Ballygalley Head

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A small but entertaining roadside crag situated four miles north of Larne and just south of Ballygalley village on the Antrim Coast road. Grid Ref. D 384079 NIOS 1/50,000 Sheet 9.

The rock is dolerite, of columnar formation and dries quickly after rain. The routes are all one pitch, up to 30m in height and mostly follow crack lines offering good protection. Some of the easier routes contain loose rock and should be treated carefully.

The roadside nature of the crag has its drawbacks, and the occupiers of the surrounding land, Ballygalley Golf Club, have withdrawn their permission for climbing to carry on. Their fears apparently stem from any liability they may have if climbers on their land cause any accident to road users. The MCI has been negotiating for some years now to improve the situation but the Golf Club are currently refusing to discuss the matter further.

The MCI has asked that its members do nothing to further aggravate the situation and requests that any climbers exercise caution if climbing on the crag. The situation may well change and such changes will be published in Irish Mountain Log and on the MCI's website on

There is a car parking area about 100m south of the crag – below the old quarry where climbing stopped many years ago to protect nesting seabirds. The crag is made up of two bays, containing Stable Gully and Castle Gully respectively, separated by the roadside wall. The main hazards to road users stem from stones being knocked down while descending Castle Gully, so it is best to avoid this and follow a small track down the northern side of the headland to reach the road about 50m north of the crag.

If climbing at Ballygalley is to have any future then it will only be as a result of sensible use.

Tapiola 10m VD
K Lindsay, A Blair. Autumn 1994.
Takes the clean crack, wall and arête left of WC. Pleasant climbing.

WC 10m VD
W Jenkins, C Torrans. 1967.
Takes the short crack at the extreme left-hand side of the cliff.

Iky-Mo-MO 15m S 3c
D C Agnew, I Smyth. 31/12/1967.
The twin cracks immediately right of WC, finishing either straight up or exiting right.

Slipskid 28m E1 5c
J Codling, P Douglas. 7/1979.
The arête between IKY-MO and Lucky Strike.

Lucky Strike ** 28m VS 5a
R Cowan. 5/1968.
A fine delicate climb that takes the thin crack 3m below and left of IKY-MO. The route follows the crack directly with the grade easing after about half height.

Reprisal * 28m VS 4b
J McGrath, D C Agnew. 30/4/1968.
The next crack to the right and the wall to the right of this are climbed past a small notch to a good ledge. Easier climbing to the top.

Sabre 30m S
D C Agnew, J Roche. 25/5/1968.
The thin crack, 1m right of Reprisal, is followed through a bulging overhang to the top.

Astronaut 30m S
D C Agnew, F Devlin. 1965.
It takes a line just right of Sabre to the large corner and straight up to the right hand end of "sabre" ledge

The next ten routes have all become very grassy and a bit loose and are not recommended.

Christmas 30m VD
J McGrath, D C Agnew. 25/12/1967
. Route takes a thin crack, left of a rib about 3m right of Astronaut, to reach the Oval and the top. - this route has fallen down

Cutlass 30m VD
J McGrath, D C Agnew. 1/1968.
Climb the crack, right of the rib, right to Cutlass to stand on a doubtful flake. Mantelshelf to a small ledge on the right and finish as for Hammer.

Hammer 30m S
R Cowan. 5/1968.
The next crack to the right. Climb with an undercut followed by an awkward mantelshelf. Up the left past a rib to a notch. Finish up rightwards.

Stiletto 30m S
DC Agnue, M McGrath. 1/1968.
The next crack to the right. Start with an undercut followed by an awkward mantelshelf. Up and left past a rib to a notch. Finish up rightwards.

Satellite 30m S
D C Agnew, P Southwark. 5/1967.
The next crack to the right. Climb the bulging crack, then the rib on the right to gain an alcove. Continue to the flutings above and then a grass ledge. Reach the top via a short crack in the right-hand corner. Alternatively climb to the right-hand side of the alcove and back left from the perched block.

Jake's Progress 30m S
B McFarland, B Gallwey. 3/7/1979.
Start 2m right of Satellite. Climb the crack to a small overhang. Move out left onto the small wall and surmount the overhang.

Skylab 30m VD
B McFarland, B Galwey. 11/7/1979.
Start 4m right of Satellite. Climb up a large open crack to a small jammed block at 12m. Up and over this and finish up the crack.

Grass Stupidity 30m S
B McFarland, B Galwey. 7/1979.
Start 2m right of Skylab directly behind the middle of the old lay-by. Pull up onto a grassy ledge on the left and proceed up the right-hand crack to the top of the pillar. Climb diagonally left to a larger grass ledge and then to the top.

