Earystane nr Colby 26th October

I have been living on the island for 7 years yet this is the first time I have visited Earystane Nature Reserve, a hectare of land owned by Manx Wildlife Trust that can’t be more than three miles away from my house as the crow flies. I had worked out a short circular walk of about 4 miles, just perfect for an afternoon walk now that the clocks have gone back and the nights draw in early. Our walk started at the top of Colby. Take the Colby Glen road uphill for just over a mile until you run out of houses and where Earystane is signposted. We parked on the corner beside the nature reserve, but it is preferable to park in one of the lay-bys just before or after the entrance.

In the back of my head I thought this small site had only recently been converted into a nature reserve, but this is untrue. It was formerly the local tip and it was offered to the MWT in 1996 to transform it into a reserve and a local amenity. It has a most attractive natural tree arch over a good wide path suitable for wheelchairs that leads to a hide. At this time of year there weren’t many birds about, though we did see a small flock of goldfinches. The view across to the Carnanes is beautiful from the hide at any time of year. From here, there is a boardwalk which might be difficult for wheelchair users but would be possible with care. This takes you to a low wild wetland area of willow, shrubs and trees that would be called curragh in the north but is called moenay in the south (peat).

Tree Archway along the path
View from the hide

There is only one entrance or exit. From here our walk started. We followed the northwest track that leads to some old farms. We walked around the back of the farm called Ballamoar, where there is something that looks like a set of fence hurdles to negotiate. The path is clearly marked so do persevere. Where the path turns eastwards there was a huge field of turnips with no obvious pathway left for walkers. It was easy to traipse over the turnips but the farmer should have left a track through the field to avoid walkers damaging his/her crops. Reaching the other side, we met a few stiles and grassland taking us around the southern end of another most attractive dwelling to the A27.

The path is just passable between the gate fence and the wall!
The turnip field
The paths goes through this lovely garden, with ducks

We followed this road left for a short distance before turning right and right again down what I assume is the old road or farm track leading to Ballabeg. This was a little muddy in places but is a pleasant unspoilt grassy walk on a narrow lane, preferable to walking along the main thoroughfare.

As we met Ballagawne Road, we turned right and shortly afterwards left into fields. I had remembered this particular footpath to be extremely muddy but the last time I walked this path was 20 years ago, so I wasn’t put off. Things change …. or not. I was so busy finding the most sensible path through the heavy mud I forgot to take a photo to show you, so the one I show below is one of the more friendly patches of mud. There are very ancient boardwalks in parts, but I wouldn’t trust them to withstand the weight of too many people – they were very rocky in places with just two of us walking on them.

Despite the mud it had some nice sections, providing extensive views of the south. Wellies would have been better than walking boots but this is only a relatively short distance, and very soon you find yourself back on the edge of Colby where it was just a short walk back to the car. You can extend this walk by taking a diversionary path south over fields into the lower part of Colby then walking up the beautiful Colby Glen back to the car. If you have never visited Colby Glen then it would be a perfect extension to your walk. If you want to go this route, take the path over the fields beside the derelict house.

Ignore the elevation on the photo. I can’t imagine there was ascent of 423 ft as it is a mainly level walk. The distance is correct, however, and excludes the walk around the nature reserve.

Carnanes 24th August 2020

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday, we had wall to wall sunshine, today the rain is pelting down and the wind attempting to uplift anything not securely attached.

I had arranged to meet my friend at the ‘lower’ car park for a walk around the Carnanes. Only deciding which was the lower car park proved interesting on the day, and I had to drive back to the car park with the benches and the amazing aspect over the southern coastline.

This was perhaps the slowest walk I have ever done, but also one of the most enjoyable as we pottered around the hills, stopping to enjoy the sights at various points and having a natter over a sandwich or two. It is such a joy to have time, when the hours don’t matter, and as long as you are home before dark no-one will notice how long you have been out.

We set off from what I call the top car park, but is in fact the lower car park and took the farmer’s track onto the heathland of the Carnanes. The sun was strong and bright so we decided to walk south to north to avoid squinting all the way along the tops. 

 

We contoured around the southern end of the Carnanes peaks, which afforded us terrific views of the Calf of Man, Bradda Head, the sea and skyline, and we took the first of our many stops at this point so that we could take it all in.

