Upper Cove

From Irish Climbing Wiki

This is an excellent mountain crag with a commanding outlook about 800m further up the Annalong Valley from the top of the Lower Cove cliffs. The majority of the routes have a sunny aspect as they are located on south-facing buttresses, generally well protected and certainly worth the fairly energetic walk of about one and a quarter hours (or a leisurely one and a half.) The largest buttress, Fox's Crag, lies to the extreme right-hand end, with a number of smaller buttresses named `B' to `O' (right to left) lying to its left. Round the corner to the right of Fox's Crag is a large steep east facing wall and below this Green Cove, both of which are undeveloped. The smaller buttresses left of Fox's Crag would be the best beginners venue in the Mournes if only the approach was shorter. Also, although the connection along the base of the buttresses could hardly be described as handy it is rewarding to make the effort to go to a number of the crags in a single visit.

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The crag is approached from the car park (345219) at the bottom of the Carrick Little Track as for Lower Cove to the stone sheep-fold. Up the gully on the left edge of Third Corner Buttress, crossing the plateau on -e right side of Cove Lough and up the final steep heather slopes. The routes are described from right to left, starting at the right-hand end of the East Face, and moving down to Fox's Crag, and left to the subsidiary buttresses.

Initiation 30m VS+A7
C. Moore, D. Bullock. F. Bullock. 3/4/65.
at the right-hand side of the East Face in the gully at a point where a large section of the face has detached itself. 12m Climb the chimney, formed by the detached face, out of the gully. ' 3m Climb the steep wall above, using aid.

Isis 20m HVS (5a, 4c)
R. Cole. M. Mills. 14/8/81.
Somewhat broken climbing but good strenuous moves, with two pitches used to eliminate rope drag. Start at the left-hand end of the East Face.
1) 10m Climb the overhanging groove chimney.
2) 10m Climb the wall just right of the arete, then move left round the arete to finish on jugs.

Moving left round the corner is Fox's Crag.


Epiphone 48m VS (4c)
F. Devlin, J. Sloan. 27/6/65.
A fine? mixed route! Start just right of the railings at the right-hand side of the crag.
1) 15m Climb the crack and move left to perched block belay.
2) 15m Climb the wall on the left and step out left onto a sloping ledge. Climb the crack (peg runner) and pull up onto sloping ledge. Climb corner beyond.
3) 18m Scramble to top

The wall to the left of Epiphone has three prominent vertical cracks:

Icarus * 33m HVS (5a)
M. Smith, R. Cole. 17/5/80.
This good route takes the right-hand crack with the overhang at the top. The wide crack is easier than it looks from below.
1) 15m Follow the crack which to where it widens at the overhang. Hand traverse left under the overhang for 5m to the next crack (Gorgon) which takes you to the top of the wall.
2) 18m Scramble to top.

Gorgon * 13m E2 (5c)
M. Smith, R. Cole. 7/6/80.
A route of a technically reasonable standard but sustained and follows the centre crack petering out two-thirds down. Climb the shallow crack (peg) using holds on the left wall to reach a deep crack. Climb crack above, finishing as for Icarus.

Edge of Darkness * 30m VS (5a)
S. Mcllwaine, A. Whitcroft. 20/7/86.
Takes the left-hand crack which is 3m right of the edge. Gain the crack with difficulty and continue up (sustained) to a ledge. Continue easily up arete on left to top, or move right and up to the top.

Midsummer Madness * 30m VD
M. McMurray, H. C. Elliott. 22/5/56.
Start at the right-hand edge of the gully (Fertility Gully) which lies just left of Edge of Darkness. Climb the edge and continue up the arete.

The main face on Fox's Crag lies just left of Midsummer Madness, being separated from it by Fertility Gully.

Socialist Slant 40m VS (4c)
M. Curran (Solo). 21/5/78.
A delicate start, then a bit scrappy but improves to give a well positioned finish and a grand tour of the face. Start at Fertility Gully. Move up step left and continue left to gain the ramp. Follow this diagonally left to a prominent square-cut niche. Up then trend diagonally left to left-hand edge of face and finish up flakes (as for Revisionist).

St Mawr * 45m El (5b)
l. Rea, M. Rea, K Lindsay. 6/9/86.
A delicate crux but the interest is well maintained through-out. Start just left of Socialist Slant. Climb layback flakes to gain ramp of Socialist Slant and trend left for a few moves, until an obvious traverse line takes you back towards the arete on the right. Gain a ledge via a small spike and, from its left end, make difficult moves up to reach flakes leading to roof. Turn roof on right and continue directly up.

