Cregneash and the Coast – March 7, 2021

At last! I had been waiting for a sunny day in order to take some supplementary photos for a watercolour I am planning to paint. For those who don’t know, the Isle of Man went back into lockdown again almost a week ago, following some unaccounted-for cases of Covid-19. Since then, we have an unusual amount of children and families with the virus and one of my cancer clients has family members affected by the recent outbreak, making it very real. Our 3 week lockdown looks like extending over Easter, but we are a robust island and we cope well with adversity, by and large.

It does make it hard to justify going out, even if we are allowed to go out for exercise for as long as we like. I took the car up to the Cregneash quarry and walked down into the village, where I wanted a particular shot of some of the cottages. There were several cars parked in the quarry so I knew to expect to see people on my walk. I secured my mask around my neck just in case and off I went. As I went through Cregneash I saw a few units of people, singles, family groups and couples all keeping strategically away from each other, or waiting for each other to pass on narrow sections. As I went up the hill towards the coast, the horses didn’t recognise social distancing and galloped from one fence to another to say hello to all and sundry.

At the top of the lane, again there were several cars parked, some of whom no doubt belonged to residents of the cottages, but again it indicated there would be people about, and indeed there were. However, this was my next photo point. One of my painting projects is a view from here looking down toward the Chasms cafe, and I needed to know the lie of the footpath in order to extend my painting. I also needed to know where the sea and sky meet behind it, if you know what I mean. My house faces south, and if I could make a direct path through the hills from my house to the sea this would be the view I would have, so I thought it would be nice to have a bright painting of this scene at midday on my stairwell. It would make me feel alive every time I walk down the stairs. Whether I can accomplish this is an entirely different matter. I only started painting at all in lockdown 1, but four watercolours on and I am doing ok, and they are all hanging on my walls in my house right now 🙂

It wasn’t a bright day and there was a very slight haze, but the sunlight was beautiful on the old Chasms cafe and as I walked along the coast line, I noticed things I don’t normally notice, such as the lichen growing on the rocks and the wave effect on some of the bigger slabs that I would walk over time after time. The light played beautifully on the sea too and I was so glad to be out in this sensational secenery. I paused for a while and watched the sea and listened to the many birds chattering on the Sugar Loaf. Can you spot the sheep grazing on Black Head? No, not the photo with the sheep posing in the middle but the photo next to it of the steep cliff. You may need to enlarge it. How they manage to make their way down there is remarkable.

I only walked as far as Spanish Head, via Black Head, where the Calf of Man looked more like one of the Canary Isles in the haze. From here I turned back returning to Cregneash through the farmers’ fields by a very muddy farm track but not before I snapped what I thought was a Chough, but looking at the wing span I now doubt my judgement.

This was only a short walk, only about 3.5 miles and only just about 500 ft of ascent. You could spend a whole afternoon wandering around these hills and never be bored.

Update: 11th April 2021. This is the painting I have done of this area, a watercolour on board. The wrong kind of material for watercolour. I was advised to score the board before applying the paint, which unfortunately didn’t work and has made the sky almost impossible to paint or cover the scouring marks. For the moorland I used a dabbing technique applying light colours first. This is only my fourth painting, having started during lockdown. The logo is a digital watermark so is not actually on the painting.