Skinny Dipping

Port Cornaa to Douglas – Distance – 25km 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

Four days of walking behind us and 84 of 100 miles in the bank – Today was only a short walk of 16 miles / 25km and whilst not flat, it had 600m of ascent but those 600m were front loaded with 400m in the first 3miles / 5km and the rest of the day just gentle undulations.

We’d had pastries and cold drinks for breakfast so far but today, as we had a short day and a bit of time on our hands, we decided to treat ourselves and have a sit down, hot breakfast from the café in Castletown Square – we’d met the owners on our first night in town (they’d been in the groups who’d been on the sauce all day) and they gave us a lovely warm welcome; they vaguely recalled our chat on Sunday night but were a little loose on specifics 😉

We all had a lovely breakfast – they did a breakfast bap that had everything including baked beans on it and that was the most popular choice; ‘left field’ choice of the day was ‘curry pastie’ chosen by the EPD. Raised eyebrows all around at that one, but as mentioned in previous blogs, it’s this kind of thing that gives these high performers their edge and why we have learned to never question their decisions and indeed we try to learn from them. What we learned from this decision was never to have a curry pastie for breakfast. Ever!

Suitably full and warned we headed off to the final start point back at Port Cornaa and arrangements were made to skip lunch and go right through to the finish at Douglas where we’d hook up with the EPD.

We were in OK nick physically and the only issues we had were a damaged nail on my left foot and Simon had a pretty big blister just under his big toe – apart from that we were relatively unscathed. We therefore set off on the last leg with a spring in our step and did think that we should get a few pictures from the World famous Laxey Wheel – we couldn’t get too close but we managed a nice group shot and one that gives a better view of the wheel itself. You can learn more about this 170 year old feat of engineering by clinking here .

The weather was the warmest and sunniest it had been all week and it was very much t-shirts all around. The walking was pleasant and the views and scenery seen through the crystal clear air were again a delight. Knocker, and to a lesser extent Jim, had been dying to get their kit off and go skinny dipping all week and after around 8km, we rounded a corner and happened on Garwick Bay – WOW! Talk about saving the best ’til last – The sunshine makes most things look better, as does a nice yacht at anchor in the bay but we reckon this would still have been our favourite if it had been steepling down with rain. Knocker and Jim needed no further encouragement and in true Reggie Perrin style, their clothing left in their wake, in the ran – It isn’t clear from the picture, but take our work for it when we say that the water must have been freezing and it wasn’t until a hot shower in Douglas, 24 hours later, that things were back where they should be 😉

  • Skinny Dipping

Re-clothed and warmed up, we left Garwick Bay behind and made our way up the short sharp climb up the road and across the tracks of the Manx Electric Railway. The railway runs all the way up the East Coast from Douglas to Ramsey (if only we’d known!). The service must be regular as even on this October day, with few tourists to be seen, the tramcars were running every 15 minutes of so – as a resident of Blackpool, electric trams are nothing new and whilst most other towns and cities in the UK ridded themselves of them, Blackpool and the Isle of Man were steadfast in their use and it now seems that everyone else wants them back!

The official path now took on a mix of main road and cliff-top and as Douglas came into view, the general vibe was of a much more urban environment and we were returning back into the man-made world after a week long break and nights spent under canvas. We’d missed some of the creature comforts but I think I can speak for us all when I say that that was probably all that we’d missed. We’d only been away a week and it seemed as though the world was falling apart around us , with unimaginable horrors filling the 24 hours news reels we had done so well to avoid.

As we entered Groudle Glen, Douglas was momentarily lost to view and were back in the lost world of wooded river valley with its dappled sunlight and ever present sound of a river cascading ever downward to the sea – we chuckled as on the far side of the valley we spotted a workman valiantly pushing a wheelbarrow up a very steep incline to where he and his colleague were working – as we climbed up the same road, we came across them both and it was clear that the up-hill struggle we’d witnessed was of many already completed and it looked like many still to do.

