“All you’ve got to do is decide to go and the hardest part is over.”
If getting out more and joining something like a walking club is something you’ve put on the long finger, this is a great time of year to finally get going. Hill walking is great for all-round fitness and wellbeing and a day’s hiking in the hills gives one a great sense of achievement.
Over 20-years-old, Clonakilty Hill Walking Club, affectionately known as ‘the friendly club’, offers all year round walks (grade A and B) once a fortnight. The walks generally take place on Sundays to locations in West Cork, Co Kerry and Co Tipperary with trips sometimes further afield to Co Wicklow, Connemara and Co Donegal. Overseas club trips have included walks in Wales, the Lake District in the UK, Switzerland, the French Alps and the Amalfi coast.
Living up to its friendly title, Clonakilty Hill Walking Club welcomes new members without commitment for the first three walks, which are free of charge.
Affiliated to Mountaineering Ireland, the club’s membership fee is €50 per annum and if you are a member of another walking club you can become an associate member of the Clonakilty Club for just €10.
The club occasionally runs social outings, including concerts theatre events, boat trips and summer BBQs.
Longstanding member of Clonakilty Hill Walking Club, Barbara, met her husband in a walking group. She says that Clonakilty Hill Walking group has also had its fair share of romances over the years. “There is much camaraderie and many friendships forged on these sociable walks at weekends,” she says. “It really is a way of life and a club that I’ve made lifelong friends through.
“There is something really special about being out on the hills, under your own steam, and no matter what’s on your mind, you always come home lighter after a trip out.”
Peter recalls one of the most memorable walks for him as being out with the club in February last year. “Sixteen of our members met at Kate Kearney’s in Kerry for the obligatory coffee and scones before setting off to the Head of the Gap of Dunloe. Snow had been falling for a few hours the night before and the hills were covered with a thick blanket. From the head of the Gap, we made our way to the top of Purple Mountain. Ours were the only footprints in the snow and it was a truly magnificent experience. After about an hour, as we were heading to Tomies Mountain, the sun came out and, with a blue sky overhead, we stopped and took in the clear view across to the Reeks. This is what hillwalking is about.”
All walkers must wear suitable hillwalking gear, including boots (not trainers or jeans) and if you don’t have hillwalking experience, it’s recommended to start with the B walks.
For the full calendar of walks go to clonakiltyhillwalkingclub.com or for more information phone: Marion on 087 7642465; Peter on 087 6526343; Barbara on 087 3638600. Alternatively you may email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pictured: Clonakilty Hillwalkers on Vee Gap (top) and on Gran Paradiso, Italy (below).