Welcome first and foremost to all those of you on Facebook and Twitter who have recently stumbled across my blog and taken the trouble to read and follow it. I have been staggered by the number of new followers I have on those media in recent weeks, and thank you. I have been quiet this month due to our Covid-19 circuit-breaker and not getting out much. However, now that we are free of restrictions again I did get out for a short walk on Sunday afternoon before Evensong at Peel Cathedral.
I parked at the Raggatt and walked for a short distance along the main road back to Patrick, trying to work out where the railway track may have lain that took the internees to Knockaloe all those years ago. There is evidence of the track within the Raggatt itself but I failed to work out its route after that on this occasion.
Walking is so good for the soul and developing observational skills. As I reached the entrance to Knockaloe (for those reading this who are not local – there is now a museum opposite this entrance detailing its history and displaying artefects from the time. One item was recently shown on Antiques Roadshow!), I noticed the stone mount (see above) which presumably was used for climbing into your carriage? I have never noticed this before. The hills behind are some of the oldest on our island.
I turned left onto a beautiful tree-lined lane that takes you to St John’s the back way. There is a narrow pavement all the way. It is a fairly quiet road and enjoyable to walk along. Just past the church is an area entitled “Patrick Orchard Community Allotments” or similar. I couldn’t see any allotments just trees, so this is something of a mystery. On my short journey along this road I counted nine streams coming off the hillside under the road into the River Neb, all with fairly fast flowing water. It has rained cats and dogs these last few days (and loughtan sheep), causing floods last Thursday in Strang that at least one mad fool was caught driving through (!), so this was not surprising.
I passed Close Leece Farm Shop and Cafe that was doing a roaring trade, and walked a little further before crossing left over the bridge into the fields that would lead to the Heritage Trail. When I have been on this newly created path before I haven’t enjoyed walking along it. It is certainly harder underfoot than it was previously and having had all the vegetation stripped on either side of it, it is certainly less interesting as a path and …. yes, there is a ‘but’ coming. As I walked a couple of miles along it I began to appreciate it more. No longer do you have to wade through muddy sections as where the water table is high the path has been raised. It is still possible to enjoy the wildness of the area in parts and the Raggatt itself is as beautiful as ever. And of course, it is accessible to more people. There is even a picnic area with benches, tables and a cycle stand for weary cyclists and walkers.
There are various places along the river where there are small weirs and fishing places. I stopped beside one of these and had my lunch (the stepping stones in the feature photo), and when the temperature dropped and the odd snowflake started to appear out of the sky I walked as far along the other side of the river as one can go, which is another half mile, so not very far. This is a dirt path mainly for fishermen I think. It is a shame that one cannot continue beside the river and cross back. I am sure many people would enjoy a shorter circular route.
As it was, without the minor extension of 1 mile, the circuit is 4.5 miles of easy, mostly level walking. You could take a wheelchair/pram or pushchair, though the field section of no more than half a mile would be slightly tricky. And of course, you can take a break at the Cafe or have a picnic on the trail itself or in the Raggatt. A nice afternoon walk that children and adults will enjoy alike.
I apologise for the slow upload of the photos. I will try and find a way to make them smaller files in the future.
The maps below show the main walk to the lunch picnic spot, and the extension where you have to retrace your steps.