Lattrigg – 9th October 2019

This varied walk starts at Portinscale, where I couldn’t help but notice the number of different species of bird in the grounds of our accommodation, including a tree creeper. It was one of those days when the weather sets out to play with you, so that you never quite know when to put on your raincoat or whether you will have time to get it out of your rucksack before the next brief but very soaking shower.

Undaunted, I set out through the outskirts of Keswick, crossing the B5289 to the village of Crosthwaite, which is quite unceremoniously marked on the map. The church stands on a mini roundabout going nowhere, with large trees in the centre, giving the impression it belongs to a time long past. The church has a very long history, dating back to the 6th century, although none of the early church remains. It was founded in 553 AD by St. Kentigern. The foundations of the 12th century church are still visible – why is it that most old churches have remnants from the 11th/12th century? Perhaps the very early churches were made of wood that decays and the later churches used stone?

The poet Robert Southey is buried in the churchyard and there is a memorial to him inside the church with an inscription with words of Wordsworth – only just realised how apt his name is! Another famous man buried here is the Reverend Hardwicke Rawnsley, one of the co-founders of the National Trust.

Crossing the main A66, I continued through wet fields to Applethwaite (meaning ‘clearing in a forest with apples’, a very attractive village of just a few houses. I was very surprised to see some stocks here. There is also a former mill.

The walk over the meadows provided excellent views of the Skiddaw range. I then followed minor roads which were relatively busy for the size of the road as it takes you to the main car park where people commence their amble to the top of Skiddaw, not on my plan for today.

On the map it is easy to miss the amount if ascent on this road as it circumvents the lower reaches of Skiddaw with it bronze ferns and grasses. By contrast, on the other side of the road were managed green fields and a steep wooded gully, every now and then broken by tiny rivulets insisting on joining the main stream. The steepest section covered a distance of about 1/3 mile (1/2 km) with a climb of 328 ft (100 metres), the steepest section being just before the car park. I must admit I huffed and puffed up that bit, but then I am full of cold/flu so perhaps that’s not surprising.

I turned to the right, where the path initially sets off downhill, but then there is soon an escape route that takes you to the top of Lattrigg at 368 metres. My goodness, it was windy on that exposed hill. Someone has thoughtfully placed a bench for people to linger and enjoy the distant views through the lesser mountains to Scafell, I thought I caught a glimpse of it at one point but with the fickle weather it was difficult to tell.

I followed the same path down a little way then took a green, steep and slightly slippery path towards Gale Forest where this path met the Cumbria Way all the way through the forest. Once at the bottom, it is a simply walk over a footbridge into Keswick. I finished my walk at the Pencil Museum cafe, and then made my final 1.5 mile walk back to Portinscale, but as this is the same as yesterday’s walk I have not included a description of that.

I finish with my favourite photo of the day:

Distance: 7.1 miles to Keswick, 8.5 miles to Portinscale. Ascent 1131 ft to Keswick.

No walking today, so no post tomorrow.

Walk around Derwentwater – 8th October 2019

This was the first walking day of my HF holiday at Keswick. I had opted to walk on my own today, still feeling rough after my flu jab on Thursday and surviving on little sleep for several days. The HF house is situated at Portinscale in the edge of the lake.

I started out at 9.30am and followed the forest tracks on the westerly side of the Lake, avoiding Nichol End. I reached the grounds of Lingholm and as it advertised a cafe my curiosity got the better of me. However, after going down various dead end footpaths albeit enjoying views of its associated mansion and cottages I had to retrace most of my steps to regain the official footpath, where I encountered alpacas in a field, two of which were chasing each other around the field at full speed, watched in amazement by all the other alpacas.

As I reached an area called the Park, I had first sight of Crag Hill and Causey Pike. I was minded of a former holiday I had when my eldest son, now in his forties, was a teenager and brought his bike up to the Lakes, cycling down Causey Pike.

I reached the junction where one can climb up Cat Bells, follow the terrace route, or take the lake path. As this was intended to be a gentle walk I ventured for the lake path.

