Cregneash and the Coast – March 7, 2021

At last! I had been waiting for a sunny day in order to take some supplementary photos for a watercolour I am planning to paint. For those who don’t know, the Isle of Man went back into lockdown again almost a week ago, following some unaccounted-for cases of Covid-19. Since then, we have an unusual amount of children and families with the virus and one of my cancer clients has family members affected by the recent outbreak, making it very real. Our 3 week lockdown looks like extending over Easter, but we are a robust island and we cope well with adversity, by and large.

It does make it hard to justify going out, even if we are allowed to go out for exercise for as long as we like. I took the car up to the Cregneash quarry and walked down into the village, where I wanted a particular shot of some of the cottages. There were several cars parked in the quarry so I knew to expect to see people on my walk. I secured my mask around my neck just in case and off I went. As I went through Cregneash I saw a few units of people, singles, family groups and couples all keeping strategically away from each other, or waiting for each other to pass on narrow sections. As I went up the hill towards the coast, the horses didn’t recognise social distancing and galloped from one fence to another to say hello to all and sundry.

At the top of the lane, again there were several cars parked, some of whom no doubt belonged to residents of the cottages, but again it indicated there would be people about, and indeed there were. However, this was my next photo point. One of my painting projects is a view from here looking down toward the Chasms cafe, and I needed to know the lie of the footpath in order to extend my painting. I also needed to know where the sea and sky meet behind it, if you know what I mean. My house faces south, and if I could make a direct path through the hills from my house to the sea this would be the view I would have, so I thought it would be nice to have a bright painting of this scene at midday on my stairwell. It would make me feel alive every time I walk down the stairs. Whether I can accomplish this is an entirely different matter. I only started painting at all in lockdown 1, but four watercolours on and I am doing ok, and they are all hanging on my walls in my house right now 🙂

It wasn’t a bright day and there was a very slight haze, but the sunlight was beautiful on the old Chasms cafe and as I walked along the coast line, I noticed things I don’t normally notice, such as the lichen growing on the rocks and the wave effect on some of the bigger slabs that I would walk over time after time. The light played beautifully on the sea too and I was so glad to be out in this sensational secenery. I paused for a while and watched the sea and listened to the many birds chattering on the Sugar Loaf. Can you spot the sheep grazing on Black Head? No, not the photo with the sheep posing in the middle but the photo next to it of the steep cliff. You may need to enlarge it. How they manage to make their way down there is remarkable.

I only walked as far as Spanish Head, via Black Head, where the Calf of Man looked more like one of the Canary Isles in the haze. From here I turned back returning to Cregneash through the farmers’ fields by a very muddy farm track but not before I snapped what I thought was a Chough, but looking at the wing span I now doubt my judgement.

This was only a short walk, only about 3.5 miles and only just about 500 ft of ascent. You could spend a whole afternoon wandering around these hills and never be bored.

Update: 11th April 2021. This is the painting I have done of this area, a watercolour on board. The wrong kind of material for watercolour. I was advised to score the board before applying the paint, which unfortunately didn’t work and has made the sky almost impossible to paint or cover the scouring marks. For the moorland I used a dabbing technique applying light colours first. This is only my fourth painting, having started during lockdown. The logo is a digital watermark so is not actually on the painting.

Cregneash and The Sound – 1st June 2020

The first day of summer was a gloriously sunny day, continuing the theme of many weeks now. We have barely had a drop of rain since lockdown. This week would have been TT. It is such a shame we cannot share our island with visitors, but as we have just one active case now our borders are closed and will remain so for the foreseeable future to keep it that way. All the more for the locals to enjoy.

We have much more flexibility in what we can and cannot do now – far more so than the UK that is lagging a long way behind us. More people are venturing out as all our shops are open. We can go to restaurants that can serve outdoors and even go and get our hair cut. In a couple of weeks time, it is suggested that our social distance measures will be relaxed a little too, but even now, from tomorrow we can take a passenger from another household in our cars for a ride. So life here is good and we have a lot to be thankful for.

Today, after I had finished my load of predicted grades and spoken to students it was time for a late afternoon walk. If I timed it just right I would make it before the Sound Cafe closed at 4pm. Walking from the house, I walked from the house along Truggan Lane to Glendown Farm and took the lane up to the Howe. I followed the road all the way to Cregneash. This wasn’t a day for walking boots. I was just in my sandals and was content to follow tarmac-ed ways. There were only a few walkers that I passed on the way to Cregneash, and after that, there were no walkers at all and just a few cars passed me.

