Last weekend, Andy Owens and Paddy Dennis followed the Hart Walk: a historic 69-mile route through Wicklow Mountains National Park in Ireland with a great story behind it.
The origin of the Hart Walk was a fifty-guinea wager allegedly made in 1886 by the naturalist R. M. Barrington (a fine walker himself) that fellow naturalist H. C. Hart could not walk from Terenure tram terminus to the summit of Lugnaquilla and back in under 24 hours. Hart, accompanied by Sir Frederick Cullinan, recorded his timings on the 1" map he used: he left Terenure at 10.58pm on 20th June 1886 and arrived back at 10.48pm the next evening. His success in completing the challenge inspired others to try it - the fastest recorded time of the route is 17 hours 39 minutes by Gaffney and Rice in 1976.
Andy Owens was trying to organise a group to do the Hart Walk, and it had been on Paddy’s bucket list for a while. The pair had walked with each other before and knew that their walking styles complimented each other – they’re both relentless and push each other.
The Hart Walk is tough – the long route over the mountains is rarely done. Starting at 22:12 on Saturday night, the pair set off with good but cold weather, moving just to stay warm. They broke the challenge down into sections and stopped for their first break around 53km at Glenmalure. Paddy was ready for the mountains: “This is where I feel more at home. We started up the Lug just before dawn and my feet felt so much better on the ground they’re used to. It was cold up the top of the Lug, but at least we were half way and could turn and head for home.”
The walk was hard with boggy ground and cold winds, but they soldiered on. “There was a stage, as we were heading for the Famine Cross, when my feet were so sore [that] I said to Paddy, ‘I’m going to hitch a lift the rest of the way,’ but Paddy wasn’t having any of it – he was determined to finish together, no matter what the cost,” Andy revealed.
Andy and Paddy made it to the end in 21 hours and the track brought Andy through his 1000-mile #Walk2016 ViewRanger challenge! “It took a bit longer than we had planned,” said Paddy, “but I didn’t mind, as the challenge was completing it. I have the height of respect for anyone who has done this challenge!”
Thank you to Gerard Sheehy for sharing this story with us. Information about the challenge origin from article by Joss Lynam in Mountain Log No. 27, Autumn 1986.