As I entered Brandlehow Park I obtained my first glimpse of the lake through the trees. All around the lake the little beaches are called ‘bays’, with Great Bay being the most southerly of them all. All the bays provided wonderful views in all directions. Here is a selection of the best:

At this point there is an option of footpaths, either to follow the Cumbria Way to Grange, or walk across the boarded marshland to cross to the other side of the lake at Lodore. If walking around the lake there is little to commend the former route. The marshland at this southern edge appears to have grown since I was here 16 years ago. A local told me that there is a New Zealand weed taking over around Great Bay. As I crossed the bridge, some geese were fording the river downstream and a rainbow offered treasure in Keswick.

The Lodore Falls are worth a visit, and if you are looking for accommodation in this area the Lodore Falls Hotel is beautiful. In order to reach the falls, you need to walk in a northerly direction to where there is a bend in the road to the left, and the path starts here on the right hand side. I didn’t climb all the way to the top as this wasn’t really on my itinerary. I followed the lake path (which at times would be impenetrable when the waters are high given the proximity to the water) up to and around Calfclose Bay where a lady was desperately trying to hang on to her paintings which the wind was trying to tear away from her. At The Ings the lake path was closed so I had to walk up to the Borrowdale Road and follow that into Keswick.

My lunchstop at the landing stage:

Keswick itself was slightly disappointing, though I may have caught it on a bad day. It seemed unusually scruffy. I called in the Tourist Information to get a map and postcards, then walked through the town to the river and the shortcut back to Portinscale.

The walk ended as it had begun with wildlife, this time sheep being herded into a pen.

Distance (with detours): 10.88 miles. Ascent: 892 feet

Greeba Mountain – 2nd October 2019

1a. View across to Greeba Mountain

Greeba Mountain is not technically speaking a mountain as it doesn’t reach the giddy heights of 600 metres. In fact, it falls well short at 422 metres and is the peak you can see above the plantation, looking rather apologetic. This was our second ‘peak’ of the day, our first being the traverse of Slieau Roy at 479 metres. I notice the word Slieau contains the word ‘eau’ which is of course, french for ‘water’, which is very apt considering the boggy nature of the peat hills. But I am getting ahead of myself.

We started out from Crosby village, the visitors arriving on the bus and the locals arriving by car. We took the A23 out of Crosby – sounds as if it’s a proper road doesn’t it, but actually it is just a minor lane with little traffic. The road climbs gently from the start all the way up to and around Cronk my Moghlane. It doesn’t take long before you can see the full extent of the valley between Douglas and Peel, and what strikes you most of all is the distant views, the lack of housing and the large amount of patchwork green fields. We are so used to travelling down that valley with its numerous villages dotted along the way,  that it doesn’t seem at all remote, but once you get up on the hills you have a completely different sense of island and what it’s all about.

We continued gently uphill following a grassy track full of humps and hollows made by the bikes in former years, now forbidden on this path, and contoured around the  eastern side of Slieau Ruy, which gave excellent views of the neighbouring hill called Colden (487 metres) and its shoulder The Creg – ‘creg’  meaning ‘rock’. I don’t know what Colden means…  now I do. It comes from the Scandinavian word Kollrinn, meaning the ‘top’ or ‘summit’. Just to complete the Manx lesson Slieau Roy means ”Red Mountain’, supposedly taking its name from the heather. In former times, many flowers were called red even though they were pink or purple; and Greeba is also of Scandinavian origin from the word ‘Gripa’ meaning ‘peak’.

 

11. View of x from my point

It was a little blustery but we so relieved to see the sun after yesterday’s torrential rain that had completed wiped out Laxey and caused landslides on Snaefell. As we reached the col, we turned back along the ridge to the top of Slieau Roy.  It might have been time for lunch, but the weather was not conducive to sitting on boggy ground with the wind whistling past our faces, so we continued undaunted if a little hungry on to the lesser Greeba Mountain. The views in all directions were wonderful and we could spy the wind turbines at Morecambe, Black Combe and the other mountains of the western Lake District and in the other direction we could see the Mountains of Mourne in Ireland. Who cares whether or not Greeba mountain is a real mountain. It is lovely place to stop and stare.

