Spectacular views and a world of breathtaking natural beauty can be seen for endless miles along the rugged rocks of Fair Head, Murlough Bay and Torr Head.
Known as Northern Ireland’s tallest cliff face, the impressive Fair Head rises 600 feet above sea level and can be seen from Ballycastle and many other points along the north coast.
The rocky headland lies 3 miles (5 km) east of Ballycastle town, and is the closest part of the mainland to Rathlin Island.
Highly regarded as a rock-climbing location, it is believed to be the biggest expanse of climbable rock in either Ireland or Britain.
Owned by the National Trust, visitors to the area will be astounded by its well-preserved natural beauty.
Wild goats can be seen roaming among the rocks beneath the clifftops, where a walkway called ‘The Grey Man’s Path’ winds around the rugged coastline.
From the road, a manmade Iron Age island or crannóg can be seen in the middle of a lake, Lough na Cranagh. The lakes are stocked with trout and can be fished during the summer months.
Open all year round
Take the A2/ Cushendall Road out of Ballycastle, turn left onto the Torr Road. Turn left again onto the Fairhead Road, which is signposted for Fairhead Car Park. The National Trust car park is located at the end of Fair Head Road.
Another car park is present closer to Murlough Bay at D190417. Instead of turning left on tot he Farihead Road, continue along the Torr Road. Turn left and left again, following signs for Murlough Bay.
The cliffs are divided into several main sectors. From east to west, these are:
* The Small Crag, a 20m-high sector containing about 70 climbs, which stretches for 1 km above a heavily-forested hillside. The difficulty of access means that abseiling in is usually necessary.
* The Main Crag (including The Prow at its western end) is by far the most important sector. It curves around the headland for 3 km, and contains the longest and best-quality climbs, up to 100m in height. Access is gained mainly by two easy descent gullies near either end of the sector, the Grey Man’s Path at the east, and the Ballycastle Gully at the west. The Ballycastle Gully tends to be the more popular descent route for casual visitors, as there is a concentration of easier climbs in the vicinity. Between the two gullies, the starts of climbs can be reached by picking one’s way through the boulder-field or by doing a usually-vertical abseil of up to 100m.
* Farrangandoo is a popular small sector consisting of columns with intervening cracks every 2m or so, and contains about 30 single-pitch climbs.
* Marconi’s Cove is about 500m distant from the rest of the crag, and was not discovered until 1988, but contains about 25 good-quality single-pitch climbs.
Base camps are usually established near the tops of the descent routes; the walk-ins this far are pleasant and quite short, through the open grazing fields above the crag. However, access to some of the climbs themselves can be quite rough and time-consuming.
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