Heritage Trail & The Raggatt

Welcome first and foremost to all those of you on Facebook and Twitter who have recently stumbled across my blog and taken the trouble to read and follow it. I have been staggered by the number of new followers I have on those media in recent weeks, and thank you. I have been quiet this month due to our Covid-19 circuit-breaker and not getting out much. However, now that we are free of restrictions again I did get out for a short walk on Sunday afternoon before Evensong at Peel Cathedral.

I parked at the Raggatt and walked for a short distance along the main road back to Patrick, trying to work out where the railway track may have lain that took the internees to Knockaloe all those years ago. There is evidence of the track within the Raggatt itself but I failed to work out its route after that on this occasion.

Walking is so good for the soul and developing observational skills. As I reached the entrance to Knockaloe (for those reading this who are not local – there is now a museum opposite this entrance detailing its history and displaying artefects from the time. One item was recently shown on Antiques Roadshow!), I noticed the stone mount (see above) which presumably was used for climbing into your carriage? I have never noticed this before. The hills behind are some of the oldest on our island.

I turned left onto a beautiful tree-lined lane that takes you to St John’s the back way. There is a narrow pavement all the way. It is a fairly quiet road and enjoyable to walk along. Just past the church is an area entitled “Patrick Orchard Community Allotments” or similar. I couldn’t see any allotments just trees, so this is something of a mystery. On my short journey along this road I counted nine streams coming off the hillside under the road into the River Neb, all with fairly fast flowing water. It has rained cats and dogs these last few days (and loughtan sheep), causing floods last Thursday in Strang that at least one mad fool was caught driving through (!), so this was not surprising.

I passed Close Leece Farm Shop and Cafe that was doing a roaring trade, and walked a little further before crossing left over the bridge into the fields that would lead to the Heritage Trail. When I have been on this newly created path before I haven’t enjoyed walking along it. It is certainly harder underfoot than it was previously and having had all the vegetation stripped on either side of it, it is certainly less interesting as a path and …. yes, there is a ‘but’ coming. As I walked a couple of miles along it I began to appreciate it more. No longer do you have to wade through muddy sections as where the water table is high the path has been raised. It is still possible to enjoy the wildness of the area in parts and the Raggatt itself is as beautiful as ever. And of course, it is accessible to more people. There is even a picnic area with benches, tables and a cycle stand for weary cyclists and walkers.

There are various places along the river where there are small weirs and fishing places. I stopped beside one of these and had my lunch (the stepping stones in the feature photo), and when the temperature dropped and the odd snowflake started to appear out of the sky I walked as far along the other side of the river as one can go, which is another half mile, so not very far. This is a dirt path mainly for fishermen I think. It is a shame that one cannot continue beside the river and cross back. I am sure many people would enjoy a shorter circular route.

As it was, without the minor extension of 1 mile, the circuit is 4.5 miles of easy, mostly level walking. You could take a wheelchair/pram or pushchair, though the field section of no more than half a mile would be slightly tricky. And of course, you can take a break at the Cafe or have a picnic on the trail itself or in the Raggatt. A nice afternoon walk that children and adults will enjoy alike.

I apologise for the slow upload of the photos. I will try and find a way to make them smaller files in the future.

The maps below show the main walk to the lunch picnic spot, and the extension where you have to retrace your steps.

Greeba Mountain – 2nd October 2019

1a. View across to Greeba Mountain

Greeba Mountain is not technically speaking a mountain as it doesn’t reach the giddy heights of 600 metres. In fact, it falls well short at 422 metres and is the peak you can see above the plantation, looking rather apologetic. This was our second ‘peak’ of the day, our first being the traverse of Slieau Roy at 479 metres. I notice the word Slieau contains the word ‘eau’ which is of course, french for ‘water’, which is very apt considering the boggy nature of the peat hills. But I am getting ahead of myself.

We started out from Crosby village, the visitors arriving on the bus and the locals arriving by car. We took the A23 out of Crosby – sounds as if it’s a proper road doesn’t it, but actually it is just a minor lane with little traffic. The road climbs gently from the start all the way up to and around Cronk my Moghlane. It doesn’t take long before you can see the full extent of the valley between Douglas and Peel, and what strikes you most of all is the distant views, the lack of housing and the large amount of patchwork green fields. We are so used to travelling down that valley with its numerous villages dotted along the way,  that it doesn’t seem at all remote, but once you get up on the hills you have a completely different sense of island and what it’s all about.

We continued gently uphill following a grassy track full of humps and hollows made by the bikes in former years, now forbidden on this path, and contoured around the  eastern side of Slieau Ruy, which gave excellent views of the neighbouring hill called Colden (487 metres) and its shoulder The Creg – ‘creg’  meaning ‘rock’. I don’t know what Colden means…  now I do. It comes from the Scandinavian word Kollrinn, meaning the ‘top’ or ‘summit’. Just to complete the Manx lesson Slieau Roy means ”Red Mountain’, supposedly taking its name from the heather. In former times, many flowers were called red even though they were pink or purple; and Greeba is also of Scandinavian origin from the word ‘Gripa’ meaning ‘peak’.

 

11. View of x from my point

It was a little blustery but we so relieved to see the sun after yesterday’s torrential rain that had completed wiped out Laxey and caused landslides on Snaefell. As we reached the col, we turned back along the ridge to the top of Slieau Roy.  It might have been time for lunch, but the weather was not conducive to sitting on boggy ground with the wind whistling past our faces, so we continued undaunted if a little hungry on to the lesser Greeba Mountain. The views in all directions were wonderful and we could spy the wind turbines at Morecambe, Black Combe and the other mountains of the western Lake District and in the other direction we could see the Mountains of Mourne in Ireland. Who cares whether or not Greeba mountain is a real mountain. It is lovely place to stop and stare.

After this we descended off the moorland into one of many plantations in this area, this one with the unimaginative name of Greeba Forest, also known as King’s Forest. Believe it or not, there was an unusual battle here as late as 1937 between police with firearms and feral sheep, who were slaughtered to prevent the spread of sheep scab. I wish I had known that little trifle of knowledge as I was walking down the hill.  As it was, I was very happily engaged in very pleasant conversations with visitors who were part of our walking festival. You can see them below – how many different ways of smiling (or grimacing) can you spot?

18. The top

As we had made good time, we finished our walk by crossing over the ever so busy St John’s road and made our way to the heritage trail, which was formerly a railway line between Douglas and Peel. It has recently been upgraded and totally spoiled (in my opinion) in order to accommodate cyclists and possibly wheelchairs. It is now a wide uninteresting shingly type of path that won’t make anyone want to go for a walk. It has lost all its character and there is no longer any sense of its history. But times move on, and so must I.

I leave this blog on a high note. I had a wonderful day, and met some really interesting people. It is so wonderful to share our love of this island with visitors and to hear their stories of their travels. Thank you so much to the Walking Festival, and to our leader, Ken and assistants Belinda and Gayle, who have given up their time to take us out for the day. I can’t join them for their other events this week, but I hope the weather holds up for all the walkers.

Distance: 9 miles; Ascent 1408 ft; Descent 1424 ft. I will attach a short slide show of other photos from today after the map.

Map1a

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