Daffodil Walk, Port Grenaugh & Port Erin, 26th /27th March.

March, and the daffodils are in full bloom, even beginning to go over. When I was young, the daffodils would never flower this early in the year. What a delightful way for spring to appear in a glow of yellow, especially on a wonderfully sunny weekend as this was.

Two of my children had come over to see me, one turning up unexpectedly and being a total surprise and an absolute joy. My second son was dropping hints from the time he arrived, such as ‘oh, there’s a plane just coming in from London’ and earlier in the week ‘ How many beds do you have?’ and I still didn’t twig. I got a wonderful surprise when Paul knocked on the door in the darkness and when I opened it, there he was greeting me. I shall remember that for a long time. The rest of them (I have 4 children) had kept that a secret since November and even the grandchildren hadn’t let on that my eldest son was also coming over. That made up for the massive disappointment of my daughter contracting covid (again!) the day before she was due to travel over. She has missed out on all the fun we have had in this brief visit 😦 . I shall make it up to her another time.

The three of us (my other son was hardly likely to come over from El Salvador for the weekend with his 1yr old son, so I knew there wouldn’t be any more surprises!) had a great time catching up and making fun of each other. On Saturday they treated me to a very nice Mother’s Day lunch at The Boatyard in Peel, then I drove them a very windy and convoluted route to Port Grenaugh, almost going in a complete circle at one point even though I should have known where I was going, to look at the daffodils and have a walk along the coast. We were blessed with wonderful weather this weekend, and even today we managed three mini-walks around the south in glorious sunshine, even if was a tad windy.

So, here are the photos in the form of a slideshow. They speak for themselves so I don’t need to write a description of the daffodils or the walk, or provide maps on this occasion, except I should say that the mound/earthworks is called Cronk Merrui, an iron age fort very close to Port Grenaugh. The house on the headland is now owned by the Department of Transport, which seems a somewhat exotic and expensive location for a government building, but what do I know.

Santon to Ballasalla and more

The last two weeks has been very varied but with few opportunities for a good walk. In addition to my usual activities I have been helping Dawn at Manx Wildlife Trust introducing young people to nature and getting them enthused. For my part, my exploits were a little more dramatic than planned with a tumble on mossy ground grazing my arm and leg on one of the events and then on Friday at Ballaugh Plantation when we were hunting dragonflies and pond-dipping, my face became a meal for any biting insect that was around, so I now have a very spotty face.

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to visit The Mallards in Santon, a new project creating a botanical garden which is the brainchild of millionaire Mark Shuttleworth, funded by himself. I had been here a few years ago and was looking forward to seeing how it has developed. The aim is to capture various moods and habitats that will be sustainable and provide a long term future for species that are not usually found on the Isle of Man. There will be (amongst other things) a Japanese garden, cascading waterfalls, historical living fossils, wetlands, an amphitheatre designed to be used occasionally for outdoor activities. I won’t see all this come to fruition in my lifetime and most of it is still under construction but it was interesting to hear about their plans and I shall enjoy watching it develop over the next 10-20 years.

Following this visit, I walked down to Port Grenaugh which is about a mile downhill from Santon. The walk along the coast here is magnificent, winding in and out of the cliff edge, round deep bays and through a gorge. It does not involve a huge amount of ascent. In fact, I only climbed a total of 500ft from start to finish and it is all in short doses. It is a normal sandy cliff path, a little uneven in places and if you have a stick you might find it useful to help to balance you from time to time. Having said that, it is perfectly manageable without one, with care. There is a slightly tricky short and steep downhill section in Santon Gorge for you to negotiate but you are soon over this. Although the gorge is treelined, this is always one of my favourite sections of this path as the stream is beautiful and the colours gorgeous and you go through a small area of wetland where you can see different wildlife. It is a very peaceful area. I saw a Speckled Wood Butterfly and a Large White Butterfly, and a little further on, Common Blue Butterflies and a Foxmoth caterpillar – very popular over here.

But I am getting ahead of myself. The walk starts with a road walk, albeit very pleasant, down to Port Grenough, that follows a stream all the way down to the bay. The path then takes the beach for a short distance and then goes along the cliffs for some 2-3 miles. There are great views to the north and south as you walk along and some interesting rock formations. About half way along you descend to a bay, have another short walk along a pebbly beach before ascending the cliffs again. There are many stopping points and if you are lucky you might see some dolphins out in the bay. From Santon Gorge, where we have to go inland, we cross the river and follow the path back to the coastline. The path is signed to the left and there is a broken wall, so you can enter the grassland sooner if you prefer. Keep walking left through a gap in the gorse and this takes you to an old promentory fort, which the U3A Archaeology leader would be able to tell you all about. I think this may have been a large fort as there is another embankment on the southern side as well. It was here that I spotted an owl pellet, which was rather surprising, but I didn’t take a photo of it I’m afraid. From here it is only a short distance to the airport runway extension that you can walk round to take you to Derbyhaven and Castletown, but I followed the perimeter fence into Ballasalla to get the bus home.

My walk was 5.65 miles, with a total ascent of 499ft and descent of 561ft. My Garmin tells me the highest point at any time was 163ft so you can see this is well within most people’s capability.