No rest for the Wicked *** 35m E5 (6a)
J. Dunne, R. Young (Top-roped prior to first ascent). 2/5/94.
The compelling faint crack/groove line up the middle of the face with a delicate start and then adequate protection. Climb to the series of ledges at quarter height (two old pegs). Using the faint groove and some widely spaced horizontal breaks move delicately up to a deeper `pocket' at half height. Continue cautiously to three­quarters height, passing flake on left before the last few moves.

Liberal Thinker ** 30m E2 (5b/c)
M. Smith, R. Cole. 11/10/80.
Open climbing with a serious air. Start the obvious crack and dyke line which is gained by following Revisionist and stepping right to the crack. Climb the right-leaning dyke (peg at two-third height) to the top.
A better independent start (l. Rea, M. Rea. 18/6/95.) is to take the crack 5m left of St Mawr to gain a clean ledge in the middle of Socialist Slant which is followed leftwards to the dyke.

Revisionist ** 30m VS (4c)
I. Rea, M. Rea, K. Lindsay. 6/9/86.
A fine airy climb with a bold feel. Start on top of the pillar left of Liberal Thinker, best approached from the foot of Needles Eye Gully (to the left). Go up and right via a flake to gain a prominent square-cut niche. Traverse horizontally left to the arete, up a short crack, and finish via flakes.
Variation Blow in the Po * E2 (5b) A. Chambers, N. Anderson. 10/4/94. A direct finish to Revisionist which continues up the crack/seam directly from the square-cut niche. This finish can be combined with the variation start to Liberal Thinker to give a good independent route.

Needles Eye Gully * 52m
D C. Brims and Party. 23/7/39.
A fine traditional route i.e. normally dripping wet, slimy and manky with an amusing exit for the more portly climber. Start the large vertical gash left of Revisionist.
1) 40m Scramble up the sandy floor of the gully. 2) 12m Climb up the back of the gully exiting to right or left.
(An alternative finish, mentioned in earlier guides, is the green wall lower down on the left.)

The final section of Fox's Crag lies left of Needles Eye Gully.

The Brucer ** 25m VS (4b)
R. Cole, M. Smith. 23/6/79.
A pleasantly sustained mountain route with a delicate start. Start underneath a scoop below a roof, 3m left of Needles Eye Gully. Scramble up and climb scoop then move right under the roof. Climb up cracks and grooves to top.

Comic Relief * 20m HVS (5a)
l. Rea, S. Wheeler. 2/11/86.
A pleasant route with a fine finish. Start as for The Brucer. But move left under roof into corner then step back right onto wall. Climb to obvious left-slanting crack and finish delicately along this.

Winding Stair * 25m S (4a)
P. Blake, L. Griffin. 17/3/71.
A satisfying route on good positive holds and well protected. Start 2m left of The Brucer. Gain flake left of obvious corner and up to this to ledge below overhang which is turned on its left-hand side. Variation 25m S (3c) Not as good as the original. Gain the corner which is followed until about 3m below the overhang a traverse left leads along a tiny ramp to join the original at the ledge.

The Tiddler 21m VD
R. Cole, M. Mills. 14/8/81.
The route takes a vegetated line between Winding Stair and Shark's Nose. It starts below the left-hand end of the small overhang at half height and takes in a small corner, the left-hand end of the small overhang then moves left and up to finish.

Shark's Nose ** 45m D
C. Brims (Solo). 17/3/39.
A' classic' climb more or less taking the arete forming the left-hand edge of Fox's Crag and starts just left of the arete.

Little Umbrellas 30m HS (4a)
l. Rea, M. Rea. 18/6/95.
Start about 5m left of Shark's Nose up the gully wall. Climb the thin left trending crack with many horizontal breaks, over a bulge and finish just to the left of the actual Shark's Nose.


B Buttress is the first of the smaller buttresses lying left of Fox's Crag. The climbs on B Buttress start just right of the lowest part of the face, and are described from right to left.

Jaws 20m VD
NIMC Group. 3/5/80.
Start just right of the lowest point of the face. Climb up a blank wall for 3m to a prominent layback flake. Follow to top.

Drop Off 20m VD
NIMC Group. 3/5/80.
Start 2m left of Jaws. Climb leftwards and up on sloping ledges, then trending right to join the finish of Jaws.

