Around the Carnanes and Lhiatee ny Beinnee – 8.5 miles

I can see this group of hills from the back of my house and they are very inviting on bright sunny day. There are many options to start this walk from a number of different places and a number of different ways of reaching the tops. However, today, or actually yesterday as I write this, I chose to walk from home. I didn’t have a specific plan other than to reach the highest point on these delightful mounds of hummocks, which is Lhiatee ny Beinnee (White Hill, due to the quartz I imagine) at just under 1000ft. Of course, there are undulations along the way so your total climb will be more than this, and in places it is steep, especially if you start at Fleshwick.

My route took me along the outskirts of Port Erin to Ballabeg and up the quiet lane to Surby. I noticed what appears to be a well just to the side of the road on someone’s forecourt. From here, it is a green lane following a stream which is full of wildflowers in the spring and summer. Some traditional cottages can be seen on this path and as you climb out of the valley you are rewarded by tremendous views to the south. The lane eventually peters out into a footpath, which today, or yesterday, was looking a little sad as the gorse has been severely pruned leaving a mini wasteland compared to previously. This is only a short section and a stile and gate inform you that you are now on the lower edge of the moorland of the Carnanes.

As you glance northwards it is impossible to avoid seeing the many cairns on top of the hillocks, many of which I have clambered up in the past, and some never until today. There is a good reason to stick to the paths between the cairns as I shall explain later, but for now take a look at the undergrowth in the photo to the right above and you may guess what’s coming. For now, I followed the northerly path which gradually veers to the west and gives you tremendous views of the Irish Sea and on a day with good visibility Ireland. Adjusting your eyes to the right it is possible to sea Scotland too, and Black Combe in the distance across the water to England in the opposite direction. Now you know why we have our three legs of man.

Can you spot Anglesey and Snowdonia in this photo?

I stopped for lunch (a sandwich of chicken, chutney, fresh sage and thyme – yummy) at a small cairn overlooking Bradda Hill towards Fleshwick Bay, Port Erin and Port St Mary. I could also see out way beyond Port St Mary and in the very far distance I could see Anglesey and Snowdonia. It was one of those days that provides exciting views on all directions. I had thought of heading south at this point, but instead I went as I had promised myself to the top of the big hill so that I could see Cronk Ny Array Laa looming out of the sea and a bit further along the shoreline, Niarbyl peeking out from under its cliffs and even Peel Hill in the far distance. This ‘detour’ meant that I had to return along the same path back to my lunch cairn. By an incredible stroke of coincidence I bumped into someone I met last summer on this very same part of the hill, so we had a socially-distanced chat for a few minutes. He was walking back to PSM via Port Erin if, as he said, his legs were up to it (i.e. the steep climb up to Bradda Hill).

I had already decided my route. The Bradda Hill circular is a regular walk for me, so this time, I decided to give that part of the coastal footpath a miss, and instead went craghopping from cairn to cairn around the Carnanes. Sounds great until you try to find a different path off it. I could see the main path only 50 metres away, only between me and it was thick gorse and heather. Any sane person would have retraced their steps, but this is me, and I waded through scratchy gorse sometimes 3ft deep. I did think at one point I had taken on more than I could chew, but I persevered and finally met the path. There were other walkers on this bit of path and I think they wondered what on earth I was doing!

From here it was only about half a mile to the eastern edge of the moorland, still up high but grassy now rather than gorse and heather. I crossed the Sloc road that leads slightly downhill to a car park and picnic site with unbelievable views then carried on a hundred metres or so to take a path left into the farmed countryside. This was something of an obstacle course. The first stiled wall is about 5-6ft tall, with just two stones to clamber up with an equally deep drop on the other side, followed immediately another rickety wooden stile(!). At the end of the next field is a kissing gate which is about all you can do if you are wearing a ruckscack unless you are very skinny. Then after traversing a muddy field there is a high ladder stile to cross. Anyone would think they didn’t like walkers. At least the bikers won’t take this route. If you don’t like stiles or are quite short (!) consider the path the same distance in the other direction from the picnic site, which takes you pretty much in the same direction but starting further north.

