Castletown to Port Erin – 5 miles

I hadn’t intended to walk all the way home after dropping my car off at Castletown for its much-needed service but… it was a lovely day and it had been a very stressful one. Anyone involved with the GCSE and A level examination assessments will know that although the process has been simplified this year, it is far from straightforward. I am an assessor for an organisation that handles entries for private candidates, who often have little or no evidence of any assignments or coursework and we have to magic something out of nothing for them within a few weeks, and hope they can conjure up some tricks in the invigilated mocks to get the grades they deserve. That would be ok if anyone is able to understand the rules.

So, a walk seemed like a jolly good idea. I had thought of walking to the Viking ship and round the coast back to Castletown and then getting the bus home, but as I was almost at Fisher’s Hill anyway it seemed sensible just to carry on walking along the coastline all the way home. There was a surprising number of vehicles on the main road, given that we are still in full lockdown, and I passed a handful of bikers and pedestrians most suitably wearing their face-coverings even when no-one is about.

The views to the north were beautiful, although South Barrule decided to hide just as I was taking its photo. As I reached the coast, the air was a little hazy and the tide was quite well in. Usually this beach is stony with a little soft sand where the road bends to meet the sea. Today, there was a lot of seaweed banked up on the stones. The regular birds were still there waiting for their catch and there were a lot of insects which annoyingly kept finding their way undeneath my mask. It was so good to feel the sun on my face and get some air into my lungs.

On the other side of the road, the fields were very green and lush. The daffodils lining the drive to Kentraugh house looked magnificent.

I continued around Gansey point as it seemed a shame to abandon the coastline for boring roads, and this took me up to Port St Mary, from where I followed the back road home.

So, just a short blog today. It is so interesting to see the same locations at different times of day and different seasons and different weather. It never bores.

When I got home I sent a couple of photos to one of my candidates who is as equally fed up with the examination assessment as myself to cheer her up. This worked, although her reply made me realise, if I didn’t already know, that we do live in a very special place. Her words were “That looks amazing. How lucky to live somewhere so beautiful….unfortunately, we live on the outskirts of a town right in the middle of the country (uk) so no views like yours”. Let us never forget what we have on our doorstep.

Port Erin, Glenn Chass, Port St Mary – 13th March 2021

Just when you think there is nothing more to say about a walk you have done many many times you get a pleasant surprise. That’s just what happened today. I have walked the back route up the golden road to Glenn Chass and Port St Mary many times, but only today did I discover something new.

It started out as usual, well almost as usual, with a minor socially-distanced stop to allow some other people to pass on the path. Then it was onwards and upwards along the golden road. It was a bright, breezy but cool day and it afforded some fine views of the valley between the Meayll Hill headland and the Bradda / Carnanes range of hills.

This path follows tracks across farmland, crossing over streamlets until you get to one of my favourite streams – yes, I know, who else has favourite streams. It flows off the moorland down through the edge of Port Erin and has a delightful bridge that you can only see if you scramble down the side of the stream. Today, there was quite a lot of water in the stream and I could hear gushing water from above, so true to form I found myself wading upstream to see what there was to see. I wasn’t really wearing suitable footwear so it was a matter of hopping from stone to stone and clinging on to vegetation in places. Just for the record, this sort of messing about is my idea of bliss! I didn’t manage to get very far, but I did see the source of the noise – a tiny waterfall cascading over some rocks. You will have to look very closely to see it!

From here it was back to the path, only to be immediately diverted by a footpath going the other way, and then a made-made track following the stream in the opposite direction. No wading this time, just a curiosity to discover what might be round the next corner. And what was round the corner? Lots of wild garlic just beginning to sprout from the undergrowth and casting a heavenly smell. And looking up through the bare canopy of trees I could hear but not see a bird equally as happy as I to be enjoying the spring day.

After my detour I followed the main track to Glenn Chass to walk down the narrow stream let that feeds into Fistard Bay. Only now, this looks completely different from previous times I have been here. It is being managed, and a new footpath has been created so it is possible to do a circular route in this uppermost part of the Glen. Not that there is a lot to see. Some of the vegetation has been cleared but this will soon grow back and I look forward to seeing how it develops in the future.

The path joins the lane and continues down to the sea, looking rather different from its neighbour on the other side of the road.

From here, I followed the coast path into Port St Mary. I didn’t deviate too much this time, only stopping to go down on the beach at the point where the golf course and footpath conjoin. I had missed high tide, which was a shame given it was a blustery day. Even so, the waves were having fun crashing against the rocks and the sunlight gave cool approval as it kissed the sea.

