Pre Christmas Walk – Druidale 22nd Dec 2020

I was itching to get out in the hills. It is so long since I have walked anywhere but in the south, and this time I could leave my measuring stick behind me, ignore the peat and sphagnum moss and just appreciate our wonders scenery. Instead of including photos as I go along there is a slideshow at the bottom instead today.

I picked the day when the weather would be best ( both Monday and today being rainy days) and invited my friend Janet to join me on a walk I have never done, but have often looked at from afar. We took the road up from just outside Kirk Michael and parked on the grass at the start of the walk, just before the road to the right leading to Injebreck and the cattle grid leading onto the main Snaefell uplands. You can find this easily by looking for a triangular piece of woodland, called Sartfell plantation.

It was bright and sunny initially, though a little chilly. We followed the green lane gently upwards. Sartfell at 454 m is immediately to the left but there is no direct footpath to the top and there are signs discouraging people from going off the track, though I suspect this is mainly for the benefit of the bikers and possibly horse-riders who are allowed to use these green lanes. We continued north on the path skirting Slieau Freoaghane (488m). There is a choice of paths at this point and I wanted to go slightly westward so that we would get a view of the western slopes of the island, so we took the left fork temporarily to the saddle between the said previous hill and Slieau Dhoo (424m). We were not disappointed. The views down the valley to Kirk Michael were lovely and the hills around had satisfyingly geometric green slopes.

We retraced our steps a little to continue on the eastern side of the hills up to where the green road meets the ‘main’ Druidale Road that leads down to Ballaugh. Along the whole of this path we had had wonderful views of Snaefell and its neighbouring hills, with North Barrule tipping its head up so we could see it in the distance. The green road is not particularly pleasant to walk on being heavily rutted by the motorbikes, but there is room to walk on grassy ledges most of the time. There were quite a few puddles to negotiate as well.

This was our midpoint at the head of the Tholt -e- Will plantation and there were excellent views down to the Sulby reservoir and at one point we could see the Ayers lighthouse far away in the north. We now turned south to walk along the road all the way back to the car. Usually I don’t like road walking but at this time of year when it has been so very wet it’s a good idea and in any case cars were few and far between and it is a most attractive road to walk along.

As we walked back and looked across to our left, we reflected on the fact that are no footpaths across most of the land we could see. A few sheep would venture over on to the moorland, and there are very very few buildings, so the area is quite unspoilt.

This walk was just under 7 miles, with about 810ft of ascent. However, it is easy walking with no really steep gradients and if you need to take a break at any point you can simply say you are admiring the view.

The slideshow starts with a view the hills of South Barrule and Cronk ny Array from the car park then a mix of locations on the walk itself.

My next planned walk in a very early morning (7am) walk to herald the New Year on January 1st!

Ridge Walk Snaefell to Ramsey – 30th September 2019

This was a first, at least for me. For the last twenty years I have visited the Isle of Man and the last five years I have been living here, yet in all that time I had not done this spectacular ridge walk. We could have hoped for a sunny day, but this is the Isle of Man where we are more likely to encounter strong winds and rain or the dastardly Mananan’s cloak, but we could be lucky…

It all started out so promisingly as I drove to Laxey in bright sunshine, and the forecast promising not to disappoint until 4pm. The other walkers arrived at the station and it was still just about sunny as we hopped on the tram up to the top of Snaefell. As we reached Bungalow we realised the weather had other intentions as the top became swirled in mist. I could almost feel my fellow walkers psychologically putting on hats and wet-weather gear in anticipation. I did feel disappointed for the visitors to the island who might have hoped the see the seven kingdoms of Man, but it was not to be. However, you can see what a cheery lot we are as we set on down the mountain.

No view at the top

We reached the TT course and crossed over to start our ascent. Although classified as a strenuous route, this seemed a misnomer as we were starting at the highest point, with a few ups and downs but mostly downs until we reached the sea.

The ridge affords some wonderful views even in this semi-cloudy state. Every now and again clouds would swell up in the valleys and filter across the shoulders of the hills and engulf everything in their path; in between we had some fine glimpses into the distance and occasionally saw the Lake District and even less occasionally saw Scotland. I waved to my son, James, who is wild camping in Galloway though I couldn’t see Scotland at all at that moment, and instantly I received a video text from him waving to me and saying he couldn’t see the Isle of Man either. Talk about coincidences.

Our first hill was Clagh Ouyr  (551 m), followed by two unnamed hills. I did think we should have given these demoted tops some appropriate names to identify them given them as they are still good heights for the Isle of Man, the first at 550 metres and the second 533 metres. The superior-minded North Barrule, which is only a matter of 565 metres seems to think it literally rules the place, which I guess it does. The pointy peak reminded me of Thorpe Cloud in Derbyshire. It’s not a difficult climb, being mostly on peat. It was rather boggy in places but easy walking along the ridge.

The peak route

As lunch approached, so did the clouds and we sensed a change in the weather. Our guide, who for some reason I keep wanting to call Steven, but whose name is actually Ken, pointed out that the formation of clouds showed that the rain was just being held at bay, and we hoped long enough for us to make our descent.

Spirits were still high as you can see, though I did wonder who was challenging who to jump off first.

North Barrule itself is a lovely hill and its one of those where you feel you want to abandon your rucksack and run up it and be a child again for a moment, but this was not quite the day for such frivolities.

The route down is a little tedious as it is very uneven, wet and boggy and therefore a little slippery. Even so, we did have some splendid view of cloud formations over Ramsey Bay.

Ramsey 1

We eventually met a green road taking up to Ballure Reservoir and Glen. The reservoir was completely dry, which is ironic as at this point the heavens opened. It is only dry for maintenance and it was interesting to see it without any water. We proceeded down the glen amongst the trees and finished on the beach.

It was a really great walk and one that I can imagine I shall do many times in the future. Thanks to the Isle of Man Walks Festival for putting this on and many many other walks every day for a week. I look forward to seeing you again on Wednesday for Greeba Mountain if you will have me after I was telling what an unsociable walker I usually am!

Distance 7.39 miles; Elevation 854 ft; Descent 2734 ft

Snaefell