What is Fair Head?
Fair Head is a headland near the city of Ballycastle, in Northern Ireland, featuring some spectacular cliffs reaching an elevation of 196 meters.
This well preserved set of cliffs is considered as a major rock-climbing spot in the whole of Ireland and no less than 400 climbing routes on the cliffs are currently listed.
A Rare Experience
Reaching the cliffs of Fair Head involves a pleasant walk through the countryside, crossing fields where the cows and sheep watch you hike with a mix of fear and curiosity. You walk past a pretty lake called Lough na Cranagh, then follow the path up to the edge of the cliffs.
But a walk in the countryside is far from an uncommon experience, you’ll tell me.
Actually, the rare experience I am referring to is an acoustic experience. My most striking memory about Fair Head is about sounds, or more precisely the lack of sounds.
How many times in your life have you experienced silence? I am talking about the real, total, absolute silence. Not a single sound. No wind, no bird, no distant car engine, no plane, no flowing water, absolutely nothing. You need to actually experience it to realise how rare this is. Even for a guy like me who regularly goes to the countryside or wild areas. Even if it’s very quiet, there is ALWAYS the sound of something. At least, 99% of the time.
While walking in the countryside of Fair Head on the way to the cliffs, you can actually stop and listen, and hear NOTHING. It doesn’t seem like much but it’s an amazing and surprising experience. The last time I had encountered this silence was after a solar eclipse in the countryside, the whole nature was disoriented and everything felt like suspended in the air.
Apart from these auditory considerations, the cliffs may not have the grandeur of the cliffs of Moher in Ireland, but they are well worth the visit and are a nice stop along Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coastal Route.