The first day of the year would not be complete without a brisk walk, and today was no exception. Well, it didn’t start out that way. Having had weeks of sleepless nights or very little sleep I was finally asleep at the time I had intended to rise to go and view the dawn. After a light breakfast I went back to bed and slept for another couple of hours, so this was really not a promising start to 2021.
Indeed, our government had reported some unwanted findings of coronavirus in the community at 2 minutes to midnight, heralding in more doom and gloom for the New Year. Given that they had had this information since Boxing day and not deemed it of enough importance even to mention in the briefing on 30th December, they could have waited instead of spoiling everyone’s New Year celebrations.
Anyway, I finally shook myself out of my lethargy and suggested to Janet that we have a walk up to Bradda Head. This would mean I couldn’t opt out if I suddenly found I couldn’t be bothered. We met up at Athol Glen, wearily looked at each other, and decided maybe Bradda Head was a step too far today :-). However, we did go most of the way, with suitable rests after moments of exertion on perfectly positioned benches and were rewarded with some lovely views and a crisp air to shake away the cobwebs.
In the end, we walked 3 miles or so, the sun shone, and we could see the remnants of snow on the Mountains of Mourne in Ireland. I do have some plans for longer walks in the hills over the next few days, so look out for those posts.
When I loaded up the information from my Garmin, I found I had been awarded the Strong Start Badge 🙂
This relatively short walk – just under 6 miles from home – begins in very easy fashion. There is no short cut to walking along the edge of Port Erin. On reaching the golf course and the outskirts of Ballafession I took a path that is less used, maybe as it goes through someone’s garden, round the back of this hamlet. This takes you to an ancient monument, persistently visible from the road, but one that doesn’t require a second look very often. Today, it was sporting an Isle of Man flag, quite why I don’t know, but perhaps representing our pride in achieving Covid-19 free status, at least temporarily if not permanently.
It was at this point that I met up with some old friends – cows. What is it that cows find so fascinating about me? I am turning into a ‘cow whisperer’ in that I speak and they obey, but only until I turn my back. It was like playing ‘What’s the Time, Mr Wolf”!
Anyway, I digress. I did not actually go atop the mound, called Cronk Howe Mooar, which looks to all intents and purposes as if it was built by a large dog doing a very big bone scrape. On first excavation in 1812 it was thought to be a natural vestige of the ice age as it contains layers of rocks in a similar sequence to those found in the north. In fact, it is now considered that it is 900 man-made remnant of an ancient fort. Although difficult to see, there is a 10 metre ditch surrounding the motte and bailey castle.
I left the cows and walked both beside and in the stream which leads to the Honna Road (not the best path I have ever seen), then walked up Mill Road to join the pleasant walk down to Fleshwick Bay. This was about 2.5 miles by this stage. Fleshwick Bay is so pretty and unspoilt. It lies in a steep sided valley between Bradda Hill and the Carnanes, so whichever way you go thereafter, it will be uphill, and steep uphill. Before that, I clambered over the rocks and found myself a quiet place to have my picnic and watch a dog swimming in the water as its owner threw pebbles for it to chase.
I was walking back to Port Erin and I had a choice of a walk contouring around the east side of Bradda Hill, or taking the climb and walking along the coast. You can guess which one I opted for.
I am used to this climb, but even so I tend to pause several times on the way up. It is steep, there is no doubt about it. You go from sea level to 200 metres in half a kilometre, with the bulk of it in one section. It is a good soil path and in some ways it is easier to go up than down it, especially if is has been raining.
What views you get from the top! Initially, you can see all the way to Niarbyl and Peel in the north- west then as you continue along the coast path the Calf and Port Erin in the south become visible and Castletown and Langness in the east.
I was walking along the fields before the climb up to Bradda Head where I met a young couple walking from Port Erin to Peel. At the time it didn’t particularly occur to me that it was quite late in the day to be only at this point. They would still have at least another 10 miles to go, including some steep uphills. They wanted to reach Niarbyl by 5pm when the cafe would close, and I thought that if they were good walkers and with a favourable wind they might just make it. As I continued my walk, I began to have doubts and I became quite worried about them. They didn’t seem particularly well equipped and they were already saying when I met them that they needed a drink. A sole walker caught up with me when I was on Bradda Hill and we both agreed that they wouldn’t make it to Niarbyl in time, especially as he informed me the cafe had closed at 3pm, not 5pm as they had believed. This lone walker had taken 3.5 hrs from Niarbyl to Bradda Hill and he was no slouch, he had been walking at a good pace and he seemed quite fit. I decided there and then that I would get home, which would take me about an hour, pick up the car and see if I could find them, and take them to their destination.
