Comeragh Challenge 2016

Comeragh Challenge 2016


A new finishing point and a month's precipitation in the previous two days - would be the dominant greetings to this year's Comeragh Challenge which starts just outside Clonmel, then traverses an honest 45 kilometers back towards Dungarvan across the majestic Comeragh mountains with all its peaks, corries and plateaus . . .

Just under two hundred "decent 'oul skins" (this is a prerequisite for being a Challenge Walker) took part in the great day that has numerous options for grades of pain on the given day. On the toughest of these (The Challenge) numbers were a tad down  (30 walkers) . . . but these are the elite boys and girls at the top of their game!

The thirty top officers, of Navy Seal grit, were jettisoned a kilometer earlier than previous years which also meant an extra 100 metres climb for these tough hombres. . .



A gentle enough long, steady climb sees off the first peak (Lachtnafrankee at 520m) then a drop down to the well remembered Chip Depot checkpoint . . . well actually no! The Chip Depot has eventually been cut (previous rumours did turn out to be true after all) leaving the walker a shorter cross country traverse straight to Bog Road Checkpoint . . . But as these elite walkers tend to be on autopilot (especially many a veteran of the Challenge) many, myself included, found ourselves inadvertently and unnecessarily hitting it anyway!! Yeah - Maybe we like the Pain!

Now the jaunt is a beautiful ridge walk until the Nire Valley Checkpoint where tea and braic await. . . But before this glee could be availed of - the first of three and a half of the day's ration of truly Biblical showers did impress!

After the great "nose-bag" at the Nire Valley the long (and at times steep) haul up to Carrignagower beckons. . . time for Biblical shower number 2 !

Now atop this bleak, enchanting plateau, Boola Cairn peers down to Coum Iarthar Loughs in all their majesty. But alas continuing on first to Fascoum then on to Comfea would be very heavy going on weary feet, expected to give even more of an effort than the norm . . . if you remember - this was caused by all the heavy precipitation of the previous few days. And this is where all of the different walks on the day get bumped up a notch to a way higher grade (this is the severity of the extra haul that is now required) . . . no handy, hard rock, Maumturks track here!! And with the Maumturks being a whole 20 kilometers shorter. . . do you see what I'm hinting at . . . and having done both over ten times each - yup, I am qualified to rant and rave as much as I want - so there!

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!"

The final part of Dungarvan Hillwalking Clubs' great day out for all the family (elite hombres included) is a new way down back to Kilgobbinet GAA. . . Through the kindness of local land owners and the hard work put in by the organisers - the last few kilometers of the day passes through beautiful farmland where wild honeysuckle and vibrant foxgloves hide forgotten cottages that no doubt had their own great stories to tell in their own day. . .

Congratulations to All, near on two hundred hardy bucks, who blazed a trail and once again did wonders to support a great event.

Many, many thanks as always, to the brilliant expertise of Dungarvan Hillwalking Club who host with great pride The Comeragh Challenge.

Jim Holmes.