After this we descended off the moorland into one of many plantations in this area, this one with the unimaginative name of Greeba Forest, also known as King’s Forest. Believe it or not, there was an unusual battle here as late as 1937 between police with firearms and feral sheep, who were slaughtered to prevent the spread of sheep scab. I wish I had known that little trifle of knowledge as I was walking down the hill.  As it was, I was very happily engaged in very pleasant conversations with visitors who were part of our walking festival. You can see them below – how many different ways of smiling (or grimacing) can you spot?

18. The top

As we had made good time, we finished our walk by crossing over the ever so busy St John’s road and made our way to the heritage trail, which was formerly a railway line between Douglas and Peel. It has recently been upgraded and totally spoiled (in my opinion) in order to accommodate cyclists and possibly wheelchairs. It is now a wide uninteresting shingly type of path that won’t make anyone want to go for a walk. It has lost all its character and there is no longer any sense of its history. But times move on, and so must I.

I leave this blog on a high note. I had a wonderful day, and met some really interesting people. It is so wonderful to share our love of this island with visitors and to hear their stories of their travels. Thank you so much to the Walking Festival, and to our leader, Ken and assistants Belinda and Gayle, who have given up their time to take us out for the day. I can’t join them for their other events this week, but I hope the weather holds up for all the walkers.

Distance: 9 miles; Ascent 1408 ft; Descent 1424 ft. I will attach a short slide show of other photos from today after the map.

Map1a

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Ridge Walk Snaefell to Ramsey – 30th September 2019

This was a first, at least for me. For the last twenty years I have visited the Isle of Man and the last five years I have been living here, yet in all that time I had not done this spectacular ridge walk. We could have hoped for a sunny day, but this is the Isle of Man where we are more likely to encounter strong winds and rain or the dastardly Mananan’s cloak, but we could be lucky…

It all started out so promisingly as I drove to Laxey in bright sunshine, and the forecast promising not to disappoint until 4pm. The other walkers arrived at the station and it was still just about sunny as we hopped on the tram up to the top of Snaefell. As we reached Bungalow we realised the weather had other intentions as the top became swirled in mist. I could almost feel my fellow walkers psychologically putting on hats and wet-weather gear in anticipation. I did feel disappointed for the visitors to the island who might have hoped the see the seven kingdoms of Man, but it was not to be. However, you can see what a cheery lot we are as we set on down the mountain.

No view at the top

We reached the TT course and crossed over to start our ascent. Although classified as a strenuous route, this seemed a misnomer as we were starting at the highest point, with a few ups and downs but mostly downs until we reached the sea.

The ridge affords some wonderful views even in this semi-cloudy state. Every now and again clouds would swell up in the valleys and filter across the shoulders of the hills and engulf everything in their path; in between we had some fine glimpses into the distance and occasionally saw the Lake District and even less occasionally saw Scotland. I waved to my son, James, who is wild camping in Galloway though I couldn’t see Scotland at all at that moment, and instantly I received a video text from him waving to me and saying he couldn’t see the Isle of Man either. Talk about coincidences.

Our first hill was Clagh Ouyr  (551 m), followed by two unnamed hills. I did think we should have given these demoted tops some appropriate names to identify them given them as they are still good heights for the Isle of Man, the first at 550 metres and the second 533 metres. The superior-minded North Barrule, which is only a matter of 565 metres seems to think it literally rules the place, which I guess it does. The pointy peak reminded me of Thorpe Cloud in Derbyshire. It’s not a difficult climb, being mostly on peat. It was rather boggy in places but easy walking along the ridge.

