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Dundrum Harbour

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Overview





Dundrum Harbour is located on the northeastern coast of Ireland, at the head of Dundrum Bay, approximately midway between the entrances to Carlingford and Strangford Loughs. The small harbour offers an anchoring pool within a tidal estuary adjacent to the town quay.

The estuary offers complete protection but careful navigation is required for access owing to a tidal restricting sandbar at the entrance plus a narrow estuary access path. Southerly winds make the estuary impassable by creating a heavy sea on the bar. Hence the location is more suitable to shallow-draft vessels and should only be approached on a rising tide, in settled sea conditions with very good visibility.
Please note

A vessel should not approach Dundrum Bay in any developed onshore conditions. A considerable in-draught develops here and it is accompanied by a very heavy seaway running into the bay. In these conditions, a sailing vessel could easily get caught within the heads and find it difficult to work itself out again. The approach to Dundrum Harbour passes through Ballykinler Firing Practice Area and must be avoided when the firing range is in use.




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Keyfacts for Dundrum Harbour
Facilities
Water available via tapTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableExtensive shopping available in the areaHot 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 areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaInternet via a wireless access point availableDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaHaul-out capabilities via arrangementBus service available in the areaShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Dangerous to enter when it is Beaufort force 4 or more from NE, ENE, E, ESE, SE, SSE and S.Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierRestriction: rising tide required for accessRestriction: may be subject to a sand barNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require consideration

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
2 metres (6.56 feet).

Approaches
2 stars: Careful navigation; good visibility and conditions with dangers that require careful navigation.
Shelter
5 stars: Complete protection; all-round shelter in all reasonable conditions.



Last modified
July 18th 2018

Summary* Restrictions apply

A completely protected location with careful navigation required for access.

Facilities
Water available via tapTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableExtensive shopping available in the areaHot 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 areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaInternet via a wireless access point availableDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaHaul-out capabilities via arrangementBus service available in the areaShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Dangerous to enter when it is Beaufort force 4 or more from NE, ENE, E, ESE, SE, SSE and S.Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierRestriction: rising tide required for accessRestriction: may be subject to a sand barNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require consideration



Position and approaches
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Haven position

54° 15.362' N, 005° 50.411' W

This is about the position of the anchoring pool set in the estuary channel off the town quay.

What is the initial fix?

The following Dundrum Bay Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
54° 11.570' N, 005° 46.630' W
This waypoint is approximately 3 miles out from the shoreline. It is set on the 330°(T) line of bearing of Dundrum Castle and situated where it transects the outer 064° white sector limit of the Saint John's Point auxiliary light ( Fl WR 3s 14m W15 R11M. Shore to Red 078°, white 078°W to 064°). A bearing of 275°(T) from here for three and a half miles leads into the harbour.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details for vessels approaching Strangford Lough from the north are available in the northeast Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Malin Head to Strangford Lough Route location. Details for vessels approaching from the south are available in eastern Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Strangford Lough to Dublin Bay Route location.

  • Use the directions provided for Newcastle Harbour Click to view haven, for approaches to Dundrum Bay.

  • Check that it is safe to pass through Ballykinlar Firing Range before approaching the entrance.

  • Find the entrance and cross the sandbar when a sufficient rise of tide is availble.

  • Follow the channel into the inner bay and anchor off adjacent to the quay.


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 Dundrum Harbour for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Newcastle Harbour - 2.4 miles SSW
  2. Killough Harbour - 4.4 miles E
  3. Ardglass Harbour (Phennick Cove Marina) - 5.2 miles E
  4. Quoile - 5.6 miles NE
  5. Annalong Harbour - 5.6 miles SSW
  6. Between Rat & Salt Island - 6 miles NE
  7. Moore’s Point - 6 miles NE
  8. South of Salt Island - 6.1 miles NE
  9. Brandy Bay - 6.2 miles NE
  10. Killyleagh - 6.7 miles NE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Newcastle Harbour - 2.4 miles SSW
  2. Killough Harbour - 4.4 miles E
  3. Ardglass Harbour (Phennick Cove Marina) - 5.2 miles E
  4. Quoile - 5.6 miles NE
  5. Annalong Harbour - 5.6 miles SSW
  6. Between Rat & Salt Island - 6 miles NE
  7. Moore’s Point - 6 miles NE
  8. South of Salt Island - 6.1 miles NE
  9. Brandy Bay - 6.2 miles NE
  10. Killyleagh - 6.7 miles NE
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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How to get in?


Dundrum Harbour is a small tidal harbour that is situated at the head of Dundrum Bay. The head of the bay is composed of sand-hills that are penetrated by a narrow channel which leads into the harbour. This then enters into a hammer-headed tidal bay where Dundrum Quay is located on the north shore of the tidal inlet at the foot of a small round hill. On this hill are the ruins of an old Norman castle which are conspicuous from the bay.

