Marhofn 230.13 - May 2011

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Man on foot on Man

Jon Foote

Because I took my time in the latter reaches of the Corridor of Obscurity, I had plenty of opportunity to plan a suitable entry to the Hall. Completing England and Wales on Black Mountain was an attractive 600th but I knocked it off more than a year before poking my nose into the Hall. In the end I decided that the Isle of Man by public transport would make a very attractive little project, and that Bradda Hill was the best of the Marilyns so would have to be number 600. Plans all made, and then the Tamperers informed us that Lovely Seat was out of the list. I was a little miffed for a while, until I heard about the Builth Wells ruling that I could postpone removing it from my tally. Then I discovered that I had neglected to remove Baystones, so I had to postpone that a little longer too.

So at last I was off to the Isle of Man, which I had seen so many times from the Lake District, Ireland and Scotland (and Wales?) as well as the Larne-Fleetwood truckers' ferry. A short walk to Bramley Station, a short train ride into Leeds, and a short intake of breath - the 08:08 to Liverpool Lime Street had been cancelled. I took a later train to Manchester Piccadilly and a slower train to Liverpool; a brisk walk in roughly the right direction and I checked in for the ferry with ten minutes to spare. There was a slight fog delay, but after a quick walk along the Douglas seafront I was soon sitting in a Manx Electric Railway tram and arrived in Ramsey at 16:30, only half an hour late.

The weather was set fair and I was only slightly overburdened with my heavy cag instead of my son's lightweight one (neither was necessary) and a full first-aid kit which I had intended to leave behind. Up the Elfin Glen, across the busy A18 full of bikers practising for the TT, over an awkward fence or two and some boggy ground and up through the flies and past the hares to North Barrule. There followed one of the pleasantest ridges in the world to Clagh Ouyr, and an easy descent to the A18, which was plastered with 'keep out' signs, but it turned out that they only applied when the road was closed for the TT. Snaefell was much as I had pictured it, rather dull and disfigured by the tramway and its terminus. After dropping due south, I followed the A18 for a few minutes, with motorbikes racing past at well over 100mph, then west over Beinn-y-Phott in the cool of the evening and eventually north up a track towards Marilyn number two. I stopped for a bivvy at dusk at the corner of the forest at SC342873 and was up unsurprisingly early to see the dawn and bag Slieau Freoaghane, presumably the 'heathery hill'. (AD: When I was with Eric Young on top of Beinn-y-Phott last year, we asked a local dog-walker about the pronunciation of Slieau Freoaghane. His response 'Slew Kern' sounded half-plausible, but he may have been referring to Slieau Curn, a hill 3km north of SF. )

The most had to be made of the relatively cool morning so I headed south (with a short diversion for Colden in case it is ever shown to be the Marilyn) to Slieau Ruy and Greeba Mountain. In order to make sure of filling my water bottle, I descended fairly directly and nastily south-west to Cronkdhu campsite. It's horrible, all deep heather and deeper gorse, with a couple of awkward wall/fence crossings and some brambly areas to cap it all off. There was, however, water at the campsite, and for that I was grateful. The next section linked paths and short road sections to South Barrule. I missed the chance to top up water at SC280770 where a man trying to start his motorcycle would have said yes if I had thought to ask. Ten minutes later he passed me in his car and offered me a lift to Port Erin. I was tempted (I was very hot and already tired) but that would have meant missing South Barrule, and anyway would have felt like cheating. So I slogged on up SB, entirely missing the easy path until I was almost at the summit. This was a real landmark - downhill all the way from here surely, apart from the little matters of Cronk ny Arrey Laa and Lhiattee ny Beinnee which were on my preferred route.

Start of the easy path up South Barrule (photo: Alan Dawson)

Start of the easy path up South Barrule (photo: Alan Dawson)

Did I mention that it was hot? It was sweltering, and it's a very good thing I had remembered my sun hat. By now I was rationing my remaining water carefully, and feeling very weary, but this is a fine section of coastal scenery. On the way down to Fleshwick Bay a drystone wall appeared, with the first shade since the South Barrule plantation. I lay down in the shade and dozed until a walker enquired in a concerned tone about my health. Time to head on. I saw a couple lounging beneath parasols. They showed me a tap and I filled up and drank. Into Port Erin and sorted out a room for the night at the first guest house. After a shower I just about felt up to Mull Hill via some pleasant paths, then back for food and sleep. Another fine morning, and another hot walk, up to Bradda Hill, which I shared with a skylark. Who cared if this was number 598 or 600? It was just a great place to be.

Skylark on the summit of Bradda Hill (photo: Jon Foote)

Skylark on the summit of Bradda Hill (photo: Jon Foote)

Back home via the lovely Isle of Man Steam Railway, the ferry and a couple of trains. Two weeks later I was receiving a badge to mark my entry to the Hall of Fame and feeling a bit of a fraud, as by then I had removed Lovely Seat and Baystones, so I had to enter again on Beinn Ghobhlach (14A). Tamperers, tamper away to your hearts' content. I'm past caring.

From Bradda Hill (photo: Jon Foote)

From Bradda Hill (photo: Jon Foote)

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