The peak route

As lunch approached, so did the clouds and we sensed a change in the weather. Our guide, who for some reason I keep wanting to call Steven, but whose name is actually Ken, pointed out that the formation of clouds showed that the rain was just being held at bay, and we hoped long enough for us to make our descent.

Spirits were still high as you can see, though I did wonder who was challenging who to jump off first.

North Barrule itself is a lovely hill and its one of those where you feel you want to abandon your rucksack and run up it and be a child again for a moment, but this was not quite the day for such frivolities.

The route down is a little tedious as it is very uneven, wet and boggy and therefore a little slippery. Even so, we did have some splendid view of cloud formations over Ramsey Bay.

Ramsey 1

We eventually met a green road taking up to Ballure Reservoir and Glen. The reservoir was completely dry, which is ironic as at this point the heavens opened. It is only dry for maintenance and it was interesting to see it without any water. We proceeded down the glen amongst the trees and finished on the beach.

It was a really great walk and one that I can imagine I shall do many times in the future. Thanks to the Isle of Man Walks Festival for putting this on and many many other walks every day for a week. I look forward to seeing you again on Wednesday for Greeba Mountain if you will have me after I was telling what an unsociable walker I usually am!

Distance 7.39 miles; Elevation 854 ft; Descent 2734 ft

Snaefell

A short walk around Peel and Glen Maye

I had been to Peel Cathedral for Evensong. It was a very special evensong, with the very musical group Voces Insulae providing the choral repertoire. It was absolutely beautiful and the bible readings too stood out above the norm for some inexplicable reason. The cathedral was particularly resonant today.  I guess some days are like that.

Having started out as an inconveniently wet night and morning, it had now brightened up, so I strolled down to Peel beach where the wind had whipped up froth that looked like candyfloss. I then did the circuit of the exterior of Peel Castle, passed the spot on the point where my grandchildren, son and I had had a memorable picnic about this time last year. As I came round to Fenella Beach you could imagine St Patrick’s island cut off from Peel as great swathes of sand seem to almost continue seamlessly from one side of the harbour to the other.

I then traversed the low route contouring around the east side of Peel Hill back to my car, intending to get home in good time to cook my tea before the ‘Strictly’ results show,. Peel look very colourful and appealing in the soft late afternoon light.

I just had to pop in to my favourite glen on the way back for a bit of magic. And I was not disappointed. As you can see the fairies had made their ring to dance around, though they hid in the undergrowth when I turned up.

Fairy Ring

I could hear the waterfall well before I could see it. It was spewing out copper and peat coloured water and although there was quite a torrent it was nothing like I had witnessed a month or two ago.

On one side of the ravine, the water was dripping down the side of the rocks looking life hanging vines.

Rain drops
Rain drops looking like hanging vines

I managed to watch Strictly – no surprise as to who was sent home there then – then settled down to watch ‘Millionaire’ as well, when I decided to make some fruit cake to take out tomorrow on my first walk with the Island Walking Festival’s Weeks’ Walks, so I dodged out in the intervals and I now have a full stock of food to take with me tomorrow.

I shall be walking from Snaefell along the tops to Ramsey, and on Wednesday doing a circular route taking in Greeba Mountatin, before I leave the island for a little while to visit family and have a week’s holiday with HF in the Lake District. I will try and write a blog about each of these walks that I haven’t ever done before!

Bradda Head – 13th September 2019

You know what they say – you can’t keep a good dog, or in my case, woman down. Two consecutive days of walking. What a treat. Today, I had relatives visiting so what an opportunity to show them some of the outstanding scenery on our doorstep. On Thursday I headed south, yesterday I headed north from Port Erin.

We met at Bradda Glen restaurant, which is an excellent starting point for this walk if you don’t want to walk the extra mile from Port Erin. We followed the Coronation footpath to Milner Tower,  stopping at various points to describe the scenery, tell tales or just to enjoy each others’ company in the balmy autumn wind and sun. It was our warmest day for a while, and the sky was very blue.

