Figure of 8, Cronk Ny Arrey Laa, Tuesday 4 Sept 2018, 8.78 miles, 1533 ft of ascent

This is a walk of endless possibilities and permutations. Well maybe not endless, but there is a wide variety of starting and finishing points. If you prefer to finish with a downhill section, then start at the Sloc, as virutally any other path will mean a long uphill section at the end.

I started where the road turns to the right and a farm track continues to Dalby close to the top of Cronk ny Arrey Laa ( a regular parking spot for walkers), then descended south along the permissive path to the Sloc. It was interesting to see that the heather and gorse on the eastern side had virtually finished, whereas it was still in full bloom on the south side. On the eastern side, several shallow drainage ditches have been dug, and even though we haven’t had a lot of rain, every one on the eastern side was working well, with water in them flowing off the hillside.

When I reached the Sloc, I decided to blaze a trail to the top of Cronk Ny Arrey Laa, taking in the hillocks on the cliff line – cliffocks? – which are avoided by taking the standard path.  Clearly others have done the same from the footprints and loosely made  paths that I followed from time to time, but this was entirely new to me. It was quite thrilling and provided me with views that are usually unattainable. I did see one gentleman on the traditional path looking quizzically up at me. I couldn’t decide whether he thought I was just bonkers or whether he quite fancied traipsing through the heather himself. For me, it was worth the extra ascent and descent, but as he didn’t join me he obviously thought I was bonkers.

 

 

On reaching the highest point of the day, Cronk My Arrey Laa (437m), I descended via the steep coastal footpath which, once off the stony Manx group, crosses the wide and boggy moors towards Eary Cushlin and Dalby Mountain.

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Here I was meeting the Manx Wildlife Trust again, this time to assist with the project “Bouncing Bogs”. I say “assist” but I am really not a lot of use, but I am learning a lot, and in time I may be of some use! I was late because I had got the time wrong, but it was neither here not there, as is usually the case with Manx time-keeping, and they hadn’t started. Dawn showed us bog asphodel in its orange burst of autumn glory, bog cotton, sheep’s bit scabious, eyebright, tormentil, purple knapweed to name but a few. She showed the children how to strip the soft rush to create rush lights and plucked and flicked thelicopter seeds from the nearby sycamore trees providing amusement for the children, though it has to be said the most fun was had by jumping about in the bogs. The gooiest thing of the day was a very ugly and slimy slug, which rather delighted Dawn. One thing we sadly didn’t see was the sundew which is common here, but maybe a little late in the year to show itself off. I havent included this section in my walk stats as this was an extra.

I then proceeded along the Bayr ny Skeddan towards Glen Maye, another route I had never walked before. It was just lovely, with continuous changing views across to South Barrule. The path is easy and flat until the end when it descends steeply to the river Rushen. This path is accessible from Eary Cushlin /Dalby Mountain car parks and is worth a walk on its own. You can see the mines, the river valley,  and the moutains  from a unique angle. Unfortunately, at this point, I ran out of battery – again – but I will revisit this area another time I am sure and take more photos.

 

I stopped for ‘lunch’ when I crossed the river Rushen. There are a couple of good places to have a picnic lunch here, either at the bridge sitting on the stones, or if raining, just a little further upstream there is a gate leading to a grassy and tree-d area where there is a confluence of streams. I sat by the bridge for a while. The sun was beaming down and the water trickling over the rocks, and I didn’t want to move.

From here, I ascended using the farm track to Round Table. It is reasonably steep initially and then becomes a softer climb, but it is all up hill. From Round Table, I continued across the moorland which does seem to go on forever, although it is no more than a mile or so. You can see the cars parked at Cronk Ny Arrey Laa from Round Table and they look deceptively close. This path was quite boggy and slippery and of course, still uphill.

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I can throughly recommend this walk; you maybe don’t want to do it all. If you did the first half of the figure of 8 to Eary Cushlin you could join the Dalby track back to the car and this would be no more than 5 miles. Or, you could start by walking down the Dalby track and just do the second part of the figure of 8, and that would be about 5 miles too.

