Eairy Beg Birthday Walk – 22nd June 2020

Is it really midsummer? Rain, drizzle, mist, gales – we came across all of these on our short walk to Eairy Beg. We had hoped to get some views from the Cairn at the top, but it was all we could do to see one another never mind a view. Even so, what else can you do on a miserable day but to go out and enjoy a forest walk where at least there is some chance of keeping dry.

The River at Glen Helen

We set off from the car park at Glen Helen. We had the Wardens Walk no 5, which we thought would be a bonus, but within a few feet of starting off we realised it was quite outdated. For instance, a new bridge has been built meaning that there is no gate as mentioned on the instructions to go through. This could have been an ominous start, but by and large and with a bit of imagination the instructions mostly matched the paths on the ground.

Path through the woods

The track uphill is relatively straightforward. It is described on the iom gov website as ‘Moderate’ and a ‘Muscle Stretcher’, mostly as it is a persistent walk uphill with a few level places on the way. The maximum height reached on this 2.75 mile walk is 904ft from a starting point of 125ft, with of course the usual ups and downs in between. The path uphill is easy with no difficult rocks to cross over. If you have walking poles, you may find these useful on this walk, not least for the steepish sections both up- and downhill. The forest looked a little bare as they are mostly larch trees reaching up into the canopy with a few deciduous trees beneath. The lack of rain means that the undergrowth is very light to walk through.

Mossy Wall

Some of the paths do not exist on the ground but there are clear paths fairly close to where they should be, so it might suggest walking on one side of the wall but you end up walking on the other side of it where there is a clear track.

First ‘view’ of the moorland

On coming out of the forest, you come to a clearing with what would be really nice views of the moorland hills above Glen Helen. But today, we could only see a few hundred yards, and as we reached the cairn, our highest point of the day, we could barely see a thing and there was a howling gale wrapping around us. Thankfully, we were not on exposed ground for very long, and the path goes alongside the outer rim of the southern slopes of the hill and then steeply downhill. It is definitely best to walk this route the way we did, otherwise you would have quite a steep climb to the top without many resting places. The walking poles were useful for keeping our balance on some slippery downhill parts.

The Cairn on Eairy Beg
The view from the top!

Towards the end of the route there is a choice of paths, one going slightly uphill and the other forking to the left and going downhill. In other places there are footprint signs on the trees indicating the way, but there was nothing at this junction. I strongly recommend you continue on the upper path, which would soon join a real track downhill. You can guess we took the lower path, which was certainly the more adventurous of the two as it was extremely steep in places and we were hanging on to trees and branches for dear life. On reflection, it was probably a path made by children messing about in the woods and not intended for OAPs – though our little party were not all in that age group yet!

It was only on this lower stretch that the rain really settled in, so although we had experienced some drizzle, wind and a lot of mist, we had without knowing it had the best of the weather for the day.

We then went to Milntown for a birthday dinner, before setting back home in time to enjoy delicious cup cakes which were delivered to me half an hour after I returned home – thank you to my daughter, Sarah, for the lovely surprise. My day had begun with a different kind of surprise – a visit from an old friend, who also celebrates his birthday today, bringing me a punnet of strawberries from his garden, so I finished the day as I started it with strawberries on my cup cake.

‘Best’ of the rest, in poor weather conditions:

Fleshwick and Bradda Hill – 20th June 2020

This relatively short walk – just under 6 miles from home – begins in very easy fashion. There is no short cut to walking along the edge of Port Erin. On reaching the golf course and the outskirts of Ballafession I took a path that is less used, maybe as it goes through someone’s garden, round the back of this hamlet. This takes you to an ancient monument, persistently visible from the road, but one that doesn’t require a second look very often. Today, it was sporting an Isle of Man flag, quite why I don’t know, but perhaps representing our pride in achieving Covid-19 free status, at least temporarily if not permanently.

Cronk Howe Mooar as it is today

It was at this point that I met up with some old friends – cows. What is it that cows find so fascinating about me? I am turning into a ‘cow whisperer’ in that I speak and they obey, but only until I turn my back. It was like playing ‘What’s the Time, Mr Wolf”!

