Day 4 Start - Point of Ayre

Point of Ayre to Port Cornaa – Distance – 27km Duration – Approximately 6 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

Before we get into details about the walk, I have to say a few words about what we witnessed after dark last night.

The clouds started clear just after sunset and the temperature also started to plummet. With tha combination we soon saw exactly why the island is peppered with information boards about ‘Dark Skies’. Dark skies are something that is sadly missing from most locations in England due to light pollution but there are places dotted around where you can still experience the sheer wonder and magnificence of a night sky free from that light pollution – it is simply a breath-taking experience.

Many of us will be able to identify constellations from the Autumn / Winter night sky such as Orion and The Plough (Big Dipper), but I jest not when I say that these constellations were really difficult to see – they were difficult to see simply because they were lost in a ‘blizzard’ of stars – you had to really concentrate to find them and I simply stood open mouthed as tried to take it all in – including the Milky Way! The image below is not one we took but has instead been taken from the ‘Isle of Man Events’ page and whilst it gives an idea of what it was like, in real life it was actually more spectacular than this!!

Anyway, enough of the star-gazing.

Day 3 ended and day 4 started at Point of Ayre, the most northerly point of the island. This meant a 50 minute commute to the start point which was fine for the big lads in the front of the car (me and Simon) but for the little lads in the back, it was bit like a game of Tetris with only one way and very specific positions that allowed them all to fit in (relatively) comfortably.

Much like the previous day, a significant part of todays walk was to be along the beach and again the tides were in our favour. This mornings high tide was at 10.26am and, after setting off from our start point at around 10am, meant that as soon as we set foot on the beach, the tide was high/falling and it would be well after our bedtime before the next high tide.

The days walk was only 27km, our shortest of the trip so far and there was little in the way of ascent with only 400m across the whole route. With this in our minds, we set off at a leisurely pace and planned on enjoying ourselves and taking in the sights and sounds. As you will see in the images to follow, the day started quite chilly and we were all layers and hats to start – however 15 minutes into the walk and we’d all warmed up and were back to t-shirts and shorts.

The walk along the beach was lovely and was littered with far more shells and crabs than the previous day – a lot of the shells were Scallops and we’d started thinking about lunch already 🙂 What was also much more evident today was that the cliffs in this section were mixed between the sandy/muddy cliffs of the previous day and some really visually pleasing rocky sections where the rocks shelf had been smoothed by the waves and pebbles to give glass-like surfaces, not unlike alpine mogul fields.
However, as lovely as it was, there were sites of many landslips along its length and one of those was still very fresh and had clearly been caused by extensive rain – most of us staid well clear of deposited earth but Jim decided to have a walk across it – to say we nearly lost Jim would be an exaggeration but he went almost knee deep into semi-solid mud and the rest of us nearly split our sides laughing (then we checked he was OK 😉 ) – If you have a look in the photo below, you can just see Jim’s footprints.

I mentioned ‘rocks’ for for the geology fans out there, here is some of what we saw just on this short morning section.

Today’s halfway point and selected lunch location was Ramsey, the third largest town on the island with around 9000 residents. Of all the towns we’d passed through, this was probably the least pretty and had a more industrial feel to it. I’m probably being a bit picky but the town was arranged around a working harbour with a couple of box section iron bridges and a very long pier (Queens Pier) that looked like it has been used to disembark passengers / materials in times gone by. There looks to a restoration project in progress and it is hoped they restore the pier to its former glory. We also learnt a new word today – ‘Narthex’ which relates to the West Door at the church of Our Lady Star of the Sea and St Maughold…every day’s a school day1

Regular reader of this blog will know that I seawatch from Blackpool promenade and the ‘shelters’ we try and keep out of the wind and rain under leave a lot to be desired – what we’d rather have is what they have on Ramsey promenade where the ‘shelters’ do exactly what they say on the tin and are quite beautifully adorned in artwork/murals to add style to their function!

We had lunch at the Swimming Pool centre and very nice it was as well. We also managed to educate someone on the posh way to eat a vanilla slice…not sure they took too kindly to the advice and something clearly got lost in the translation as the first attempt to put the advice into practice was an unmitigated disaster :-0

Our afternoon session was very different to the morning and was cliff walking and lots of rocky coves and bays – we were also treated to some fabulous island history that goes back at least 3500 years – think about that for a minute…we did. We also cast our minds back to last nights sky and how the people involved in these works will have watched in awe the very same sky we had watched and it gave us a connection of sorts…

The breeze from the north had improved visibility no end and from this elevated position at Ballafayle Cairn, we had views of six of the seven Kingdoms visible from the Sile of Man and they were, i) The Isle of Man ii) Scotland iii) England iv) Wales v) Kingdom of Heaven and vi) Kingdom of Neptune – The only we hadn’t seen was Ireland – we’ll have to come back for that!

The final leg of todays walk was to Port Cornaa but in order to get to the end, we first had to walk up what felt like another never ending hill. This time it was Maughold Road (the A15!) and onto Quakers Road – this short 1.5km section has almost half of todays climbing in it (200m) and it was one of those where you just looked at the floor and kept going until there was no more up! The psychological boost was that this was the last significant climb of our trip – from here on in it would be undulating at worst and we relaxed and enjoyed the days last few kilometres. The scenery changed again and included some walks down and back up some lovely wooded river valleys with mature oak and beech trees on either side giving us lovely dappled shade and a very different atmosphere than most of the rest of the walk.

Another perfect rendezvous with the EPD meant that we could make our way back to Castletown for our evening meal, again taken for the third and final time at The Sidings.

Day 5 would be our shortest walk of the week at 25km, and with that in mind, we had a few more electrolytes than previous nights. We were still tucked up in bed with biscuits and brew in time to hear the EasyJet Isle of Man to Gatwick depart which just about drowned out the EPD’s motivational playlist that was booming out from his Bluetooth speaker…small mercies 😉

Thanks again for getting this far and I hope you can join us tomorrow for our final walking instalment…

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.

PS – I nearly forgot but we did find out today that if re-incarnation was a thing, Knocker has his request in to come back as a specimen bull – what prompted this conversation was this fella – I think we all understood where he was coming from…

My Left Foot – IoM 100 Mile Hike – Day 4 – A Bit of Everything

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