2016 : A Year in Review

2016 : A Year in Review











Within all sports there are many disciplines, within all leisure activities there are even more. Over the years, indeed near on ten now, The Challenge Walks Calendar has gone from strength to strength! originally the brainchild of Simon Stewart - the Calendar followed the template of "The long distance Walks" as were and continue to be, very popular across the pond.

It was evident from its earliest of incarnations, that The Challenge Walks Calendar was very much, a required herald, for this discipline in its own right. And what a unique discipline Challenge Walking is indeed, within the great fraternity of Hillwalking! Initially there were some who had concerns over Challenge Walks...! Conservation issues and even worries over "crowd control" (I kid you not) were muted about during the initial Calendar years - so many a Hillwalking Club had to truly fight their corner so as to be even allowed host their respective events...! but all these years later and all the hosting Clubs up and down the country have shown how Challenge Walks are exceptionally well organised events with respectful participants... and thanks to their enduring efforts - now, very much a respected discipline in its own right.

Under the auspices of the WAI and Jim Holmes, the Calendar then took on a more regular and informed layout but soon it was time to pack-up and move to new, larger premises within the MountainViews community. The rest, as they say...!
Challenge Walks tend to be the flagship event of various Hillwalking Clubs in Ireland (no doubt we're all now aware of the criteria required to "qualify" as a true Challenge Walk) ... but one thing that they all have in common is how they play their part in the nurturing of Hillwalking in Ireland and how they all attract Walkers (friends who haven't met yet!) from all of the thirty-two Counties... and beyond!

With Challenge Walks now well and truly embedded within the MountainViews community and website, the Calendar is now firmly established as the "go to" resource for all with an interest in this unique "Early Morning Bogtrot".

Here, the would-be early risers searching for their own adrenaline fuelled "World of Pain", can find all required information for all the Challenge Walks up and down the country. Many Walks themselves are now as well known countrywide, as any of the televised events within the greater Irish sporting arena! From the Glover Highlander in the wilds of donegal to the enchantment of the Maumturks in unspoilt Connemara, the eager Challenge Walker can follow in spirit, the footsteps of Tom Crean in The Tom Crean Challenge in Co. Kerry or best a day's serious endurance during the wellrenowned Lug Walk in Co. Wicklow. Within the Challenge Walks Calendar webpages there are the relevant details, routecards, GPS tracks and even reports of the given days as recounted by members of the MountainViews community!

Two new additions to the Homepage of the Calendar are “CHALLENGE WAlKS NEWS, REPORTS, BLOGS & MORE...” This allows for easier viewing on the most recent reports and new reports on the Walks can be both uploaded and visited with ease. Also “CHALLENGE WALKS FAQ” which whilst addressing the obvious it also goes as far as to name the top ten toughest Challenge Walks in Ireland! Want to join in in a “heated debate”...?

So no surprise then that 2016 was every bit as successful and interesting for the Challenge Walker with all of the Walks continuing to go from strength to strength.

The following excerpts are a but some of the reports from only some of the great Challenge Walks that are hosted by many a proud Hillwalking Club in Ireland . . .

“Onwards to Loch Mham Ochoige and once here, and assuming all is well in the camp... this is now the point of no return!! Sure doesn't the day get better and better each year! The blowy bitter wind brought many a flurry of snow which looked very pretty against a backdrop of morning sun. And once these showers passed, the air was left incredibly clear with the most magnificent views of Mweelrea and indeed the Twelve Bens themselves. Curiously though, the day was very different for many... all depending where the Challenge Walker was fortunate enough or (as seemed to be the rule of thumb for me) unfortunate enough, to welcome these savage showers... Down in the valleys - Happy Days! Atop Binn Bhriocáin - and mother of Jaysus the wind would split a flea!!”.  Excerpt from Maumturks 2016 by Jim Holmes.

“It turned out to be a splendid day, with 283 smiley, happy people on the hills from all corners of the Country. There was a bit of fog from Black Rock Mountain to Mount Leinster, early in the day, but after that it was ‘Feck!!, the sun cream is in the other bag’. The hillwalker with the brolly was smarter than we thought, what better to protect yourself against the UV sunlight... It’s getting hot now. ‘Did I bring enough water?’ There’s a checkpoint at Carrigalachan Gap. There’s also tea, coffee, a variety of sweet sustenance and a top-up of water available. Two cups please. Final checkpoint, before the finish, at Ballycrinnigan Rock ahead. It’s all downhill from here. The cairn that marks the way towards Dranagh is well marked, as is the rest of the way home. You’ve seen some folk with shorts earlier in the day and you’re wondering if the abounding furzy vegetation, to knee height, will bother them. Will they even care? Probably not, as they’re practically home.” Excerpt from blackstairs Challenge 2016 by Gerard Sheehy.

“You’re deciding what to wear on the bus trip over. There’s mist and fog along the tops so better to dress for that ‘battle’ when you get off the bus, don the coat and the over trousers. You’re going to overheat on the way up Temple Hill but in an hour’s time you’ll need them. You know how your walk is going to go for the rest of the day by the time you get to the summit of Temple Hill. You’re either feeling strong or it knocks the bejaysus out of you. If you’re in the latter category, you look forward to the gentle undulations between Lyracappul and just to the West of Galtymore. But first, there’s that second climb to Lyracappul. You see three walkers through the mist, ahead of you on the ascent of Lyracappul. If you want a bit of company you’ll have to catch them up. They’re flying along, as you can’t close the gap but the next checkpoint is ‘Wall Corner’ R863 - 242 and they’ll have to pause. You know all three and decide to fall in with them.” Excerpt from Galtee Challenge/Crossing 2016 by Gerard sheehy.








“Seefin being plenty high and out a little more on its own, will always be a model to trap any rain goin-a-begging - so no surprise, here begins Downpour Biblica numero three. But here, the wonderful hosts of the Walk (Dungarvan Hillwalking Club), cleverly produce a Hillwalking secret weapon... Tayto Crisps! (heaven on earth). A few more ups and downs later and then yet another god-send of hospitality and braic at the Mauma Road Checkpoint.  Crochan west (which isn't particularly high but has every bit an incredible view as the mighty summits previous) is the last of the day's heights and the infamous point of any Challenge Walk where we can now say... Can you hazard a guess??? Anyone??? What about you guys talking away at the back of the class??? YES, you're absolutely right! No homework for you tonight...! This is where we can happily say "It's all downhill from here!". Excerpt from Comeragh Challenge 2016  Jim Holmes.

So onwards and upwards through 2017 . . . and what are we all most anticipating for the forthcoming season...? Did I hear you say "World of Pain" earlier??... surely not! I did however, hear you say something to the tune of ”Friends who just haven't met yet..." let's leave it at that!

Support a Challenge Walk near you!

Jim Holmes.