Ambling and Rambling Around the Sound Coastpath

It was one of those days that was just right for walking, if a little breezy. At least it wasn’t boiling hot! It is a while since I have walked this route west to east (or roughly that) and I was really looking forward to it. I wasn’t disappointed. There are a few noticeable changes – well noticeable to me – such as quite a lot of erosion in places, some caused by weather, some caused my man, and some very definitely caused by rabbits. The heather, whilst still beautiful, was not quite as abundant as it has appeared in the past, and the bracken seems to be getting a stronghold in some areas and crowding out the heather. The gorse was variable with several areas without flowers. On the plus side, there were a lot of choughs, all busy arguing with themselves as only they know how to do.

I started out from home and walked along Athol Park to the top road overlooking Port Erin. This is one of my favourite views of the bay. It always looks so inviting, no matter what the weather. I followed the road to where the coastpath starts behind the delapidated Marine Biological Station, noticing that the stream that generally gushes out from the top of the cliff was completely silent today, testament to the very dry summer we are having. The seagulls seem to have already abandoned the cliff face here, where they used to nest in abundance. They must be anticipating their home being ravaged by builders and machinery once the development of the apartments begins. Today, there were only a couple of beleaguered herring gulls scattered on the site.

The path soon starts to climb uphill and this was the first point where I noticed that more rocks were exposed than I remember. Again, areas that are usually a bit muddy were dry and the wild flowers even seemed to be begging for rain. Otherwise, I didn’t see anything unusual on my walk round to the Sound. I was as delighted as ever when I reached the Valley of the Rocks with all its contorted shapes. A few minutes later I arrived at the Sound in time for a bowl of soup, which was accompanied with a roll, but the greedy seagulls took it when I wasn’t watching. I had been debating whether I wanted the bread anyway, so they did my a favour, and boy did they enjoy it and make a fuss! I am on a keep fit campaign, not much of a campaign really. I just want to lose a little weight and cutting out or down on bread and cheese are high on my list.

After lunch I spent a little time sitting on the rocks watching the seals. Several were lounging close by and others were peering at the visitors peering at them. This is such a beautiful spot to stand and stare, and you know how good I am at that. After that it was the steep climb up on to the top of Cronk Mooar and then on to Spanish Head. On the way, I met a couple watching some sheep who were having an argument. I was to see them later on in my walk – the couple that is, not the sheep, and we spent a very pleasant few minutes talking about our respective experiences of the island and comparing it with Germany, where they live. This section of path usually has the best gorse and heather, and add in the sage and the grasses, it makes for wonderful variation in colour. There are also interesting rock formations on this section of Spanish and Black Head, rather like limestone pavements, but I’m not sure they are made of limestone. If anyone knows what type of rock these are please let me know.

The last bit of uphill takes you to the Chasms and the Sugarloaf. Here I met another couple, also visitors, wanting to know where to go next. I think their decision was made by telling them there were toilets at Cregneash as they then headed up in that direction. I took the lower grassy path and made friends with a number of sheep, and picked up feathers for my granddaughter to paint. The vista on this side of the Sound is very different. On the north western side all you can see are hills, but from here you can see not only the hills but the terrain also gently rolling down to the sea and the flat areas of Castletown and Langness.

By the time I reached Glen Chass I had had enough. If you are doing this walk, you might want to continue down to Port St Mary and take one of the roads back to Port Erin. There are a number of different options, depending on how far you want to walk. You can go over the hill at Fistard, taking the path upwards from the golf course, follow the coastal path or as I did follow the road at Glen Chass to the Howe Road. I then followed the farmer’s track down to Truggan Road and then I was about home. However, if you turn left at the Howe road junction, you can take a footpath behind some houses on the right, going over fields and retaining the height and the wonderful views until you finally have to drop down on one of three footpaths leading to the Port Erin end of Truggan Road.

This walk was just under 8 miles, with a total ascent of 1463′ and a total descent of 1503ft. I took it slowly, to enjoy looking at all the wildflowers and other wildlife. I would allow 3.5 – 4 hrs of walking time for this beautiful coastal walk.

Cregneash and The Sound – 1st June 2020

The first day of summer was a gloriously sunny day, continuing the theme of many weeks now. We have barely had a drop of rain since lockdown. This week would have been TT. It is such a shame we cannot share our island with visitors, but as we have just one active case now our borders are closed and will remain so for the foreseeable future to keep it that way. All the more for the locals to enjoy.

We have much more flexibility in what we can and cannot do now – far more so than the UK that is lagging a long way behind us. More people are venturing out as all our shops are open. We can go to restaurants that can serve outdoors and even go and get our hair cut. In a couple of weeks time, it is suggested that our social distance measures will be relaxed a little too, but even now, from tomorrow we can take a passenger from another household in our cars for a ride. So life here is good and we have a lot to be thankful for.

Today, after I had finished my load of predicted grades and spoken to students it was time for a late afternoon walk. If I timed it just right I would make it before the Sound Cafe closed at 4pm. Walking from the house, I walked from the house along Truggan Lane to Glendown Farm and took the lane up to the Howe. I followed the road all the way to Cregneash. This wasn’t a day for walking boots. I was just in my sandals and was content to follow tarmac-ed ways. There were only a few walkers that I passed on the way to Cregneash, and after that, there were no walkers at all and just a few cars passed me.

Cregneash
Views of the Calf

On reaching the Sound I was surprised how few visitors there were. I didn’t have to queue for my take-away cup of tea and cake. They have made a waiting area and they call you when your order is ready. All very efficient, except the toilets close at 3.30pm, but who needs toilets when you are surrounded by fields.

The Sound and The Calf

I spent a very pleasant half hour or so watching the waves, listening to the seals humming to each other and the birds having an argument, then I walked back up the road to Cregneash, around Mull Hill and back to Port Erin.

Sheep May Safely Graze

The views were tremendous today and the highlight was being able to clearly to see the Mountains of Mourne in Ireland. A visit there is on my wish list, which may come sooner than I expect as our borders with Ireland are more likely to open earlier than those with the UK, maybe with some kind of air-bridge as is suggested for countries with low numbers of coronavirus.

The Mountains of Mourne in Ireland

The wild flowers normally very prolific at this time of year looked a little sad and were not plentiful, perhaps due to the paucity of rain, so there was a lack of colour on this walk. I saw a couple of butterflies but very little wildlife other than sheep, cattle and rabbits. The views never disappoint though and I did get a nice view of Milner Tower. It always surprises me how far to the west it is coming down the hill!

Milner Tower
Port Erin

This was a very pleasant stroll and reminded me that I really must get out more! A trip to the north is in order.

Total distance 5.4 miles; 849ft of ascent; 846ft of descent. Interesting that the distance for each section was identical despite being different routes and almost the same amount of ascent and descent on each section too.