Favourite walks of the north west of the Isle of ManThe north west of the island is a great place to explore on foot – with uncrowded beaches, hills, hidden glens, keeills, and tholtans. Local guide, Catriona Livingstone shares with us a selection of her favourite walks around Kirk Michael and Ballaugh.
Just north of Kirk Michael is Orrisdale, and a gentle 2 mile loop walk on country lanes. Depending on the ability level of your group this can be extended to explore three different points of interest. Less than half a mile from the road is the Druid’s Circle, or Cronk Bane y Billy Willy (Bill Willy’s White Rock – don’t you love that name?) near Orrisdale Head. It is not as well known as the Meayll Circle or Cashtal yn Ard, but it is a prehistoric Cairn Circle set on a stunning headland with views of the coast and hills.
Another mile of walking takes in sheltered Bishopscourt Glen, with it’s mysterious Cave of the Winds and and Mount Aeolus – plus ducks to feed, if you have little ones. Glen Trunk, is a local gem that is the route to a stretch of sandy beach where you will find few other people.
Kirk Michael village itself has a fine collection of Norse crosses at the church, and a popular local spot for tea and cakes, the Dovecote Tearoom (closed Sunday and Monday).
South of Kirk Michael there are other attractions that can be explored, either in one energetic 5 mile loop or tackled separately in shorter walks. Starting from Glen Wyllin campsite there is a one mile walk through the picturesque, residential upper Glen Wyllin to, and around, the Cooil Darry nature reserve. The energetic part of the walk is to go up Cooil Darry lane, almost to Barregarrow, and then down to Cabbal Pherick (St Patrick’s Chapel) and Spooyt Vane (the white waterfall).
Spooyt Vane Waterfall
The easier route to Cabbal Pherick, of about a mile and a half, is to walk up through the glen from the beach at Glen Mooar. If you wanted an even more challenging walk, the distance can be doubled with a clamber up the Monk’s Lane to the Stockfield Road, and then back via Kerrowlass and the coastal footpath.
Ballaugh also has some hidden gems, including a secluded valley, Glen Dhoo, (the Dark Glen) where Manx Wildlife Trust manages the Purt nature reserve. This is reached by an easy one mile walk along a track from Ravensdale, at the top of Ballaugh Glen. If you would like a more strenuous outing that includes a steep climb, there is a route up through Ballaugh Plantation, over the ridge to the tholtans at Killabrega, and then downhill along the Druidale Road back to Ravensdale. This walk is 6 miles and would take about 3 hours.
Alternatively, if a steep climb is not to your taste, after exploring Glen Dhoo, and driving to the top of the Druidale Road, Killebrega, with its killer views of the majestic Sulby Valley, is just half a mile from the road. There is also the option of having a peaceful walk of a mile or two, among the trees at Tholt y Will plantation.
The tholtans at Killabrega overlooking Sulby Valley
These are a selection of favourite walks in the area, but there are others that you could ask Catriona about. Ballaugh is home to the curraghs and a great place for Wallaby spotting, especially at dusk. If you like the challenge of hill walking, there is a route running along the back of the Michael hills that is a wonderful half day walk.
You’re in good hands with Catriona, who knows this area like the back of her hand. She lives in Kirk Michael, where she grew up, and where her family have lived since at least the 1500’s (that’s when they began keeping records). She has walked these routes many times, and will be mindful to adapt the walks to your abiliites so that you have a safe adventure. Manx Walks website is www.manxwalks.im and you can follow her walking adventures on ManxWalks on Instagram and Facebook. She is friendly and fun, and looks forward to taking a walk with you and your family.
The photographs were taken by Silvester - Photography of Distinction.