Seven Heads

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Seven Heads lies on the coast, almost halfway between The Old Head of Kinsale and the town of Clonakilty. Sheet 87 of O.S. Discovery series. GR W 506 355

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The following information is taken from New Climbs 1982 & 1984.
This sandstone crag is best approached from Courtmacsherry through Butlerstown, and eventually via the track leading to the old signal tower.
The climbs are short but steep and technical with much hand-jamming on sharp rock. The protection is usually good with medium-sized nuts. Large numbers of seagulls nest here in the Spring, so climbing does not start until June. Many of the climbs start at the low-water mark so care with the tides is necessary. The routes were done during 1980-82, unless otherwise stated. See figure 1 for the location of East Wall, Main Wall and the Rock Pool.

East Wall

Surprise 15m S 4a.
Climb the first corner L of the way down.
C. O'Leary.

Chuckawalla 15m VD.
Climb the stepped slab and crack 3m L of Surprise.
P. Long.

Venturer 15m MS.
Start: as for Chuckwalla.
Climb up the R-hand side of corner which starts half-way up.
P. Long.

Wayward 15m S.
Start: in the corner L of Venturer.
Climb R-wards until a crack is reached which is followed L-ward to the top.
P. Long.

Grown Up Jelly Baby Maker 17m HVS 5a.
Satrt: on the L-hand side of the steep slab L of Wayward.
Climb the shallow corner for 6m. Exit L and climb directly up the slab/wall to the top. Poor protection.
S. O'Riordan, D. O'Connell.

Decadence 17m VS 4c.
Takes the obvious curving corner L of Wayward.
Step up onto pointed block and climb the corner crack, passing a loose, but useful, hold to the top.
D. O'Connell, S. O'Riordan.

L.O.L.R.A.S. S.
This route takes the broken loose chimney at the far L end of the big ledge at the base of East Wall.
S. O'Riordan, M. Foley.

Main Wall

From the bottom R to top L is a rising ledge. This is Con's Ledge. This can be used (with great care) as a descent route. Alternatively, scramble down the L side of the wall (facing in). The L end of the wall is less affected by the tide. The climbs are described from R to L here.

Niamh's Diff 10m
Start: 10m from low-water level at the R end of Con's Ledge.
Climb the R-ward trending corner.

Birdy Loo 12m VD.
Climb the bulge 2m L of Niam's Diff and finish up crack in the centre of the slab.
S. O'Riordan.

Sea Spray 12m S 4a.
Climb the overhang L of Birdy Loo at its easiest point and finish up dihedral and crack on L-hand side of the slab.
P. Long.

Monocular 12m S 4a.
Take the overhang on good holds and trend L-wards, finishing up crack with a circular pocket.
P. Long.

Finger Tip Ballet 20m VS 4c.
From the base of Con's Ledge descend westwards to a steep triangular slab.
Climb the centre one of three cracks (crux) to rejoin Con's Ledge. Move slightly L and up shallow depression onto the upper wall. Exit R of small overhang.
D. OConnell, S. O'Riordan.

Sniggering Sardine 27m E3 5c
Start: up the third crack R of Sniggering Seal and climb R-wards to finish up L of the first crack R of Sniggering Seal. Climb the hard crack until a step L can be made to an obvious footholds below an overlap. Move up and L to a jug and then gain a ledge on the L. Continue L to the next hard crack and follow this until it ends, then step L to a foothold. Climb straight to top.
K. Murphy, S. O'Sullivan. 16 Sept. 1984

Bishop's Move 20m E2 5b
Start up the wide R-facing, R trending corner/crack R of The Sniggering Seal. At the overlap at the top of the crack step L onto the obvious foothold and L again to a good jug. Finish up the thinner crack.
S. O' Riordan, C. Bloxham. 1983

The Sniggering Seal 20m E1 5b
This route takes the second crack from the L-hand side of Main Wall.
Climb a thin wall to a crack at 3m (bold) continue to a small overhang. Surmount this and follow the crack to emerge on the L edge of a sloping ramp. A short corner crack leads to the top.
D. O'Connell, S. O'Riordan.

The Mangle 20m HVS 5a
Climb the short L-facing corner on the L end of Main Wall for 3m to the start of a wide sharp crack. Climb the crack (crux) to a resting position and finish up final corner.
D. O'Connell, S. O'Riordan.

Diplomatic 10m VD,
Climb the wide broken crack on the short wall L of Main Wall.

