Knockadoon – The story so far

(by Gerry Moss, from IMC Newsletters Spring 2004 and Autumn 2004)
A guide to climbing at Knockadoon Head, near Youghal, Co. Cork.

Knockadoon Head

Grid Ref X 089 695 OS Map 81 Discovery Series

Knockadoon Head, the western tip of Youghal Bay, lies 8 km south of Youghal town as the crow flies. The rock is categorised as "Gyleen Formation – sandstone, with mudstone and siltstone" and, in general, is sound, with good friction and good gear placements. As with all sea-cliffs, the more open the rock is to the scouring power of the waves, the cleaner and sounder it is. The main type of climbing on offer is on slabs, with the occasional steep wall thrown in for good measure.

Leave the Youghal/Cork road a little west of Youghal and head for the village of Ballymacoda. Follow the road through the village towards Knockadoon Pier (which is where the road ends). At a distance of less than 500m from the pier take a dirt road on the right (signpost for Knockadoon Camp). Follow the laneway to where it ends in a field in front of an old tower. Cars may be parked just inside the field. Although this is private land there are no access problems at present and, if climbers behave responsibly, this situation should remain unchanged.

There is a small commercial campsite ("Sonas" ph. 024-98960, or 024-98132) at Ring strand, 2km.before the laneway, on the left-hand side of the road, open Easter to October. The nearest hostel is at Ardmore in Co. Waterford, thirty minutes drive away (Note: the independent hostel listed in Youghal has closed permanently).

The climbing areas, and the climbs within each area, are described from W to E (L to R, facing in). There are still a number of areas untouched.

West End Buttress

This marks the western limits of the climbing area, approx. 500m W of the tower (about 6 – 8 minutes walk).

Take the rough cart-track on the R of the entrance to the tower field, ignoring a turn to the R. Just before the track ends in a field leave it at a R-hand bend and follow the narrow path parallel to the coast, passing some tottering pillars ("crumble corner") at the back of a cove. The path deteriorates as it crosses a rough hollow but improves as it rises again. After about another 150m, at the path’s highest point, leave it and go down sharp L towards a small headland containing a large cave. At half to low-tide scramble down over the cave and traverse back E (R facing in) to the foot of the climbs. At full-tide abseil down the corner of Crack of Doon.

1  The Oldest Winger  10m  S
G. Moss, S. O’Hanlon, F. Kenny 16/08/03
Start 4m W (left) of the cave exit, directly below a small overhang with good undercuts. Climb to the overhang and, using a thin quartz vein above, move L to a flake then back R above the overhang. Move up to a belay.

2  C.F.T.  15m  Diff
S. O’Hanlon, F. Kenny, G. Moss 16/08/03
Traverses the cave from E. to W. An atmospheric outing on a windy day. Start at the mouth of the cave. Chimney up and out through the back of the cave. Half-to-low tide.

Cave Wall Cracks
The following four climbs take the cracks in the wall above R of the cave entrance and L of the main face.

3  Exit Left  14m  HS 4b
G. Moss, P. Britton 16/08/03
An abortive attempt to climb the twin parallel cracks immediately R of the L edge. Climb to a small foothold below the final steepening. Move out L and up to finish. A direct finish would be more fitting, though harder.

4  Fran the Man  15m MS
F. Kenny, S. O’Hanlon 16/08/03
The deep cracks to the R of above.

5  Dungarvan  14m  MS
D. Broderick, S. O’Hanlon, F. Kenny 16/08/03
The cracks just R of Fran.

6  Red Crack  15m  VD
Colm Ennis, John Kinsella, 16/08/03
The crack just L of the corner.

7  Crack of Doon  16m  VD
G. Moss, P. Britton 16/08/03
The crack in the corner between cave wall and main wall.

8  Up and Doon  17m  HVS 5a
G. Moss, L. Convery 26/5/04
The thin crack just R of Crack of Doon and L of the inverted v-notch gives fingery, well-protected climbing. Low in the grade.