Anyway, I digress. I did not actually go atop the mound, called Cronk Howe Mooar, which looks to all intents and purposes as if it was built by a large dog doing a very big bone scrape. On first excavation in 1812 it was thought to be a natural vestige of the ice age as it contains layers of rocks in a similar sequence to those found in the north. In fact, it is now considered that it is 900 man-made remnant of an ancient fort. Although difficult to see, there is a 10 metre ditch surrounding the motte and bailey castle.

Artist’s impression of Cronk Howe Mooar as it was 900 years ago, although the moat would have been fenced off too

I left the cows and walked both beside and in the stream which leads to the Honna Road (not the best path I have ever seen), then walked up Mill Road to join the pleasant walk down to Fleshwick Bay. This was about 2.5 miles by this stage. Fleshwick Bay is so pretty and unspoilt. It lies in a steep sided valley between Bradda Hill and the Carnanes, so whichever way you go thereafter, it will be uphill, and steep uphill. Before that, I clambered over the rocks and found myself a quiet place to have my picnic and watch a dog swimming in the water as its owner threw pebbles for it to chase.

I was walking back to Port Erin and I had a choice of a walk contouring around the east side of Bradda Hill, or taking the climb and walking along the coast. You can guess which one I opted for.

I am used to this climb, but even so I tend to pause several times on the way up. It is steep, there is no doubt about it. You go from sea level to 200 metres in half a kilometre, with the bulk of it in one section. It is a good soil path and in some ways it is easier to go up than down it, especially if is has been raining.

A clear view of the ascent to Bradda Hill

What views you get from the top! Initially, you can see all the way to Niarbyl and Peel in the north- west then as you continue along the coast path the Calf and Port Erin in the south become visible and Castletown and Langness in the east.

Cronk Ny Arrey Laa with Niarbyl and Peel in the distance

I was walking along the fields before the climb up to Bradda Head where I met a young couple walking from Port Erin to Peel. At the time it didn’t particularly occur to me that it was quite late in the day to be only at this point. They would still have at least another 10 miles to go, including some steep uphills. They wanted to reach Niarbyl by 5pm when the cafe would close, and I thought that if they were good walkers and with a favourable wind they might just make it. As I continued my walk, I began to have doubts and I became quite worried about them. They didn’t seem particularly well equipped and they were already saying when I met them that they needed a drink. A sole walker caught up with me when I was on Bradda Hill and we both agreed that they wouldn’t make it to Niarbyl in time, especially as he informed me the cafe had closed at 3pm, not 5pm as they had believed. This lone walker had taken 3.5 hrs from Niarbyl to Bradda Hill and he was no slouch, he had been walking at a good pace and he seemed quite fit. I decided there and then that I would get home, which would take me about an hour, pick up the car and see if I could find them, and take them to their destination.

Milner Tower and the Calf

I enjoyed my brisk walk across Bradda Hill and Bradda Head, taking the route by Bradda Glen, then the quickest path along the promenade and back home. Going through my head was that if I didn’t find them, the chances of the bus running from Dalby was zilch and they would have no choice but to walk the full distance. The beautiful sunny weather was also just beginning to turn.

Heather just coming into bloom and Port Erin Bay

I dropped off my rucksack and picked up a couple of bottles of water and sped off in my car. The only sensible place I might see them would be on Cronk Ny Arrey Laa by this time. I did check as I went around the Sloc and there was no-one walking there. The only problem was that if they had gone the right way, then they wouldn’t come down to the bend in the road and I would miss them. But at least I would have tried. It was rather cool and breezy when I arrived there. It had been breezy all day but the weather was beginning to deteriorate. I looked up to the summit of Cronk Ny Arrey Laa and I could see a couple walking down towards the car. I couldn’t tell if they were my couple but I could ask whoever it was if they had seen them. And then they were down, and yes, it was them. Would you believe that, and I had only been waiting 5 minutes. They had missed the coast path that would take them to Eary Cushlin. The lady was really pleased to see me, she had had enough of hill climbs, but the man would have liked to continue. Realistically, he didn’t know where he was going or how long it would take them so it wouldn’t have been a good idea to continue. I didn’t give them much choice, and I bundled them in the car, gave them some water and took them to Peel where they were going to get a meal at the Creek.

