Castletown to Douglas via the coast and Kewaigue (13 miles, 809ft ascent, 786ft descent) – 19th May 2019

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Nature Walk including Colby and Glen Chass – 5.65 miles, 432 ft of ascent

I make no apologies for describing today’s walk as a nature ramble. That was what I set out to do. I haven’t visited my haven so far this year and the orange tips won’t be around much longer. I always draw such warmth from my hidden nature reserve – hidden to all but locals walking their dogs, walkers and children escaping from their parents. It is not shown on a map and as far as I know, it doesn’t have a name – and long may it stay that way and let nature run wild.

I took the bus to Colby, then took the path beside the Colby river. There is so much to see in this first third of a mile. They were butterflies flitting, but above all numerous wild flowers abutting the water course, oblivious to the fact that there are houses on the other side of the river.

 

Above: The start of the walk from Colby.

Below: Nature in all its glory in the first mile of the walk

 

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Crossing the railway line, I interrupted the sheep’s pleasure and seemed to cause some dismay as a few of them started coughing violently. This is pasture land where sheep share the territory with birds rather than wild flowers. I soon cross back over the river and enter into my little paradise. It isn’t much to look at, but if you listen you can hear the birds chirping to each other trees, and if you stop and stare, you can watch the butterflies chattering with their companion as they move incessantly on the path. The plants in flower offer their shade and their nectar to the local inhabitants and everything is in harmony.

Passing out of the nature reserve I make my way along the road to the Shore Inn. I debated with myself whether to stop and have a cider but decided against it, and instead I sat on the beach, drank my water and ate an odd selection of banana, raw carrot, cucumber and a very small chocolate bar. The birds surrounding me were mainly herring gulls and blackbacked gulls, with a few oystercatchers at the sea edge and a solitary shag perched on a rock. The tide is way out, further than I have ever seen it. It is almost that time of year when the intrepid venture out into Douglas Bay and slip and slide their way to the Tower of Refuge.

I walked around the coast to Port St Mary, along the Underway and out towards the outer harbour before turning westwards towards Fistard. Here I had a choice of direction and not having walked along Glenn Chass stream since I moved here five years ago, I took this route uphill. It didn’t disappoint. The bluebells are still out and are vibrant dark blue. There are still smattering of wild garlic too. As that conjures smells, I am reminded that as I went round Gansey Point. the meadowsweet was in full bloom and the scent was quite overpowering.

Above: The meadowsweet at Gansey Point; the extended beach at Chapel Bay; different types of footprints;  stranded boats at Port St. Mary.

From Glen Chass I followed one of the higher paths across meadows back towards Port Erin. I am particularly pleased with the photograph I took of the Milner Tower on Bradda Head standing on top of a stile just before I descended down the Golden Road, which right now is blue from head to toe.

The final stretch: photos of the gorgeous Glenn Chass,

and home…. altogether, I saw at least 5 of our 19 species of butterfly: red admiral, wall brown, green-veined white, orange tip and speckled wood.

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A most enjoyable three hours. My next walk is planned for Sunday or Monday, when I hope to walk from Douglas to Castletown.

 

 

Catching Up – 15th May 2019

I may not have added to my blog lately, but I have been out walking. A couple of weeks ago I walked from Port Erin, along the coast to Fleshwick, up and over the Carnanes and then back via Sulby. It was a glorious walk but I have been struggling to upload my photos, and as any regular reader of my blogs will know my iphone consistently runs out of battery when I am out walking, so that walk is not recorded here. 😦

I have finally bought a camera, the Sony RX100 M3, and I have been out and about trying to figure out how to take photos with it. Initially, my photos were huge files but I think I have overcome that. Now, I am trying to work out how to get the exposure right and the colour of nearby objects.

On Saturday, I went along to Marine Drive in Douglas – these were the extra big files, but I have found a way to reduce them, thankfully, so I can include some here.

Yesterday, I pottered down to the bay, trying out the zoom lens and the amended file size. Perhaps a slight improvement. In the evening, I was lucky enough to spot a large white butterfly on my apple tree, which had presumably just emerged from its chrysalis as it stayed there for a good few hours sunning itself in the warm evening sun. Apparently, when they first emerge, butterflies are unable to fly as their bodies dry out to become strong enough to make their initial flight. It had gone by the time I got up this morning.

On my outing on Saturday I had met a traveller from England who was visiting the island for the first time and we arranged to meet up for a walk before he returned to England. So today, we walked from Derbyhaven, along the coast, contouring around the west side of the golf course up to Langness, passing by Dreswick Point and ‘Jeremy Clarkson’s lighthouse’, past the Herring Tower, veering round the eastern edge of the golf course to drop in for a cup of tea at No. 19. My guest very politely waited at various junctures on the route whilst I took more photographs. It was very pleasant showing the island to a stranger, who also turned out to be a very nice companion for afternoon.