9  No Toll  17m  VS 4c
C. Ennis, J. Kinsella 16/08/03
Start about 3m R of Crack of Doon. An inverted v-notch leads to a vertical crack, which is gained by bridging moves. Sustained climbing.

10  Iced Log  20m  HVS 5a
P. Britton, D. Broderick 16/08/03
The thin finger crack at a rightward facing corner that runs up the middle of the wall.

11  Gold n Topsy  22m  HS
P. Britton, G. Moss 16/08/03
Start 3m L of the R end of the wall. Climb the crack then traverse rightwards and climb the face near the outside corner. Finish up the top 3m vertical crack.

12  Flight Control  20m  HVS 5a
P. Britton, D. Broderick 16/08/03
Start just right of and around from the main wall, at a rock runway left of the narrow cave. Climb a 4m rightward-trending sharp crack up the face of a white pillar. Move left above the crack then back right to mantelshelf the top of the pillar. Climb more easily from here to the top, finding protection in the exit crack of Gold n Topsy.

13  Prophet of Doon  35m  VS 4c
G.Moss, L.Convery 27/3/04
Varied climbing, with a well-protected crux. Start about 10m R of Flight Control and the narrow cave, on a good ledge above the high-water mark, and directly below a 3m flake that forms a R-facing crack near the top of the wall. Climb easily to the crack and up this to the top of the flake. Make a difficult mantelshelf onto the horizontal crack above (crux). A delicate step up onto the slab is followed by a short, delicate traverse R to gain a thin crack. Follow this (small wires), to the top.

Mid-week Wall

About 25m E of Flight Control there is a grey bulging wall, with some white quartzite streaks and 3 parallel vertical cracks near its R-hand end.

As for West-end Buttress as far as the rough hollow. Continue along the path for a short distance. Scramble down gentle slabs and ledges just W of 3-Tier Slab and traverse around W to the foot of the wall. It is also possible, at low tide, to approach this area from West-end Buttress, by hopping across the channel at the mouth of the narrow cave.

14  Lifted Her Petticoat  25m  HS
L. Convery. G. Moss 23/9/03
Start 20m R of Narrow Cave and 5m L of the L-hand end of Mid-week Wall, below a series of flakes leading up L into an overhanging, R-facing corner. Climb easily to the corner, move up, then, (this is the easy and slow bit) make a delicate rising traverse up R using undercuts. Belay well back.

15  Doonesbury  20m  HS
G. Moss, L. Convery 23/9/03
Start near the left end of the grey bulging wall, below a short corner/crack at about 3m up. A couple of thin moves lead to a good hold and a mantelshelf below the corner. Climb the corner and move up slightly L to a second, shallow corner with a thin crack. Up this to finish.

16  People Before Prophet  HVS 5a
G. Moss, L. Convery 28/8/04
Hand-jamming on perfect rock; friends useful. Start about 5m R of Doonesbury, below the widest of the cracks. Climb the crack.

3-Tier Slab

About 30m E (R) of Mid-week Wall, and just W of Twin Coves, there is a steep wall capped by three bands of curved slabs.

As for West-end Buttress. Follow the path past Crumble Corner and the hollow and go down L until above the slabs. It is possible to scramble down on either side of the slabs.

17  Laid-back  MS
L. Convery, G. Moss 28/8/04
Start in a gully, about 5m L of 3-Tier Slab, below some rightward-pointing flakes. Climb up to and over the flakes and into the R-facing corner. Climb the corner crack.

18  Sinister Crack  18m  D
L. Convery, G. Moss 23/9/03
Climb the crack running up the L side of the slab.

19  Never on a Sunday  18m  VS 5a
G. Moss, L. Convery 23/9/03
Climb the thin central crack.

20  Redshanks  15m  D
L. Convery, G. Moss 25/10/03
Climb the curving cracks on the L-facing wall.

21  Choughed  15m  MS
G. Moss, L. Convery 23/9/03
Immediately R of 3-Tier Slab is a steep slab capped by a small triangular shaped wall. Start on a ledge at high-water mark below the centre of the slab. Climb on small holds to a good ledge. Continue up the face on generous holds.