When I got home, I temporarily had doubts as to whether I should have interfered, but then checked the timetable, and they would have missed the last bus, so they would have ended up tired, cold, miserable and very hungry had they had to walk the full distance. They reminded of a time when I was walking the South West Coast Path with one of my sons, and we came across a man who was completely dehydrated and had collapsed and passed out. His girlfriend had somehow managed to prop him up under a bench so that he wouldn’t roll down the hill (!) while she went to get help, but he was just left there on his own. We stayed with him until he came round, and even then he wouldn’t take our dehydration tablets. Strange what you remember isn’t it, but I think this was in the back of mind when I decided to help this couple.

We had a good chat in the car, and I have heard from them since and they would like to meet up for a walk in the south sometime, and the young lady would like me to teach her Psychology!! 🙂

Distance: 5.89 miles; Total Ascent 1220 ft; Total Descent 1093 ft

Best of the rest:

Abbeylands and one other: 17th June 2020

What a lovely way to reach 3000 views on my blog, if I do. Today contained a first walk and a frequent walk. Starting with the frequent: My friend and I met up for a short walk and as she needed to pop in the Scarlett Visitor Centre to check she had enough paint for the floor – don’t ask! We decided to park up by the quarry and then walk around Scarlett to the point where Janet and I had finished the other day. This accomplished we carried on, back past the quarry to Pooil Vaaish Farm. From from here we turned right along a designated footpath which followed the Dumb river – so called, we believe, because it makes not even a tiny noise, over the fields and back to the edge of Castletown. These little streams are one of the wonders of the Isle of Man. The edges of every one are bordered with a myriad of wild flowers and ramblers to adorn every season and to entrance all kinds of insects and living creatures which keeps the world in buzzing order. I won’t bore you with any more of this walk as it is one I have regaled on many a day. Suffice that I include a map at the bottom.

The real highlight of the day, or should I say, evening, was a very short 2.7 mile walk organised by the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society (www.manxantiquarians.com), who proudly announced that this one of the first gatherings on the island since the abandonment of lockdown. They were in reality beaten to first place by the Ornithological Society who had a outing in the southern seas (of the Isle of Man, not the Pacific) the evening before but if you don’t tell them, I won’t. The walk was guided by a local with impeccable knowledge relating to the parcels of land over which we were to tread, and we learned a great deal about the farming history of this small and narrow valley that opens out to reveal the treasures of the hills beyond.

View towards Colden beyond the Baldwin Valley

We met at Abbeylands, which is really a district rather than a single place and depending on where you place your foot you may be in Onchan or Braddan. I learnt some new words today:

a) quarterlands – a unit of farmland between 40-150 acres, contains our best arable farmland. There are about 770 quarterlands on the IOM and have ancient boundaries that pre-date historical records.

b) treens – these comprise 4 quarterlands

c) intracks – parcels of land that are licensed to a specific person on what would previously have been considered common land. A rent then becomes payable to the landlord. These are usually sandwiched between the lower owned land and the open moorland.

We were bundled into cars to our starting point just up the road. From then on we followed a recognised footpath until we turned off into a field to go on the western side of Slieau Ree and view Joe’s Lewin’s Tower, or at least what remains of it, which isn’t much – just a spiral ramp and a couple of feet of vertical stone. He is reputed to be an eccentric who built this for the fun of it, or to be close to God. Either way, it does have fantastic views towards Douglas and the Baldwin valley… and the sky! Another document records this as originally a limestone kiln. You can choose which you prefer to believe. Both are quite possible, as this valley housed the Ohio mine for lead, silver, copper and zinc. (Sadly 8 miners were killed in a gas explosion here).

Sheep on Slieau Ree, on the eastern side of the Baldwin Valley
Joe Lewin’s Tower
View to the South from Abbeylands
Spot the hill beneath the clouds (South Barrule)

From there we crossed more forbidden territory – the advantage of having a local guide, and after a short but fairly steep climb we reached the Deemster’s Cairn or White Man. This is a stone monument built with quartz blocks strategically placed in the wall. It is surmised (we like legends over here) that the Deemster was returning from Ramsey to Castletown via the adjacent packhorse route on the other side of the wall and succumbed to inclement weather and died on that very spot. From here, the views in all directions are spectacular, with the mound of Carraghan to the north west, Snaefell to the right and Beinn-y-Phott in between.

