The attempts at climbing on Ballydavid Head (OS Sheet 70, Discovery series. GR Q 389 114) in 1956 were confined to the extreme south-west end, where three ridges run south to two islands in the sea from a single top.
Descent: Descend the gully between the innermost ridge and the second ridge, until a gully of strangely weathered rock is reached. Descend this to a gap above a gendarme that we called the Grey Soldier, on the central ridge. Traverse around the Soldier to its other side and descend to the bottom of the ridge.
Grey Soldier Ridge 90m Severe B. McCall, F. Winder (leads shared) September 1956
1. 20m. From the easy slabs at the sea ascend the first step at its right hand side (hard) and then pull around to right of ridge. Ascend slab and traverse back onto face at top of second step. Piton belay.
2. 25m. Return to right and climb steep groove (long reach) or go straight up face. Continue up easier rock to belay on left of ridge.
3. 20m. Up onto ridge and continue along edge to belay at base of Grey Soldier.
4. 25m. Up ridge to Soldier. Ascend this by chimney on left and descend the same way.
5. Climb the next pinnacle by a few moves up the face and then traverse right.
6. A further 70-100m of climbing can be obtained up the ridge. It is quite interesting and strenuous, but mostly moderate and can be climbed continuously most of the way. One large gendarme is taken slightly to the right.
The following information is taken from New Climbs 1993 - 1995.
The following climbs are located on a big slab of rock below and somewhat west of the watchtower. From Feohanagh take the road north for Brandon Creek. Immediately after crossing a bridge, turn L in the direction of the headland and drive as far up as the road will go, to park in the settlement. Walk up the boreen and then uphill until the cliff-line is reached (20 mins).
Follow the ridge north-east in the direction of the watchtower until a very prominent rock is encountered right on the cliff edge. It is approximately 300m west of the watchtower where an indistinct wall coming down from same fades out. This rock is made up of 2/3 perched blocks pointing out to sea and is unmistakable.
Scramble down the grassy hillside just east of the boulder with extreme caution, until the cliff is reached. Belay on a small buttress (about 4m high with a cleft running right through it) above the slab and abseil down (about three rope lengths) to some ledges at a zawn and a huge cave. Many of the ledges are non-tidal.
The cliff is a huge slab, 135m or so in height, formed from a single tilted bedding plane of sandstone, similar to Sybil Head, though steeper and smoother. The rock is very clean and eminently climable. The potential for more routes is high, though they are likely to be of a higher grade than those reported here. The location is magnificent.
Atlantic Ocean HVS 5a 135m
This route follows a line from the bottom R-hand side of the slab diagonally up to a ledge one third of the way up. It continues up the centre of the faceand then veers back R into the shallow corner running up the the upper half of the wall.
Start: around the corner of the main slab at its west end, the side away from the cave, at a short corner and cleft. This start is tidal.
1/. 10m 5a Climb up and L onto a comfortable and spacious incut ledge.
2/. 30m 5a Ascend L-wards up a ramp and crack system to the base of a clean cut corner. Arrange protection and then climb out L onto the main face and up the unprotected but relatively easy (4b) L arete of the corner to reach easy ground and good protection. Move L to belay in the centre of the face, directly below a slight recess.
3/. 25m 5a Climb up the recess with only adequate protection. At its top bear diagonally L-wards to reach a more broken area of ledges and undercut blocks (with better protection) on the edge of the seepage zone. Gain the top of a wet block to the L and climb the slab above and to the R of the block, finishing up a thin crack to gain a horizontal break to belay. This point is just level with an overhang on the L-hand wall from where the seepage emanates and is the starting point of the route "Only The Lonely".
4/. 30m 5a Traverse to the R for a few metres to a thin crack and ascend this diagonally R-wards at first and then straight up to belay where convenient on one of the small incut holds. Fairly continuous 5a throughout, though well protected.
5/. 40m 5a Continue up to the thin crack which is ascended to the top.
S. Gallwey, J. Bergin June 1994.
Only The Lonely E2 5c 60m
This climb takes the thin crack line running up the face to the L of the upper pitches of "Atlantic Ocean".
Start: from the belay at the top of the third pitch of "Atlantic Ocean".
1/. 30m 5c Climb the smooth slab (crux) to better holds and a good crack which is climbed more easily, to belay on the last good foothold just after the climbing gets hard again, and a little below a small overlap.
2/. 30m 5c Follow the crack line to where it fades out. Step R to the start of a new thin line and follow this through to a bulge at the top. This pitch has continuously sustained climbing, following a crack below finger-tip size for the most part, though there is the occasional slot. The protection is mainly small wires, rocks 4 - 6 being particularly useful. (Use plenty due to the soft nature of the rock). The largest size RP's are useful on the final section, above the last bulge.
S. Gallwey, J. Bergin June 1995.