I forgive the many of you who decided to abandon thoughts of a walk this New Year’s Day. The weather forecast was not great – we could expect at least a few short, sharp showers, but some clear spells too, and given there is nowhere to take shelter on this walk I imagine this might have put a few people off, especially as it was hailing cats and dogs in some parts of the island I gather.
Even I was wondering whether this was a sensible route to undertake today, and in my head I had prepared a few other options with more cover or escape routes, if required: Glen Maye, Port Soderick, Marine Drive or total abandonment of the walk. One of my trusty walkers who is usually game for anything rang up to sorrowfully back out at the last minute – you know who you are – which left just three hardy fellows including me to climb South Barrule.
We met at Round Table as planned and the weather was already dull. I could see rainclouds bubbling up in the distance and I knew this was the calm before the storm. I did offer my alternatives but the group would not be discouraged and we began our ascent of South Barrule. There was no snow today, but in its place was water – everywhere, and it was hard to avoid placing one’s foot in one puddle or another. Even so, it was easy walking and a pleasant climb.
No sooner had we started when I got a call from my son, then another from my friend and a text from my daughter as my Garmin watch was under the impression that I had had an ‘incident’ and it promptly notified my emergency contacts, detailing exactly where I was (well, close..) and demanding that they contact me to see if I was all right. Quite what I had done to initiate this technical emergency response I don’t know as I had not had a fall, neither had I severely knocked my watch, but at least I know the system works!
We continued up South Barrule with Andy leading the way while Eve and I chatted. Then came the rain, and the mist – not quite enough to consider it to be ‘fog’ – engulfed us as we reached the trig point. To be fair, there was the tiniest glimmer of sunlight at this point for which we were thankful. It was a little breezy on the top, but for the first day of the new year, it was at least fairly mild, though a glance to the skies indicated it was not mild enough to stop for a coffee at this point.
From here, it was all downhill, trampling over the gorse and heather to avoid the slippery, stony and wet paths whenever possible. It may not sound great but I really was enjoying the walk and the company despite the rain, which would stop every now and again and afford us views into the distance, so I was able to point out the longer route we could take if the rain would cease. Um, yes, that was quite a big ‘if’.
On reaching the road, the decision whether to extend the walk was unsurprisingly made by the weather which turned really nasty for the rest of the walk back to the car. We had chosen to walk along the road rather than take the longer detour, but there was no shelter here at all, and the rain lashed relentlessly in our faces for 1.75 miles. I didn’t take any photos at this point – rain doesn’t show up on an iphone – but stepped up the pace a little and considered humming a merry song. We were drenched, thirsty and hungry, but still cheerful, as how else should you spend New Year’s Day but with a typical walk on the Isle of Man.
I have to say, it was nice to get home and change out of my wet gear (including underwear!), make a nice hot cup of tea and have a slice of cake. But would I do it again – you bet I would!
No map today, except for the road walk – I must have forgotten to switch it on! I have recreated one underneath, but it is approximate. Distance: about 4 miles; Ascent: about 650 ft.