Deemsters Cairn

A little further along is another dodgy rock monument that is supposed to resemble a horse, but we were advised that it looks more like a bedstead and we didn’t visit it. Our guide pointed out the farms and their local history. To think that one hundred years ago there were several hundred people living in this valley, and living it up to such an extent that the police had to come and break up a party in a pub! Today, there is just a handful of farms and b and b’s lining the western side of the Baldwin valley. A nice spot for a holiday!

Carraghan on the left, Beinn-y-Phott in the middle and the pylons of Snaefell in the distance

We descended on springy grass fields to the River Baldwin, dodging as many midges as we could. Just before this point we reached an old farmstead called Arderry, which began with the Quine family in the 1500s and was later divided up and the southern Ohio residence (where Joe Lewin’s tower is) was given to the Creers and the main dwelling and outhouses at Arderry remained in the family. It was originally leased to the tenants by Rushen Abbey and they used to pay a tithe to support the Nunnery in Douglas. The remains of Arderry which has streamlets flowing either side of the residence that would have provided a good fresh water source is only yards from the lowest point in this walk where there is a small ford to negotiate over the mighty River Baldwin, but given its proximity to the source of the water and our recent lack of rain I doubt that it often causes problems to traverse it. It was just after this point that I left the walkers where they would pick their cars and I followed the road all the way back to Abbeylands.

Arderry
The ford

As the light dimmed, the sun cast wonderful streaks of light across the sky and I was blessed with an amazing array of sunsets all the way home. What a wonderful evening out, one that has made me want to explore that area in more detail.

Abbeylands Walk
Scarlett Walk

Pooil Vaaish – 14th June 2020

My walks seem to be getting shorter and shorter. I think this one is the absolute minimum to be called a ‘walk’, and it was really a lazy Sunday afternoon stroll of 3.25 miles between Gansey Bay and Scarlett.

I had just braved Shoprite, thinking that this would be the last day of queuing and social distancing in the shops. Being unsure as to how wise the total easing of restrictions are for us here on the Isle of Man, I felt safer obliging by the recent three month old rules to do my big shop. However, when I got there, the barriers had all been removed, no-one was wearing masks, there was no one-way system around the supermarket and basically, life was back to normal, with the exception of screens at the checkout and a lady constantly reminding us over an audio loop that we must socially distance at 2 metres. I hope someone has told her that she will be out of a job tomorrow :-). The obligatory man at the entrance advised me that over here people think the virus is finished! Well, that would be nice but I think the whole world has a very long way to go before such a statement will have any grounding in fact.

So, having unpacked my shopping, I sent a message to my friend Janet to see if she fancied a stroll along the southern beaches. At least I can now pick her up in my car to go places. It was a fine afternoon, really quite warm. It was hazy so the photos aren’t great, but you will get a flavour of this part of our island.

Beach at Fisher’s Hill – lots of sand today

I parked at the bottom of Fisher’s Hill. This is a regular parking spot for walking around to Scarlett. If you were to do a circular route you would need to go as far as Castletown and return via an inland route and this would be a good 5-6 miles. There are few places to branch off the coast path, so it is either of matter of a long walk or re-tracing your steps after a mile or two, and this is what we did.

We walked along dodging cars and putting the world to right, trying to make sense of this crazy world we live in, and discussing plans we each had for improvements for our respective houses. Getting work done on this little island by reliable workmen is almost as difficult as pulling hens’ teeth, and when you find trustworthy folks you don’t let them go!!

This section of the coast path is very flat, barely a rise from start to finish. It is a well made track and suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs for a large part of the route. Once you get to Pooil Vaaish, the track disappears and you enter fields with stiles to clamber over, so this section would not be suitable for those with walking difficulties. However, you could access most of it from the Scarlett Visitor centre at Castletown so there is only a small section you would not be able to do.

There was a lot of smelly seaweed around as the tide was way out so the first part of the walk was a bit pongy. Pooil Vaaish itself means ‘Bay of Death’, which is not because of shipwrecks but because of the black marble which is quarried here. It is a unique kind of black limestone that has been used around the world and you can even find it on the steps of St. Paul’s in London. It is a tiny quarry and it surprising to think that it contains such marvels.