A sandbar with seldom more than 0.3 metres of water on it is situated in front of the channel. The entrance, surrounded by shifting sand, is highly changeable. Neither are marked by any buoys so be prepared to sound all the way in and for grounding on the sand when entering or leaving the harbour. Winds from the west or northwest make approaches subject to sudden heavy squalls from the Mourne Mountains.

Dundrum Harbour should only be approached on a half and rising tide in settled conditions. Vessels awaiting a rising tide may find a temporary outer anchorage off the shoreline just under a mile and a half to the east of the entrance. This is situated 800 metres to the southwest of the always visible and easily identified Craiglea Rock. Do not venture any further east as ‘The Cow and Calf Rocks’, Long Rock and the Pladdies are located here. These are all part of a reef that extends to the southeast of Craiglea Rock and out to a mile from the shoreline.

Convergance Point Use the directions provided for Newcastle Harbour Click to view haven, for approaches to Dundrum Bay.



Initial fix location From the Dundrum Bay initial fix, track into the head of the bay on a line of bearing of 330° T of the ruins of Dundrum Castle. The castle is located on a small rounded hill behind the town. The estuary is best approached on this line of bearing, from the south-southeast, as it normally crosses the bar.



The entrance is situated three miles in from the initial fix, a mile to the west of Craigalea, and five miles to the west of St. Johns Point. It is for the greater part dry at low water and difficult to approach, so it is advisable to take it slowly, sounding in all the way.
Please note

If red flags are shown from flagstaffs on the south and east sides of the entrance to Dundrum Harbour do not enter. This indicates firing is taking place and yachts must keep to seaward and south of the yellow oval buoys, marked "DZ" and FL.Y.5s & FL.Y.10s.



Closer in, the outer end of the entrance channel will make itself known by the village with Dundrum Church becoming conspicuous up the centre of the entrance. The shoreline of the channel on the eastern side is grassy and embanked whilst the western side is wooded. There are firing range markers on the outer spit of the western side of the channel.

Once in the narrow shallow channel, it leads in a mile and a quarter in a north-northwest direction. At its head pass close to port of the dilapidated post on the south side of the estuary and steer for the quay.

Haven location The quay has 1.2 metres LWS, 4 metres HWS and can be approached by vessels drawing up to 3.4 metres 2 hours before HW. Drying out alongside Dundrum Quay is however not recommended as the northeast and south sides have deep gullies that could tip a boat over. The northeast side of the pier also has some rocks and the private dwellings here now reduce its usefulness as a pier. There are also strong tidal streams running along its face.



Anchor off in the tidal channel adjacent to the town quay where it is possible to find a pool to anchor in 2.1 metres LWS.
Please note

Expect strong tidal streams in the channel. A large number of old moorings in this ancient harbour make a tripping line highly advisable.




Why visit here?
Dundrum derives its name from its Norman Castle, in Irish Dún Droma, meaning "fort of the ridge", the ruins of which sit dramatically above the town today. It is a beautiful tidal estuary surrounded by sand hills in which the small quiet town nestles.



The town is best known for its castle that is considered to be one of the finest Norman castles in Northern Ireland. It was built shortly before 1210 on an earlier fortified earthwork, from which the place-name element Dún is derived. The stone structure seen today was begun by John de Courcy, who led the 1177 Norman invasion of East Ulster. With commanding views south over Dundrum Bay, the Mourne Mountains, the lands west towards Slieve Croob, plus the eastern plains of Lecale, it steadfastly guarded the Norman’s eastern land route from Drogheda via Greencastle to Downpatrick. In its time Dundrum Castle was described as the most impenetrable fortress in the land. Yet it has a very colourful history being captured on several occasions and partly dismantled by Cromwell's soldiers in the 1650's.


In the 17th century Ulster ports began to rise in prominence and it was this direction that powered major development in Dundrum. In 1625 William Pitt was appointed ‘Customer’ of the ports of Newcastle, Dundrum, Killough, Portaferry, Donaghadee, Bangor and Holywood, and his input spurred on their development. The arrival of the East Downshire Steamship Company became a further impetus to harbour development. A railway connection reached Dundrum in 1869 and the sidings from the main Belfast-Newcastle line extended down to the quays. Various cargoes were exported, most notably the export of potatoes, but also sand that was obtained by barges near the bar at the inner bay mouth at low tide. Likewise, large scale coal and timber imports came in here. The port strived to create a regular passenger service from Belfast via Dundrum to the British Railway harbour at Silloth in Cumbria, and to Whitehaven. The strictly tidal nature of the harbour, however, frustrated the development of a regular passenger service.