I enjoyed my brisk walk across Bradda Hill and Bradda Head, taking the route by Bradda Glen, then the quickest path along the promenade and back home. Going through my head was that if I didn’t find them, the chances of the bus running from Dalby was zilch and they would have no choice but to walk the full distance. The beautiful sunny weather was also just beginning to turn.
I dropped off my rucksack and picked up a couple of bottles of water and sped off in my car. The only sensible place I might see them would be on Cronk Ny Arrey Laa by this time. I did check as I went around the Sloc and there was no-one walking there. The only problem was that if they had gone the right way, then they wouldn’t come down to the bend in the road and I would miss them. But at least I would have tried. It was rather cool and breezy when I arrived there. It had been breezy all day but the weather was beginning to deteriorate. I looked up to the summit of Cronk Ny Arrey Laa and I could see a couple walking down towards the car. I couldn’t tell if they were my couple but I could ask whoever it was if they had seen them. And then they were down, and yes, it was them. Would you believe that, and I had only been waiting 5 minutes. They had missed the coast path that would take them to Eary Cushlin. The lady was really pleased to see me, she had had enough of hill climbs, but the man would have liked to continue. Realistically, he didn’t know where he was going or how long it would take them so it wouldn’t have been a good idea to continue. I didn’t give them much choice, and I bundled them in the car, gave them some water and took them to Peel where they were going to get a meal at the Creek.
When I got home, I temporarily had doubts as to whether I should have interfered, but then checked the timetable, and they would have missed the last bus, so they would have ended up tired, cold, miserable and very hungry had they had to walk the full distance. They reminded of a time when I was walking the South West Coast Path with one of my sons, and we came across a man who was completely dehydrated and had collapsed and passed out. His girlfriend had somehow managed to prop him up under a bench so that he wouldn’t roll down the hill (!) while she went to get help, but he was just left there on his own. We stayed with him until he came round, and even then he wouldn’t take our dehydration tablets. Strange what you remember isn’t it, but I think this was in the back of mind when I decided to help this couple.
We had a good chat in the car, and I have heard from them since and they would like to meet up for a walk in the south sometime, and the young lady would like me to teach her Psychology!! 🙂
Distance: 5.89 miles; Total Ascent 1220 ft; Total Descent 1093 ft
I count by blessings almost every day. To think I can open the door and walk in any direction for an hour and a half and have wonderful views in all directions. It lifts the soul and makes the heart want to sing.
This was all I did this evening. A short four and a half mile walk starting from the back of the house, walking through Port Erin, around the southern side of the Rowany Golf course and up towards West Bradda. Having gained about 300ft by this point, every step means another lovely view. When you get to the grassy moorlands on the headland, the land is even and it is all easy walking. I could have walked around the coastpath down to Fleshwick but this was not the plan for this evening.
There was not a soul in sight, except for those two silhouetted on the mound and they soon departed, so I had the hills all to myself. It was a slightly hazy evening and surprisingly warm and sultry. I wonder if we might get a storm tomorrow, we could certainly do with one. I haven’t seen Bradda Head look this dry for a long time, and it is easy to imagine that fires might incend at any time.
I walked just far enough to get a glimpse towards Niarbyl, and then I retraced my steps to go up to Milner Tower itself. The light was not good for taking photos but that didn’t stop me. I particularly like the one in the slideshow with the spot of sunlight shining on the sea with dark clouds overhead.
As I followed the lower route back to Port Erin the sun came out and lit up the sea. There was very little wind and this allowed shapes to be reflected in the water, as in the feature photo.
This is a route I have described so many times before, so tonight I will leave you with tonight’s photos. You can see why the Isle of Man has been rated the best place to live in a recent HSBC Expat Survey, in which 3/4 of those interviewed saying that their quality of life has improved since moving here – and they didn’t ask me!!!
If ever there was a short walk, this is it! My customary stroll down to the village and then on to the beach. I have been asked for some ‘beach photos’ so after my shop I wandered down to see what was in store on the beach today. First though, a snapshot of life in lockdown. It was just after 1.30pm on a debatably warm, but definitely sunny Tuesday afternoon. Normally, Port Erin would be bustling with people and cars would be parked on every available square inch of kerbside. Not today. This is what lockdown looks like when it works properly, just the standard 2 metre depth queue for the Coop, a lone walker, and next to no cars. By the time I got there, the queue had developed to a massive three people and meant a wait of about 10 minutes to do my tiddly shop for eggs and milk.
After that, I continued my solitary walk to the cliff top, where a man was enjoying a bit of relaxation on the bench at the top, where the featured photo was taken. I took the stepped path down to the bottom lane in the centre of the village, where I joined the beach passing by a young child, no more than 2 or 3 on the final section. As I walked passed her, her mum apologised for her young child not understanding social distancing.