The wild flowers were spectacular, as were the highland cattle. I was not quite so successful at capturing the birds. I did think the knots? looked rather good hustled together on the rock but my photo does not do them or the heron justice. I shall keep practising!

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Ps. The birds on the rocks may be sanderlings or plovers, but definitely not knots which have a red underside. Shame I couldn’t see them better.

A spring in my step – 9th April 2019

It started out wet and miserable, so I resigned myself to working and tutoring students all day. Then in the afternoon the sun came out, and at 4pm I decided it was time for a breath of air. Walking from home I made my way along the back road to the edge of Port St Mary, then up towards the Howe and down to Glen Chass.

Needless to say, this hadn’t been my original plan, which was simply to walk up to Cregneash via the eastern route and return via the western route. But when do I stick to my plans? It is much more interesting making it up as I go along.

It was a bit cooler today with a freshening wind. The views across to Langness were beautiful. The light turned everything slightly blue and gave the appearance of a work of art rather than a landscape. I followed the coast path up to the Chasms.

 

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From here I walked along the edge of the cliff rather than along the standard footpath up to the corner where the footpath at Spanish Head leads up through the meadows to Cregneash. Here, I caught a glimpse of the Calf of Man, lit from behind by a cool sun.

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From Cregneash it was a simple walk down the road to Port Erin; its one of those walks where us locals take the views for granted but what views to have half a mile from my own doorstep.

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This total route was about 4.5 miles with a total ascent of 500ft, followed by the same amount of descent over time.

Tomorrow I have a full day off, and my plan is to walk across those hills you can see here in the background behind Port Erin. Pray for fine weather, otherwise I may have to wait until the weekend.

Cliffs and Athol Glen Park 8th April 2019

I was up on the cliffs yesterday and noticed the amount of erosion that has occurred over the winter months.  It appears that no action is being taken but I wonder how long it can continue its course without parts of it finally plummeting into the sea? This will impact the cliff walk to Bradda Glen, just as the closure of the lower route has done, but having the higher route at least has always meant an alternative route.

 

 

The coast path to the south is closed behind the marine biological station for slippage up until May 27th, reopening just in time for TT.

It has been quite a wild winter over here. Not that it has been cold, wet or snowy. Just windy. It is noticeable the number of trees in the glens that were demolished by the winds and what were quite leafy glades are now more exposed to the sky, though this will change as they come into leaf. It does enable to ground-loving plants to come into their own, so there is always an upside to this kind of destruction.

I stopped at my usual hotspot on the beach and watched the tide come in until it lapped against my feet, then I walked home via Athol Park Glen. This must be one of the smallest glens anywhere. It takes less than 5 mins to walk end to end, unless like me you amble slightly off the footpath to take in its hidden gems. Even so, at its widest it can only be 200 yards or so! The bluebells and white bells looked almost more effective there being only a few of them, and the light cast wonderful shadows of the trees.

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Langness March 31 2019

Always a good spot for a bit of fresh sea air and distant views. This is a very easy level walk of no more than 3 miles, so great for an afternoon stroll to walk off the Sunday carvery.  My friend Janet and I started out by the over-sized bird table on the western side of the island that commemorates the Manx ornithologist Henry Madoc, who just happened to be the Chief Constable of the island. I can’t help but think that the birds have plenty of water in these parts but it is a landmark none the same.  It was a hazy day,

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which didn’t lend itself to good views but it is good to stretch the eyes.

From there we walked round the southern tip, past the foghorn at Dreswick point, which incidentally I have as a night-time view of the Milky Way as a screensaver, past the gun emplacements up to the Herring Tower. We continued a little further but have to foreshorten our walk due to other commitments. On other occasions, we would walk up along the eastern side of the golf course and pop in to No 19 for coffee or lunch.

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If you would like more information about Langness, read here:

https://www.culturevannin.im/qr_page_386169.html

Anyone for a swim? Tuesday 5th March 2019

It is rare the see old swimming pool at Port Erin brim full of sea water, and how much pleasanter it is when we can’t see all the debris and mess on the bottom. I was only out for a short walk today to post a parcel, but the weather was so lovely I could not resist a walk around the cliffs towards Bradda Head in my lunch break.

It was high tide and there was a stiff breeze blowing, which meant the white horses were skipping over the rocks, pushing them backwards and forwards and grinding them down. It was quite noisy down at the bay where I sat for some 20 mins just watching and listening. I adore high tide and often plans my walks around the tide table!

There is little to add verbally to this post. These walks are about views and not words, about experiences rather than in depth analysis. In many ways, the fewer words the better. So, I shall leave you to enjoy the views, while I get back to writing sample questions and answers for the new GCSE Psychology course.