22  A Christian Brother?  12m  D
L. Convery, G. Moss 23/9/03
Start 2m R of Choughed. Move R and climb diagonally R to the top.

Sunday Slab

At the tip of the promontory dividing the Twin Coves.

As for West-end Buttress. Shortly after passing the tottering pillars ("Crumble Corner") go down the headland between the two coves to the top of a fine little slab above the sea. This is Sunday Slab. The slab has a large block at its base and a crack running up its centre.

The first route is about 10m to the W (L facing in) of this slab and takes a crackline up the centre of an orange slab which is undercut at the base.

23  On Yer Bike  14m  MS
S. O’Hanlon, F. Kenny, G. Moss 17/08/03
Start at the high-water mark below the crack. Move up and climb the crack which is hard to start.

24  Black Ramp Crack  13m  HS 4a
F. Kenny, S. O’Hanlon, G. Moss 17/08/03
Start at the block at the foot of Sunday Slab. Climb to the shoulder near the bottom of the L edge of the slab and step around and down L to gain the narrow black ramp. Climb this, using the crack above and the edge of the slab, to where the ramp narrows. Move around L then pull up to gain the top of the slab.

The following routes climb Sunday Slab.

25  Port  10m  VD
G. Moss, S. O’Hanlon, F. Kenny 17/08/03
The L edge.

26  Rest Day  VD
G. Moss, L. Convery 27/8/04
A delicate eliminate line. Start just R of Port. Climb straight up to gain the crack 1m in from the edge.

27  Mid-Ships  10m  D
G. Moss, S. O’Hanlon, F. Kenny 17/08/03
The fine centre crack.

28  Laudate  MS
L. Convery, G. Moss 27/8/04
A delicate eliminate line. Start 1m R of the central crack (Midships). Climb up to gain the crack 1m R of Midships and follow it to the top.

29  Starboard  10m  D
F. Kenny, S. O’Hanlon, G. Moss 17/08/03
The thin crack just inside the R edge.

Sea-stack Cove

The cove to the E of Twin Coves, easily identifiable by the sea-stack.

From a grassy hollow above the back of the cove scramble down carefully W (R facing out), over grass initially, to reach easy slabs and, finally, good ledges above the high water mark. Move back E on these until below a yellow corner with a continuous crack up the centre. This is the line of Triple Crown.

30  Allez France!  13m  VD
G. Moss, L. Convery 28/3/04
Start beneath the corner crack. Climb diagonally L up a slab to the foot of a ramp sloping up R. Climb the ramp and exit L via a crack. Block belay 3m back.

31  Triple Crown  13m  MS
L. Convery, G. Moss 28/3/04
Start below the crack, which is climbed to the top. Belay as for Le Cocq.

32  Grand Slam  14m  S
G. Moss, L. Convery 28/3/04
Start as for Triple Crown. Climb R-wards over a grey step and move up steeply over a second step. Move back L to finish just R of the top of Triple Crown.

33  Flat-topped Aiguille  15m  VD
L. Convery, G. Moss 27/3/04
This route follows the arête on the landward side of the sea-stack. Approach (low tide only) as far as the base of Triple Crown, then descend ledges and cross to the boulders at the foot of the arête. Gain the arête via a short chimney and follow it to the top. Descend by reversing the route.

Cylinder Slab Area

This area lies a little W of the Tower.

From the Tower follow the field boundary running down towards the sea, to where it ends at the top of a cove (Boundary Cove). Traverse W passing above another cove (Boulder Cove) and go down to where an obvious cylindrical band of rock caps a short, wide and steep slab. This is Cylinder Slab. No climbs here as yet.

Below Cylinder Slab there are four slabs. These are described from W to E, (L to R facing in).

Easy Slab
Below the W end of Cylinder Slab. An easy scramble down this short slab provides access to a ledge system (uncovered for fours hours either side of low tide) leading to the following two slabs.

Cleft Slab
The next slab to the R. (Easily identified by the half-metre-wide cleft splitting the slab from top to bottom).