Up to this point, I had seen barely anyone but now in the town there were more people taking the air, or taking their dog for a walk. All stopped to allow others to pass, and many were wearing face coverings. Port St Mary had a peaceful air today and splendid views to the hills behind. Note how the benches look like seagulls looking out to sea for their prey. I reached the underway, but at this point had to leave the coast path as this is only one direction now and not the right direction for me, so I climbed up the cliff in front of the apartments, walked through the church grounds to the top road so that I could take the Truggan Road back to Port Erin. I may or may not have told you this before: Truggan Road can be translated as ‘the road to the swift stream’. How poetic is that, and very fitting for my adventurous afternoon.

This was a short walk of about 4 miles and about 650 ft of elevation in total. A most enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.

Colby to Port Erin 7th July: 3.7 miles

Not exactly a hike, more like a brisk walk home from Colby following my excellent afternoon Pilates class with Sara (@saraszestforlife). I had caught the bus to Colby, paid a visit to the house I look after for my friend in England, popped into the local shop and bought some italian flour for making italian pizza before going to class.

It wasn’t the best weather for a walk home but I was reasonably well kitted out, though waterproof walking shoes would have been better than my trainers, so I discovered walking through wet and muddy undergrowth through the meadows. By the time I had finished, my socks were wet through.

I followed the railway line from Colby football club to join the path I frequent often, which goes beside the Colby river, through meadows and an informal wilderness. I didn’t take any photos of this part of the walk as I have described this section many times before. Instead of going past Kentraugh Mill, this time I turned left on reaching the road which would take me to the main coast road. I always enjoy the first glimpses of the sea which you get as you approach.

I followed the coast road around Carrikey Bay and Gansey Point, around the bend and up the road to the Coop in Port St Mary to get a pint of milk before continuing along the back road home. Port St Mary was quite broody this afternoon.

It was a wet walk, but who cares. I certainly don’t. I only mind when the rain lashes down for hours or the wind lifts me off my feet, but most of the time I can enjoy whatever the weather throws at me. The total walking time was actually only a bit over an hour 1 hr, 5 min, 44 secs to be precise so a good antedote to the stretching and strength work of pilates. Incidentally, the times on all of my Garmin maps are the total times spent on the activity which may include stopping / taking photos and in the case of yesterday’s walk, having a coffee in Costa!

There are two maps today because I noticed at one point my watch was giving me measurements of aerobic activity – quite why, I don’t know, but as you can see it did record the walk as well.

Port St Mary – 5th June 2020

With bad weather forecast for the weekend, this was the last chance for a good stroll. Even so, it was very very windy, a dress rehearsal for the weekend’s weather.

This four mile walk would take me on three footpaths I haven’t been on in the 6 years I have lived here, and all a stone’s throw from home.

Taking Truggan Road again, I turned off this time before the bend and Glendown Farm, taking a lane northwards between the houses which led up the hill passing a couple of houses with spectacular views of Port Erin – this was my first new path. I joined a second path that I have taken many times before which like many other paths take one to the Howe, just below the chapel. I turned left to take the road to Glen Chass and on leaving the village I took a shortcut on a second new path on the left which leads to the top end of Fistard through a very pleasant field. It is surprising how different a place seems when you see if from a different angle. There are some really lovely quaint cottages in this village, many having super views across Perwick Bay. It has a quiet unspoilt feel to it.

View from one of the cottages towards Port Erin
View towards Glen Chass /Perwick

Walking through the village, I followed the road down to the top of the golf course, which looked rather dry. Our island has been rain-free for months to such an extent that a hosepipe ban is being introduced tonight. On reaching the cliff top I decided to take my third new footpath down to the beach. The tide was out and the landscape again looked quite dramatic. Other people have described this as a steep path, but it is quite simple really and if you must have a rest there is a bench towards the top. I spent a happy few minutes watching butterflies on this path, as you will see in the later slideshow.

Port St Mary Golf Course

Keeping to the top of the cliff, I arrived in Port St Mary and pottered about on the very extensive rocky beach. Many times you wouldn’t know these rocks are there, as the tide comes right up to the grassy shoreline, but today the tide was right out. There were some interesting rock formations and the seashells made strange groupings on the rocks as if to protect themselves. They looked as if each little family grouping was social distancing from their neighbour. There were some wonderful colours made by the different seaweeds and sea anemones. The rock pools were quite deep and clear so the animals could be seen in full view without having to fish around and move seaweed to see them. There was also a lot of evidence of what I think are coral fossils.

