandy - 2.3 miles E
Chapel Bay - 2.4 miles E
Donaghadee Harbour - 2.8 miles ESE
Copelands Marina - 2.8 miles ESE
Coastal anti-clockwise:
Bangor Harbour & Marina - 0.4 miles W
Helen’s Bay - 1.7 miles W
Cultra - 3.6 miles W
Belfast Harbour - 6.1 miles WSW
Newtownabbey - 4.7 miles W

Navigational pictures


These additional images feature in the 'How to get in' section of our detailed view for Ballyholme Bay.
















Dinghy racing in the bay



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