Shamrock 50m D
M. Curran (solo). 17/3/71.
Takes the arete at the extreme left of the buttress, being separated from Drop Off by two small grassy bays.

Clover Corner 25m VD
T. Wilson, J. Brown. 12/8/84.
Up the gully left of Shamrock, on the right-hand side is an 8m tower. This route starts just above the broken blocks above the tower. Surmount crumbling flakes and gain the diedre above, then move right onto wall below the roof. Climb up right of the roof onto the terrace above. Move back left out over the gully wall to climb the nose above and finish.


C Buttress lies about 60m to the left, and slightly higher up from B Buttress. The lines lie towards the left-hand end of the crag, with the right-hand end becoming shorter and more vegetated. The first route is the obvious chimney/crack at this right-hand side

Strongarm 15m S (3c)
NIMC Group. 3/5/80.
Up chimney/crack until possible to bridge up and past the big flakes (one loose) on good holds, trend right and using a jamming crack climb to belay.

Pendulum 15m S (3c)
NIMC Group. 3/5/80.
Start 2m left of Strongarm, at obvious groove. Proceed upwards using bridging to reach a poor handhold on right, at a slightly overhanging top portion of the climb.

Roisin Roulette 15m HS (4b)
P. Mallon, R. Bankhead, R. Young. 11/8/96.
Start 2m left of Pendulum. Climb directly up wall passing jutting block.

A few metres left of Roisin Roulette is another groove.

Lost Province 15m VS (4c)
I. Rea, M. Rea. 20/4/97.
Climb the arete left of this groove past two distinctive threads.

Class Struggle * 15m HVS (5a)
P. Mallon, M. McNiff. 15/4/89.
Start 2m left of Lost Province and 5m right of the left arete of the buttress. Climb the wall into a hanging niche capped by a roof. Pull left out of niche and then right, to the top.

Roughing It 15m HVS (5a)
l. Rea, M. Rea. 20/4/97.
Start just left of Class Struggle. Climb steep wall into shallow scoop, break out left and then go straight up.

Tapestry 15m HS (4b)
V. McCartney, D. Stelfox. 15/4/89.
Climb the groove just right of the left arete of the buttress.

Touch 15m VS (4c)
I. Rea, M. Rea. 20/4/97.
Start left and around the corner from Tapestry on the gully wall. Take the obvious diagonal line just left of the edge, with the crux low down at the thin cracks.


Congor Crack 25m VD
NIMC Group. 3/5/80.
Takes the obvious curving crack on the right just before the buttress becomes shorter and vegetated. Follow crack into and over jutting ledges to mantelshelf finish. Poor belay.

Captains Log 25m S
NIMC Group. 3/5/80.
Start at base of crack with delicate tree 6m left of Congor Crack. Up slab and continue up corner to easier rock on the right. Continue to top via blocks and ledges.

Enterprise Ulster 25m HS (4b)
P. Mallon, M. Wallace. 15/4/89.
Start 1 m left of Captain's Log at white mark. Trend left to diedre and follow to top

Warp Factor 25m S (3c)
D. Stelfox. 15/4/89.
Start as for Enterprise Ulster. Move right up a short wall at bottom of diedre to gain blunt arete between Captain's Log and Enterprise Ulster.

Dad's Route * 40m VD
J. Forsythe, R. Cole, M. Smith. 7/6/80.
A route in the finest of alpine traditions which takes the chimney crack on the left-hand end of the buttress, weaving its way through the overhangs. Climb a knobbly wall past a flake overhang at 8m and continue up the chimney with suspect blocks at top (possible belay). Scramble up arete to bivi site behind flake and up the short headwall.

Tish 30m VD
J. Forsythe, R. Cole, M. Smith. 7/6/80.
Start at a slabby flake 10m left of Dad's Route, separated by vegetation. Climb the slab and gain the diedre at 10m. Up the diedre escaping right at top or climb arete on left.

Venus 15m VS (4b)
M. Mills. 25/4/82.
The route is usually damp and green, but the grade is for dry conditions should they ever arise - it has been known to happen! Climb the regular green groove 5m along the gully wall from Tish.

White Indian ** 30m HS (4b) l
I. Rea, M. Rea. 18/6/95.
A highly recommendable route saving its crux for a grand well protected finale. Start on the buttress across the gully from Venus and left of a small pinnacle. Climb, trending left, the steep, blocky face left of the nose and finish via a short steep, hand crack on the left.


