Taking place as close to the day with the longest daylight hours as possible (Summer Solstice) the Lug Walk is no ordinary Challenge Walk!
Hosted every second year by The Irish Ramblers, this is one of the “Big Daddys” in the world of Challenge Walks! Having a cumulative ascent similar to the Maamturks, this walk is twice as long!
It is a great walk indeed, that splits into three distinct stages – each with their own merits and unique “pains of day”. The first section may as well take place in the middle of the night its such an unearthly hour to be off on a potter. The second stage has lots of tough ascent and the infamous Barnacullion. And the final stretch sees the weary walker negotiating bog and granite before finding themselves atop the highest point in Leinster. Alot of the walk takes place higher than any mountain in the Turks – so the day’s Hillwalking, that is even closer to the heavens, tends always to be “airy round the ankles”.
I know how I’ve mentioned before of the great battles of reasoning between many a great Challenge Walker as to which walk is the toughest. . . .
At this point in time I’ve bested both great days ten times each . . . so I’m at least half qualified to profess that the answer is very straightforward . . . it all depends on the given day! Q.E.D.
There’s a great ratio in agreement as to the pains of the three stages to the Lug Walk. . . Simply put, its 4 hours, 5 hours, 6 hours. Chances are eager walkers will be quicker than this – but if the day decides to throw in a wild card, these times can quickly become an arduous reality!
To make a long story longer – this year’s Lug Walk started in savage weather for the first stage. Biting wind and the real “wet” rain battered all up to Sally Gap. Thereafter a nice dry day would ensue till Wicklow Gap. And the last stage was a mix of overcast conditions, a little rain and yet some lovely sunshine. It should be mentioned that visibility was at times incredible. . . Wales was clear as crystal across the pond, as was Mount Leinster and indeed the Knockmealdown Mountains from the mighty Log na Coille itself!!
Now had the conditions of the first stage prevailed. . . . this is where we’re talking bout that wild card!
Over the years I’m very much convinced of my own Challenge Walk Theory that the given day is made up of 40% fitness, 40% Stubbornness and 20% Luck.
Fitness is obvious. The work has to be done to even think about attempting a great walk like the Lug. And yet on many a year I’ve seen incredibly fit 18 year olds and even fell runners become demoralised and drop out when the weather takes a turn for the worst!
This is where stubbornness earns all of it’s 40%. Knowing that no one else can do the walk for you and that each and every footstep or even summit, is one more in a list of the days labours that is now “chalked up” – is of gargantuan importance, and goes a long way to keeping spirits high. Even accepting that at Wicklow Gap I’m really past the point of no return despite thunder storms (as in previous ventures on the Lug) can make all the difference! This was the percentage that helped many continue on (or indeed show up and partake in the first place) so as not to miss the great day that is . . . and always expertly hosted by the Irish Ramblers.
The 20% luck becomes even more evident if you find on a given day that navigation in whiteout is at a minimum or you are presented with a free “bounce” with every trot across Conavalla’s famous boggy approach instead of “Acme Quick Drying Cement”. Especially true is that with a walk that traverses over 50km – conditions could quite realistically feature everything within the weather spectrum!
20% well earned I say!