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Ballynatra (Trá Ruaim) Cove

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Overview





Ballynatra is located on the southwest coast within Dunmanus Bay and close to Sheep's Head. It is a small, secluded and open cove with a pier and slip that offers a temporary anchorage in settled conditions.

Ballynatra is located on the southwest coast within Dunmanus Bay and close to Sheep's Head. It is a small, secluded and open cove with a pier and slip that offers a temporary anchorage in settled conditions.

Completely open to the southwest and with a large reef at its centre, this is a fair-weather stay-aboard anchorage. The cove provides protection from offshore winds, west-northwest through north to east. Attentive daylight navigation is required for access. Although there are no off-lying dangers and it can be approached at any stage of the tide, excellent visibility and settled conditions are required to see the sandy patch in which to anchor, and the adjacent reef.
Please note

There is very little swinging room and a vessel should not be left unattended should conditions suddenly change.




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Keyfacts for Ballynatra (Trá Ruaim) Cove
Facilities
Slipway availableMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this location


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationJetty or a structure to assist landingScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
None listed

Protected sectors

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

Approaches
3 stars: Attentive navigation; daylight access with dangers that need attention.
Shelter
1 stars: Stay-aboard; lunch stop or tide-wait exposed or tenacious holding location where a vessel should not be left unattended.



Last modified
December 3rd 2021

Summary

A stay-aboard location with attentive navigation required for access.

Facilities
Slipway availableMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this location


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationJetty or a structure to assist landingScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
None listed



Position and approaches
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Haven position

51° 33.500' N, 009° 45.500' W

In the anchoring area within the cove. Final positioning will require careful eye-ball navigation.

What is the initial fix?

The following Ballynatra Landing initial fix will set up a final approach:
51° 33.000' N, 009° 46.000' W
This waypoint is a third of a nautical mile east by southeast of Foilavaun Point that is located 2.75 miles east by northeast of Sheep's Head Light. A course of 31° for a distance of 1,200 metres will lead into the cove.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in southwestern Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Mizen Head to Loop Head Route location. Details for the run up the long and narrow Dunmanus Bay are covered in the Dunbeacon Harbour Click to view haven entry.

  • Ballynatra may be readily identified by the prominent Dooneen Point, 1 mile to the northeast.

  • Approaches are cleat with 10 metres of water 60 metres out from the shoreline.

  • Anchor clear to the southwest of the cove's central reef.


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 Ballynatra (Trá Ruaim) Cove for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Dooneen Pier - 1.2 nautical miles ENE
  2. Kilcrohane Pier - 2.6 nautical miles ENE
  3. Dunmanus Harbour - 3.6 nautical miles ESE
  4. Goleen - 4.3 nautical miles SSE
  5. Carrigmore Bay - 4.7 nautical miles SE
  6. Toormore Cove - 4.9 nautical miles ESE
  7. Lonehort Harbour - 5 nautical miles NNW
  8. Lawrence Cove - 5.2 nautical miles NNW
  9. Kitchen Cove - 5.3 nautical miles ENE
  10. Crookhaven - 5.5 nautical miles SSE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Dooneen Pier - 1.2 miles ENE
  2. Kilcrohane Pier - 2.6 miles ENE
  3. Dunmanus Harbour - 3.6 miles ESE
  4. Goleen - 4.3 miles SSE
  5. Carrigmore Bay - 4.7 miles SE
  6. Toormore Cove - 4.9 miles ESE
  7. Lonehort Harbour - 5 miles NNW
  8. Lawrence Cove - 5.2 miles NNW
  9. Kitchen Cove - 5.3 miles ENE
  10. Crookhaven - 5.5 miles SSE
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?
Ballynatra (Trá Ruaim) Cove as see from the southwest
Image: Michael Harpur


Variously known as Ballynatra and Trá Ruaim the small cove is situated on the north shore of Dunmanus Bay about midway between Foilavaun Point and Dooneen Point, less than a mile from either. It is a small and lonely cove with a substantial drying pier, recently restored, in its northwest corner.


Ballynatra (Trá Ruaim) Pier in the northwest corner of the cove
Image: Michael Harpur


The cove faces southwestward out into the might of the Atlantic's prevailing winds and a reef sits in the middle. This makes it the domain of settled conditions and or light offshore winds.


Ballynatra (Trá Ruaim) Pier
Image: Michael Harpur


Ballynatra (Trá Ruaim) is a place for those cruising Dunmanus Bay during an auspicious weather window with a mind to discovering interesting day anchorages for short walks. For this is an exposed anchorage that a boat should not be left unattended.


How to get in?
Trá Ruaim (Trá Ruaim) on the north shore 3½ miles inside the entrance
Image: Michael Harpur


Convergance Point Use Ireland’s coastal overview for Mizen Head to Loop Head Route location for seaward approaches and the the run-up the long and narrow Dunmanus Bay is covered in the Dunbeacon Harbour Click to view haven entry. The small cove of Ballynatra (Trá Ruaim) may be readily identified by the prominent Dooneen Point, 1 mile to the northeast further up the bay. It is the first point that attracts attention when proceeding up along the north shore of Dunmanus Bay. Taking reference from this, the headland of Ballynatra will be readily identified on closer approaches. There are no outline dangers in the vicinity of the cover and the bay is steep to here with 10 metres of water 60 metres out from the shoreline.


The sandy patch off the south-eastern side of the central reef
Image: Michael Harpur


Initial fix location From the Ballynatra initial fix steer a course of 31°T for 1000 metres to the foot of the cove. Closer in, the beach will be seen at the head of the cove and then the pier and slipway on its northwestern side. Enter the cove and look for a sandy patch off the south-eastern side of the visible rock reef in the centre of the cove.