Pooil Vaaish – Bay of Death

If you haven’t been to this area before, just inland from Pooil Vaaish Farm is Balladoole, a viking ship burial ground with superb views over the water and up to the hills. But we were not visiting this today. In fact, we only walked a little way across the fields and sat and watched boats steaming across the bay and planes coming in to land – quite a novelty right now and a reminder that at some point we will be able to both leave and return to our island without restrictions.

After this, we made our way back along the same path, stopping to look at flowers, butterflies and moths as we came across them.

Best of the rest:

Two Walks in One: Cronk Ny Arrey Laa and Glen Maye – 11th June 2020

I started out with the intention of taking a slightly different route around Glen Maye. As I reached The Sloc, there were no cars parked and the hill looked so enticing that I parked up and walked up to the top of Cronk Ny Arrey Laa, and then contoured around the hill back to the car. This is a very simple route, though fairly steep. You cover 1000ft in the short distance to the top of the hill, but the good news is that it is all downhill after that – in the nicest possible sense of course. The path up is quite rickety and worn. It really needs a bit of maintenance. It is perfectly passable but you do have to watch your footing.

The highlight of the walk up was the streams of bog cotton hugging the moorland, or rather hanging on for dear life in the wind. They are visible as long strands from the road and they really do make the moorland look very pretty.

I only saw one person on the way up, and he passed me as I stopped to take photos and I didn’t see him again. On the way down, I met a lady and what I imagine was her grandson heading up towards the top, and as I contoured back around the hill to the car I only saw a bicyclist on the path. It was a quiet and very pleasant stroll, even it is was very windy – but then we are used to that over here, aren’t we.

That part of the walk was 3 miles with over 1100 ft of ascent. I then drove to Glen Maye expecting it to be busy, but it wasn’t. I have always taken the well trodden path to the waterfall and then down to the beach, but I knew there was another path that I hadn’t taken once since I have lived here, so I walked down the road a short distance and then crossed over to take the steep and relatively short path up to the Dalby Road. It completely bypasses the waterfall, so there is no point in taking this path if you want to see the waterfall without much of a walk. I then followed the road round a couple of bends before taking the coast path on a soft and springy path leading all downhill and eventually to the beach at Glen Maye. It wasn’t quite as windy here. I only saw one human family where the children were having fun dropping stones off the bridge and two families of ducks in the sea. The chicks were tiny and mum didn’t seem to bother with them too much. I have never seen quite so much seaweed on this beach!

After a short break on the beach I walked back up the glen. It is only a short distance so anyone can walk this. It is quite slippery where they have made a concrete gangway so you do have to take a little care. There were several brown trout in the lower reaches of the stream. As you can see from the photos, the river is quite small at the moment. We have had a little rain in the last couple of days but nothing that will make a difference to our reservoirs. I saw a few fulmars nesting on the cliff but not the numbers I am used to seeing there.

As usual, the waterfall looked lovely even if it was a little quiet due to its lack of water. Much as photos are lovely to look at, it can never be quite the same as being there and hearing the water as it bobbles over rocks and pebbles and listening to the birds singing in the trees. There were chaffinches here today.

This section was about 2 miles with a total of about 400ft ascent (and descent). A very pleasant afternoon, and I wanted a walk just in case the weather is as dismal as forecast over the weekend, Even so, I will hope to get out somewhere.

Evening Stroll to Bradda Head – 8th June 2020

I count by blessings almost every day. To think I can open the door and walk in any direction for an hour and a half and have wonderful views in all directions. It lifts the soul and makes the heart want to sing.

This was all I did this evening. A short four and a half mile walk starting from the back of the house, walking through Port Erin, around the southern side of the Rowany Golf course and up towards West Bradda. Having gained about 300ft by this point, every step means another lovely view. When you get to the grassy moorlands on the headland, the land is even and it is all easy walking. I could have walked around the coastpath down to Fleshwick but this was not the plan for this evening.

There was not a soul in sight, except for those two silhouetted on the mound and they soon departed, so I had the hills all to myself. It was a slightly hazy evening and surprisingly warm and sultry. I wonder if we might get a storm tomorrow, we could certainly do with one. I haven’t seen Bradda Head look this dry for a long time, and it is easy to imagine that fires might incend at any time.