You can tell it has been a little windy as the sand had carved out mini layers of sand and rocks. There were surprisingly few people on the beach given that the schools are not back yet and most people are working from home. I had it largely to myself. It was bright and clear today and very pleasant. There was even one brave soul swimming in the water. No danger of contracting Covid-19 there at least!
I walked along the edge of the sea and joined the path at St Catherine’s Well, and followed the lane back to the street corner and more importantly to the ice-cream parlour. I hadn’t planned a treat for myself but it seems rude not to take advantage of an open shop selling such niceties, especially when you aren’t expecting it to be open. In I went and had a pleasant conversation with the owner and we discussed the plight of Davisons in Peel, who had found unwanted fame on social network by someone posting a photo of a long queue and no-one social distancing. It turns out that Davisons had been targeted and the owner had had his tyres slashed – for opening the ice cream parlour!? – and the photo had been taken from such an angle to minimise the distance between people in the queue! It seems some people will find something wrong with anything. I will issue a word of caution as this is simply what I was told and I have no other evidence for or against this point of view.
I enjoyed my raspberry ripple ice-cream as I walked back through Athol Glen which is looking very attractive. A bit of rain wouldn’t go amiss to freshen everything up, but it was doing a pretty good job without it, and the birds were singing in the trees and telling us that life will go on and nothing really changes, so stop worrying and enjoy life.
I finish with a few photos from Athol Glen. I hope to travel up north (if we are allowed to travel, I’m not quite sure). We are now allowed to make unnecessary journeys but I think this is meant to apply to close to home, but I really could do with some air in my lungs. I would really like to walk along the miles of beach around Kirk Michael and tomorrow it is due to be warm and sunny, with less wind than today. I am enjoying it already…..
The distance is immaterial, as you will not be walking from my house. But if you were to park in Port Erin, the whole distance would be no more than 1 mile, with ascent and descent up and down the cliff of 100 feet, And you can follow a gentle road up and down if you don’t like steps. Just lovely to have all this on my doorstep. Aren’t I the lucky one!
With Storm Ciara threatening to curtail activities in the next few days and a free day, I decided to catch up on my old favourite and walk from home around the coast, taking in the Sound.
I started from the beach at Port Erin. It was not a particularly nice day, overcast and rather gloomy and a little chilly, but it is always good to get outside and dust off the old cobwebs.
I walked up Ballfurt Lane to St Mary’s Lane and turned left to walk along the top road to Port St Mary. At this point I decided to call in home (!) and pick up a woolly hat, and as the day progressed I was so glad I did. The sun wanted to come out but it wasn’t trying very hard and it became very blowy, giving me a taster of what was the follow at the weekend.
When I reached Port St Mary I followed the Underway which is always spectacular when the tide is in as it was today. The seabirds were having a field day as the wind must have whipped up fish close to the shore and they were competing for the best catch.
At the harbour where one is no longer protected from the southeasterly wind the seas were swelling, fast and furious. I had walked about 2.5 miles at this point and had planned to call in at the Golf Course cafe for a coffee, but this was closed for refurbishment so I carried out on the path.
Going round Perwick Bay I bumped into a friend who was monitoring the birds for a survey, today mostly shelducks and oystercatchers on that bit of the coast. I followed the route down the road to Glen Chass which ultimately leads to the Raad Ny Fooillan and grassy footpaths, which one has to share with sheep. There is an alternative route that takes you up higher and on to the Chasms, but I always like the low route as it gives wonderful views of the rocks around the Sugar Loaf and the opportunity for a tiny bit of scrambling.
By this time, the wind had really got going and I didn’t want to venture too close to edge once I was past the Chasms on Spanish Head. It reminded me of a time several years when I was following this route and the wind was so powerful I had to give up at this point and head to Cregneash as I could barely stand upright. It wasn’t like that today.
The day might be dull but the mountain gorse brightened up the walk significantly. It truly was this yellow and it was delightful.
Ascending the slopes to Black Head I followed the deviating route that hugs the coast. This gives on the first look at the Calf of Man, the small island detached from the Sound. Chicken Rock lighthouse looked cold and forbidding today. I am including a photo to give you a flavour but it’s not one of my best as it is out of focus though it does create a chilling mystical feel. Even the Drinking Dragon’s head is right down.
7 miles and it was lunchtime when I reached the Sound Cafe. It was reasonably busy. It is always a welcome sight on rough days, knowing that however cold or wet you might be, a warm coffee and hot food awaits (as well as toilets). For those not wanting to continue on, it is possible to catch a bus back to Port Erin, but they are not especially frequent.
