The Maamturks Challenge 2014

The Maamturks Challenge 2014


Now I know it’s an obvious thing to say but it’s the weather that dictates all, in any of the Challenges within the Challenge Walk Calendar. But what was to surprise all was the heavy rain (and hail) and driving wind that greeted just short of two hundred walkers on this year’s NUIG Maumturks Challenge. “Scotch Mist” was just a tad simplistic a forecast to be true . . . but then we all know how the “Bens” and the “Turks” have their own weather system that answers to no one and makes up its own rules as it goes along. . . . .

No the rain didn’t just fall - and that would be that - oh no!

The ground was now left boggy, sloppy and plenty slippery, more like a wet Wicklow than the wild western rocky tracks of “back aways” that we all know and love so well. So as such, all this would require the unsuspecting hillwalker to be willing  to give an extra effort today (talk about putting the Challenge back into Challenge Walking!) - and later (when the drier weather would prevail) it would become scarily evident how many a large rock wasn’t as soundly anchored as one would have preferred!


Understandably, this curve-ball caught many off guard and would unfortunately determine the day’s innings for a good number of walkers. However, by the time all had reached the first of the main checkpoints – Maumeen, true to the weatherman’s promise . . . the day magically lifted and would stay dry but with its very own special blend of Maumturks biting wind.



Out of Maumeen and the Challenge brings the walker up, down (and sideways) over some of the most spectacular scenery known to either God or Man. Although, its always forever tricky to take the time to "stop and smell the roses" as the day must always be well disciplined to ensure all "Cut-Off times" are met with a safe buffer - as was evident earlier in the day - things can turn in an instant and a days intense navigation can ensue.


But while the day did remain cool - it stayed dry - and this is where once again the weather dictates how all can plod-on, on this great day, that is.

Near on sixty volunteers unselfishly give of their time to ensure that one of the toughest Challenge Walks in the country, passes without incident, so that all can say how they enjoyed their day (once the pains have abated - bit like giving birth really). At the Col of Despondency alone members of NUIG Radio Club join the organizers, as do members of the Galway Mountain Rescue. With the last of the mountain checkpoints a little further North (closer to Leenane Pond) - from here it's a treat to be able to say . . . "its all downhill from here".


Continued thanks to NUIG, thirty-nine years later (next year will be the Walk's 40th anniversary!) and still successfully hosting one of the All-Time great Challenge Walks in Ireland. . . . 

Now that is an obvious statement to be professing.


Many thanks,

Jim Holmes.