34  Serrated Flakes  VD
L. Convery, G. Moss 15/6/03
Climbs the R facing corner to the L of the cleft, using a series of small flakes and the crack.

35  Cleft Right  MS
G. Moss, L. Convery 15/6/03
Climbs the R edge of the cleft. Poor protection.

Photo by Gerry Moss

36  W.M.D.  VS 4b
G. Moss, L. Convery 15/6/03
Start below two thin parallel cracks near the R edge of the slab. Climb the R-hand crack then the L crack to where it ends. Delicate moves R gain the edge which is followed to a break. Climb the final section on small holds. Sparse protection.

Starfish Slab
The next slab to the R.

37  Eureka  D
L. Convery, G. Moss 15/6/03
Climb the R facing corner on the L edge of the slab.

38  Star Wars  HS 4a
G. Moss, L. Convery 26/10/03
Start 2m R of the corner. Climb diagonally R to gain the R edge of the slab. Follow this over a slight bulge to a break and runner. Continue up the edge to finish.

Narrow Slab
The next slab to the R. Access is by abseil.

39  Thanks, Dave  D
L. Convery, G. Moss 15/6/03
The R facing corner on the L edge of the slab.

Tower Slab W.

Follow the field boundary below the Tower to where it ends above a large cove (Boundary Cove). Tower Slab W. is the slab immediately E of the cove (L facing out). Abseil down the centre of the slab to a ledge with a short wall behind it (about 23m). The following four routes all start from this ledge.

40  Snap Apple  30m  S
G. Moss, L. Convery 26/10/03
Climb diagonally L to gain a short black corner on the L edge of the slab. From the top of the corner follow the edge over a small overhang to a stance. Step down L to gain the foot of a narrow subsidiary slab and climb this near it’s L edge to a crack on the R. Pull over a block to finish.

41  Agag  25m  MS
L. Convery, G. Moss 26/10/03
Takes the thin crack about 5m R of the wide crack splitting the slab. Follow the crack to where it fades below a small overlap. Step up L to reach an edge (crux) and continue directly to the top.

42  Pinkie  25m  HS
P. Britton, L. Convery, G. Moss 25/10/03
Start 2m in from the R edge below a thin crack. Follow the crack delicately to the overlap. Surmount this (crux) and continue more easily to the top.

43  Trick or Treat  25m  VD
G. Moss, L. Convery, P. Britton 25/10/03
Start as for Pinkie. Climb diagonally R to the edge and follow this to the top. Poor protection.

The foot of the next route, which is on a lower, subsidiary slab, is reached by scrambling on down from the ledge at the foot of the main slab.

44  White Horses  10m  D
L. Convery, G. Moss 25/10/03
Climb the centre crack. Scramble off R.

Tower Slab E.

From the top of Tower Slab W move E (L facing out), passing the head of a narrow inlet, and scramble down over easy slabs, moving back W to the base of the long slab bordering the inlet.

45  Assume the position  25m  S
G. Moss, L. Convery 24/9/03
Start from a ledge at the bottom of the slab (half to low tide, only). Climb L to gain the L edge and follow this, in an airy position, to where the inlet ends. Continue up the wide crack.

46  Cúinne Murchadh  25m  S
L. Convery, G. Moss 24/9/03
Start as for above. Climb the L facing corner to where the crack widens and the angle eases, at about 18m. Move up and R through a break in the wall on the R and climb the slab and corner to the top.

The following climbs are to the E (R facing in) of Tower Slabs; a more detailed description of their whereabouts will be given later.

47  At Swim Two Birds  25m  HS
G. Moss, L. Convery 14/6/03
Climb a crack on the R facing sidewall above a slab.

48  Ó Bhun go Barr  35m  M
L. Convery, G. Moss 14/6/03
The long crackline up the centre of the wide slab.

49  Black Wall Chimney  15m  S
G. Moss, L. Convery 14/6/03
Climb the chimney at the R hand end of Black Wall.

50  Slab & Overhang  15m  VD
G. Moss, L. Convery 14/6/03
To the R of Black Wall. Climb a slab to the foot of a short overhang on the R. Over this on good holds.