More coastal walking on the Isle of Man22nd December 2011
The change of plans that affected the previous weekend gained something of a silver lining: some extra time away from work. The result of that was another weekend on the Isle of Man to follow the one over twelve months before. In fact, it was near enough to the second anniversary of my first ever excursion to the island. The rain-soaked reception that I then received did nothing to deter me.
As Raad ny Foillan occupied me for much of the 2010 Mayday Bank Holiday Weekend, it was to do the same for this visit too. However, it was another section of the long distance path was to take me south from Port Erin towards the island’s answer to Land’s End before continuing to Port St. Mary and then to Castletown. Though the walking was less strenuous this time around, the coast that I followed had its own drama too and I escaped with just a light shower and what otherwise was an unsettled weekend as I discovered on an stroll out to Marine Drive from Douglas the evening before.
In contrast both to the previous evening and to the last time that I was there, I was to find Port Erin enjoying blue skies and sunshine the following morning. While not exactly rushing about, I set off shortening the distance to Port St. Mary. Knowing that I could shorten the walk wherever I saw fit meant that I could amble about Port Erin’s Lifeboat Station and develop more of a feeling for the route of the Isle of Man Coastal Path.
With those bearings established, I picked up the line of the coastal path to start gaining some height behind the Marine Biological Station. The energetic expenditure was rewarded by widening views of what surrounds Port Erin Bay, including both Brada Head and Port St. Erin itself. My new vantage points were granting me another perspective of the start of my walk from Port Erin to Peel more than a year before.
That northbound had hike me feeling very exposed near steep drops into the Irish Sea at various points along its length but that wasn’t to the general feel of its southbound counterpart. That’s not to say that the coastline didn’t have its rugged parts because it did. In fact, when lured inland away from the route of the coastal path, I retraced my steps whenever I did so. That meant that no chance of seeing coastal drama got missed and one such occasion was just north of Aldrick and the time spent more well worth the time taken.
Approaching the Calf Sound meant that I was back sharing the sights with more folk again and for the first time since I left Douglas as well. Port Erin was quiet and I leaving it as was the coastal trail south from there. There were other folk out enjoying the scenery like myself and following the coastal path too but everyone had plenty of space. Having to walk a little further from an easy vantage point that well accessible by car. Being able to take in the sights from a cafe provided even more of a lure.
After getting an ice cream at the cafe myself, I found a quiet corner with a bench where I could enjoy it. All that was needed was a little along Radd ny Foillan in the direction of Port St. Mary. It never seems to amaze me how easy it can be to lose any vestige of crowding.
After the rest stop, I set off to go around Spanish Head (a name that reminds me of Spanish Point in County Clare in Ireland while having a very different character) and Bay Slacka. To ensure that nothing got overlooked, there was some toing and froing of the kind that I enjoyed more recently in hills near Church Stretton in Shropshire. Rushing just didn’t seem to be on the agenda.
After leaving the wilder countryside that is under the care of the Manx National Trust, it was time to make for Port St. Mary where a decision was to be made. Before reaching any conclusions, there was a need to revisit to a public convenience to retrieve one of my walking poles. There was a shower of rain too, the only one that found me on the day, that had me playing with ending my walk in Port St. Mary instead of continuing to Castletown. The shower faded and I chose the latter course.
Gansey Point was passed on the way towards the main road between Port St. Mary and my eventual destination. Due to geography, I needed to use a footway by the side of that road for a little while. Making god progress meant that it wasn’t long before I left it for a single track lane south to Pooilavaaish with views of hills behind me and to my my right.
The road’s end meant that a track took me through a farmyard and passing a quarry meant that I was following a right of way through fields. Any sheep that I passed didn’t seem to be too perturbed by my presence and careful attention to my map meant that no foolishness manifested itself.
In time, I was to find myself on the coastal side of a wall and in fields no longer. There now were views of Castletown, my destination for the day, along with sights of the effects of coastal erosion. From then on, I also was beginning to encounter more people again with a trail biking group among them; though I had misgivings seeing motorbikes going over rocky coastline, I decided on keeping my views to myself since it looked a big organised party. Dispelling what remained of the peaceful ambiance of the evening didn’t seem sensible when it might be an occasional event anyway.
Once past the trail bikers, I was back on tarmac again and steadily nearing Castletown. As I did so,I met with a father and son wondering if the way I had come was a quiet way to Port St. Mary. Since they were on bicycles and I had crossed stiles, I put them going along the main road for sake of ease for themselves.
My entry into Castletown was accompanied by cloudy skies, putting paid to any ambitions of close up photos of Castle Rushen and its surroundings. That needs to be an excuse for a return and they always come in handy. After all, Castletown is a pretty spot and I have more of the Isle of Man to be seeing.
Return train journey between Macclesfield and Liverpool with a change at Stockport on the outbound leg and at Manchester on the return. A return ferry crossing took me from Liverpool to Douglas on the Isle of Man. Bus service 1 from Douglas to Port Erin and bus service 11 from Castletown to Douglas.