Moonlight and Vodka 10m E3 5c/6a
Start: takes the wall just R of Seagull's Nest.
Climb directly up the wall to ledge. Climb straight up onto obvious jug and straight up on small holds to top.
K. Murphy, S. O'Sullivan. 16th Sept. 1984.

Seagull's Nest 10m VD
Climb slab to obvious corner at mid-height and finish up this.
C. O'Leary, P. Long.

13 new routes

The following 13 routes are short (5m - 8m) and generally quite easy. I am sure they were all soloed as a warm-up back in the 80's or maybe earlier by the climbers who put up the other routes in the area. They are well above the high tide and moderate scramble up and down make them a good challenge for novice leaders or as a rough weather option for others (but not too rough).

Seven Heads main wall new routes.png

Routes are from right to left looking in (Leader in the top right of picture is on Seagull’s nest VD).

Herring - 8m Diff

8m left of Seagull’s nest, climb thin cracks to the ledge then continue right up the arete or groove to the next level.


Razorbill - 5m S

Start 3m left of Herring up thin cracks to top


Ramp- 5m Diff

Climb rightward leaning ramp to top.


Left foot – 5m VD

Start as for Ramp, gain small ramp then follow crack under leftward slopping roof.


Guillemot - 5m Diff

Start at the bottom of a small rightward leaning ramp, follow wide cracks to top.


Large friend - 5m VD

Start 3m left of Guillemot, follow wide crack to the top.


Candy flipping - 8m S

Start 1m left of Large friend, move up and leftward to gain a large vertical pocket (crux), then up and leftward again to ledge and follow thin crack to top.

R. Falcini, D. Boyle 2021

Candy craic - 8m VD

Start 4m left of Candy flipping, difficult start then follow thin cracks to top. Good gear.

R. Falcini, D. Boyle 2021

Puffin - 8m Diff

First thin crack on right in the bay with large puddle, manage rope with care. Great route for the grade.


Oystercatcher - 8m Diff

Second thin crack in puddle bay. Start on a small dry ledge at the back of the bay and step over the water carefully to right to start. Stay right of the easy groove at the top.

Gannet 11- 8m Diff

Start on small dry ledge, climb straight up thin cracks and stay left of the groove at the top.


Redshank - 8m Diff

Start as for Gannet but move leftward to wide crack to top.


Fulmar - 8m Diff

Step back and left from small dry ledge to a triangular groove, climb up wide cracks to top.


Pool Area.

Plastered 7m S
Takes the first corner and crack on good jams.
S. O'Riordan, N. Cohalan.

On the black wall at the back of the Rock Pool there are three routes.

Anonimity 12m VD
The easiest way up the black wall onto the ledge and up the easiest crack to the top.

Blarney 15m VS 4b
Take the R-hand crack up the black wall to the wide ledge, then up a short crack to a second ledge and final short crack to the top.
S. O'Riordan, D. O'Connell.

Beony 15m VS4b
Climb the L-hand crack (crux) to the ledge and finish up L-hand cracks to the top.

Looking across the inlet there is a steep wall. The descent route to this area is down the western side of the obvious nose.

Battenberg & Malt 18m VS 4b
Move east from the descent route to a series of corners and ledges.
Climb these for 11m and step L into an inverted V chimney. Climb this (crux) to the top.
D. O'Connell, P. Long.

Escape 20m E1 5b
Start: takes the obvious crack/groove in the wall L of the descent route mentioned above. Belay at a corner on L near the high water mark.
Climb up and R to base of crack. Climb this (hard to start) to top.
K. Murphy, C. Bloxham. 16th Sept 1984.

West from the descent route is an obvious sentry box.

Piece O' Cake 15m S 4a
Climb into sentry box and exit L onto a platform. Climb a short steep wall to finish.
S. O'Riordan, D. O'Connell.

Birdy Snatch 15m VD
Step down past Piece O' Cake and onto a sloping platform. Climb the stepped corner to a large ledge and finish up back wall.
E. O'Flynn, S. O'Riordan.

Humpty Dumpty Was Pushed 15m VS 4c
From the L edge of sloping platform climb the arete onto the ledge. Finish up crack on R-hand wall.
S. O'Riordan, D. O'Connell.

Steppin' Out 15m VS 4c
From the L edge of the platform swing down and into a short corner. Climb this to L edge of the ledge and continue up the L-hand side of the back wall.
D. O'Connell, S. O'Riordan.


Map to scale

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Rough sketch

7 heads.png