The heather and gorse were out displaying a wonderful variety of pinks, purples and yellows, but not quite as dramatic and colourful as other years. The bees and butterflies were out in abundance, buzzing and flittering around the heather. This section of the walk is one of my favourite places on the whole island. There are a few rises and dips in the terrain and a handy cairn stopping point for lunch, before a steady walk along the top to the highest point with a dramatic cairn and the wonderful title of Lhiatteeny Beinnee (301 metres), which translates as ‘side of the summits’. This seems slightly odd as this is the highest point and the slope that follows down to the Sloc is called Gob ny Beinn, which translates as ‘point of the summits’. But what a view of Naribyl and Peel.

It was on Gob Ny Beinn that we felt the wrath of nature as the midges attacked us with full force, and both of us were bitten on any part of our neck and face that was left uncovered. I have big wheals in several places on my neck today. I remembered, too late, that I have had this problem here before, though why they like that area of the path I don’t know.

On reaching the Sloc(200 metres), our lowest point of the day, we turned north along the ruptured green road, favoured by cyclists of all descriptions, a group of whom passed us on their afternoon ride. This path contours around the east side of the hills, gradually increasing in height, and gives fine views across the meadows and countryside around Colby and Ballabeg. From here you have a panoramic view of the south east of the island as you pan down from the Chibbanagh Plantation at the Braid, close to Douglas and peruse the eastern coastline past the airport, down to Castletown and Ballabeg and the fine expanse of Carrickey Bay.

View to the south from the green road

As we reached the Carnanes, two smaller peaks with Cairns, not necessarily marked on the OS map, we went to the top, this being our last high point of the day. This is an interesting geological feature with intrusions of quartz. Interestingly, less is know about the geological structure of this section of our island.

We stopped to admire the differing displays of heather, gorse and ling at the various points on the hills. Ling seems to be very prevalent in certain areas. Until today, I had not realised that Ling is a separate subtype of heather, being called Calluna Vulgaris, whereas the true Heathers are a type of Erica. We have two types of heather, the Common Bell Heather with its bright purple flowers and the Cross-Leaved Heather, which is more usually found in boggy areas, such as Eary Cushlin or South Barrule. Manx gorse is a low growing gorse, often found interspersed with the different heathers and ling.

So, here our afternoon stroll and a very pleasant afternoon ends back at the same car park. Tomorrow I go to Guernsey on our airbridge. This is a place I have never visited and I am very excited to be taking my first holiday there. I shall go armed with my camera and sketchbook and hope that we dispense of today’s foul weather and it holds up for the few days I am there so that I can make the most of it.

Distance 4.13 miles; Total Ascent about 1000ft; relatively easy walking.

 

Colby to Port Erin 7th July: 3.7 miles

Not exactly a hike, more like a brisk walk home from Colby following my excellent afternoon Pilates class with Sara (@saraszestforlife). I had caught the bus to Colby, paid a visit to the house I look after for my friend in England, popped into the local shop and bought some italian flour for making italian pizza before going to class.

It wasn’t the best weather for a walk home but I was reasonably well kitted out, though waterproof walking shoes would have been better than my trainers, so I discovered walking through wet and muddy undergrowth through the meadows. By the time I had finished, my socks were wet through.

I followed the railway line from Colby football club to join the path I frequent often, which goes beside the Colby river, through meadows and an informal wilderness. I didn’t take any photos of this part of the walk as I have described this section many times before. Instead of going past Kentraugh Mill, this time I turned left on reaching the road which would take me to the main coast road. I always enjoy the first glimpses of the sea which you get as you approach.

I followed the coast road around Carrikey Bay and Gansey Point, around the bend and up the road to the Coop in Port St Mary to get a pint of milk before continuing along the back road home. Port St Mary was quite broody this afternoon.

It was a wet walk, but who cares. I certainly don’t. I only mind when the rain lashes down for hours or the wind lifts me off my feet, but most of the time I can enjoy whatever the weather throws at me. The total walking time was actually only a bit over an hour 1 hr, 5 min, 44 secs to be precise so a good antedote to the stretching and strength work of pilates. Incidentally, the times on all of my Garmin maps are the total times spent on the activity which may include stopping / taking photos and in the case of yesterday’s walk, having a coffee in Costa!

There are two maps today because I noticed at one point my watch was giving me measurements of aerobic activity – quite why, I don’t know, but as you can see it did record the walk as well.

Nature Walk including Colby and Glen Chass – 5.65 miles, 432 ft of ascent

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

 

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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.

DSC00327

A most enjoyable three hours. My next walk is planned for Sunday or Monday, when I hope to walk from Douglas to Castletown.