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.

Mad Dogs and English(wo)men – Saturday 2nd March 2019

… go out in the mid-day mist, wind and rain for fun. Apologies to Noel Coward for adulterating his song, not that he refers to the Manx in his ditty so perhaps he just assumed anyone living on this island is only very slightly barmy. Unsurprisingly, I saw no walkers on this 6 mile walk, not even the intrepid dog walkers who generally stop for nothing and no-one. I was initially protected from the south westerly gales that would eventually batter me as I skirted around Meayll Hill and Cregneash towards the Chasms by happening be on the lea side of the hill. Once I hit the tops, I knew about it. It was hard to stand up at all at times and the persistent winds seemed to be trying to push me back the way I had come.

But, not to be outdone, I carried on quite aware that other options seemed much more enticing, like catching the bus back to Port Erin, but that would signify failure and being boring, and where was the fun in that? Then the rains came. It was just possible to make out the Calf of Man and to see the white horses galloping over the waves at the foot of the cliffs.  It was pretty pointless really, but there is still joy to be had in these extremes of weather and some pleasure in being the only idiot anywhere to be seen.

I sat in the old ‘Cafe’ at the Chasms, ate my banana, and contemplated how well I am feeling. Quite remarkable only five days after an operation and having had next to no sleep last night, but I was very happy watching the driving rain from my temporary place of safety and wondering where to go next.

As I descended toward the Sugar Loaf, the rains subsided, so I followed the lower route to Port St Mary, passing by Glenn Chass before encountering the wrath of the winds again on the southern section of coastline going towards the harbour. Turning northwards through the village, everything became calm and dull. I walked along the main street in PSM, then followed the main roads back to Port Erin, with only one thing on my mind – a nice cup of coffee and home made egg custard tart at the Whistlestop, the cafe next to the railway station.

If you were to follow this route, starting at the railway station – follow the main road up to the Methodist church and then turn right into Drogadfayle Road. Follow this over the railway line and continue up the hill, round the dog leg bend and you will immediately see the footpath going up the hill (about 1/2 mile from the station). This footpath is colloquially known as the Golden Road. When you look at the photos you will see why.

The quality of the photos is somewhat lacking due to the weather and it being impossible to stand still most of the time, but this is what is was like – just wonderful 🙂

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2019-03-02 Circular route

Onwards and upwards – Friday 1st March 2019

It seems fitting that it is the first day of Spring, and that this is my first 10,000 steps for some time. Health issues, deaths and funerals have made their mark over the last five months, and quite frankly I am glad to see the back of them. Monday was D day when I had the left lobe of my thyroid and parathyroid glands removed, and that surgery was the easiest and almost the most pain-free day I have had for a long time as my leg pain was also blunted by the anaesthetic – and indeed, this remain the case several days after, bizarrely.  So, I am feeling most optimistic and looking forward to getting out treading the paths as I love to do, breathing the air and looking up towards the sky and out towards the horizon.

Today, my friend and I decided to visit Close Leece Farm Shop and Cafe, which has just opened between Patrick and St Johns. This cafe / farm only stocks local produce and we were keen to try out their menu. We had scrambled eggs with chives and creme fraiche, and I had smoked salmon with mine (sourced from Port St Mary). It was all delicious… but not cheap. Mine was £10.50 and the coffee is very expensive, £2.75 for a fairly small cup with no free refills. The location is very attractive, an old stone barn with a log burning fire. There is a shop stocking all the produce that they cook, and more. The cafe is at the back and there is room to sit outside. The atmosphere was slightly spoiled by canned music playing inside and out. We commented to the staff that it would more appropriate to play Manx music, and I wouldn’t want music playing outside at any time, especially in such lovely surroundings.

After this, Janet and I decided to stretch our legs and we had a wander around Peel, first of all going around the outside of the castle, along the prom and then into Peel itself. We tucked into a number of antique shops and browsed our way around the quaint streets before returning back to the car at Fenella beach.

This evening, I took myself down to the beach at Port Erin. I am not quite sure what they are doing with the sand. It was dark and raining as I walked towards the sea, and I kept tripping over ridges of sand made with what looked like caterpillar tracks. I shall have another look tomorrow to see what they are up to.

So, stitches come out on Monday and I get my histology report towards the end of the week with any luck, and hopefully then we can draw a line under that, and if not, we just carry on and deal with whatever life throws at me. I am getting used to it. Whatever, my plan is to get out walking between 5-10 miles at least twice a week now, so there should be more updates to this blog from now on, and more photos to inspire you to visit this wonderful island, or if you live here, to get out and enjoy it 🙂

Peel 1Peel 3Peel 2Peel 5

Christmas Deliveries Pt 2: Port Erin to Castletown 6 3/4 miles

Big boulders, little boulders, coarse-grained sand, smooth sand; pebbles galore reminding one of Dorset’s Chesil beach, just as arduous to walk along, but only one mile instead of many. Deep wedges of seaweed, troughs made by meandering streams, fossilised corals and even remnants of a bird trapped within the confines of the limestone; vesicles made in the rocks by tiny organisms or were these holes evidence of gas trapped in the volcanic eruptions in Castletown bay? Who knows?! All this in a short 7 mile walk from Port Erin to Castletown, not to mention the ancient historical monument of Close Ny Chollagh and the Giant Steps created in the limestone nearby. There were mandatory cows at Pooil Vaaish Farm who stood to attention and waited politely for me to pass by – age before beauty :-). For those who are new readers, cows feature in many of my walks one way or another!