The top

We didn’t pass a soul on our way to Fleshwick. The path down from the Bradda cairn was a little slippery and uneven, surprising considering the lack of rain, but by the time we reached the steep descent the path was dry and easier to conquer. We did meet a lady blackberrying with her dog and a group of holiday makers on a walk and a drone, i.e. a mechanical instrument, not a humble bee or rude name for a boring person!! The drone did rather spoil the ambience.

On the tops we had the splendid views towards Peel. I could stay up here for hours, with views of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales on a good day. It is just perfect, well maybe a couple of weeks earlier would have been even better as the colour of the heather would have given the senses a real boost. But you can still imagine what it looks like in its rich colour, can’t you?

Towards Cronk Ny Arrey Laa

Our return route contoured around the base of the Bradda group on an easy footpath then joined the road through East Bradda back to Bradda Glen. This was followed by a lovely evening together at The Shore Hotel. The food was magnificent and rounded off a super day with friends.

Fleshwick Bay.JPG

Fleshwick Beach

And the start of the route down, which drops off steeply at this point:

What goes up must go down.JPG

Most of my photos were of my friends, so I can’t include many today.

Distance: 4.71 miles (Bradda Glen circular); ascent 1092 ft; descent 1060ft. Maximum elevation 732ft – not bad for cliffs.

68235

Cregneash, Chasms, Sound, Port Erin – 12th September 2019

This was my first ‘step out’ for some time, at least a couple of weeks, as I have been ascertaining the effect of hill walking on my metabolism. Having decided it was having no direct ill effect on my health, I am happy to report you will find me wandering out and about the local hills as usual, and further afield over the next six months.

This afternoon I stretched my legs and walked from home, up the Golden Road, which is not at all golden at the moment, but does have heaps of blackberries and Speckled Wood butterflies. I am pretty sure I also saw a Comma or a Fritillary, but you know butterflies they are gone before you have a chance to see them!

I started out in reasonable weather, but it wasn’t long before the rains came, but I was suitably attired and enjoyed my walk up Meayll Hill. The heather has mostly turned now but the gorge looked very sunny in the rain. On the top Meayll Hill I passed by the stone circle in the featured image at the top and veered slightly out of my way and found an old ‘bunker’ from the days of the WW11 radar station. Not sure what would have been contained here. Maybe it goes underground… there’s the start of a thriller.

Cregneash

Over to Cregneash, up and over the top and down to the glorious Chasms – and the sun came out. The sheep made their own stone circle shape and stood out very effectively against the scenery. This next section has always been one of my favourite parts of our wonderful island, round Black Head and Spanish Head. One of the Loaghtan sheep was poised like King Orry observing pirates out at sea simultaneously guarding his flock.

A little further on and I was down at the Sound in the early evening sunlight. There were few people here now but I stopped at the cafe to replenish my stocks then continued on past Rocky Valley over the hills to Port Erin. The low sunlight was casting wonderful shadows and shapes that gave distinctive images of the rocks with the play of light and dark, but goodness was it windy!!

More sheep – usually, as you know, with me it cows – but sheep it was today. The brown Loaghtan sheep looked wild and scruffy whereas the cream coloured sheep looked as if they had just been in the washer in time for their photo shoot.

Sheep and the Tower

I can never resist taking a photo of one of my favourite gates on the Isle of Man. As I walked around the bay I observed the light was reflecting on the sand and on the beach the lugworms had taken over from the children building sandcastles.

If you are a new visitor to the Isle of Man, this is a walk not to miss. You can start from Port St Mary and follow the coast, getting the steam train or bus back to Port Erin, or if you just want to best bits, take a car to the quarry car park at Cregneash and follow my walk to Port Erin. In summer there is a bus that will take you back to Cregneash.

Total distance 7.5 miles (home to home); 1339 ft of ascent, similar descent, probably a little more. Moderate walking. Highest point to Sound 501ft (no details of height of highest hill from Sound to PE).

Maps:

Other points of interest from the wildlife: Do let me know if you can identify the caterpillar.

 

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