I promised you a long walk, though I wasn’t expecting it to be quite this long. That’s the problem with coastal walks with their intricate winding route snuggling the coastline. The cliffs are fairly low compared with the western side of the island but provide interesting views along its full length so worth doing the full distance at least once!
I got off the bus at Janet’s corner in Castletown – so named as Janet used to own the long-gone shop on the corner, past Bowling Green Road (no sign of a bowling green either) as I made my way to the shore.
The tide was in, and the bay full brimmed with water, such a contrast to Wednesday, when the tide was out, way out… I followed the road, past King William’s College and the infamous Hango Hill to Derbyhaven. As I followed the coast path north, there were plovers galore and what I think are sanderlings searching the shoreline for scraps of food. They were oystercatchers, shags and ducks too. I passed Two Six, a cafe so named because of its proximity to runway 26 I believe and skirted around the relatively new land extension to the airport, which now juts out into the sea.
Once past this the walk starts properly and the path gradually ascend to the top of the low cliffs that affords views of Santon Gorge. There is no direct access to this which makes it even more appealing. Passing by an old fort and through pastureland I descended to the river, which never disappoints. The greenness here strikes me every time I visit and it is remarkably peaceful. As I descended the path, I was surrounded by hawthorns in bright-white flower, looking and smelling stunning. You can just see them at the top of this photo.
I crossed over the river and made my way back up the cliffs on the other side and continued onwards until I got to Port Grennaugh. I realised I had misjudged the distance at this point as I had already walked six miles and I was barely half way! Just beyond this bay I stopped on the cliffs for lunch and was treated to a display of dancing by some small heath and common blue butterflies. It was really quite warm by this points. A wall brown led the way on the next section and stonechats sang to me as I walked along. I have made a short video of most of the natural life I encountered during the whole of the route that I attach below the photo of Port Grenaugh beach.
It was interesting to me how the vegetation changed from the start of the coast path to the final few miles. Suddenly there was sea campion, squill and thrift which I hadn’t encountered before Port Grenaugh. I must check my geology map. On this section there are one or two undulating sections, some with steps down and up. The path goes round numerous tiny coves. It reminded me of section of the South West Coast Path, which I did with one of my sons, Matthew, over 20 years ago! Going south to north, I encountered the steepest section between 8-9 miles in. It is a relatively short section but I was tired at this point so took my time over it.
Unfortunately and annoyingly, it is not possible to walk all the way to Port Soderick along the coast. The Raad ny Foillan goes inland just as it reaches its highest point and follows roads for 2.5 miles, The first part is a quiet lane but then you have to follow the Old Castletown Road to Port Soderick. I decided not to drop down into the glen and continue along Marine Drive to Douglas as I was there only a week ago, so turned onto the track leading through the meadows to Kewaigue. This path involves a ford and a glimpse of the real ‘Fairy Bridge’ which is tucked away off the path.
Almost at the end of my walk, I followed middle river which looked so lovely, with the water gleaming surrounded by wonderful vegetation. I have trod this path in winter when you can see the shoddy warehouses on the other side, but with the trees in full leaf, these were completely hidden today. I finally reached the golf clubhouse, and walking behind it found myself beside the NSC where I got the bus home. It is possible to follow the river all the way back to the harbour at Douglas, only another mile, but 13+ miles was quite sufficient for me for one day!! A lovely day, but one that is probably better walked the other way round, so that you finish with the flat section!
If you want a shorter route – and who wouldn’t? – you can park at Port Grenaugh and do a 4 mile walk or get the steam train / car to Santon and do a 4-6 mile walk. You can park at Port Soderick, which is good if you want to walk along Marine Drive to Douglas, but not good for walking south.