Loch Ryan

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Loch Ryan
Loch Rìoghaine
Aerial view of Loch Ryan (facing south)

Aerial view of Loch Ryan (facing south)

Waters North channel (strait)
Land mass Scotland , Rhins of Galloway
Geographical location 54 ° 59 '10 "  N , 5 ° 3' 18"  W Coordinates: 54 ° 59 '10 "  N , 5 ° 3' 18"  W.
Loch Ryan Loch Rìoghaine (Scotland)
Loch Ryan Loch Rìoghaine
length 13.4 km
surface 197 km 2dep1
Greatest water depth 16 m
Tributaries Water of App, Glen Burn
Map of Loch Ryan

Map of Loch Ryan

Loch Ryan ( Scottish Gaelic Loch Rìoghaine [ ɫ̪ɔx r̴iː.ɛɲə ], formerly Lochryan ) is a loch and an important natural harbor in Scotland . The sea ​​loch, which separates the Scottish lowlands from the Rhins of Galloway peninsula , is the starting point for ferry routes to Northern Ireland . The largest place on the coast is Stranraer at the southern end.

Aerial view of Loch Ryan, looking south west. Belfast is on the horizon .


Loch Ryan extends for a length of about eight miles between the southwest corner of Scotland and the offshore peninsula of Rhins of Gallway. In the north the bay joins the Firth of Clyde . To the south, in the very center of the bay, is the town of Stranraer .

Loch Ryan was formed by geological and glacial activity in the Paleozoic , when what is now Scotland was still part of the Pangea . The basin was then filled with sandstones. This was later dismantled down to the rocks again during the Ice Ages. Since then, erosion has been gnawing at the bay and debris has been washed ashore. Loch Ryan is only a maximum of 16 m deep, while at the mouth the water depth drops rapidly to 25 m. This makes the bay ideal as an anchorage. The sandbar on the western coast is an important breeding ground for terns .


The Loch Ryan area has been inhabited since ancient times. The bay has always offered fishermen good protection from the rough sea conditions of the North Channel and the North Atlantic .

In the Statistical Accounts of Scotland 1791 one can read about Stranraer:

“Contigous to this village is a very safe and commodious bay with good anchoring ground, and depth of water for ships of any burden. ... This bank abounds with oysters of a most excellent flavor. They are found indeed all around the shores and might be got in great quantities would people drag for them ……. A variety of fish, as skate, flounders, small cod, haddocks, whiting, lobsters, crabs and sometimes turbot are caught within the hole ”

- Statistical Accounts of Scotland. 1791, p. 357 f.

In 1845 it is written:

“Loch Ryan at one time was famous for its herring fishery. I have heard old people say that they have known 300 sail boats in the bay at one time which had come from the highlands and other places, in order to fish or purchase herrings. For many years past the shoals of herrings may be said to have deserted the loch. ”

- Statistical Accounts of Scotland. 1845, p. 94 f.

In 1847 a lighthouse was built at Cairn Point at the north end of Cairnryan on the east bank . Two years later, the starting point for the ferry to Northern Ireland was moved from Portpatrick to Stranraer, because the increasingly larger ships there were better protected from the heavy storms.

The polar explorer John Ross , who was anchored here in June 1829 on his second polar expedition with the Victory , also reported such a storm .

Second World War

A Saro Lerwick of the RAF's 209 Squadron, March 1941, taking off from Loch Ryan

During the Second World War, the port of Cairnryan was massively expanded. The British feared that the ports on the Mersey and the Clyde could be damaged by enemy bombs, which is why they began building long quays in 1941 . However, these were never used to their full extent because the feared heavy bombardment did not materialize.

The port served in particular as the arrival point for troops from America after 1942. Two stations of the Royal Air Force were also located at the hole to defend the Allied ships against the German submarines.

At the end of the war, many German submarine crews were accompanied here for delivery. The boats were then sunk in the Atlantic .

There is not much left of the World War II buildings today, and what is left is in a desolate state.

Scrapping yard

Shipyard in Cairnryan

In Cairnryan, the two British ships HMS Eagle and HMS Ark Royal, as well as many others, were scrapped at the end of their service lives.

Loch Ryan today

Stranraer today, at low tide

Today Loch Ryan is the starting point for the important ferry connection to Northern Ireland. The fast ferries of the Stena Line , Stena Superfast VII and Stena Superfast VIII need only 2 hours and 15 minutes for a crossing. In addition, P&O Ferries offers crossings with conventional ferries.

Since these ferry lines have been operating from Cairnryan , the inner, southern part of the bay has been free of large ships, which leaves space for recreational boating. There are mooring facilities for pleasure boats in Wig Bay and Stranraer .

Because of the swell caused by the fast ferries, increasingly stricter speed regulations had to be issued in the bay. The capsizing of a small motorboat, in which three people drowned, gave rise to speculation about the danger of the waves that these ferries cause, although in this particular case the cause was rather the poorly maintained and overloaded boat.


  • Archie Bell Bell. Stranraer in World War Two. Stranraer And District Local History Trust, Stranraer 2005, ISBN 0-9542966-3-X .

Web links

Commons : Loch Ryan  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Scottish Environment Protection Agency Shellfish Growing Areas, Loch Ryan (PDF).
  2. a b c Parish of Stranraer . 1791. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  3. ^ Parish of Stranraer . 1845. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  4. Captain Sir John Ross second expedition to the regions of the North Pole, 1829–1833 . First part. G. Reimer, Berlin 1835, In Chapter II: Arriving on Loch Ryan and in Chapter 3: Leaving Loch Ryan , p. 32 ( books.google.de - English: Narrative of a second voyage in search of a north-west passage, and of a residence in the Arctic regions, during the years 1829, 1830, 1831, 1832, 1833. Translated by Julius Graf von der Gröben). - ( English original edition ).
  5. ^ Operation "Deadlight". wlb-stuttgart.de, accessed on November 6, 2017 (pictures of the submarines in Loch Ryan).
  6. MAIB report on July 2003 tragedy . April 2004. Retrieved November 5, 2017.