Cregneash
Views of the Calf

On reaching the Sound I was surprised how few visitors there were. I didn’t have to queue for my take-away cup of tea and cake. They have made a waiting area and they call you when your order is ready. All very efficient, except the toilets close at 3.30pm, but who needs toilets when you are surrounded by fields.

The Sound and The Calf

I spent a very pleasant half hour or so watching the waves, listening to the seals humming to each other and the birds having an argument, then I walked back up the road to Cregneash, around Mull Hill and back to Port Erin.

Sheep May Safely Graze

The views were tremendous today and the highlight was being able to clearly to see the Mountains of Mourne in Ireland. A visit there is on my wish list, which may come sooner than I expect as our borders with Ireland are more likely to open earlier than those with the UK, maybe with some kind of air-bridge as is suggested for countries with low numbers of coronavirus.

The Mountains of Mourne in Ireland

The wild flowers normally very prolific at this time of year looked a little sad and were not plentiful, perhaps due to the paucity of rain, so there was a lack of colour on this walk. I saw a couple of butterflies but very little wildlife other than sheep, cattle and rabbits. The views never disappoint though and I did get a nice view of Milner Tower. It always surprises me how far to the west it is coming down the hill!

Milner Tower
Port Erin

This was a very pleasant stroll and reminded me that I really must get out more! A trip to the north is in order.

Total distance 5.4 miles; 849ft of ascent; 846ft of descent. Interesting that the distance for each section was identical despite being different routes and almost the same amount of ascent and descent on each section too.

Cregneash, Chasms, Sound, Port Erin – 12th September 2019

This was my first ‘step out’ for some time, at least a couple of weeks, as I have been ascertaining the effect of hill walking on my metabolism. Having decided it was having no direct ill effect on my health, I am happy to report you will find me wandering out and about the local hills as usual, and further afield over the next six months.

This afternoon I stretched my legs and walked from home, up the Golden Road, which is not at all golden at the moment, but does have heaps of blackberries and Speckled Wood butterflies. I am pretty sure I also saw a Comma or a Fritillary, but you know butterflies they are gone before you have a chance to see them!

I started out in reasonable weather, but it wasn’t long before the rains came, but I was suitably attired and enjoyed my walk up Meayll Hill. The heather has mostly turned now but the gorge looked very sunny in the rain. On the top Meayll Hill I passed by the stone circle in the featured image at the top and veered slightly out of my way and found an old ‘bunker’ from the days of the WW11 radar station. Not sure what would have been contained here. Maybe it goes underground… there’s the start of a thriller.

Cregneash

Over to Cregneash, up and over the top and down to the glorious Chasms – and the sun came out. The sheep made their own stone circle shape and stood out very effectively against the scenery. This next section has always been one of my favourite parts of our wonderful island, round Black Head and Spanish Head. One of the Loaghtan sheep was poised like King Orry observing pirates out at sea simultaneously guarding his flock.

A little further on and I was down at the Sound in the early evening sunlight. There were few people here now but I stopped at the cafe to replenish my stocks then continued on past Rocky Valley over the hills to Port Erin. The low sunlight was casting wonderful shadows and shapes that gave distinctive images of the rocks with the play of light and dark, but goodness was it windy!!

More sheep – usually, as you know, with me it cows – but sheep it was today. The brown Loaghtan sheep looked wild and scruffy whereas the cream coloured sheep looked as if they had just been in the washer in time for their photo shoot.

Sheep and the Tower

I can never resist taking a photo of one of my favourite gates on the Isle of Man. As I walked around the bay I observed the light was reflecting on the sand and on the beach the lugworms had taken over from the children building sandcastles.

If you are a new visitor to the Isle of Man, this is a walk not to miss. You can start from Port St Mary and follow the coast, getting the steam train or bus back to Port Erin, or if you just want to best bits, take a car to the quarry car park at Cregneash and follow my walk to Port Erin. In summer there is a bus that will take you back to Cregneash.

Total distance 7.5 miles (home to home); 1339 ft of ascent, similar descent, probably a little more. Moderate walking. Highest point to Sound 501ft (no details of height of highest hill from Sound to PE).

Maps:

Other points of interest from the wildlife: Do let me know if you can identify the caterpillar.

 

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