No matter how many times you do the same walk there are new things to discover – new sounds, new sights, new shapes. I have walked this walk many times before, usually a different way round. Today, I took the bus to the Shore Hotel at Gansey and started my walk there, following the River Colby to the top of the glen and back via a different route.
I followed the minor road around the back of Kentraugh Mill grounds, having a nosey in people’s gardens and the Mill gardens which are more visible through the trees in the winter months. Then I took the public footpath through the wetlands beside the river. I noticed for the first time ever, that there are two arches to the bridge under the road. Another time when I am wearing my wellies I’ll go and have a good look as to why there are two as it is such a tiny river I can’t see any reason for this. I also noticed what looks like a wooden track from one side of the river to the other. Again, I couldn’t see any purpose for this. If you have any ideas why it’s there please let me know. When I was pondering this, a small greenish, stripey bird flitted about in the undergrowth but wouldn’t stop long enough for me to identify it. There were a few flowers out. The double snowdrops which grace this section of the river are very beautiful, if indeed that is what they are.
It was a very windy day and I was glad once I was a little more inland to be sheltered from the fiercest winds. Walking the route this way round I couldn’t help but notice the wonderful shapes made by the trees and the great variety of landscape; sometimes I was walking amongst shrubs or on a narrow path; the next minute I was treated to a vast expanse of farmland with great views to the north. Turn a little right, and I was back on the timeless river path, the river becoming ever smaller, and eventually in the wooded Colby Glen.
At Colby, it is impossible to walk beside the river until you reach Colby Glen, but don’t give up. It is only a short distance up an attractive lane. Colby Glen is worth a visit at any time of year, and in winter at least you won’t be plagued by midges and the like. Storm Eunice and the other rcent nasty storms have brought down a few trees in many of our glens, opening up the canopy to the sky in places. Hopefully saplings will replace the old trees that are now lying recumbent on the valley floor and eventually fill in the gaps again.
If you have never been to Colby Glen, it is a narrow wooded valley with a stream that opens up to disclose a grand grassy theatre at its top end. Here, in the summer months, choirs will perform and it is a great place to bring your children for a picnic. Once you reach this peaceful spot, just stop, listen and look around, and you will hear water in the distance and after a little investigation see it bubbling around the corner and then you encounter a most delightful waterfall. One of the footpaths exiting the glen goes immediately past it and up to the small hamlets of Cronk Y Dooney and Ballakilpheric. This is a very pleasant path shaded by shrubs on either side, but it can be very muddy. You are no sooner past the waterfall and you can no longer even see the river or see where it goes. You would not even know it’s there. All you can see are hills to the right up toward South Barrule, hills to the left (the Carnanes) and the sea to the south.
There are a number of choices from the village so I followed the lane south that would lead back to Colby, taking the path to the right after about half a mile that leads to an old mill that is being renovated, past this and up a grassy track to join another lane at Scholaby that leads immediately down to Croit-e-Caley.
Crossing the road and the railway track, follow the lane south until you see a path a little way to the right that leads behind the house and back to the Shore Hotel across (very muddy) fields. Once there, I felt the wrath of the wind once more. The tide was in and blowing up massive waves across Carrikey Bay. It was quite splendid and a lovely way to finish the walk.
Atogether this walk was about 4.5 miles with a total ascent and descent of just under 600ft. If you are using a car, you would need to get permission to park at the Shore Hotel or park beside the nearby bridge or further along Shore Road. If getting the bus, you need the 12A or 2A to Port Erin. Should you be unlucky enough to get on the wrong Port Erin bus, never fear, you can start and finish the walk at Colby instead 🙂