Sputnik 30m S
D C Agnew, F Devlin. 4/1966.
Start about 3m left of Postie. Follow a thin crack widening into a notch below a grass ledge. From the right-hand corner of this climb up to another ledge and over a bulge to the Spillikin. Take a short wall on the left to a grassy balcony and then move diagonally right to the top.

Pull Through 150m S
D Marriott, A Price. 9/6/1979
A girdle traverse, starting as for Sputnik, moving left from a large grass bay along the obvious fault line to cross the arête of Slipskid into IKY-MO and finally WC.

Quiet Times 12m. HVS 5b
K Lindsay, T Spiers, A Blair. 20/5/1995.
The crack left of Postie. Up Postie until flat handholds enable the crack to be gained. Strenuous moves up the crack gain another flat hold. Up to the ledge and belay. Either move left and up Sputnik or abseil off.

Postie 30m HVS 5b
C Torrans, R Cowan. 12/6/1968.
The first crack on the left side of the left wall of Stable Gully. The crux is low down and short. From a small shelf left of the crack move out into the crack and up using holds on the left wall. Reach a big ledge known as the Hay Loft and easier ground to the top.

Rupert Bear and Bright Red Wellies * 30m HVS 5b
P Douglas, J Codling. 7/1979.
Takes the thin crack between Postie and Stable Gully. Sustained and difficult climbing to the Hay Loft ledge with easier ground above.

Warm-up 30m VS 4b
P Douglas, R Lawson. 5/1979.
Start as for Stable Gully but take the crack in the left wall to gain the Hay Loft.

Stable Gully 30m S
S J Crymble, C Torrans. 15/5/1968.
A loose, nettly, brambly route – leaders should carry panga knives. Start climbing at the right-hand side of the gully and pull up over the overhang to a jamming crack. Keep to the left-hand side but exit on the right.

Cigarette 28m HVS 5a
C Calow, J Codling. 7/1979.
Interesting climbing up the arête just right of Stable Gully.

American Beauty * 30m VD
I Rea, T Maguire, K Lindsay. 25/9/1980.
A big corner at the right-hand end of the lay-by right of Cigarette is climbed on a glut of holds. add comment

The next nine routes are on the wall between the two bays of rock, and in some cases start from the road itself.

Lunar Probe 25m VD
D C Agnew, F Devlin. 5/1966.
The obvious arête on the right-hand side of the lay-by with some loose rock. Climb the undercut nose and up the arête. Step into the chimney on the right and continue up until it is possible to scramble right to the top.

Germinal * 25m VS 4b
T Maguire, I Rea. 11/10/1980.
Takes the crack line splitting the pillars to the left of Dirty Sox, with the crux at the overhang.

Dirty Sox * 33m VS 4b
A Price, G Murray. 7/6/1979.
Start 8m right of Lunar Probe at a crack rising from a small grassy bay. Follow the crack to the obvious bulge. Climb this and from a good ledge enter a groove and climb to the overhanging rock which is surmounted on the left.

Silent Running * 25m HS
I Rea, T Maguire. 11/10/1980.
Takes the corner immediately right of Dirty Sox. The belay at the top is a long way back. - overgrown

Pocket 22m HVS 5a
T Maguire, I Rea. 12/6/1981.
The second crack line right of Silent Running. Crux at about 15m.

Blackballed * 25m E2 5c
N Harkness, P Holmes. 8/1984.
The first crack right of Pocket – thin and sustained climbing.

Full Tilt Boogie Crack 25m HVS 5b
S McIIwaine, B Stewart. 1985.
The first crack left of Days of Heaven, starting on the same grassy ledge. Jam up the crack to an awkward stance below the overhang. Climb the overhang directly using delicate bridging.

Days of Heaven * 25m HVS 5a
- has become a bit loose I Rea, T Maguire. 30/9/1980.
The shallow fault immediately left of Illegal – gained by climbing the front of the big ledge recess.

Illegal ** 25m HS 4b
T Maguire, I Rea, K Lindsay. 25/9/1980.
The right-hand end of the roadside wall is marked by a fine arête of rock that comes right down to road level. Dire Straits takes this arête and Illegal takes the crack line just to the left of it. Crux at 20m – now loose

The second bay of rock enclosed by arêtes on either side with a loose gully in the upper right-hand side. This area contains the best concentration of quality routes on the crag.