On reaching the farm at Scholaby, it is then an easy walk down the lane for about a mile to The Level, passing cows posing for their photo and the old chimney that I can see from my house signifying mining from days long past, or if you fancy a longer route, you can turn left just after the farm and visit Colby Glen (worth a visit if you haven’t ever been) and get a bus back. I followed the main back road to the roundabout and had a rest at Ballachurry Nature Reserve before finishing my walk by crossing the fields behind the Ballahane Estate.

A great day out and I felt a sense of achievement when I got home, having successfully avoided TV and the incessant coverage of the very sad death of Prince Philip (RIP) for a number of hours.

If you use the data above for any reason, the time includes rest times and meal times. Actual walking time was 2hr 50mins.

Incidentally, you may or may not know that I started painting for the first time in lockdown. I have updated the recent Cregneash / Chasms post so that you can see my latest effort (no.5). Bit of a curate’s egg, but I’ll use the correct type of paper next time…

A Walk Looking for the Unusual in the Usual – Ballachurry July 18, 2019

Chris Packham’s (@ChrisGPackham) talk on Wednesday evening about ‘connectivity’ was very thought-provoking; he told his story through photographs, simultaneously giving tips on how to take more interesting snaps, showing how just one speck of the wrong colour or a bird falling asleep at the wrong time can destroy a photograph (in his opinion); I now know about bokeh and how to achieve out of focus effects by using sunlight, drops of dew, reflections, or creating artificial backgrounds, though if you don’t mind I won’t follow his example and go and sit in an old-fashioned sewage plant in Gambia or lie up to my arms in sxxx!. Never one for boringness, he encouraged us to be amateur photographers and look for the unusual in the usual, an idea I have taken to heart. I only have a small camera but let’s see what I can do.

He told a story of deforestation and its effects on society through the eyes of a child who became an adult, whose former life of oneness with the environment was forever taken away by the profiteering lure of palm oil. He explained how we are all connected to one another, whether we like it or not and however distant /remote /alien some lives are to ours, telling us that we are all reliant not just on one another but on each and every uninteresting bug and beetle that we share out planet with, not just those animals glamourised for advertising purposes. He encouraged everyone to speak up to protect our world, so that one voice becomes an audible and persistent din in government heads all over the world.

I was inspired, and I was expecting this next blog to be entitled “A Walk Around My Garden”, finding out what really exists under the soil and within that curling leaf or flower head. Instead, I took a walk yesterday afternoon to Ballachurry Nature Reserve to try and take some shots of nature from a different angle. As usual, I was bitten by various little friends who like my blood (what’s new?) but it did make me think what is the essence of this particular nature reserve and could I appreciate it in a different way.  I continued then up to Mount Gawne nursery and on to Croit Y Caley, where there is a sign saying to take care as ‘cats cross the road’. I strode toward Kentraugh House in order to visit the other nature reserve which was heavily overgrown – I could barely get in there –  and continue my quest of taking more absorbing photographs.  Content with my stack of photos, I walked towards Shore Road, and I could hear wasps or bees in the Kentraugh estate but however much I jumped up and down I could not see over the wall. Reaching the coast road, I enjoyed a happy moment or two watching the rabbits on the low cliff and as I descended to the Shore Hotel, I spent even more happy moments watching a black headed gull hovering over the edge of the waves and dipping suddenly and sporadically to get a small fish that had been driven in by the tide. It did this several times, moving along the coast in regular fashion, virtually following alongside me. I then walked round to Port St Mary and back to Four Roads, hoping that the threatening rain would stay away until I reached home. I went across the fields back to Port Erin, a total distance of 7 miles.

I have attached a few of the photos, trying to pick out some of the most interesting for you to enjoy. Some are ordinary and some are my attempt at the less ordinary, with a limited degree of success – but we all have to start somewhere. Some are out of focus, but I like these as much as the in-focus ones!

I hope the next blog will be a good, long walk. I have in mind to walk from Port Erin to Peel over the coastal footpath, a distance of about 14 miles with a lot of ascent and descent. This will take a bit of planning but look out for this one – it will be good!!

Ps. 21/7/19

  1. The bug in the centre photo on the 3rd row is most likely to be a ‘tiger cranefly’, and it is the first time it has been recorded at Ballachurry.
  2.  I think the bird that was hovering and diving was probably a Little Tern and not a blackheaded gull as these actions are typical of their behaviour probing for fish and shrimps.