So that’s my long walk for this week. I am off on my hols to Majorca in a few days and work has to take precedence now until I go. I shall have my Garmin watch with me on my walks in Majorca so I may do a Majorca blog while I am away if I have an internet connection.

Santon to Douglas along Marine Drive – 8 miles

The weather forecast was promising, the steam train was running, what could possibly go wrong on my trip to Douglas today? I was out scouting for a new breathable waterproof jacket so the plan was to get the train to Port Soderick and walk the 4 or so miles into Douglas via the scenic marine drive.

I arrived early at the railway station and immediately had doubts as there was no train in the station and all the sheds were locked up. I had checked the timetable and there should have been one at 1 o’clock. Arriving at the booking office, the board proudly announced the next train would be 2 o’clock. Not wanting to waste more than an hour and a quarter I hopped on a bus. Only the bus doesn’t go to Port Soderick and I hadn’t got a map with me, so my guess was to get off at Santon and walk the extra couple of miles to Port Soderick. After all, I would still get there before the train.

So, that’s what I did. Only, not only was the weather forecast wrong, it pelted it down for the first half hour and I was beginning to wonder about the wisdom of getting off the dry bus when I could have gone all the way to Douglas on it. Anyway, too late. I took the attractive footpath behind the big house at Santon which leads to the old Castletown road. At least I kept mainly dry this way.

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Then I had to follow the Old Castletown road until the turn off to Port Soderick, not the most exciting walk especially as drivers are using it as a short cut during the races, but necessary in the circumstances. And it rained. By the time I arrived at the lovely Port Soderick Glen and the coast, the weather had brightened up a little, so I enjoyed my sandwich and Millionaire’s Shortcake in something resembling sunshine.

Photos: Port Soderick Glen

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Photo: Port Soderick Bay and the Port Erin to Douglas steam train

I took the steep stepped path up to the coast road. I instinctively knew that I would see the train at this point and I was not disappointed, although it looked somewhat strange with its engine facing the wrong direction. I turned on to Marine Drive and followed this lovely route and a lady walking very briskly all the way to Douglas. It kept mainly dry until the end when the wind suddenly got up and the clouds darkened before spitting out another dollop of rain. As you can see from the featured photograph (the one at the top), Douglas had put its coat on this afternoon, but by the time I arrived there, it was brilliant sunshine and it remained so for the rest of the day.

Did I get my waterproof? Well, yes and no. I had gone with a list recommended by reviews and no-one had any of those in stock, but I did take a fancy to the Berghaus Glissade 111, so asked for this to be put by for me. I came home and ordered it through Quidco, thereby getting cashback of £12.90 on the same item, which I shall now have to collect from Douglas another time. But then, I shall get the bus!!

P.S. I tried a different camera for this trip, but my mobile phone is so much better I shall have to return to this next time.

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Ballabeg, Cringle Reservoir, Castletown 19th August – 11 miles

It’s always good to do different things. This walk takes you mostly over farmland and you get a totally different impression of the island compared with walking the well-trodden coastal footpaths or the popular glens. You begin to appreciate that people work on this land rather than work in this land. The feature photograph is typical of the extensive views that this walk affords for most of its length. It’s not a high walk, the total ascent was only just over 800 ft and is within the capabilities of most reasonably fit people, though you may prefer to take a full day to absorb all the wonderful views rather than the half day I was out.

I got to bus to Ballabeg and walked up the back road beside the lovely Arbory church before turning off onto a path I had never walked before. This was an attractive, narrow path leading gradually uphill towards Ronague, bordered on either side by a wide range of vegetation. I remember being told that you can tell the age of a path by the number of varieties of shrubs in the hedgerows. The blackberries are out in abundance and during the whole walk I regularly stopped to pick and eat the plump berries.

As other days, there were lots of butterflies, mainly speckled woods. The path widens out as you ascend to allow tractors to reach the fields from Ronague. This was very muddy after last night’s heavy rain, so I was glad I wore my walking boots. At Ronague a black hen came out to greet me. The map says there is a chapel, but this seems to have been converted to a house, as is so often the case.

