Day 2 Start - Calf of Man

Calf of Man to Peel – Distance – 30km Duration – Approximately 8 Hours

The detailed route of each of our five walks can be accessed and downloaded by clicking on the image below – It can then be shared or exported as a gpx file as required

The morning after the night before…

Dawn broke at around 7.20am and not longer after, Jim and Knocker had taken up kettle boiling duties and steaming hot cups of tea and coffee were soon being distributed around the tent. Most of us had slept well(ish), all helped by the push-in ear plugs kindly donated by Chris. The only likely disturbance to sleep was snoring, apparently a few of the group are quite good at it and people having to go outside of the tent in the night for a pee – I’m not sure just how many toilet breaks there were in total during the night but the highest total for one individual was five!

There was one person who looked like they’d really had a bad night and that was Simon and the reason quickly became apparent; his inflatable air bed had begun to deflate almost as soon as he’d got on it and he’d finally given up and lobbed it out of the tent at some point during the night (probably on a pee break) – he didn’t look happy and anyone who’s had to sleep directly on the floor of a tent will understand why!

We’d made the decision to keep the tent on the same pitch all week and commute to our start point and back from our finish points each day. This morning we were to return to the Calf of Man and walk from there up to the town of Peel with only Port Erin providing a potential stopping point with anything approaching civilisation.

Before we set off, it was important to wash and brush teeth and the Café Two Six shower facilities (the outside tap) providing a truly ‘invigorating’ experience – I also washed my hair each morning and quickly discovered that Mint and Tea Tree shower gel added another level to that feeling of invigoration. The ‘other’ daily ablutions would have to wait until we popped into Castletown where some very clean and tidy public conveniences were provided for our use – very welcome and much appreciated they were as well although following six blokes in there may have been a challenge few would have accepted 😉

The local Co-Op provided plenty of fresh pastries and fresh fruit and this would be our breakfast of choice for the next few days and we ate breakfast alongside the beautiful and very picturesque Castletown harbour whilst steeling ourselves for the day ahead. As lunch would probably be taken in the middle of nowhere, a selection of meal deals were purchased and squirreled away in our backpacks for later.

The time had moved on to around 9am and we had a 25 minute car journey to the days start point at Sound Café, Calf of Man. The days walking would be the most challenging of the entire trip – we weren’t walking as far as we did on day 1, but in terms of ascent, we had the small matter of 1600m of ‘up’ and as we start and finish all the walks at sea level, by definition we have the same amount of ‘descent’down’; anyone who has done any hill-walking will know that going down is as hard on the legs and toes as going up is on the heart and lungs! Legs, toes, hearts and lungs would all be tested today.

Change in elevation was not the only challenge we’d be presented with as the cloud base was at around 100mm meaning most of our day would be spent in the cloud; added to that, the footpaths through the heather and gorse were around 12 inches / 30cm wide and worn into a channel which made walking on them really difficult. The low cloud certainly put paid to any spectacular views but it did add its own ethereal beauty to the walk.

After a couple of hours we’d reached Port Erin and it was an early chance to get a cup of coffee and a cake – Port Erin itself is a lovely little town and we’d been fortunate to arrive just as the steam train that had come all the way from Douglas was pulling in to the Station – there is something genuinely magical about seeing and hearing a steam train in action and this was no different. The engine we were privileged to see was #13 “Kissack” a 3ft Narrow Gauge 2-4-0 engine and there is a lovely story attached to this fabulous machine; it was originally built back in 1910 in Gorton, Manchester – you can read that story by clicking here.

After our short stop we were back underway on the next leg and the going was really tough – the conditions underfoot were challenging and the gorse in particular ripped at your shins (and everything else!). There were moments of respite and around an hour into this leg, we were working our way around Bradda Head and into view came what we discovered was ‘Milner’s Tower’; the design of the tower is allegedly an homage to the profession / business of William Milner after which it was named – he made locks (as in locksmith). I’ll let you be the judge of if it does look like a lock by clicking here to find out more about it. It was also here that we met a couple of lads from Holland who’d come in on the earlier train and walked up to the tower – they seemed a little bemused / perplexed at where they’d found themselves but were even more bemused when we explained what we were doing – their faces betrayed their thoughts, ‘WHY’ 😉 – we exchanged pleasantries and all continued on our way.

