This is a delightful walk of contrasts. It begins with a 2 mile walk along the wooded river valley. For a small river, it makes a lot of noise, with tiny cascades and small waterfalls along its route, culminating in the dramatic, if relatively small waterfall deep in its heart.
The path has recently been upgraded. It is wide, open and mostly flat, but this does not detract from its beauty. To the right, the scenery is wild and majestic as it has ever been. At this time of year, there are many different shades of green, and a mix of leafy and bare trees. You will find a good deal of fungus if you go looking for it too.
On reaching the end of the Glen, you can either retrace your steps or continue on, which necessitates a short climb to take you almost to the top of the tree line. This is still an easy walk, with well-made steps and boardwalks over boggy bits. You then return to Glen Helen on the opposite side of the river, which is just as beautiful. Looking at a map there is an ancient keeill in the fields immediately above the footpath, but sadly, no way to reach it.
On nearing the end (or start) of the Glen, I maintained the high path when the path starts to drop down into the valley, but if you prefer you can take the lower path back to the glen entrance. The higher path takes you into the plantation. The easiest way to describe the next part is to say to ‘keep left’ and ‘keep climbing’, as the paths are indistinct and there are many variations, so you can basically pick your own way. It is a moderately steep climb and takes about 30 mins from where we enter the plantation. My aim was to reach the top where it meets the moorland. Once you reach the wall, you can follow the track without deviation and you suddenly find yourself leaving heavily wooded plantation behind you with extensive moorland (and views) in front of you. It may be a little boggy here in places, but nothing extreme.
Walking along the edge of the plantation you will spot some tracks leading over Beary Mountain. You often see bikers of all descriptions and today was no exception, although they took a different route from me and didn’t bother me. There is a clear junction, where you can turn left to head through moorland to Lhargee Ruy, continue straight on, which takes you down to Greeba Bridge or turn right along a stoney track to our high point for the day of just over 300 metres (about 1000ft) called Beary Park or Eairy Beg, depending on which map you are reading. This commands fine views in all directions, though it is more enclosed than other high points on the island.
To return to Glen Helen, continue on the same path in a westerly direction. Where there is a track and gate leading to the pylon, there is a direct path going into the plantation. There is another path, continuing alongside the plantation which is the one mentioned in the Warden’s Walk No 5, but today this was quite overgrown so I took the path going into the plantation.
Whichever way you go, the descent is steep in places on grassy, peaty tracks that in places are worn down by cycles and motorcycles. It is perfectly passable but you should take care as there are a number of tree roots that can be slippery. Walking poles and very definitely walking boots are recommended for this section. The path through the plantation is not always clear with several paths criss-crossing each other; if in doubt, keep moving downhill and slightly to the right. Eventually, all paths will meet up. The path I took lead me to Eary Veg tholtan. This was in use as recently at 1946. At the turn of the 20th Century farmer Billy Quirk lived here, with his 10 children. It is worth a nose around to remind yourself of the local history and how the landscape changes. The farm house was sold to the forestry commision in the late 40’s, early 50’s and the plantation of Sitka Spruce was created in 1959.
From here, it is just a short walk back to the car park. Depending on which route you take downhill, the whole route is a very enjoyable walk of around 4.5 miles with 1000ft of ascent.
You may want to watch another Ray Kelly’s youtube videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1c-iaAK68aA