Glen Helen

The one time I forgot my camera and my mobile phone is the one day I would really have liked it. Although I know it has done little else but rain on and off for weeks, I hadn’t given any thought to the fact that the waterfall would be quite spectacular. But not only the main waterfall, there were waterfalls in places we don’t usually see them, and water permeating through the rocks and dripping onto the paths in spectacular ways.

So, no photos today I’m afraid. Instead, I will try and describe the walk using old-fashioned words. I was doing a recce of a part of the walk I am leading a week on Tuesday, and I wanted to check out the various routes through the Eairy Beg plantation. Taking note of the weather forecast I had left it until late morning to avoid the rain. I parked at Swiss Cottage, donned my walking boots and set off over the river. Already I could see there was a fair amount of water in the river, and as I reached the children’s playground there was an impromptu waterfall gushing onto the surface and finding a hidden way to reach the main body of the river. I continued on the far side of the river, gradually making my way uphill, over the wooden bridges where the water was tumbling underneath with great agility, and up the steps to the top of the glen where the forest meets the farmland. The principal waterfall is left at this point but I was only intending to visit the plantation so I turned right and joined the track and higher entrance into the plantation. This track was a little muddy but was quite passable. It is initially a wide track, as it would have been the main path to the ruined tholtan, now standing a little precariously in the middle of the plantation. Just past this point is a junction, where I turned left to make the climb to the top of Beary Park. This narrow path was muddy in places and it is quite steep for about 30 minutes. The colours and shapes in the plantation are interesting at this time of year – the bright green mosses growing in the mud and stone walls contrasting with the grey angular shapes of the denuded trees, which looking higher up sport splashes of dark green foliage. Occasionally, I would come across single Christmas trees looking odd in the landscape.

If you are walking this on your own, the path keeps left of a mossy wall. It is wide and soft to walk on, the only detour necessary being a slight dip around a fallen tree. In the distance were glimpses of light through the trees, heralding a change of terrain. Suddenly, you find yourself out of the plantation with moorland in front of you. To the left is a slight schism in the moorland, a hollow from which all the water on the moor gathers to make its steady flow downhill through the plantation to create the waterfalls. At this point, there are good views to Sartfell and the ridge of Greeba Mountain. Being moorland, this section was boggy, but there is plenty of grass to the side of the path making it much easier and drier to walk on.

Once you reach the saddle, the path continues down to Greeba, our path turns right into the plantation again, and after a gentle ascent you find yourself at the top of the hill, and now you can see right over the top of the trees, through the gaps in the mountains to Snaefell. Continuing on this path (I went over the moor here, pointlessly) you are on the road to the transmitter pylon, keeping the edge of the plantation on the right. From here, it is all downhill and as it is on the edge of farmland there were great views towards Peel and the south, that had not been visible from the top. This is a slightly steep, grassy path, which can be a little slippery, but there a wire fence with some wooden staves to help with support if needed, but I would recommend using walking poles on this section.

The path rejoins the forest and there is much less mud on this side and fewer streams and waterfalls. It is a really pleasant forest walk, mostly level or gradually descending, back to Swiss Cottage. At this point, I couldn’t resist going to see the main Glen Helen waterfall, so I contoured through the forest and rejoined the top path. This was very easy walking; however, do take care of the wooden boards and bridges which were quite slippery today to the extent that I preferred to walk through the bogs in some places. The boardwalks are perfectly passable with care, and again, be careful on the steps down to the waterfall for the same reason.

Despite the promise of better weather in the afternoon it rained the whole time from when I re-entered the plantation, and it continued whilst I sat on the bench eating my lunch by the waterfall, admiring the sheer force of the water plummeting through the narrow gap. All along the river, streams and the force of the roaring water was creating foamy waves billowing over the rocks. How I wished I had a camera, but really memories are more enjoyable than photos and last longer.

It is just under a mile to the waterfall from the car park, a mile of very easy walking and wonderful sights. I saw chaffinches, great tits and robins today flitting about between the trees, and there were geese in the meadows by the river.

I hope to see you on my U3A walk but if you can’t make it on 17th Jan, and you live on the island, can I encourage you to at least walk down Glen Helen and see the waterfall in its full fury. It looks very dramatic, and the Glen itself is particularly nice when it is not shrouded in a leaf canopy. You don’t have to do the mountain walk. Indeed, even on our walk, we will only do this extra section if the weather is suitable, but I will still take you to the tholtan if the weather is unsuitable to go higher.

Total distance 5.25 miles. Ascent about 1000ft, mostly all Beary Mountain.

2 thoughts on “Glen Helen

  1. A great walk, although I have only done a portion of this a very long time ago. Thanks for sharing as I reminds me the ‘non motorcycle racing’ aspects of the IOM I have loved over the last 50 years (Manx GP 1973).

    Like

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