/ Fair Head

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Traveller - on 28 Apr 2013
Can anyone recommend a few routes for a first visit to Fair Head? We're not hard climbers; climbed an E1 for the first time last year but generally climbing VS/HVS at best.

Route recommendations for a gentle introduction - about VS, or lower if there is anything - and then some stuff about HVS/easy E1 for later visits, would be much appreciated.


tistimetogo on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to Traveller:

Not a huge amount at that level, but def plenty enough worth a visit.


Typical starting routes are the black thief or fence at the prow.

I'd also recommend December at the Binnagapple area as a nice HVS, Toby jug being a harder version at E1.

Small crag could be a good intro, cracks like jungle line (bring a few big pieces) are super safe and straight forward.


John2 - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to Traveller: Burn Up is one of the best HVSs I have ever climbed.
kevin stephens - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to Traveller: Fairhead reall starts at around HVS/E1. The VSs are few, far between and gnarly. Having said that the HVSs are very well protected. Great North Road at Milstone would be quite typical of Fairhead's HVS; if you enjoyed that you will love Fairhead
victim of mathematics - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to kevin stephens:

All the starred VSs I've done we're great and quite stout/burly for the grade. Hell's Kitchen and Burn Up are outstanding HVSs though (and not much harder)
Caspar McKeever - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to Traveller: Just in case you havent heard the Fair Head meet is coming up at the end of May, think it starts 30th May. Great place!
Traveller - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to Caspar McKeever: Thanks all. There seems to be a lot of VS and HVS in the guidebook; the consensus here though seems to be that there aren't. Are they poor quality? Also, what is 'the small crag' like?
John2 - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to Traveller: I didn't climb at the small crag, but the base looked heavily overgrown with unpleasant access.
Hammy - on 29 Apr 2013
In reply to Traveller: Girona is a photogenic classic (VS)
donna ryan - on 29 Apr 2013
In reply to Traveller: whilst a great venue for extreme climbers, there is enough to do at fair head for a mid grade climber for a while!
Start with black thief ( easy single pitch vs to get you started on the prow)

Black thief
The Fence
Roaring meg
Dearg doom

The offence
Burn Up
Hells kitchen
Sabre rattler
Fath mo bhuartha

To name a few! I can vouch that all these routes are quality most being sustained three pitchers. Enjoy!
Tim_C7 - on 29 Apr 2013
In reply to Traveller:

Agree with the above, though watch out for Roaring Meg, I found it a bit spicy first thing in the morning. Girona, Chieftain and Taoiseach are classics, and black thief and fence are also well worth a go. Might take you a climb or two to tune into the rock.
Traveller - on 29 Apr 2013
In reply to Tim_C7: Thanks both, that's a good list to be going at!
Bobling - on 29 Apr 2013
In reply to Traveller:

Excellent thread - I've been eying up Fairhead too, and this is really good info. Is there anything below VS?
victim of mathematics - on 29 Apr 2013
In reply to Bobling:

Andy Moles - on 29 Apr 2013
In reply to Bobling:

Go to the crag page on here: http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crag.php?id=17029 and click to order the climbs by grade.

There's a few easier things on the Small Crag, but the Small Crag is not a good reason to visit Fair Head.
M0nkey on 29 Apr 2013 - ip-77-221-178-218.dsl.twang.net
In reply to Traveller:

You might find some of the VS's and HVS's at fairhead a bit adventurous. Some of them have a quite "big crag" feel to them. Whilst the ones suggested are all good routes (some of them brilliant), you will hear a lot of people telling you that Fairhead doesn't really start properly until E2. That is just because E2 is the first magic grade at fairhead. By that i mean that when you can climb E2, the door opens to a seemingly infinite supply of mega classics that will change your outlook on climbing and probably your outlook on life as well. The next magic grade at Fairhead is E4 because that opens up the next level of super classics.

That's not to say the VS's and HVS's aren't worthwhile, they are. You just won't quite be getting the best of the area. A bit like going to Buoux when you can only climb 5+. There's a few good routes, but you'd enjoy it a lot more if you could climb 6b (then more again if you could climb 7a).

If you are coming for a week, i'd suggest a dual location holiday - start in the Mournes and finish at Fairhead, or vice versa. The Mournes has a lot of wee crackers around VS/HVS.
Loughan - on 29 Apr 2013
In reply to Traveller: As a S/VS bimbler but living close to Fairhead it's a love/hate relationship for me as there's little in my range but i don't have the time to work at it. The best routes have been listed above.

The small crag is to be avoided after May as midgies blown over from scotland setup a blood sucking swarm that feed relentlessly on you which is great for pushing the grade but not for your enjoyment.

If you're mobile you could also consider a visit to the Mournes which is under 2 hours away and offers a vast number of routes at all grades. The new guidebook is excellent. However, you really can't top fairhead for sheer drama and topping out in to the sun with that view behind you.
johncoxmysteriously - on 29 Apr 2013
In reply to M0nkey:

That's good advice imho – when I went to Fair Head (a wonderful crag, as good as any in these islands) I was climbing E3-E5 over here and I remember some distinctly scary moments on Hell’s Kitchen. It’s a bit like Gogarth; has a grip factor of its own.

Not to say it can’t be enjoyed by a visiting party operating at VS/HVS if that’s the grade they lead back home; I’m sure it can be, but being prepared for the possibility of squalls would be sensible.

Traveller - on 02 May 2013
In reply to johncoxmysteriously: Once again,thanks to all; this is a really useful and inspiring thread. I'm planning more than one visit so will work on pushing up to the 'magic' routes!
donna ryan - on 07 May 2013
In reply to Bobling:

Not much but there is a crag to the left (if you can get through the head height brambles that grow in the summer!)the name escapes me but it has some easier stuff but not the same quality as the main attraction!

If you want to go somewhere that is a mini training ground for Fairhead; a friendly crag with lots of quality routes in the lower grades go a little further along the Antrim coast to Dunsevrick (check out Columcille Climbers for routes and directions etc.) where you can try out some of my creations!
donna ryan - on 07 May 2013
In reply to M0nkey:

It is true Fairhead is a big Crag; with the majority of climbs over E2; but I love it as a lifelong midgrade climberI find that Fairhead is exilerating but loaded with gear; agree Mournes are great but also try Dunsevrick the Donegal oucrops, which are easy to fit into a tour of the North!

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