There is some road walking on a small B road before turning to the right to follow farm tracks. It was here that the official route departs from the actual route on the ground. The official path is supposed to go north behind the farm at Ballaglashan over the ford and on to another dwelling and up to the remains of the medieval chapel. In reality these paths no longer exist. At Ballaglashan I had to climb over a fence and struggled with another gate, aided and abetted by a horse who wanted to see what was in my rucksack and kept nuzzling against the gate latch so I couldn’t see what I was doing – and at the next dwelling, the footpath has been removed (though it looks as if they may be redesigning the footpath access as there was one new stile) and there is no direct access to the remains of the old chapel, so I had to do a detour up to the road.  The other footpath delineated on the map from the road doesn’t exist either, but you can see the remains clearly, as in the main photo.

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Photo: Map showing the two dwellings where the official footpath does not exist

I continued to my lunch stop at Cringle Reservoir and watched a Cormorant swimming along and occasionally stopping to flap its wings. Considering the lack of summer rain and the hosepipe ban the reservoir was surprisingly full. South Barrule looked so inviting, but as I didn’t start my walk until 2pm, there was no time to visit. Another time…

The early part of the afternoon was taken walking down the Bayr ny Skeddan – the old herring path that leads from Peel to Castletown. I really enjoyed this, and it was along this route that I felt closest to nature and the integrity of the island. Unfortunately, it is necessary to walk half a mile along the Ballamodha straight, though had I had longer I might have taken the footpath to Grenaby and walked back the full length of the Silverburn. I had hoped there might be a path that would take me to the Grenaby road from one of the farms/houses but although it was apparent it was so overgrown and clearly unused this was not possible. There are one or two gates that are difficult to open and I gave up trying on the one beside Moaney Moar and climbed over.

The Silverburn Glen never disappoints and is always a delight. I stopped at the Mill and had a break before continuing down to Ballasalla, passing by the 13th century Monk’s bridge and the beautiful ford by Rushen Abbey,  then over the fields to Castletown. You could finish the walk at Ballasalla and get the train or bus back, which would reduce the walk by about 2.5 miles. The walk from Ballsalla to Castletown is flat and easy though not suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs. It follows the Silverburn all the way to the coast, and as the tide was in, Castletown looked rather nice in the early evening light.

I walked a little around Castletown before getting the bus back and wondering whether I was going to be able to move when I got off the bus at Port Erin!

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Kirk Michael, Cronk & Orrisdale, 11th August 2018 – 8 miles

This is a walk of contrasts – so different from the coastline of the south and Peel with its hills and cliffs of manx slate, sandstone and limestone. To the north of Peel we encounter miles of sandy beaches and sandy cliffs doing their best to fall into the sea. It is here at Kirk Michael that the remains of the ancient Giant Deer has recently been plucked from the crumbling cliffs and is being examined by the Manx Museum.

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I parked in Kirk Michael and walked along the main road with a completely different plan to the walk I actually did. Passing by the church on the left with its signpost to the Bishops’ Graves I turned left on a road towards a camp site. This was a wooded road with a stream running down to the sea – or it would have been if we had had any rain in the last two months. It was bone dry today.

 

When you reach the coast you are filled a sense of peace as the vista opens up into a massive expanse of sea, sand and uninterrupted cliffs. The tide was in, so I walked cautiously along the foreshore for 3-4 miles to the north, accompanied by the sand martins, seagulls, terns, oystercatchers, shags and cormorants who flew on ahead of me every now and again. I also happened to come across a seal that had been washed up onto the shore.

The cliffs are described as precipitous with danger of falling rocks. There was evidence all along of major slippages and I wouldn’t have cared to stop and stare too long there with the wind blowing as it was.

 

As I reached the far end, the cliffs  fell away into sand dunes where I stopped for lunch and enjoyed the views. There is a car park here for those who might like to do part of this walk.

