Clare adventurer embarks on 621km trek across the length of Iceland

Ennis man Dermot Cosgrove is no stranger to adventure. Following the success of his ‘Walk for the Dogs’ Greenland trek three years ago and his 10-day walk across the French Pyrenees last year, the wildlife enthusiast is putting on his hiking boots yet again. Ahead of his charity expedition to Iceland, Dermot spoke with David Byrne.

Dermot Cosgrove with one of the Irish Dogs for the Disabled (Photo: Phil Doyle)

IT has been a long journey of many, many months of preparations but this weekend Ennis native Dermot Cosgrove is set to begin his walk from the most northern point of Iceland to the country’s most southern point, all in the aid of a charity very much close to his heart. 

While many of us will be enjoying the summer weather back home the fearless Clare man will haul up to 45 kilograms of supplies through the Highlands of Iceland, a self-supported venture in a country he has never even visited before.

For Dermot, adventure and taking on such tasks has always been a desire of his, but now charity is also benefiting from his recent trips.

Becoming heavily involved with fundraising for Irish Dogs for the Disabled following his sister’s association with Irish Dogs for the Disabled for the past 17 years, Dermot hopes to continue to raise much-needed funds for many years to come. 

“When I went up to Greenland there two years ago I decided that if I was going to be up there doing a long distance walk that I’d fundraise for them [Dogs for the Disabled],” he explained.

Since the start of his impressive fundraising initiative, the Ennis native has raised over €17,000, between his well-documented trek across Greenland and a more recent adventure in France last year. 

“It is moving along nicely and obviously the more money that comes in the better – it costs €15,000 to train a dog,” he said.

The route Clare adventurer, Dermot Cosgrove will take during his upcoming walk the length of Iceland in aid of the Irish Dogs for the Disabled

Speaking to The Clare People ahead of his latest adventure to Iceland, Dermot explained the reasoning behind his plans to take on the trek whilst carrying a dark with up to 45 kilograms of weight behind him.

“When I start off [planning the trip] I was going to backpack it from a town called Husavik to the south which would have made it over 400 kilometres.

“I was sitting down and during the planning and research of it I came across an unofficial route that goes from the most northernly point in Iceland to the most southernly point – it’s about 620 kilometres.

“There are places that you can resupply along the way but after a while I said that it would be more interesting to do it while carrying everything with me.

“That brings up the problem of having a huge amount of gear especially food wise. You have basically 21 days supply of food to take into account.

“I started doing some more research and I came across a Northern Irish guy called Liam McCarron who crossed part of the Empty Quarter desert in Saudi Arabia pulling a cart.

“I started looking at carts then and I found this one in Germany and got talking to a guy and did some more research on that type of cart. It suits what I am doing right down to the ground.

Kilkee-based adventurer, Dermot Cosgrove embraces one of the trained Irish Dogs for the Disabled

“It will take up to 45 kilos which is ideal because I’ve got a section crossing the black sand desert – I’ve got about four days where I won’t have access to clean water so I have haul water with me. 

“So, along with the food you are adding another 20 to 25 kilos on top. It just has to hold all that weight and the cart meant that if I’m going to do it unsupported it then it just makes more sense to have a cart and to be able to haul a big load,” explained Mr Cosgrove.

Ahead of the venture, Dermot will return home to Clare for a few days from Algeria, where he works for a Spanish oil and gas company, before heading off to Iceland on Sunday, July 7.

His short stay at home will see him have to acclimatise from up to 50 degrees Celsius heat in North Africa to flying to the coldest part of Iceland, an area which touches the Arctic Circle.

The Kilkee resident is well used to the wind and the rain in West Clare but attempting this trek during his first time on Icelandic soil will certainly take a few days of getting used to the local climate. 

“I am heading in to projected weather similar to Spring in Ireland. I think they had minus four [degrees Celsius] the other evening but it is going to be around six degrees and possibly damp and rainy.

Dermot Cosgrove partaking in one of his many hikes along the edge of the Cliffs of Moher in preparation for his upcoming trek across Iceland

“I have less than a week to settle when I get home [from Algeria to Clare] and then off to another extreme in terms of temperature.

“There is no real way of adjusting, you just have to go in and hit it and acclimatise to it,” he said.

Having been kindly sponsored by Dublin-based company, 53 Degrees North, Dermot will be wearing extremely light but warm clothes well-suited to the Icelandic climate, especially in the colder and less populated Northern part of the island.

“I prefer walking when it is cool like that because you don’t have to consume as much water and you can head on at a reasonable pace. 

“Adjusting for the temperature is just get in there and do it,” he said.

During his first few days of his predicted 21-day trek, Mr Cosgrove will stay over night in designated campsites, due to strict Icelandic laws regarding pitching tents and camping outside such areas.

“Once I go further cross country it is just a question of setting up a tent beside the road or beside the track and camping there.

“I have my camp sites mapped out, day by day. Some days I will be walking 30 kilometres. I have a few 40 kilometres days – you are talking about 12 to 14 hour walking days,” he added.

To donate to Dermot’s cause in aid of the Irish Dogs for the Disabled, visit ‘walk for the dogs’ page on everydayhero.com

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