The walk began along Truggan Road behind Port Erin, leading towards Port St Mary. My first port of call was a house on Beach Road, followed by another a short distance along Shore Road. Here I couldn’t find the letter-box, so opened what I thought the porch door to find myself in their hall which was decorated with a very fine Christmas tree. I didn’t see the owners, but I do apologise for the intrusion.

The tide was out, so here was an opportunity to walk along the beach to Fishers’ Hill. I began to regret it as there was a strong easterly biting wind constantly battering my face and the mixed terrain was lop-sided and uneven to walk along, but there were joys to be had in the many fossils I stumbled across and the wonderful light shining on the sea. I regained my normal speed once on the track going around to Scarlett, detouring from time to time to find a new angle on a walk I have done many times before. If you have never walked this, this is one you should find time to do.

 

Christmas Deliveries Part One: Port Erin – 5 miles

Today our postal workers are on strike, so I didn’t have to wait in for any spontaneous delivery. Instead, I decided to take a tour of Port Erin and deliver some of my Christmas cards by hand. You can tell winter is knocking on the door. The drafty winds and grey skies speak a thousand words, so I wrapped up warm in my cosy handmade scarf and hat and set out. Each day is so different; each tide brings in new spoils and smooths out the rough edges on the beach. Each day the sky changes, and even areas across the sky appear to send out different themes and messages. And in between the grey and white clouds, the silvery glows across the sea and the specks of sunshine, even the moon, all make their personal claim to the sea and sky. These stories are told in the photos below, so even if the walk itself was nothing remarkable, the skies let you in to their secrets and make every walk special.

               

 

 

               

 

                        

Ps. No matter how I set out the photos, they always arrange themselves in their own unique way 😉

An afternoon stroll for Christmas Day – Colby Glen

Yes, I know its not Christmas yet, but I shall be away then, and as I strolled through the lovely Isle of Man countryside today I thought this is the most perfect walk for families to get a breath of air after the indulgence of the Christmas turkey. My walk was just over 5 miles altogether, but it can easily be shorted to 2, 3 or 4 miles if you don’t have a lot of time. The best part is the first couple of miles anyway.

I got the bus to Colby, getting off at the river. It is necessary to follow the minor road for a short distance uphill but this allows you time to imagine who lives in the varied houses abutting this gorgeous if small river. You soon arrive at the entrance to the glen; the view comes as a bit of a surprise, as there is no reason to expect the steep sided, wooded valley that encloses the river. Colby Glen is one of our national glens and therefore protected. It isn’t very long; it would take no more than 20 mins to walk end to end and back, but it is very special. The footpath follows the river, sometimes high, sometimes low, but always keeping the river in sight. In summer it is impossible to see the sky but as with Glen Rushen, in winter the trees stand out starkly against the blue sky with the sun glinting through them every now and again.

    

If you enter the Glen at the southern end, you wouldn’t expect to see the wide flat area at the northern end where I am sure I have heard fairies chattering and seen elves darting about amongst the undergrowth. This enchanted place is very magical, calm and quiet, sheltered from the tearing winds that have been slamming against our coastline these last few days and the bustle of everyday life. It is place to stop, take stock or meditate, or sing: many years ago I attended a concert (Meadowside?) being performed on this natural stage. That was late summer and apart from the lovely singing I can only remember batting off mosquito after mosquito on a balmy night.

I followed the contouring bends of the river, drawn by the sound of strongly flowing water. I have been here many times before, but never before have I seen a waterfall! That is probably because I have always followed the footpath signs or simply sat on the benches, or been there in summer when there is little flow. We have had a fair bit of rain, so I imagine all of our many glens will tell a similar tale.

 

Leaving the glen I walked up to Cronk Y Dooney and over to Ballakilpheric, where the path goes through a fine mansion’s back garden. The views over the bay are splendid there. Then on to Scholaby, and Croit-e-Caley, before finishing the main part of the walk at the Shore Inn (about 3.5 miles). There can’t be many places in England where you can start at a river, find a waterfall, walk through meadows and finish at the sea. It is easy to think of this as an ordinary walk, but we are so lucky that our island has tons of walks like this.

 

   

Yesterday, or today, depending on how you look at it, was my 5th Anniversary of living on this island (I moved December 8th 2013), and thankfully I no longer need a work permit. However, I can’t get old yet, as I have another 5 years to go before I am entitled to sheltered housing – if I want it. To mark my 5 years, I set out on a very drizzly and windy evening to walk up to the Brambles (the flat on the cliff where I first lived) to recall the moment I arrived in the dark. On that day, 5 years ago, I parked up the car, with my cat Sam, and all I could hear was the waves crashing against the rocks. In my mind it is very memorable. Sadly, it was impossible to recreate that moment. The wind made it almost impossible to stand up and of course, I see these views and listen to the waves most days, so what was very very special at the time is now my normal way of life, but always appreciated.