These centuries of frenetic port activity came to an end in 1984 when Dundrum closed down as a commercial harbour. Soon after, the remaining East Downshire trading activities in the port ceased. Very little remains to be seen of merchant past apart from the northern end of the former quay, where leisure craft berth. The warehouses and quays have now been redeveloped for housing which has greatly reduced the use of the quay for sailing purposes.


Today Dundrum is a much quieter place. It operates at a steadier pace of life where visitors come to relax. The castle is now a State Care Historic Monument that is a regular destination for tourists and school children and is well worth a visit. The central circular keep, complete with a fine spiral stairway within its walls, fortified gateway and drum towers, all set on a moat and bailey, is still intact and accessible. Ascending the stairs within the keep, albeit a difficult climb that requires some care, is a very worthwhile adventure. The views from the top over the surrounding countryside and out through the entrance channel to Dundrum bay are simply stunning. Visitors should also not overlook a third of a mile woodland walk along the Dundrum Castle Woods Trail.


This is the first of many enjoyable walks to be had in this area. Most notable amongst these is the Dundrum Coastal Path and the Murlough Nature Reserve that are easily reached on foot, walking from the village.

The Dundrum Coastal Path is a 2.5 km (1.6 miles) stretch of ‘The Lecale Way’ that runs along a disused railway line on the banks on the western shore of Dundrum Inner Bay. It follows the line of the old ‘Belfast and County Down Railway’ and, although potentially muddy after rain, it is relatively level and passes through a variety of terrains that provide many opportunities for bird watching. The Dundrum Coastal Path scenery varies considerably in accord with the level of the tide. High tide is visually stunning, particularly on a clear calm sunny day, when it feels like a riverside walk. At low tide the bay becomes a vast mudflat teaming with birdlife. Consequently, it is worth taking the walk at different tide levels to fully appreciate its many guises.




Walking out of the village to the south quickly takes a visitor to the edges of the National Trust’s ‘Murlough Nature Reserve’. This is a 5,000-year-old sand dune system situated between Dundrum and Newcastle. Comprised of heathland and woodland that is surrounded by the estuary and the sea, it offers a variety of walks through the dunes and out onto beaches. At 697 acres, it is the best and most extensive example of dune heath within Ireland, with a network of paths and boardwalks through the dunes. The varied habitats within the reserve are home to a wide range of animals and plants including badgers, stoats and delicate flowers. The rich wildlife of this area changes with the seasons but there is always something of interest.




Near the entrance to Murlough Nature Reserve is the Slidderyford Dolmen that is a unique experience of itself. This Neolithic portal tomb is composed of four stones, two granite and two slate. It timelessly overlooks the Mournes with its massive granite capstone elegantly resting into one of the portal stones as if held in the palm of a hand.




From a boating perspective, Dundrum Bay is a perfect harbour for the shallow draft vessel and preferably one that can take to the hard. It has everything to hand in a stunningly beautiful location. Indeed, so much so, that it warrants serious consideration for moderate draft vessels to see if they can find a pool to anchor and enjoy this truly lovely location.




What facilities are available?
With a population of just over a thousand there is a small but useful selection of shops, pubs and cafes, plus a variety of dining opportunities that include award winning restaurants. Almost all necessities are immediately available including fuel and a post office. Fresh water is available at the quay where a two tonnes grab crane is also situated.

Newcastle which is five miles away is located approximately 25 miles from Belfast, along the A24 road, and approximately 90 miles from Dublin. Newcastle has its own Coach/Bus Station (+44 28 4372 2296). The nearest major railway Station is in Newry just over 25 miles away. Belfast International Airport is 30 miles away and Dublin Airport over 85 miles, taking approximately 2 hours' travelling time.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred in Dundrum Harbour.


With thanks to:
Fred Curran, Custodian of Ardglass Marina. Photography with thanks to Erick Jones, Kenneth ALlen, Eskling, Ian Blaire, Tatchie, Garry Harper, Ardfern, Jamey Cassell and Rogere.


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































































WWII Ex Gun Boat being towed in to Dundrum Harbour plus high speed channel transits filmed with a handheld camera from a jet ski




A photo montage of Dundrum town and the castle



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Add your review or comment:


Brian Lennon wrote this review on Aug 26th 2014:

For the bilge keeler who is tempted to dry out alongside the NE or S sides of the old quay in Dundrum, there are deep gullies that could tip a boat over. Drying out to the NE of the pier also has its dangers as there is are some rocks (not marked on the Navionics charts). The old quay now has private dwellings, reducing its usefulness as a pier.

Average Rating: ****

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