I walked just far enough to get a glimpse towards Niarbyl, and then I retraced my steps to go up to Milner Tower itself. The light was not good for taking photos but that didn’t stop me. I particularly like the one in the slideshow with the spot of sunlight shining on the sea with dark clouds overhead.

As I followed the lower route back to Port Erin the sun came out and lit up the sea. There was very little wind and this allowed shapes to be reflected in the water, as in the feature photo.

This is a route I have described so many times before, so tonight I will leave you with tonight’s photos. You can see why the Isle of Man has been rated the best place to live in a recent HSBC Expat Survey, in which 3/4 of those interviewed saying that their quality of life has improved since moving here – and they didn’t ask me!!!

Port St Mary – 5th June 2020

With bad weather forecast for the weekend, this was the last chance for a good stroll. Even so, it was very very windy, a dress rehearsal for the weekend’s weather.

This four mile walk would take me on three footpaths I haven’t been on in the 6 years I have lived here, and all a stone’s throw from home.

Taking Truggan Road again, I turned off this time before the bend and Glendown Farm, taking a lane northwards between the houses which led up the hill passing a couple of houses with spectacular views of Port Erin – this was my first new path. I joined a second path that I have taken many times before which like many other paths take one to the Howe, just below the chapel. I turned left to take the road to Glen Chass and on leaving the village I took a shortcut on a second new path on the left which leads to the top end of Fistard through a very pleasant field. It is surprising how different a place seems when you see if from a different angle. There are some really lovely quaint cottages in this village, many having super views across Perwick Bay. It has a quiet unspoilt feel to it.

View from one of the cottages towards Port Erin
View towards Glen Chass /Perwick

Walking through the village, I followed the road down to the top of the golf course, which looked rather dry. Our island has been rain-free for months to such an extent that a hosepipe ban is being introduced tonight. On reaching the cliff top I decided to take my third new footpath down to the beach. The tide was out and the landscape again looked quite dramatic. Other people have described this as a steep path, but it is quite simple really and if you must have a rest there is a bench towards the top. I spent a happy few minutes watching butterflies on this path, as you will see in the later slideshow.

Port St Mary Golf Course

Keeping to the top of the cliff, I arrived in Port St Mary and pottered about on the very extensive rocky beach. Many times you wouldn’t know these rocks are there, as the tide comes right up to the grassy shoreline, but today the tide was right out. There were some interesting rock formations and the seashells made strange groupings on the rocks as if to protect themselves. They looked as if each little family grouping was social distancing from their neighbour. There were some wonderful colours made by the different seaweeds and sea anemones. The rock pools were quite deep and clear so the animals could be seen in full view without having to fish around and move seaweed to see them. There was also a lot of evidence of what I think are coral fossils.

Perwick Bay

Once I finished messing about on the beach, it was a matter of strolling home along the outskirts of Port St Mary, taking the underway as far as I could – it is one way to allow social distancing, in the opposite direction to one that I was walking – then following the main road to Four Roads before veering left down the lane and footpaths over the fields back to Port Erin.

Rock Pools at Port St Mary
Social Distancing Shells

This was only a short 4 mile walk, but it felt more because of the variety of interest that it provided. There are so many short walks in the south of the island. Tomorrow or Sunday I may visit Scarlett or Langness or possibly the Carnanes, unless the weather is really wet and windy, in which case I may just stay in bed!

In case I haven’t already told you, we have had three days now with zero cases and all who developed Covid-19 have now recovered. We know we will get cases from time to time but we will be able to manage any infections that occur. Well done to the Manx people and the Manx government. Shows what can be done with border closures and constant Contact, Track and Trace which we have implemented from Day 1 of our first case.

Cregneash and The Sound – 1st June 2020

The first day of summer was a gloriously sunny day, continuing the theme of many weeks now. We have barely had a drop of rain since lockdown. This week would have been TT. It is such a shame we cannot share our island with visitors, but as we have just one active case now our borders are closed and will remain so for the foreseeable future to keep it that way. All the more for the locals to enjoy.

