Yes, I know its not Christmas yet, but I shall be away then, and as I strolled through the lovely Isle of Man countryside today I thought this is the most perfect walk for families to get a breath of air after the indulgence of the Christmas turkey. My walk was just over 5 miles altogether, but it can easily be shorted to 2, 3 or 4 miles if you don’t have a lot of time. The best part is the first couple of miles anyway.
I got the bus to Colby, getting off at the river. It is necessary to follow the minor road for a short distance uphill but this allows you time to imagine who lives in the varied houses abutting this gorgeous if small river. You soon arrive at the entrance to the glen; the view comes as a bit of a surprise, as there is no reason to expect the steep sided, wooded valley that encloses the river. Colby Glen is one of our national glens and therefore protected. It isn’t very long; it would take no more than 20 mins to walk end to end and back, but it is very special. The footpath follows the river, sometimes high, sometimes low, but always keeping the river in sight. In summer it is impossible to see the sky but as with Glen Rushen, in winter the trees stand out starkly against the blue sky with the sun glinting through them every now and again.
If you enter the Glen at the southern end, you wouldn’t expect to see the wide flat area at the northern end where I am sure I have heard fairies chattering and seen elves darting about amongst the undergrowth. This enchanted place is very magical, calm and quiet, sheltered from the tearing winds that have been slamming against our coastline these last few days and the bustle of everyday life. It is place to stop, take stock or meditate, or sing: many years ago I attended a concert (Meadowside?) being performed on this natural stage. That was late summer and apart from the lovely singing I can only remember batting off mosquito after mosquito on a balmy night.
I followed the contouring bends of the river, drawn by the sound of strongly flowing water. I have been here many times before, but never before have I seen a waterfall! That is probably because I have always followed the footpath signs or simply sat on the benches, or been there in summer when there is little flow. We have had a fair bit of rain, so I imagine all of our many glens will tell a similar tale.
Leaving the glen I walked up to Cronk Y Dooney and over to Ballakilpheric, where the path goes through a fine mansion’s back garden. The views over the bay are splendid there. Then on to Scholaby, and Croit-e-Caley, before finishing the main part of the walk at the Shore Inn (about 3.5 miles). There can’t be many places in England where you can start at a river, find a waterfall, walk through meadows and finish at the sea. It is easy to think of this as an ordinary walk, but we are so lucky that our island has tons of walks like this.
Yesterday, or today, depending on how you look at it, was my 5th Anniversary of living on this island (I moved December 8th 2013), and thankfully I no longer need a work permit. However, I can’t get old yet, as I have another 5 years to go before I am entitled to sheltered housing – if I want it. To mark my 5 years, I set out on a very drizzly and windy evening to walk up to the Brambles (the flat on the cliff where I first lived) to recall the moment I arrived in the dark. On that day, 5 years ago, I parked up the car, with my cat Sam, and all I could hear was the waves crashing against the rocks. In my mind it is very memorable. Sadly, it was impossible to recreate that moment. The wind made it almost impossible to stand up and of course, I see these views and listen to the waves most days, so what was very very special at the time is now my normal way of life, but always appreciated.