Joyce Country Challenge 2019

Joyce Country Challenge 2019

Patsy Cahalan tells us of a fabulous day's walking with photos from Marketa Holkavoka

The 20th of July saw the 13th Joyce Country Challenge off to a great start.

The weather gods smiled most kindly on hills of the Joyce Country - no rain at all and light to moderate winds.

The aroma of fresh toast and hot coffee wafted from the community centre in Finny as the first band of walkers lined up to receive their walk cards. Spirits were high as walkers greeted each other and the organisers as everyone looked forward to a great day out. The smell of sun cream soon added atmosphere of expectation.

With walk cards and compasses at the ready the first walkers headed into the cool morning in the direction of Maamtrasna. Groups from all parts of Ireland and hardy individuals soon spread out across the geological wonderland from Maamtrasna to Knocklár and on to Devils Mother. From here the views of Killary harbour and the village of Leenane were the backdrop to many photos on the day.

With the food stop at Ail Dubh now in view pace quickened to get to the renowned oasis where fresh tea and sandwiches as well as cakes were waiting. With cards marked and numbers cross referenced by the Galway Radio club the steep ascent of Bunacunneen began. Once reached the 360 degree views of Lough Na Foohey, the Turks, the Bens, the Reek, Mweelrea and the islands were amble reward. On to the ironically named Ben Beg and then a ridge walk to Finny.

After the formalities of final checks and presentation of medals, the pleasures of homemade soup, salads, scones and sandwiches began. Cakes and buns were washed down with tea and lots of back-slapping, and promises to do it all again next year.

All 4 grades of walks from the 30k challenge to the low-level road walks were well supported and as always, the local hospice foundation will be the beneficiary.

The feedback received makes it all worthwhile for the organisers; one example sums it all up . . .

“Many thanks to you and all the team for a wonderful day on Saturday. The support before hand, the crew on the day at start, on checkpoints, at end not to mention the outstanding catering was all very much appreciated. All fourteen Wayfarers who did the walk (13 on Challenge walk, 1 on B walk) will be back next year . . . and we intend ensuring that we bring many more from the Club with us!”

Great pictures are available on the Facebook page of the Lake District hillwalking club !!

Patsy Cahalan.

Photos Marketa Holkavoka.