We have much more flexibility in what we can and cannot do now – far more so than the UK that is lagging a long way behind us. More people are venturing out as all our shops are open. We can go to restaurants that can serve outdoors and even go and get our hair cut. In a couple of weeks time, it is suggested that our social distance measures will be relaxed a little too, but even now, from tomorrow we can take a passenger from another household in our cars for a ride. So life here is good and we have a lot to be thankful for.

Today, after I had finished my load of predicted grades and spoken to students it was time for a late afternoon walk. If I timed it just right I would make it before the Sound Cafe closed at 4pm. Walking from the house, I walked from the house along Truggan Lane to Glendown Farm and took the lane up to the Howe. I followed the road all the way to Cregneash. This wasn’t a day for walking boots. I was just in my sandals and was content to follow tarmac-ed ways. There were only a few walkers that I passed on the way to Cregneash, and after that, there were no walkers at all and just a few cars passed me.

Cregneash
Views of the Calf

On reaching the Sound I was surprised how few visitors there were. I didn’t have to queue for my take-away cup of tea and cake. They have made a waiting area and they call you when your order is ready. All very efficient, except the toilets close at 3.30pm, but who needs toilets when you are surrounded by fields.

The Sound and The Calf

I spent a very pleasant half hour or so watching the waves, listening to the seals humming to each other and the birds having an argument, then I walked back up the road to Cregneash, around Mull Hill and back to Port Erin.

Sheep May Safely Graze

The views were tremendous today and the highlight was being able to clearly to see the Mountains of Mourne in Ireland. A visit there is on my wish list, which may come sooner than I expect as our borders with Ireland are more likely to open earlier than those with the UK, maybe with some kind of air-bridge as is suggested for countries with low numbers of coronavirus.

The Mountains of Mourne in Ireland

The wild flowers normally very prolific at this time of year looked a little sad and were not plentiful, perhaps due to the paucity of rain, so there was a lack of colour on this walk. I saw a couple of butterflies but very little wildlife other than sheep, cattle and rabbits. The views never disappoint though and I did get a nice view of Milner Tower. It always surprises me how far to the west it is coming down the hill!

Milner Tower
Port Erin

This was a very pleasant stroll and reminded me that I really must get out more! A trip to the north is in order.

Total distance 5.4 miles; 849ft of ascent; 846ft of descent. Interesting that the distance for each section was identical despite being different routes and almost the same amount of ascent and descent on each section too.

Port Erin – Colby Circular: 8 miles

After 9 weeks in almost permanent solitary confinement, I decided to venture further than Shoprite today. It was a mild but very breezy day and I needed to do a house visit to Colby. This provided the perfect reason to get myself off my bum and do some exercise.

I walked across the fields to Four Roads, then up Church Road to Ballachurry Nature Reserve, where I dropped in for a short visit. As I wound my way along the neatly manicured paths I suddenly heard a screech of a mother bird and two little fluffy chicks rapidly made their retreat into the undergrowth. I think they were pheasant chicks but I’m not awfully sure. They were very cute. They hid too well for me to snap them though.

Ballachurry Nature Reserve
Ballachurry Pond

Purple Iris at Ballachurry
Purple Iris 

 I followed the roads up to the Levels where I took a left turn up the hill. This begins as a road to various small settlements and eventually peters out at a farm. I turned right just before this point and passed an old chapel currently being renovated before meeting another lane, where I turned briefly left and then took a right footpath to Colby which I haven’t taken in 6 years of living here. There is sense of openness here. It is a strange combination of feeling as if you are in the middle of Derbyshire and yet still being able to see the sea. I really enjoyed watching the swathes of grass as they blew in the wind. I did take some video to show you, but WordPress doesn’t permit it 😦

Towards South Barrule
Towards South Barrule

From the countryside one enters the pretty village of Colby. Having taken this particular path I then had to follow the main road north for a short distance to go into Colby Glen itself. This lovely glen never disappoints, no matter what time of year, no matter what the weather. I thought there might be more people there now that our restrictions on the Isle of Man have been lifted to such an extent, but I only saw a couple of young people and a small gathering (up to 10 now permitted here) having a picnic in the glen.