Trichotomy 45m D
J. Forsythe (solo). 5/81.
Takes the left-hand arete of E Buttress.

Nose Cone 25m VD
T. Wilson. J. Brown. 21/4/85.
Start at a small recess half-way up the gully left of Trichotomy. Climb up the recess and surmount the nose cone (crux). Step into a left-trending groove. Climb this for 13m and step right into another groove and follow it to top (loose).


This is a small square buttress with a distinctive 'A' shaped recess and lies to the left of E Buttress. There is a small buttress up the gully separating E and F Buttress's.

Juniper Ridge 50m VD
J. Forsythe. M. Forsythe, R. Cole. 2/5/86.
1)20m Take a line of ledges from the bottom right to the top left. 2) 30m Follow ridge artificially to top. 2) The short wall to the right of the `A shaped recess provides the following four entertaining routes:

The Geek 16m VS (4c)
l. Rea, R. Bankhead, D. Crawley. 24/5/97.
Start 2m right of Apathy League. Go straight up to grass moustache and move up diagonally right to ledge on edge. Come back left a few moves then finish directly via a crack in bulging wall.

Apathy League 16m HVS (5a)
R. Bankhead, T. Fallon. 4/7/92.
Start at two parallel grooves running up (or down) the wall. Climb the grooves directly to the top.

Wine Victim 16m VS (4c)
R. Bankhead, T. Fallon. 4/7/92.
Start just right of short corner which is at the right arete of the alcove. Step onto small ledge and continue straight up to ledge at 3m (crux). Continue directly up the wall to top.

Pointless Arete 16m HVS (5a)
R. Bankhead, T. Fallon. 4/7/92.
Start the short corner at the right arete of the alcove. Climb the arete, the crux is gaining the obvious ledge just above the corner. At the top bulge step left into the awkward crack.

At the left-hand end of the buttress, just right of arete are two thin parallel cracks, with a deeper crack lying just to their right.

Lysteria 16m VS (4b)
P. Mallon, T. Hawkins, M. Wallace. 15/4/89.
Climb the deeper crack to the top.

Hysteria 16m E1 (5b)
S. Mcllwaine. 15/3/87.
A good little eliminate. The crux is short but steep with excellent protection. Climb the thin parallel cracks until forced through the overhang using the right-hand of the two cracks.

Hobo Heart 16m HS
l. Rea, M. Rea, P. Wells. 3/5/97.
Start as for Hysteria. Then after a few metres step left onto the flaky left edge/face and go up this.


This is a thin broken buttress, which is quite loose. J. Forsythe climbed Johndarme Bandit VD (also loose). However on the left-hand side of the buttress there are two parallel grooves, the left-hand one ending about 10m up the wall. These give the following two good lines on clean rock:

Les Begs d'Orages 22m S
D. Crawley, N. Kielty. 26/5/97.
Start at base of right-hand crack. Up crack and overhang to finish.

Just Eric 22m
S D. Crawley (Solo). 26/5/97.
Climb wall 2m left of the previous route to ledge and on up crack to finish.


This culminates in a large overhang and has no routes.


This buttress offers steep climbing and clean routes on good rock and well worth the efforts of a visit. It is split up the centre by a shallow chimney (Shinbone), and lies to the left of H Buttress, being separated by a narrow gully. An obvious scree run also starts from this buttress.

Wings of Desire ** 25m E2 (5c)
l. Rea, P. Holmes. 29/8/96.
Start at the base of the right arete. Climb crack and flakes up the edge until a series of good holds lead diagonally up left to a large horizontal flake/jug a few metres below the top. Hand traverse horizontally right along this flake to gain edge and finish up this in a great position.

Centrefold ** 30m El (5b)
S. Mcllwaine. 187.
The obvious crack-line up the wall right of Shinbone chimney and is deceptively steep but on fairly positive holds in an exciting position with good protection. Gain large grass ledge at base of corner by any line. Climb corner moving right onto ledge. Follow crack to the top.

Shinbone 35m VD
J. Forsythe (Solo). 17/9/83.
Takes the dirty, horrendous looking chimney in the centre of the buttress.

Finger Freeze 20m HS (4b)
S. Wheeler, I. Rea. 2/11/86.
Takes the arete at the left-hand end of the buttress. Ascend the lower section of the arete over several steps, and then climb the steeper upper arete. Finish by pulling over a small overhang on good holds.

