Fei Sheehy Challenge 2017


Cross the length of the Comeragh Mountains. 
Cross the length of the Galtee Mountains. 
Cross the length of the Knockmealdown Mountains . . . . . 

"If you surround yourself with people who reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel, you run the risk of generating energies that are contagious. This is what happens when hillwalkers assemble in numbers. You just get swept along in a happy place . . . "  (Gerard Sheehy)

Indeed, traverse the length of all three mountain ranges over three intense days. This is the ask, so as to complete the Triple Crossing that is the Fei Sheehy Challenge. Since its inauguration in 2014 the Challenge has gone from strength to strength and this is primarily due to the inspirational Hillwalker Gerard Sheehy. Gerard, who has now become a legend in his own lunchtime on the MountainViews website, has traced and shared some of the most incredible tracks from the Maumturks to the Canary Islands. He truly is a powerful Hillwalker . . . But this wasn't always so. 

It was only after the the very sad loss of his daughter Fei, that Gerard took to Hillwalking. 
This was back in 2012 and the rest as they say is history . . . BUT this would be the absolute wrong thing to say, reason being, that history is very much in the making as we speak . . . and I do not doubt that in any way the Fei Sheehy Challenge or Fei's legacy will come to a finish any time soon! 

So an incredible ask . . . three mountain ranges over three intense days . . .  so how does the Challenge Walker even begin?? 
Whilst some are lucky enough to reside close to the various Starts, most have to choose a B&B option so as to be in close proximity. 
Everything has, and needs, to be thought through. 
Food and water for three days Hiking. 
The proper attire for three days Hiking. 
Different pairs of Boots need to be assessed. 
The individual dates, the individual days of the Challenge are carved in stone. 
No alternative if the weather could be a tad inclement. 
Oh, and by the way . . . . Hurricane Gert is "ag teacht anois“!! 

Day One : The Comeragh Mountains. 
A bright enough start hides what will very soon be an overcast day with all too low cloud cover. There are showers and by the time the height of Seefin is reached, it is cold to boot. 
Reaching the high plateau of Coumfea there is a break in the clouds that will last for an hour or two. This should take the Walker to the Nire Valley or to the The Gap . . . there are navigational options over the next few days . . . but for the most part it is a toss up between Crocodiles or Alligators!! 
Now the rain and winds build in their intensity, it will be a tough finish-out for all over the next few hours. The final few kilometres into Clonmel town is a trail of wet and weather-beaten Hillwalkers. 















Day Two : The Galtee Mountains. 
At my own base for the Challenge (a rental in Dungarvan) I have washed and dried the various accoutrements that I prefer . . . I have options and changes of clothes, but when there is gear that you trust . . . 
My boots are still wet though, so I risk a much lighter, non-waterproof option! I get lucky. 
The Galtees in all their glory enchant today. Whilst there is predominant cloud cover - the day remains dry and at times there is welcome sunshine too. Force Ten from Navarone blows atop Galtymore and thrills the resident ravens who dance and tumble in their joys. 
Today seems like a stay of execution. In the Valley at Lyracappul Mountain two peregrine falcons screech to incredible heights with ease. . . we ask “what do they know that we don't!" Over Temple Hill and down into Anglesboro, Day Two comes to an end. 

Day Three : The Knockmealdown Mountains. 
Today will be wet . . . . full stop. 
Heavier gortex boots are dry but I'm going to roll with the light option. There will be no avoiding being soaked to the skin today so the plan is to keep on the hoof and remain warm. Light gear options should allow for easier movement with softness underfoot the prime plan for the day. 
Initial whiteout never lifts, I choose a lower route at first and drop too low, too late . . . 
This choice which I correct as soon as I can costs time and effort and now means I will spend the day walking solo without sight of another soul till the road to Ballyporeen at the very end! This is especially true as after a vicious summit at Knockmealdown Mountain I break at the lower Col so as to pick up a track below the Vee car park. . .  I had mused should I potter up out of the mist so as to find another living soul. . . but of course the plan was to drop a gear and try to simply push on through the tough day that was. . .  so alas, no chat today! 

Tough walking conditions, persistent rain without a break in the clouds. . . but when the finish at Ballyporeen is eventually reached there is a warm, friendly glow emanating from all. 















The culmination of another successful Fei Sheehy Challenge resides here. 
The Sheehy family, the associated Hillwalking Clubs who have weighed in to help. . . and of course the team on the ground who have braved swarms of wasps earlier in the Challenge (believe it or not!) and have gone to great lengths to provide cakes of a most memorable standard that will be forever yearned for!! . . . . all these good people are proud of their achievements over the last few days. . . and rightly so. 

The criteria for being a Challenge Walk, amongst other things as I know you all know, is that it should be Self-Navigating. For this main reason, Charity Walks tend not to feature on the Challenge Walks Calendar. Many may feel that it's hardly our duty to fund scenarios that aren't our fault in the first place. . . But I'm convinced that this is wrong! 
If we don't contribute to a given charitable cause our governments most certainly will not! 

Whilst no amount of funding can ever bring back a beautiful young innocent girl, who lost her life to a rare form of bone cancer - this emphatically, is not the point. 
The purpose, the point . . .  
In her short lifetime, Fei Sheehy's life has had more meaning than many who will ever grace this Earth. 

Our hearts and thoughts will always be with the Sheehy family. . . . Onwards and Upwards, Sincere Thanks to All. 

Jim Holmes.