Colby Glen 1
First Glimpse of Colby River

 

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Then it was back down into Colby itself and my visit to the house I look after for my friend. I was somewhat surprised to see a boat on the drive, but this mystery was resolved after I spoke to the neighbour who said he was cheekily borrowing the drive. With our borders being closed, the owners could not travel to the island. Mm, they could have asked the owners first, but hey ho, it doesn’t really matter.

The afternoon warmed up nicely and the sun shone, but my goodness did the breeze blow – in my face, all the way back to Port Erin. By and large I won’t bother you with this part of my walk as I have commented on this section several times before, but I did like the sheep and the skyline of trees and the cows in the foreground as I made my way home. The river Colby is a delight to follow all the way to the sea. It is unspoilt and uninterrupted and you have the feeling that you are following in many people’s footsteps over centuries.

I will let the photos tell you anything else you may wish to know.

 

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And finally, here is the route I took. It is an easy route, on either roads or easy tracks.

My Local Wilderness – 7th May 2020

This was the longest walk I have done since lockdown, and surprisingly the most sociable. It being a warm, sunny day my intention was to walk  down to Gansey, have a stroll on the beach and continue to Port St Mary. It started out that way, but as I was walking through Port Erin I saw one of my friends who, having reached the ripe old age of ‘over 70′, (and therefore considered vulnerable) was working in her front garden, so an impromptu visit was on the cards now that we are able to say’ hello’ from a distance :-). So we had a nice natter and I carried on my walk, down the one-way system, passing the tip with no queues, down to the Bay.

First glimpse of the sea

The tide was only just going out, but it was enough for me to able to stretch my legs along the sand as far as the Shore Hotel. This is where I had planned to turn back, but an idea came into my head that the butterflies might be out in my little wilderness just the other side of Kentraugh House, so my plans changed and within minutes I was engulfed by natural wildlife, including a lot of midges and insects and a few butterflies. On the way down the lane, I spied Kentraugh’s wonderful woodland through a keyhole in a gate, full of wild garlic garlic and ultimate charm.

In the reserve there were plenty of male orange tips sipping nectar from the various low growing plants, but the brightly coloured females were constantly on the go and never stopped for one minute – seems like an allegory for all male/female relationships doesn’t it!! The birds were tweeting in the shrubbery and I was able to go off piste and visit areas I had never visited before. Later in the year the grass grows thick and fast and many parts become impenetrable. In the featured photo you can see the yellow flags in the foreground and the village in the distance, this being the boundary of the wilderness.

Green veined white

See how well the butterfly is camouflaged. It looks just like a part of the flower!  From here, it was a walk around the other side of Kentraugh House and back along the beach to Gansey. I passed these reeds to the right and I just loved the swirling shapes they made.

The Reeds

I have another friend who lives in this stunning location at Gansey, in a house overlooking the beach. She too is one of these so-called ‘vulnerable’ people, so I took a chance and rang the doorbell, or more accurately knocked the knocker to say ‘hello’. I was greeted warmly and invited into the garden for tea, at a social distance of course. How could I refuse? This is the first time since March 20th that I have shared a cup of tea with anyone, and it was very welcome. I had my hand sanitizer, so I used that as I left.

Gansey Bay 3

Port ST MAry1

I walked around Gansey Point looking out for people who might stray into my way on the narrow path, but there were few people about, just a few dogs and their owners. On the beach I did meet a man having a run with his two children who said he was then going to have a swim. Very impressive. I didn’t stop in Port St Mary as I wanted to get home to listen to the Press Briefings, Isle of Man style. This is the first day I haven’t listened to the ‘live’ version, but I managed to catch up later on and hear about the small but significant changes that are happening to our easing of our lockdown.

Leaving Port St Mary, I came across another friend pulling up the wild leeks which have run rampant in her splendid, wooded front garden. I hadn’t seen this friend for a very long time, and it was nice to catch up at a social distance. From there, it was a short walk back home.

Between the hills

Total distance: just under 6 miles; Ascent 259 ft; Descent 223 ft, including scrambling over the boulders to the beach. I do wish whoever placed the (massive) boulders as sea defences had thought that people need to be able to get to the beach from the steps without having to negotiate these whoppers.

I finish with a short slideshow of other beauties in the landscape.

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Yellow Flag!!