Once out of the valley, Douglas was back in view and, much like the Point of Ayre lighthouse, it seemed within touching distance but was at least 3.5miles / 6km away – all downhill or flat though which certainly helped 🙂

We now started to pass some of the rather grand clifftop houses and noted the surprise of some peoples faces as we passed by the end of their garden on the slim slither of land from which the footpath had been carved. House prices in this area of the island can be well in excess of £1Million but the larger than life, spectacularly out of place,, tiger statue in one garden, demonstrated perfectly that you can buy anything with money, but you can’t buy good taste!

We walked along the length of King Edward Drive, onto Sea Cliff Road as we overlooked Onchar Harbour and Port Jack Beach and finally made our way onto Queens Promenade as arrived at the city boundary. We were compelled to have had the obligatory photo in front of the ‘Welcome to Douglas City’ sign and duly did so. The finishing line was still a way off around the other side of Douglas Bay, but it was now just a casual walk and the chat had moved on to sausage rolls and beer!

We’d now become full blow tourists and were going to enjoy the ‘Prom’ – we took a few touristy photos and struck a couple of poses with the Brothers Gibb (we thought the initials were where the BG’s may have taken their name?) – we have to say, they were big lads!

On a more poignant note, as we moved towards the end of the Prom, almost opposite the Refuge Tower, we became aware of a lot of Pink, Blue and White ribbons attached to the railings – on closer inspection we discovered that these ribbons all had names on them; the names were of babies and young children who had died and were there as part of a #WaveofLight for the Baby Loss Awareness Week, specifically advertising a vigil that would take place at this location at 7pm on Saturday 15th. As we were ourselves raising money for SANDS Baby loss charity, this made the journey and our walk even more worthwhile. Our only regret was that we travelling home on the morning of the 15th and would be unable to attend.

We were now only 5 mins from the finish line and we arrived in the autumn sunshine at around 3.30pm. We tried to recreate that photograph from the first morning and also pressganged a young lady into also taking some pictures for us. 100 Miles / 160km done and we could all still walk (of a fashion). With no more walking to do, it was off the the pub for those important electrolytes and salt ‘n’ vinegar crisps and then back off to Castletown, a meal at the George Hotel and a mini pub-crawl to the include a couple of the pubs we’d not yet frequented.

We didn’t have to walk far – The Britannia was on the quayside and very lovely it was too – there were two large Chesterfield Sofa’s that had our names on them and as much as Manx pale Ale in the taps as we could drink. We stayed for a few pints an Simon kindly abstained and drove back to Castletown.
It was decided that we’d leave the car in Castletown and all let what hair we had left down. We managed to find and book a cabbie who had a fair coming in on the Gatwick flight and he’d pick us up afterwards – around 10pm (a late night). He’d also collect a couple of the group in the morning to collect the car whilst the rest of group broke camp and took the tent down – a great plan.

We had a lovely Meal at The George Hotel and then headed off to The Garrison – we only had one drink here as the barmaid wanted to shut early – she only had ac oupel of shifts left and was off the the big city (Douglas) to study Barbering – that’s another story 😉 – We supped up and headed off to a new pub for us ‘The Castle Arms’ – It was absolutely bouncing and there was a great atmosphere – The pub is also known as the Glue Pot and whilst we asked a few people, it seems no more exciting than the fact that if you do make this your local, you tend to get stuck with it.
In this pub there was an Eric’s Corner, and sat under was a young man who’d probably given the Glue Pot it’s name – he’d been coming for almost forty years.

The taxi arrived and suitably oiled, we made our back to base camp for the last night under canvass – EPD put on his late night playlist and with a cup of tea and a selection of biscuits, we all said our good nights and hit the sack – all tucked up before 10.30 🙂

Tomorrow sees us break camp and head to Douglas for a day out. We’ll be checking into the Premier Inn and will be washing, showering and changing our clothes – we may even apply some deodorant and aftershave….please keep an eye out for the next post and thanks for getting this far!

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 5 – Skinny Dipping

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