Frantic Baskit * 17m HS (4b)
R. Cole. 21/6/86.
Well protected enjoyable climbing but beware of rope drag. Start just round the corner from Finger Freeze. On the right-hand gully wall is a prominent square-cut corner with a deep crack. Climb crack until the overhang forces you out left and round the corner onto the south face. Continue to top.

BOF 12m S (4a)
R. Cole. D. O'Murchu. 6/87.
Start 5m up and left of Frantic Basket. Climb the dog-leg crack to the top, stepping left at the final bulge for extra fun.


Lies just left of I Buttress. Standing at the bottom of I Buttress gully, two vegetated diedres are obvious on J Buttress.

Sullivan 15m VD
J. Forsythe, M. Curran. 20/3/82.
Takes the right-hand diedre.

Gilbert 15m S (3c)
J. Forsythe, M. Curran. 20/3/82.
Takes the left-hand diedre.

More Letters than Moves 15m S (3c)
M. McNiff, V. McCartney. 15/4/89.
The arete immediately left of Gilbert. K BUTTRESS K Buttress is the long, normally wet, buttress left again which dries after a good spell but is prone to seepage. For the route below gain the spacious grassy platform on the right­hand side of the buttress below the steep wall.

High Sierra ** 30m E2 (5c)
I. Rea. M. Rea, P. Wells. 3/5/97.
Start below the right-hand side of the long, slim, elongated overhang which is about 4m above the ground. Go directly over the overhang at an obvious crack/seam (crux) and follow the fault to the next bulge which gives more difficult moves before the easier wall above is gained.

A narrow gully separates K Buttress from L Buttress which is characterised by its three obvious parallel crack/grooves. Left again are three small buttresses M, N and O which provide short but clean climbs and good rock. They are most easily gained from the Lamagan/Cove col.


This is the third one right of this col and at its left-hand side is an obvious inverted Y-crack.

Carrying a Torch 12m HVS (5a)
G. Murray, I. Rea. 8/91.
climbs the right-hand branch of this crack.


The first buttress right of the above mentioned col. Near the right-hand side of this buttress is a deep cleft.

City Lights 12m VS (4b)
I. Rea, G. Murray. 8/91.)
climbs the wall just right of this on good horizontal breaks.

A distinctive series of small buttresses can be found on the northern slopes of Cove Mountain. Looking from Slieve Beg the lowest right-hand buttress contains two short routes.

Wish You Were Here 20m S (3c)
I. Rea, D. Carson. 28/10/78.
Start at the lowest point of the buttress. Climb an obvious diedre moving right past a block and up pancake slabs to the base of a corner. Climb this moving left onto a ledge and finish up a short wall.

Wuthering Heights 16m S (4a)
I. Rea, D. Walsh, D. Carson. 28/10/78.
Start just right of the upper corner/arete of lower buttress. Climb up outer face of expanding flake and move left up obvious groove line. On the western slope of Cove is a sliver of slab which points towards the end of Ben Crom reservoir.

Up Yours 80m VD
A. Blair (Solo). 31/3/95.
Worth climbing but not worth going to climb. Start at the toe of the slab beside a small boulder. Climb the right side, then up pocks and groove to step left, across damp streak, and up a clean easy rib. Climb the middle of the wet slab to moustache (or avoid it easily on the left) at the base of two fingers of slab. Either climb the right finger (better) or the one on the left.

Green Cove

The Lower of the East Faces of Upper Cove.

The Inevitable End *** 35m E9 7a

A. Marshall. L Quinn. 4/9/2021

Upper Coves, Lower East face known by local climbers as “Green Cove” overhangs dismally along its entire length. There are no other routes on this wall.

Nevertheless, start on top of the big grassy ledge beside a holly bush below the steepest part of the face.

Climb the wall above moving left through an overlap whilst the holds decease in size up to a very short slab. A long reach allows access onto the slab with a rest and gear.

Move up and right following a series of good holds until stepping back left to a large flake. From the flake quest along the sloping rightward trending break until a long move leads to the break above. Move left through a series of side pulls and undercuts. Another long move to the break above leads to a good hold and good gear. Move left to the last of the quality climbing up the exposed short arête leading to the finish, above a large ledge.

The pitch to the top of the crag turns from quality rock to an exposed & loose vertical heather scramble it is only for those with an insatiable thirst for adventure, for the rest descend from the fixed anchor.

Upper Cove Green Face 1.jpg