For those of you who are new to my blog and I have quite a few new followers recently, thank you, I have a chronic condition which leaves me depleted of energy, and breathing and moving my legs can be a little tricky right now. The sensible part of me considered stopping here, but the outdoor and nature lover in me won the day and I carried on, it has to be said with some considerable difficulty along the cliffs to Port Erin. The weather perked up at this point, and although still windy the sun managed to creep through the clouds occasionally and I was well rewarded for my efforts.
Notice the Kamikaze sheep on the photo above. You feel if the first one jumps the rest would follow… like sheep! Quite why or how they had got themselves in that position I will never know. It wouldn’t be the most sheltered position.
Once back at Port Erin I went to the Health Food shop and had a pot of camomile tea before walking home. I was back at 2.15pm having had fish and chips at the Sound as well! The full distance was 10 miles, but that includes lots of ins and outs that you don’t need to do, such as calling in at my house. 8-9 miles is more common for this route. You can also get the bus or train to Port St Mary, which avoids almost all the walking through villages and allows you to concentrate on the footpaths. And you can escape off the cliffs at the Chasms and go to the lovely hamlet of Cregneash where you can get a bus back, or follow a shorter walk over Meayll Hill/The Howe to Port Erin. So, there are lots of options if you want shorter walks.
Distance: 10 miles
Ascent: 1732 ft
Descent: 1572 ft
Maximum elevation 1,028ft.
Saturday’s ‘walk’ (yesterday) was a wander over the Snaefell Hills taking measurements of the peat. I am just awaiting some photos then I will tell you about that. Meanwhile, keep safe and warm and well away from Storm Ciara.
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.
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?
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.
And the start of the route down, which drops off steeply at this point:
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.
I make no apologies for describing today’s walk as a nature ramble. That was what I set out to do. I haven’t visited my haven so far this year and the orange tips won’t be around much longer. I always draw such warmth from my hidden nature reserve – hidden to all but locals walking their dogs, walkers and children escaping from their parents. It is not shown on a map and as far as I know, it doesn’t have a name – and long may it stay that way and let nature run wild.
I took the bus to Colby, then took the path beside the Colby river. There is so much to see in this first third of a mile. They were butterflies flitting, but above all numerous wild flowers abutting the water course, oblivious to the fact that there are houses on the other side of the river.
Above: The start of the walk from Colby.
Below: Nature in all its glory in the first mile of the walk
Crossing the railway line, I interrupted the sheep’s pleasure and seemed to cause some dismay as a few of them started coughing violently. This is pasture land where sheep share the territory with birds rather than wild flowers. I soon cross back over the river and enter into my little paradise. It isn’t much to look at, but if you listen you can hear the birds chirping to each other trees, and if you stop and stare, you can watch the butterflies chattering with their companion as they move incessantly on the path. The plants in flower offer their shade and their nectar to the local inhabitants and everything is in harmony.
Passing out of the nature reserve I make my way along the road to the Shore Inn. I debated with myself whether to stop and have a cider but decided against it, and instead I sat on the beach, drank my water and ate an odd selection of banana, raw carrot, cucumber and a very small chocolate bar. The birds surrounding me were mainly herring gulls and blackbacked gulls, with a few oystercatchers at the sea edge and a solitary shag perched on a rock. The tide is way out, further than I have ever seen it. It is almost that time of year when the intrepid venture out into Douglas Bay and slip and slide their way to the Tower of Refuge.
I walked around the coast to Port St Mary, along the Underway and out towards the outer harbour before turning westwards towards Fistard. Here I had a choice of direction and not having walked along Glenn Chass stream since I moved here five years ago, I took this route uphill. It didn’t disappoint. The bluebells are still out and are vibrant dark blue. There are still smattering of wild garlic too. As that conjures smells, I am reminded that as I went round Gansey Point. the meadowsweet was in full bloom and the scent was quite overpowering.
Above: The meadowsweet at Gansey Point; the extended beach at Chapel Bay; different types of footprints; stranded boats at Port St. Mary.
From Glen Chass I followed one of the higher paths across meadows back towards Port Erin. I am particularly pleased with the photograph I took of the Milner Tower on Bradda Head standing on top of a stile just before I descended down the Golden Road, which right now is blue from head to toe.
The final stretch: photos of the gorgeous Glenn Chass,
and home…. altogether, I saw at least 5 of our 19 species of butterfly: red admiral, wall brown, green-veined white, orange tip and speckled wood.
A most enjoyable three hours. My next walk is planned for Sunday or Monday, when I hope to walk from Douglas to Castletown.