About two miles west of Portstewart Point, lies the entrance of the River Bann, which is the longest river in Ulster, its length, Lower and Upper and Bann combined, is 129 km or 80 miles. Exiting into the Atlantic at Barmouth, on the north coast, the river winds its way from its source in the Mourne Mountains, situated in the southeast corner of Northern Ireland, pausing in the middle to widen into the enormous Lough Neagh. Incidentally, the name Barmouth doesn't appear on Google maps.
Although only 2 miles away, three quarters of that distance is made up of the magnificent Portstewart Strand and so, rather than a 3.5 mile trek over soft sand, it appeared on the map that driving to Castlerock on the west side of the Bann entrance, would necessitate a mere 0.5 mile trek over sand. Of course the 28 minute drive back to Coleraine and then back out to the coast had to be factored in but it still seemed the better bet. Of course by doing this I would be on the wrong side of the river for the East Pier Light but it was easily visible from the West Pier.
Despite dire warnings of soft sand, it appears I could easily have driven up to the pier across the strand but it didn't seem right to disturb the hardy dog-walkers (it was 7.30am on a Bank Holiday Sunday) so I parked up and walked. And I'm glad I did. It was a lovely morning and quite idyllic.
The east pierhead has a 4.5 metre high white four-sided, tapering concrete tower. It's light is, reputedly, Fl R 5s 6m 2M . I believe it is operated by the Coleraine Port Authority. Originally oil-lit, it was constructed in 1947. This lamp was replaced with a battery-powered one in 1952 (and latterly with a solar-powered one). (see here page 64 for construction of moles and lights)
The entrance to the Bann