Sloc, Scard, Earystane Plantation and Cronk Ny Array Laa, 24th January 2022

It was so very quiet, not a breath, not a squeak coming from any direction as I set up from the Sloc car park along the road to take the path to Scard. It was a cool day with a heavy mist lurking in the air. It was one of those days when you don’t think of going for a walk but this was my only free day this week and I had been wanting to do this walk for a while.

Even on a dull day like today the views were still extensive, just not very clear, but it doesn’t matter. It almost gives you a different kind of sense of adventure, especially if it is a walk you haven’t done before. This one is a very accessible walk, mostly on tracks, a few fields, moorland and plantation tracks and although there is some uphill to do, taking this particular route you don’t notice the cumulative climb of 900 ft.

The walk begins with a downhill section to the point where a small stream goes under the path below one of the farms at Scard. I watched for a while as a tractor ushered the sheep into a field in the distance before continuing along the path in front of Bea & Blossom Farm (which has tourist accommodation). Just before this building the path turns to the right to the edge of the reservoir which is not accessible (or visible) to the public. The views from here are quite beautiful, with the Carnanes to the west and Meayll Hill sticking out in the south west. It is soft countryside and well farmed and makes you aware that the Isle of Man is largely a farming community, something that is easy to forget on the daily grind to Douglas. You will cross or follow numerous little streams running off the hillsides that will all end up eventually in the Colby River.

The path follows a stream to the left and terminates beside a cottage which is currently being renovated. If you continue straight on beyond the gate you will do a circular route to Lower Scard back to the Sloc but not be able to rejoin this route. This is a rope barrier at this cottage, which made me wonder if this was a right of way, but it turns into a road where there is a clear sign showing that the public footpath goes right in front of this cottage.

Continue on the private road past some other houses. At a sharp bend to the right, the path goes to the left, which does not look inviting as it contains many gates that are linked together. Just go through them and lock them up after yourself. It is the right path and at the top you will see the path then goes through the top of field behind a large house and across a very large open field. Don’t head for the open gate but instead look for the stile just in front of the house (see photo). This path through this property has been changed slightly but still meets the track leading to the Colby Glen road.

We follow the Colby Glen road northwards for a short distance before turning left at the junction and taking the track uphill that leads to Earystane plantation. This is the steepest section of the walk but it is not difficult and it levels out as you go through the forest, which is an exciting place to walk through with its knarled and knotted trees covered in moss, and little dells and dingles that you can explore in nice weather. It is quite a special place. It opens out towards the top as we come on to the moorland. Today, there were no views at this point as it was too foggy, but instead of looking up look down and search for the sphagnum moss lying among the peat, soaking up all the water.

Crossing over the road on a normal day you might head up Cronk Ny Array Laa, but today I couldn’t even see it. Instead I took the cyclists’ path that contours around the hill. It’s a lovely walk and as I got lower I could see everywhere I had walked earlier, including the triangular but previously-not-visible reservoir beside the farm. The cliffs of the Carnanes at the Sloc stood out with pride as I turned the corner.

This is a 6 mile walk that shouldn’t be hurried. Some of the paths are a little uneven, narrow, rutted or muddy and there are a fair few stiles to climb over, none too high. The total ascent is 899ft, with the highest point being 1220ft.

You could start this walk from the lane at the top of Cronk Ny Array Laa but personally I like the Sloc car park better as it means the uphill is about half way through the walk and you finish with a 30 minutes downhill section with views across the whole of the south of the island .

Please note that if you are inspired to do this walk and you are coming from the north, the road from St Johns’ to South Barrule is currently closed and you will need to reach the Sloc either from the Peel coast road, or via Ronague.