After around 90 minutes, lunch was finally taken at Fleshwick Bay where we’d arranged a rendezvous with the EPD. The descent down to the bay from the cliffs was pretty treacherous and at times felt almost vertical – we were following a stream as it cascaded down and we all know that water will take the most direct route and that’s exactly what us and the stream were doing; it didn’t help that the rocks / ground we were walking on was both loose and wet and and on either side the 6th tall Gorse was waiting to pounce. Finally, after nearly 45 minutes of descent, we made it to the narrow road and walked down into another beautiful bay; we were having a laugh about something (possibly Chris’ summersault) and were loudly cussing with repeated utterances of what is probably the worst ‘cuss’ you could use (in a humorous manner of course) but imagine out shock and horror when as we approached the bay, tucked away on our left hand side was a wooden bench and two middle aged ladies were sat there chuckling to themselves – we tried to blag that the cuss was a rare Lancashire dialect but I don’t think they believed us ;-). They clearly weren’t too offended as they did take a couple of pictures for us and one of those is in the following set.

A sandwich and some crisps were hastily consumed and with our bodies starting to cool and legs starting to stiffen, we decided to crack on with the walk. We all looked at the path out of the bay and it looked even steeper than the one we’d entered on – we weren’t wrong. In just a few minutes we were back in the cloud and plodding our way through Gorse, Heather and Bracken up a seemingly endless climb into the cloud; this final section proved to be a real drag but we set about it with some renewed vigour and were soon up on the plateau, yomping away with thoughts of a warm meal and real ale as our reward. The views hadn’t changed however but thankfully, despite the low cloud, the temperature remained in the mid teens and at whilst damp, at least we weren’t cold.

We trudged along and the miles continued to disappear beneath our feet – between here and Peel there was very little to report or see that we hadn’t seen before, but as we came towards the end of the days walk, we paused for rest and reflection and I took what is my favourite photo of the entire trip; it has that ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ feel to it and sums up perfectly the mood at the end of a long, damp and very hilly day.

Walking completed for the day, we arrived at Peel and somewhat miraculously, the sun was trying to make an appearance and the Ice Cream kiosk on the promenade was doing a relatively brisk trade, albeit not from us. Peel is another lovely little Town with an huge Castle on the headland to the left hand side of the bay. The pastel colours of the Victorian buildings all add a degree of splendour to the town and like most places we’d come visited so far, leant it a friendly and welcoming feel.

We had a bit of a walk around the town (like we’d not done enough walking) and one of the daily challenges we’d set the EPD was to locate a shop where Simon could get a new camp bed, I could get an inflatable pillow and where we could possibly get some keys cut, buy a family slipper and even get some spirit level bubbles. We thought it was an impossible ask, but the EPD isn’t EPD by accident; he’d somehow managed to locate a portal that transported him back to simpler times and allowed him access to a shop that we believe must have been ‘connected’ to the Kingfisher Pub in Limerick, Ireland (it’s an in-joke but it could well be true). The shop was called Simpsons Superstore and it’s name was certainly justified – it was short of nothing they hadn’t got and everything on the EPD’s list was duly purchased (as well as things we’ll never use or need). It was true treasure trove of ephemera, collectibles and memorabilia and inside, the owner was busy filing a new/replacement door key for someone who looked like they’d been waiting for him to finish it all day (and quite possibly longer)! Just to add to the shops eccentricity, if you’re ever in Peel and need a second hand bike – they have cornered the market and even appear to have one of Lance Armstrong’s old US Postal bikes on sale.

As you will now have come to expect, our days tend to end with electrolyte replenishment and hot food in a local hostelry – we’d spoken that morning with the font of all knowledge (Castletown Co-op staff) and they’d suggested a pub called The Sidings. They were however very specific about us not making a mistake and entering The Viking pub that was directly opposite The Sidings- no details were given as to why it should be avoided, but the look on their faces told us all we needed to know – think Slaughtered Lamb from the American Werewolf In London….stay on the paths and off the moors…beware the full moon! Warning duly heeded, had a lovely meal and a few pints at The Sidings and for a Monday night, the place was buzzing – strangely enough, the Liver was the only thing not on the menu….

To follow are a series of photos from the second half / end of the day and if you look through them closely, you will see some blue sky! A tough but thoroughly enjoyable day and after we’d eaten, we retreated back to base camp, inflated new beds and pillows, slipped on the family slipper and hit the hay just as the 21:05 EasyJet to Gatwick was making its departure.

We did have one minor problem when we got back to camp in that the left hand side of the tent had seemingly come unpegged and was partially collapsed – we managed to don our head lamps and re-peg it before retiring for the night and resting our tired limbs.

We’d now completed just short of 45miles / 70km and the next two days would be almost flat and involve lots of walking on beaches – more of that tomorrow.

We are of course doing this walk to raise money for two Charities, SANDS and Streetlife and if you would like to make a donation, please follow this link to our JustGiving page which you can access by clicking here.

My Left Foot – IoM 100 Mile Hike – Day 2

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