Galtee Challenge/Crossing 2016

Galtee Challenge/Crossing 2016


The setting for sign-in is beside the (in its day) state of the art defensive Cahir Castle. Galtee Walking Club members are here since 06:00 getting ready for first arrivals around 07:00. It’s damp but not cold.

As we’re setting up, conversation turns to numbers. The forecast/weather will put a few off but, will the FRA V IRL match. There are two walks on the day; the Challenge for the self-navigators and the Crossing led walk. There’s 51 on the bus for the Challenge and 64 for the Crossing. We move out of Cahir on the Challenge bus at 07:56.

There’s a lead in car waiting in sleepy Anglesboro and another parked near the start. It’s on a bend so safety first: plenty of signs on the road too. Good organisation.

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 overtrousers. You’re going to overheat on the way up Temple Hill but in an hours 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.

Next checkpoint is Galtybeg. Seven of the eight checkpoints on the mountain today are unmanned - you don’t need club members standing on remote mountains for self-navigators. There are, however, club plans in place if someone needs to come off along the way.

I have a look at the stats on the GPS at the 15km mark. I have to; as I’m feeling the intensity of the pace. A momentary exclamation of ‘JM&J’ and a note to self that you’re walking companions ‘can’t keep this up’.

The mist lifts in the col between Farbrega & Lachtshanaquilla, there’s a bit of heat there now. David is manning the checkpoint at Lachtshanaquilla NE Top so you have a few words, take a breath and take off the coat and overtrousers. It’s all clear ahead.

There’s no let up in the pace as you contour around Sturakeen and make your way to Slievenard. The average speed for the day has increased. You feel a twinge in the right knee. That’s new, but you’re sticking with this crew until the finish now. You punch your weather battered card on Cairn Spot 411 and then the Hammer Head. It’s 6.5km downhill to the Castle Car Park from here.

Smiling, happy people at the finish to welcome you back. You collect your Certificate and Gift and warn them not to tell you the score in the match.

At the end of the day, you’ve gone out on the mountain and achieved something. Everyone home safe and sound from both walks. Final score:  Galty Challenge 10 Match 0.

Gerard Sheehy.

With Thanks to Kevin Finn (Photos).