Dire Straits * 30m E3 5c
J Codling, P Douglas, C Calow. 12/7/1979.
The left-hand arête of the bay. Up the arête to a flat-topped spike. A traverse into Vindication can be made to place runners. Hard moves on the arête lead to a shaky flake and peg runner. Hard laybacking gives access to an easier wall above.

Vindication *** 30m E1 5b
D C Agnew, C McCartney. 23/5/1968.
The left-most crack on the left gully wall, starting at the road. The crack slants to the right and becomes a diedre near the top. Climb the crack awkwardly to a small grass ledge at 15m. Move up the groove by wide bridging (for the tall) or chimneying. As the groove steepens, better holds materialise and the top section is best climbed facing left.

Cat's Eyes * 30m VS 4c
L N Griffin. 5/1972.
Start in a shallow recess a few metres right of Vindication. Climb the corner crack until the angle eases. Move delicately up to the right across the wall to gain a parallel crack that runs down from the terminal overhang. Follow this with one awkward move to the top.

Night Flight * 30m E1 5b
M Manson, P Douglas. 5/1980.
Good wall climbing. Start at the thin crack just right of Cat's Eyes. Climb this moving right at the top.

Deadline ** 30m HVS 5a
R Lawson, D Stelfox. 5/1979.
Climbs the thin crack between Night Flight and Kleptomaniac, with the difficulties easing above half-height.

Kleptomaniac ** 30m VS 4c
S J Crymble, B Beattie. 10/4/1968.
Start about midway between Vindication and Castle Gully, at the right-hand end of the road facing the wall. Climb the obvious crack with the crux being the bulge near the top.

These Foolish Things 30m HVS 5a
P Douglas, M Manson. 5/1980.
Takes the thin crack starting high on the wall between Kleptomaniac and Star Spangled Banner, eliminate

Star Spangled Banner * 25m HVS 5a
L N Griffin. 5/1971.
Follows the large, overhanging corner, on the left wall of Castle Gully.

Clearway ** 25m E1 5b
D Stelfox, R Lawson. 7/6/1979.
Takes the crack line starting 1m to the right of Star Spangled Banner and trending right to the top. Sustained and varied climbing.

Chancery * 25m HS 4b
M Curran, M Henry. 5/1976.
This route takes the cracks on the left wall of Castle Gully, between Clearway and the gully itself. Climb the cracks to a ledge on the right. Move back left by a strenuous pull-up to easier ground.

Singer 24m HVS 5b
P Wright, T McQueen. 4/1982.
Start as for Chancery until a move can be made onto a large ledge on the right. Up a short wall behind this to another ledge and finally up a crack behind with increasing difficulty.

There follows Castle Gully, nasty, muddy and loose.

Fina 30m VD
D Howard, M Curran. 14/4/1976.
Opposite Chancery on the right-hand gully wall this climb takes the broken corner left of Equity. loose and dangerous

Equity 20m S
M Curran, M Henry. 1976.
The obvious deep crack culminating in the overhang near the top of the left-hand gully wall. Straightforward climbing leads to the overhang which is awkwardly surmounted on good holds. loose and dangerous

Harry *** 25m VS 4c
R Merrick, M Mills (One aid point). 30/5/1978.
A McQuoid (First free ascent).
The left-hand of two parallel leftward-trending cracks about half-way down the gully wall. Begins easily but gradually becomes more technical leaving the crux to the last few moves.

Debbie ** 27m VS 4c
A McQuoid, R Merrick. 14/4/1978.
The right-hand of the two cracks. Follow the crack to small overhang which is climbed directly. Continue up the corner enjoying the protection.

Dodgems 28m HS 4a
D Stelfox, J Clark. 7/1978.
The right-hand arête of the Castle Gully area. Start on the gully wall just right of Debbie, gain the arête and follow it to the top with minimal protection.

Close to the Edge 28m HVS 5b
P Douglas, C Calow, J Codling. 7/1979.
A direct start to Dodgems starting from the road at the foot of the arête.

Roadside Attraction * 21m HVS 5a
M Geary, P Wright. 3/1981.
The first crack right of Close to the Edge joining the arête at half-height.

Mister Guilty * 21m HVS 5a
T McQueen, P Thompson. 6/1981.
The crack immediately right of Roadside Attraction. Follow the crack until it closes at half-height. Move slightly right and up an easier-angled section. Pull back left onto the ledge and follow the grass ledges to the top.

Nokey's Arête 20m HVS 5a
I Rea, M Rea, G Banks. 17/4/1982.
7m to the right of Mister Guilty there is a steel post. Start 5m right of this at a prominent corner. Climb a slabby wall immediately right of the corner until it is possible to step right onto good footholds on the arête. Climb directly to the top.