Yacht sat back on the anchor chain
Image: Gareth Thomas


Haven location Anchor in a depth to your preference paying specific attention to the swing room should the wind shift.


Ballynatra (Trá Ruaim) newly refurbished pier
Image: Michael Harpur


Land at the pier at the head of the bay that has good outer and inner steps with rails. There is a slip between the pier and the rocky escarpment of the northwest cliff.

The outer steps and hand rail
Image: Michael Harpur



Why visit here?
Ballynatra derives its name from its Irish name Baile na Trá meaning 'strand homestead'. Very little can be seen in terms of any homestead today save for one solitary ruin overlooking the bay from the back of the valley.


Ballynatra (Trá Ruaim) Cove seen from the glen above
Image: Michael Harpur


The pier set on the northwest shore takes its name from its townland which borders along the road and is called Trá Ruaim meaning 'strand of the fishing line'. This is very fitting as Trá Ruaim pier, the outermost and last pier on the south side of Dunmanus Bay, played a significant part in the substantial Pilchard and Mackerel fishery that took place in Dunmanus Bay as early as the 1600s.


The remains of a drystone building that overlooks the cove
Image: Michael Harpur


At the end of the 1800's the fish merchants 'O'Mahony & Sons, of Goleen' had a 'fish curing station' here along with others at Kilcrohane, Dunmanus, Canty’s Cove, Gort Duv and Goleen. A chosen few, women usually, would split, gut, and salt the fish here at the head of the cove. This done they would pack them in large wooden barrels to cure. A few weeks later the same fish would be removed and repacked into fresh barrels with fresh salt. The lids on these barrels would then be sealed with a hoop for export, usually to North America. Those who worked here may not have risked their lives like those who caught the fish in their narrow wooden seine-boats. But it nonetheless a hard task as the brine used to process the fish burnt hands so badly that it was commonplace for the packers to suffer from huge gaping sores.
The rising ground above the pier
Image: Michael Harpur


All that has passed and now Trá Ruaim is a quiet lonesome place. Situated a few miles from the extremity of the remote Sheep’s Head the inlet provides an ideal settled weather location to land a shore party to explore the outer extremity of the remote and rewarding Sheep’s Head peninsula.


The rocky outer extremity of Sheep's Head
Image: Burke Corbett


Separating Bantry Bay and Dunmanus Bay, with Sheep’s Head at its extremity, the peninsula has much to offer the walker, cyclist and climber. The name Sheep’s Head is a rough translation of the Irish name and is also known in Irish as 'Muntervary', from the Gaelic 'Rinn Mhuintir Bháire' that means 'the headland people of Bháire'. The name dates back to 1846 - 49 when the Ordnance Survey came to West Cork under the command of the exceptional English military surveyor, astronomer and engineer, William Yolland. The Irish names were sometimes difficult to pronounce for non-Irish speakers and the Ordnance Survey approach was to create rough translations that were more easily expressed such as the anglicised Sheep’s Head.


Rusty remains of the manual winch that once hauled in the cove's fishing boats
Image: Michael Harpur


The approach became the basis for the famous play 'Translations' by Brian Friel set around a young man called George Yolland in 18th-century County Donegal. At the end of Friel’s play George Yolland was missing, possibly dead, which was very different to the real Yolland who went on to a resounding career in overseeing the UK rail infrastructure. Furthermore, the true William Yolland was above the naming simplification and always questioned the process. When told that they... 'were clarifying place names that were riddled with confusion', Yolland took a different perspective stating... 'Who is confused? Are the people confused? Something is being eroded here'. Interestingly 'Rinn Mhuintir Bháire' still appears on Ordnance Survey maps in conjunction with the anglicised name 'Sheep’s Head'.


Sheep's Head light structure is an hour and a half's walk from the cove
Image: Tourism Ireland


Whatever the case Ballynatra offers an ideal landing position near the outer end of the peninsula. This makes it possible for a shore party to pick up the outer and more dramatic sections of the 'Sheep's Head Way'. Here the terrain is a raw hummocky landscape that is dotted with small lakes, gritty rocky highs and boggy grassy lows. Following the road up from the pier and branching to the west leads down the headland as it narrows to the light structure at the tip, 6.3 km or an hour and thirty minutes walk away. The remote finger of the headland is truly a wild and beautiful place with impressive cliffs. Alternatively, there are the laneways, tracks and paths of the 'Caher Loop' which is a moderate 5.6 km hike. Followed the trail from Tra Ruaim to The Black Gate up to Caher Lake, down the Quarry Road, onto the Caher Road and return to Trá Ruaim. For those who decide to explore the peninsula, Ordnance Survey Discovery Series Sheet 88 should be a faithful companion.

The Sheep's Head Way
Image: Rebel11 via CC BY 2.0


Visitors keen to land should not overlook the attributes of this beautiful little cove that in settled conditions offers more than a pleasant lunch stop or place to land. Snorkellers will find the cove a paradise on a settled sunny day. The combination of enclosed rock, sand and nutrient-rich Atlantic waves have created a rich and vibrant array of seaweeds and sea life immediately beneath the surface.


A convenient access point for the outer end of the Sheep's Head Way
Image: Gareth Thomas


From a boating point of view, the cove makes for a good landing site to set down a shore party to explore the outer end of the Sheep’s Head Way. But it would not be a place where the vessel could be left unattended.


What facilities are available?
This is a remote and isolated location with nothing but a quay and slip in the cove.


Any security concerns?
It is advisable that a vessel is not left unattended in case natural conditions change which would put the vessel at risk. That being said, it is highly unlikely that another soul will be seen at this location.


With thanks to:
Gareth Thomas, Yacht Jalfrezi.




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