Sat 23rd May - Mon 25th May, 1998
Rock Climbing, Fairhead, Ireland
Members present: Tony Major, Al Metelko, Dave Bone, Roger Mapleson, Bridget Mapleson, Sabina Cosulich, Kevin Anderson, Dave Dillon, Dave Shotton, Goose and Duncan Lee.
Guests present: Mark Harrington, Joan Stewart, Peter Bannister and Joan Flanagan.
Despite the complexities of having to book a ferry, the K.M.C. arrived in Northern Ireland in large numbers for the referendum weekend. The majority of the group arrived at the idyllicly situated but basic Benvan hut in fading light and the "wingeathon" commenced. Oh the joys of leading a meet. Eventually a real fire was crackling in the grate, things seemed more homely and the moaning subsided.
Saturday dawned cold, wet and windy so the entire team headed into Ballycastle for breakfast. Many found the Ulster fry particularly addictive. The County Antrim tourist trek was then embarked upon with one car visiting Carrick- a - rede rope bridge and everyone checked out Giant's Causeway. By mid-afternoon a few people ventured to the crag during a brief break in the weather. Some just looked whereas R 'n' B slithered and battled up "The Fence"(V.S. 4c**) and Sabina and I jammed our way up "Railroad"(E1 5b**). COLD! PUB!
Al and Wavey having played at "who can be the maddest with an axe " kept the home fires burning in the evening.
Sunday dawned windy, wet and cold with a huge cloud hanging over the crag so it was into town for breakfast once more. Ulster fry; just say no. With the cliff still shrouded in thick mist desperate measures were called for. Climbing in the rain was my favoured option but giving up and going home appealed more to Dave B., Mark and Tony. As is customary on such occasions once they departed the weather improved for a few hours so it was game on.
Kevin and Al raved about the quality of "Girona "(V.S.4c,4c***) for the entire length of the route whilst Goose and Pete bemoaned the lichen on "Taoiseach"(V.S.4c,4c*).
At one point Goose resorted to using a large hex to scrap moss off a crucial smear. Oh how we laughed. Sabina and I swung leads on the enjoyable "Chieftain" (V.S.4b,4b**) followed by R 'n' B. A brief burst of watery sunshine then had me rushing off to The Prow only to get half way up "The Embankment"(E2 5c***) before the rain returned. In the true spirit of the club everyone donned their waterproofs, broke out their sandwiches and sat down to watch the entertainment. Thankfully the rock stayed relatively dry so they were disappointed. Also true to the clubs spirit was the way all the "gentlemen"(?) present left Sabina to follow the pitch as they headed for the shelter of the cars.
A retreat to town was then made to sample a few pints of the black stuff and soak up the atmosphere of the "Northern Lights Music Fest." Folk musicians in virtually every pub and bands on the stage in the town square. The resulting dancing in the streets was fairly predictable.
Monday's weather was also abysmal so as Kevin and Joan headed off towards Donegal the rest of us headed home . An enjoyable meet despite the weather. Many thanks to everyone who turned up. A return match next year?
A final plug and a little more information to tempt you off the couch and over the Irish Sea but first its time for those useful telephone numbers again.
SeaCat Ferry services : 0990 - 523523
Sealink Ferry services : 01574 - 273616
Stenaline Ferry services : 01232 - 747747
Just to recap - Fairhead, on the North Coast of County Antrim East of the market town of Ballycastle, is undoubtedly one of the British Isles best crags. It is well worth the extra effort to get there. The cliff is over 2 miles long attaining 400 ft in height in places and is superbly located overlooking Rathin Island and The Mull of Kintyre.
The rock is basalt and columnar in nature (a giant Giants' Causeway) thus providing perfect crack and corner systems at very regular intervals. Most of the routes follow the soaring cracks, so take a substantial rack. Most routes are multi pitch (VS and above), most are superb and queues are non existent. A crack climbers paradise far from the maddening crowds.
In the case of the unlikely event of rainfall, the area offers lots of sites to see and touristy things to do such as drink Guinness, visit Giants Causeway, drink Guinness, visit the Bushmills Distillery, drink whisky, venture across Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, eat dulce (sea weed), drink Guinness, eat soda bread, drink Guinness, yummy, etc,.
Due to Covid restrictions many meets have been cancelled and remaining meets are members only. Please check back after the restrictions are lifted.