Perwick Bay

Once I finished messing about on the beach, it was a matter of strolling home along the outskirts of Port St Mary, taking the underway as far as I could – it is one way to allow social distancing, in the opposite direction to one that I was walking – then following the main road to Four Roads before veering left down the lane and footpaths over the fields back to Port Erin.

Rock Pools at Port St Mary
Social Distancing Shells

This was only a short 4 mile walk, but it felt more because of the variety of interest that it provided. There are so many short walks in the south of the island. Tomorrow or Sunday I may visit Scarlett or Langness or possibly the Carnanes, unless the weather is really wet and windy, in which case I may just stay in bed!

In case I haven’t already told you, we have had three days now with zero cases and all who developed Covid-19 have now recovered. We know we will get cases from time to time but we will be able to manage any infections that occur. Well done to the Manx people and the Manx government. Shows what can be done with border closures and constant Contact, Track and Trace which we have implemented from Day 1 of our first case.

Port Erin Circular Coast route – 7th Feb – 10 miles, variable

With Storm Ciara threatening to curtail activities in the next few days and a free day, I decided to catch up on my old favourite and walk from home around the coast, taking in the Sound.

I started from the beach at Port Erin. It was not a particularly nice day, overcast and rather gloomy and a little chilly, but it is always good to get outside and dust off the old cobwebs.

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Bradda Head and Milner tower from St Catherine’s Well

I walked up Ballfurt Lane to St Mary’s Lane and turned left to walk along the top road to Port St Mary. At this point I decided to call in home (!) and pick up a woolly hat, and as the day progressed I was so glad I did. The sun wanted to come out but it wasn’t trying very hard and it became very blowy, giving me a taster of what was the follow at the weekend.

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When I reached Port St Mary I followed the Underway which is always spectacular when the tide is in as it was today. The seabirds were having a field day as the wind must have whipped up fish close to the shore and they were competing for the best catch.

DSC02638At the harbour where one is no longer protected from the southeasterly wind the seas were swelling, fast and furious. I had walked about 2.5 miles at this point and had planned to call in at the Golf Course cafe for a coffee, but this was closed for refurbishment so I carried out on the path.

Dappled light at PSM
The calm side of the harbour

PSM Lightbhouse

Going round Perwick Bay I bumped into a friend who was monitoring the birds for a survey, today mostly shelducks and oystercatchers on that bit of the coast. I followed the route down the road to Glen Chass which ultimately leads to the Raad Ny Fooillan and grassy footpaths, which one has to share with sheep. There is an alternative route that takes you up higher and on to the Chasms, but I always like the low route as it gives wonderful views of the rocks around the Sugar Loaf and the opportunity for a tiny bit of scrambling.

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The steep cliffs of the Chasms

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The coastline around the Chasms, looking towards Black Head

By this time, the wind had really got going and I didn’t want to venture too close to edge once I was past the Chasms on Spanish Head. It reminded me of a time several years when I was following this route and the wind was so powerful I had to give up at this point and head to Cregneash as I could barely stand upright. It wasn’t like that today.

Chasms
The deep chasms

The day might be dull but the mountain gorse brightened up the walk significantly. It truly was this yellow and it was delightful.

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Ascending the slopes to Black Head I followed the deviating route that hugs the coast. This gives on the first look at the Calf of Man, the small island detached from the Sound. Chicken Rock lighthouse looked cold and forbidding today.  I am including a photo to give you a flavour but it’s not one of my best as it is out of focus though it does create a chilling mystical feel. Even the Drinking Dragon’s head is right down.

Chicken Rock
Chicken Rock Lighthouse on a cold, windy day

 

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Resting places at the Sound, with the Calf of Man in the background and Kitterlands in between. The cafe (and bus stop) is to the right, out of shot.

7 miles and it was lunchtime when I reached the Sound Cafe. It was reasonably busy. It is always a welcome sight on rough days, knowing that however cold or wet you might be, a warm coffee and hot food awaits (as well as toilets). For those not wanting to continue on, it is possible to catch a bus back to Port Erin, but they are not especially frequent.

For those of you who are new to my blog and I have quite a few new followers recently, thank you, I have a chronic condition which leaves me depleted of energy, and breathing and moving my legs can be a little tricky right now. The sensible part of me considered stopping here, but the outdoor and nature lover in me won the day and I carried on, it has to be said with some considerable difficulty along the cliffs to Port Erin. The weather perked up at this point, and although still windy the sun managed to creep through the clouds occasionally and I was well rewarded for my efforts.

