Roz Warne is always up for an adventure. Coach of a women’s outdoor trekking adventure group, she is no stranger to Australian bush trails.
Late last year as the weather in Australia was warming up, Roz took a flight across the world to take on a cooler kind of challenge and tackle a different type of terrain; the Ireland Way.
And, she did it solo.
We asked the courageous female adventurer about her epic journey.
What inspired you to undertake this journey?
I saw the trek on Facebook about 18 months prior and it intrigued me. Ireland was calling me for some reason, and I had always wanted to do a solo adventure.
I wanted to do a trek from point A to point B.
The other thing I wanted was to be able to speak the language so that I could engage completely with the locals.
One of my sons has anxiety and addictions and has been in and out of rehab. I wanted to do this for him and show him that if you set your mind to something you CAN do it.
Where did you start and finish, and how long did it take?
I started the trek in Castletownbeare in Cork on the south coast of Ireland and finished on the north coast in Bally Castle.
Did you encounter any challenges along the way?
I started the trek on November 4th, so the weather was wintery. On my first day trekking over a mountain, I battled 23km an hour wind!
A lot of the B&B’s were closed for winter, so at times it was tricky to arrange accommodation. Several times I had to stay away from the trail and organise transport to and from the start and finish.
Food was also an issue as a lot of the villages that I stayed in did not have restaurants, and the pubs did not do meals at night.
My gear was perfect although initially I did have too much, so I ended up sending a few bits and pieces home.
Tell us about your preparation in the lead up?
I decided that I would do the trek and three weeks later, I was there at the start.
I trek three times a week and I have done so for about 10 years, so my trekking fitness was up to par. I have a healthy diet, so I was ready to go.
What were your three most essential items on the journey?
My backpack, boots and waterproof clothing.
For most of your journey you were alone. Tell us about your mental space?
I loved the freedom of being by myself. I felt carefree, the only things I had to think about were food and where I was going to stay, and of course the navigation.
I didn’t ever feel lonely as the Irish people were incredibly friendly and chatty.
You wore the Aussie Grit Focus Jacket throughout the trek, how did it hold up?
The Focus Jacket held up so well. I wore it every day as either a wind break or a rain jacket. It kept me dry even in the “lashing” rain. The only thing I would say is that the wrists need a tighter band but I believe now that this modification has been done. For a jacket so light it was hard to believe that it would keep me bone dry.
The New Focus 2020 Jacket includes tighter wrist cuffs and an array of technical features.
Roz also wore the Aussie Grit Wendover Down Jacket to keep out the chill.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to tackle a similar challenge?
Definitely be well “trek” trained, have the correct gear and be open to a whole lot of different experiences. Understand that you need to go into a challenge like this with a very open mind as you have no control over weather, transport, accommodation and people.
Have you got your eye on any new challenges for 2020?
I have no plans for another big solo challenge this year but there will be lots of weekends and weeks away on treks with my Fittrek girls locally and interstate.
Just last weekend, Roz took on The Shotover Moonlight Mountain Marathon in New Zealand on February 15th.
Do you have any other tales to tell us?
Animals, electric fences and stiles!! Most of this trek was through farmlands.
Up and over stiles, take backpack off, get under the electric fence and then hope that the herd of cows did not have a bull with them. They come close to you and that is a bit frightening as they are so big.
Flocks of sheep running towards me, horses following me, farm dogs running out at me barking……. I was always on high alert.