Keyfacts for Belderg Harbour
Summary* Restrictions applyA tolerable location with straightforward access.
Position and approaches
Haven position54° 18.676' N, 009° 33.115' W
at the pier in the harbour
What is the initial fix?
Not what you need?
- Porturlin Bay - 5.6 nautical miles W
- Portacloy Bay - 8.2 nautical miles W
- Ross Port - 9.1 nautical miles W
- Kilcummin - 12.3 nautical miles E
- Broadhaven Bay - 12.4 nautical miles WSW
- Killala Bay - 13.1 nautical miles ESE
- Frenchport (Portnafrankagh) - 19 nautical miles WSW
- Elly Bay - 20.2 nautical miles WSW
- Blacksod Pier - 21.9 nautical miles SW
- Inishkea Island South - 25.5 nautical miles WSW
How to get in?The 'Erris Head to Malin Head' coastal description provides approach information to the suggested initial fix. Vessels approaching from the south should select the northeast bound sequenced description; vessels approaching from the north should select the southwest bound sequence; western approaches may use either description.
Belderg Harbour, also known as Belderrig, Irish : Beal Deirg, is an inlet off the North Atlantic Ocean situated midway between Benwee Head and the Stags of Broad Haven, and Killala Bay on the northern coast of County Mayo, on the west coast of Ireland.
The 24 mile stretch of coast from Broad Haven Bay to Killala Bay is most inhospitable as there is no completely safe anchorage, and no shelter from the usual swell and fierce gusts from off the cliffs. The coast is sparsely inhabited and there is little attraction in attempting a landing. However, in really quiet weather or in a southerly breeze, the cliffs some of which are 150 metres high are an unforgettable spectacle, and there are five small coves each with a small slip on its west side where a landing might be effected. Portacloy and Belderg are the best of these and a yacht might find either of them a useful passage anchorage.
Among the craggy headlands east of Broad Haven is the small inlet of Belderg, and the approach can be identified by the marked change from the very high and bold aspect of the coast west of the entrance, to comparatively low cliffs round the shores of the bay, backed by gentle grassy slopes. Horse Island to the west of the entrance is fairly low with cliffs on its west side and grassy slopes to its east. Carrickneill to the east of the entrance is a rocky shoal that is mostly covered at high water.
The small north facing bay of Belderg is slightly more than 0.5 miles wide and extends southwards inland for a distance of just under 1 mile. It has rocky shores, and at its head there is a natural lagoon behind the pier where a flight of steps lead down over the harbour wall to an amazing wave-cut platform of stone which is accessible at low water and forms an ideal place for a spot of swimming or paddling.
The harbour affords a fair anchorage for small craft with offshore winds in moderate weather, and possibly better shelter in southerly winds than some of the neighbouring bays, but should the winds shift to north west it would be better to head for the roads at Kilcummin in Killala Bay. Bunatrahir Bay and Lackan Bay, respectively west and east of Downpatrick Head are pretty but quite dangerous and are not recommended as anchorages. The recommended anchorage is off the west shore in depths of 4 to 10 metres in good holding ground. At the head of the bay is a disused boathouse standing on a rocky gut which is too narrow for anchoring, but adjacent to it is a stone breakwater pier and a slipway for a dinghy landing. On an otherwise challenging coast Belderg Harbour is another bay that can be a welcome bolt-hole.
Why visit here?Belderg (Béal dearg, red fort mouth), is a beautiful sprawling rural coastal area located in a region rich in historical and archaeological heritage. The scattered village of Belderg is situated about 1.5 miles inland south of the harbour, and in the immediate proximity to the village are the Belderg Cliffs which contain some of the most spectacular coastal geology in Ireland, and from here on a clear day there are fine views as far as The Stags of Broad Haven in the west, and the Sligo coastline and the cliffs at Killybegs in the east.
Three miles east of Belderg there is a conspicuous pyramid-shaped building situated near to the edge of the cliffs. This is the Ceide Fields Visitor Centre, set in the largest Stone Age site and the oldest known field system in the world. Covering several square miles the Ceide Fields are over five thousand years old, and lay buried beneath the peat until a generation ago. In the 1930's whilst cutting turf the local schoolmaster Patrick Caulfield had noticed that there were stones beneath the ground laid in patterns that could only have been man made. Years later his son Prof. Seamus Caulfield an archeologist discovered evidence of cultivated fields, houses and tombs and what is now known as Ceide Fields. The Visitor Centre at Ceide Fields, pronounced Kayd – je, is well worth a visit but a little awkward to access for cruising sailors, although Belderg within 4 miles of the site is a practicable anchorage if the weather is settled.
Horse Island on the west of the entrance to Belderg covers an area of ten acres and is joined to the mainland by a short narrow causeway. It is a secluded location that is very popular with bird watchers.
The essence of the Belderg landscape was captured by Seamus Heaney in a poem accompanying a thank you letter to Patrick Caulfield's house in 1974 shortly after he made a visit. Seamus Heaney is a famous Irish poet and playwright, and was the recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature.
Other than the pier and slipway that are used by the local fishermen Belderg has no amenities except for the village pub, a 1.5 mile walk from the harbour.
What facilities are available?There are no facilities at this location, except for the village pub which is a 1.5 mile walk from the harbour slip.
With thanks to:inyourfootsteps.com site research.
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