CoastlineKamikaze sheep

Notice the Kamikaze sheep on the photo above. You feel if the first one jumps the rest would follow… like sheep! Quite why or how they had got themselves in that position I will never know. It wouldn’t be the most sheltered position.

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Looking Back
The view back. The Calf is the final cliff in the distance.

Port Erin in the mist
Port Erin emerging from the mist.

Once back at Port Erin I went to the Health Food shop and had a pot of camomile tea before walking home. I was back at 2.15pm having had fish and chips at the Sound as well! The full distance was 10 miles, but that includes lots of ins and outs that you don’t need to do, such as calling in at my house. 8-9 miles is more common for this route. You can also get the bus or train to Port St Mary, which avoids almost all the walking through villages and allows you to concentrate on the footpaths. And you can escape off the cliffs at the Chasms and go to the lovely hamlet of Cregneash where you can get a bus back, or follow a shorter walk over Meayll Hill/The Howe to Port Erin. So, there are lots of options if you want shorter walks.

Port Erin Circular

Distance: 10 miles

Ascent: 1732 ft

Descent: 1572 ft

Maximum elevation 1,028ft.

Saturday’s ‘walk’ (yesterday) was a wander over the Snaefell Hills taking measurements of the peat. I am just awaiting some photos then I will tell you about that. Meanwhile, keep safe and warm and well away from Storm Ciara.

 

Nature Walk including Colby and Glen Chass – 5.65 miles, 432 ft of ascent

I make no apologies for describing today’s walk as a nature ramble. That was what I set out to do. I haven’t visited my haven so far this year and the orange tips won’t be around much longer. I always draw such warmth from my hidden nature reserve – hidden to all but locals walking their dogs, walkers and children escaping from their parents. It is not shown on a map and as far as I know, it doesn’t have a name – and long may it stay that way and let nature run wild.

I took the bus to Colby, then took the path beside the Colby river. There is so much to see in this first third of a mile. They were butterflies flitting, but above all numerous wild flowers abutting the water course, oblivious to the fact that there are houses on the other side of the river.

 

Above: The start of the walk from Colby.

Below: Nature in all its glory in the first mile of the walk

 

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Crossing the railway line, I interrupted the sheep’s pleasure and seemed to cause some dismay as a few of them started coughing violently. This is pasture land where sheep share the territory with birds rather than wild flowers. I soon cross back over the river and enter into my little paradise. It isn’t much to look at, but if you listen you can hear the birds chirping to each other trees, and if you stop and stare, you can watch the butterflies chattering with their companion as they move incessantly on the path. The plants in flower offer their shade and their nectar to the local inhabitants and everything is in harmony.

Passing out of the nature reserve I make my way along the road to the Shore Inn. I debated with myself whether to stop and have a cider but decided against it, and instead I sat on the beach, drank my water and ate an odd selection of banana, raw carrot, cucumber and a very small chocolate bar. The birds surrounding me were mainly herring gulls and blackbacked gulls, with a few oystercatchers at the sea edge and a solitary shag perched on a rock. The tide is way out, further than I have ever seen it. It is almost that time of year when the intrepid venture out into Douglas Bay and slip and slide their way to the Tower of Refuge.

I walked around the coast to Port St Mary, along the Underway and out towards the outer harbour before turning westwards towards Fistard. Here I had a choice of direction and not having walked along Glenn Chass stream since I moved here five years ago, I took this route uphill. It didn’t disappoint. The bluebells are still out and are vibrant dark blue. There are still smattering of wild garlic too. As that conjures smells, I am reminded that as I went round Gansey Point. the meadowsweet was in full bloom and the scent was quite overpowering.

Above: The meadowsweet at Gansey Point; the extended beach at Chapel Bay; different types of footprints;  stranded boats at Port St. Mary.

From Glen Chass I followed one of the higher paths across meadows back towards Port Erin. I am particularly pleased with the photograph I took of the Milner Tower on Bradda Head standing on top of a stile just before I descended down the Golden Road, which right now is blue from head to toe.

The final stretch: photos of the gorgeous Glenn Chass,

and home…. altogether, I saw at least 5 of our 19 species of butterfly: red admiral, wall brown, green-veined white, orange tip and speckled wood.

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A most enjoyable three hours. My next walk is planned for Sunday or Monday, when I hope to walk from Douglas to Castletown.