I joined this U3A 5 mile walk at the curiosly named Ham and Egg Terrace on the bend of the main road at Laxey where the mountain railway begins its ascent. There is plenty of parking here. I had always assumed Ham and Egg Terrace was a nickname because of the numerous tea rooms that were at one time set up in the miners’ houses along this stretch of road, but as I walked along it, I noticed there is actually a tiny lane with this title beside what was previously – guess what? – a tearoom. Which came first, the road or the name ham and egg?? I was disappointed to see that this very lovely tearoom has now been converted into a fabric shop, but life moves on and things must change.
The walk followed the lane west past the Salmon centre and the Laxey Wheel (Lady Isabella) on the right – we didn’t visit this today. It is a fairly good pull up the hill all the way to the ancient village of Agneash, which is mentioned in documents as long ago as 1510. The name Agneash is thought to come from a norse word meaning “Ridge Cape” and refers to the shape of the hills immediately behind the village. The village itself is very small and quaint and mostly known for its attractive church which was constructed in 1856. The village comprises mostly white cottages, some larger than others and it gives the feeling of having its own individual identity, no doubt inflated by the large numbers of tales of white unicorns and fairies and darker tales of a child being spirited away in the night. It’s easy to imagine how such tales develop as the mists descend on the village and everything is shrouded in a damp white and eerie light.
Today the sun shone. It was cool and fresh and perfect walking weather. We took a path that went between the houses down to the stream and up onto the hills about half way up Slieau Ruy, past some old mill buildings and contoured gently upwards mostly on grassy paths along the edge of the hills towards the sea keeping Laxey village on our right (not that we could see it). These hills are quite steep and wooded so it pays to look up rather than down, and as we looked back towards Agneash, the snow-capped Snaefell stood clearly out with the softer and greener valley in the foreground. Splendid! In the south we could see across to Clay Head, invitingly peeping out into the sea.
Looking in a northerly direction we were on the edge of Slieau Ruy with Slieau Lhean and Slieau Ouyr sticking out of the moorland in the distance, separated by the stream we had crossed lower down coming off the mountains that would eventually join the Laxey river below Agneash.
We continued on the grassy paths with a brief stop to admire some shetland ponies before reaching the minor road above the coast road. We walked along this quiet lane back towards Laxey, visiting King Orry’s graves on the way. I have written about this monument before so I won’t write about it here, but the ancient sites on the Isle of Man are worth visiting, and one day if more excavations are done we might find out who this large grave expanse belongs to. As a minimum it must have been a significant chieftain either from Scandinavia or Ireland given the size of the graveyard.
The group walked a little way down Minorca Hill and then we parted ways as I wanted to go down to the beach, not that there was much to see or much to do. It hadn’t woken up from its Christmas sleep. It was deserted and the cafes closed, but the light was interesting. As the day had worn on, the light white clouds had thickened and darkened and a few flecks of snow flittered down temporarily and at the same time, the sun would shine through other parts of the clouds, so that in one direction it was bright and sunny and turn your head left or right and you felt as if you were in another world, which is quite appropriate as one part of this hill is called ‘The Dream”.
My walk was 5.45 miles, with 869ft of ascent, whereas if you did not visit the beach it would be 5 miles. It was a super morning walk and it provides other options. If you want to spend time on the higher hills there is a very straightforward path which would take you to the tops, you could walk along those to Clagh Ouyr and take the mining path back to Agneash – that would be great when the days are a little longer.