On a practical note:
Gear: Double up on nuts, don’t be shy about digging the larger hexes out of the wardrobe, double up on cams (especially 1,2,3,4), a couple of slings, krabs and lots and lots of quick draws. Always take a few minutes before starting the route and try to decide what will be most useful and efficient.
Ropes: 60m half ropes are generally best, but a single 60m can be used on The Prow.
Abseil Rope: 50m for The Prow (a 50 will also get you to the base of other routes further down the crag if you use a dedicated static rigging line to accompany the 50 – but be super cautions and make sure the rope hits the deck). A 100m static is best for the middle section of the crag as it’s a nightmare walking the base as it’s covered in ferns and hidden blocks.
Access: If one uses The Ballycastle Decent Gully and The Grey Man’s Path Gully as access points then it’s relatively easy to locate routes.
Anchors: Lots of the routes have large boulders on the top (most courtesy of the local climber friendly farmer Sean) for anchors. Occasionally one will have to use gear but that’s no problem to us as trad climbers.
Clothing: The crag is North Facing and often times one could wear a light down jacket at belays during the Summer. Be smart and bring a few layers and possibly a little bag for the second to carry if required.
Place to stay: Sean’s Farm is the most convenient location with camping on offer for £5 p/night. He has installed drinkable tap water at the old ruins and there is currently a portaloo (well maintained there). You can stay in Ballycastle but this option is only for the ‘whimpering softcakes.’
Hints and Tips: There are a couple of skills to master at Fairhead that those familiar to Dalkey and Glendo will not have encountered. Jamming – there are quite a few climbs that require solid jamming for sections but if one is not familiar with the style don’t fret… just get stuck in.
Gear Placement: On most routes one could place two racks of gear!! This is beneficial in a way as the route is safer (I would argue safer than Dalkey) but a real Fairhead skill is to know when to place gear and when to run it out above good (excellent) gear. If one is stopping every meter to place gear than the likelihood of getting pumped is 100% guaranteed….. develop a critical eye and your grade will jump.
When to visit: Ideally one needs to be leading at VS/HVS for the crag to start to open up. But there is never a ‘right’ time for a first visit…. even if one is starting out I would suggest a visit is worthwhile just to walk the crag and take in the spectacular views (on a nice day). Don’t let the size and scale of the crag become the first hurdle….
And finally…. take time to look at the environment as it’s a stunning place.
Be safe but be bold.