 

 

To the north, I could see Jurby church just a stone’s throw away, but I had walked far enough and the rain clouds were gathering, so I decided to start the return route, this time slightly inland, following country roads and the heritage railway track. These were not disappointing as they afforded wonderful views of the local hills and Snaefell even with its unattractive topping of pylons and ugly buildings. It is hard to spoil any view around here.

As I walked along the Orrisdale road, there were sandy fields to left and right, and I wondered in years to come what other mystical creatures might be unearthed from its bowels. The heritage railway track, which in former times went from Ramsey to Peel was very pleasant. There were loads of butterflies but most fluttered by me before I had time to work what they were. The blues were in evidence everywhere. In fact, blue seemed to be the colour as there were little clumps of harebells on the wayside.

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All in all, a gorgeous walk. I shall return to the Cronk car park and continue northwards along the beach another time.

I am having a lot of difficulty uploading photos so I can only show you certain ones. I shall have to investigate….

Tuesday 7th August 2018 – Carnanes & Cronk Ny Arrey Laa

Well, it has taken me a few days to get round to blogging about the sensational figure of eight walk across the Carnanes up to Cronk Ny Arrey Laa on Tuesday.

This 7.75 mile /1440 ft walk starts at the picnic spot overlooking Carrikey Bay on the Port Erin to Round Table road. It is just a short walk along the road until you cross over onto the moorland of the Carnanes. There is no climbing involved at this stage as you are starting from high up. Of course, if you want a longer walk with more ascent you could start at Ballafesson, Surby or Fleshwick and take the green route to the starting point.

I followed the lower path around the Carnanes as this is relatively flat and a good stretch to warm up the legs. It joins the green road after about half a mile and then there is a good wide grassy path all the way to the Sloc where the green road meets the main road. With the lack of rain this was easy today, but in winter it can be quite muddy and rutted. Scuttling through a couple of gates, I then began my ascent around Cronk Ny Arrey Laa.

I took the footpath to the north-east that follows high above the road in order to have even more fantastic views on the return route. Even so, this is still beautiful as you have uninterrupted views of the south of the island and can see the variety of landscapes. As you climb gradually along this path South Barrule comes into sight, peaking above the closer hills. At the top  (about 3 miles from the start), we meet the main road where this turns right, and the footpath goes left to take you to the top of Cronk Ny Arrey Laa. This is about another half mile or so of uphill. You can’t miss the top as there is both a trig point and a cairn, ever increasing in size.

 

This makes the perfect lunch stop though it is likely to be a tad windy.

You can see all the big mountains to the north, including Snaefell, make out the contours of the coastline in all directions, and to the south the magnificent cliffs create wonderful shapes in different lights. It is even possible to see across to Ireland in the west, Scotland in the north, and Anglesey to the south! If you go past the cairn just as far as the path continues (otherwise you will drop into the sea!) you will be rewarded with stunning views and photo opportunities. 

 

From this point, I headed south – another day I shall continue to Niarbyl, but that’s another story – down the moorland and the well delineated path. I met a lady walking from Port Erin to Peel, a distance of 14 miles and some considerable ascent and descent. I also met the ground at one point as when I placed my foot on some turf it just disappeared. So there was I, sprawled on the ground, looking most unladylike, splattered out like a flat fish:-) Fortunately no injuries and I was soon back on my feet.

I did a slight detour because there is a path to nowhere at the centre point of the figure of eight. This wasn’t desperately exciting, but it is possible to climb some rocks up to the old fort and any spot around there is lovely for a picnic.

Then upwards again over the Carnanes. 

There is a fairly steep climb initially but it doesn’t last long. I just love this set of hills at this time of year, and the closer you get to Fleshwick the more heather and Manx gorse. It was so beautiful, and hardly anyone seems to come up here, at least not while I’m there. I nearly always have it to myself. You can vary the route across these warm hills, and once up there is no more ascent, so if you don’t fancy the full route, the Carnanes makes a great short 4 mile walk on a good day

And what a good day it was!!