Snaefell to the Druidale Hills

11 03 2013

This was my favourite walk on the Isle of Man – in fact, so much so, that the next day I took my mother on a variation of the same walk. Both walks started off by getting the Snaefell Mountain Railway up to ‘Bungalow’ – the point at which the railway crosses the TT mountain road…

From here I headed off north-west down the A14 road which descends above the eastern side of the large and beautiful Tholt Y Will reservoir (this isn’t marked on our old 1963 maps as it wasn’t there way back then!)

Tholt y Will Resr to Sartfell & Slieaus Freoghane & Dhoo (S)
Dropping down the reservoir with my object hills past Druidale in the distance

After about a mile, there was a ferny path below the road and nearer to the reservoir so I dropped down to that for a while. The path eventually rejoined the road just as it headed steeply downhill round a bend to bring me down to the forest at the head of Sulby Glen.

Tholt y Will Reservoir (S)

Snaefell from Tholt Y Will Resr
Snaefell from Tholt Y Will Reservoir

Shortly after crossing the river, a path takes off to the left towards the forest and curves back around the base of the reservoir to Druidale (or, as I was imagining, “Druids’ Dale”). The path headed back out of the forest through farmland where I saw the most-shortlegged and tiny adult cow I’ve ever seen – just like a fairy cow – no wonder there are so many fairytales told in the Isle of Man!

IOM-Manx Moo
Manx Mini-moo

I then met the Druidale road – and a very pleasant road it was with literally no traffic and through a lovely, quiet dale.

Snaefell from Druidsdale

Snaefell from Druidsdale Road (S)

There were hills away to my left beckoning to me though – well in fact, they’d been beckoning to me when I’d seen them on the horizon as I dropped down to the reservoir earlier.

Shortly, I came across a rough, stony path heading up towards Slieau Dhoo (1417 feet). I turned off up this path towards the hills – it was really gentle walking and hardly any effort. By the time I reached the first hill though, the feeling of solitude was wonderful – I found these hills the most peaceful place on the whole island… At some point, I came across a beautiful little tarn where I stayed awhile – total peace.

Slieau Dhoo 'Lochan' (S)
Slieau Dhoo to Slieau Freoaghane

Eventually, I roused myself and set off further south-west towards the second rounded hill of Slieau Freoaghane (1602 feet). From there, I could see a further, smaller hill – Sartfell (1490 feet). I liked the sound of that name so continued on to that. The going over all three hills was easy on grass and quartzite – the beauty of the quartize was really taking my eye as it shone pearly-white in the periodic sun.

From here I cut straight down south-east to a track I could see heading beneath the three hills which would take me back below Slieau Freoaghane, between that and Slieau Dhoo and eventually lead to a bigger track down to Kirk Michael where I intended to get the bus back round to Douglas. The track was exceedingly pleasant where it descended down to Kirk Michael and made a lovely end to my day.

St Michaels Path to Slieaus Fraoghane & Cwn

The next day, I’d extolled the virtues of the lovely, quiet Druidale and persuaded my mother she wanted to come and do a variation of my walk while the two men, who weren’t interested at all, went off pubbing or whatever.

We again took the train to ‘Bungalow’ and set off down the road above the reservoir. This time, we didn’t leave the road as we’d seen that, by dropping down below it the day before, I’d missed the chance to visit the Tholt Y Will Glen above Sulby. We jaunted happily down the road in the sunshine and, after nearly two miles, came across the entrance to the glen. The guardians were some lovely-coloured hens and a cockerel.

IOM-Hens above Tholt Y Will

The poultry completely ignored us so we assumed entry to the glen was free 😉 We set off down a lovely sunny ramp of grass beneath copper beeches to the bottom of the glen.

Tholt y Will Glen

The route was a well-made path and we passed beautiful little waterfalls and everywhere was lush and vibrantly green.

IOM-Tholt Y Will Waterfall2

Tholt Y Will Glen Stream

Tholt Y Will Glen Falls

IOM-Tholt Y Will Glen1

At the exit to the glen, we again turned up the track through the forest for Druidale and I pointed out the fairy cow to my mother. We were soon on the lovely peaceful road which we, this time, followed for a couple of miles to a very sharp bend by the Ballaugh Plantation.

At this point we were looking at Mount Karrin – a hill I so liked the name of I felt it had to be done. It was a pretty little hill (1084 feet) and I was very keen to go up it but, despite there being a right-of-way past it, there didn’t seem to be an official way up it. I wasn’t to be put off however and decided I was going up anyway and clambered (with care) over the nearest wall to tackle the short climb.

Just as I was heading up it, I heard the sound of an approaching engine. I looked round to my mother who was gesturing at me to get down and hide. I gathered it was the farmer on his quad bike and ducked below an outcrop. The bike engine got nearer and nearer and I was thinking how stupid I’d feel if he caught me hiding on his hill and wondering what I’d say. Luckily, he stopped not far above me and soon left again. I continued up to the little summit and then hot-footed it back down to my mother.

We took the right-of-way track which passes just west of the summit and heads down, past some tumuli, to eventually join the Sulby road about a mile off its junction with the main A3 bus-route back round the island. I have to admit to not being able to resist the beautiful quartzite rocks beside this track and took a fair-sized flat piece back for my garden – very naughty – good job everyone doesn’t do that!

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6 responses

14 03 2013
bob

My kind of walk Carol. There seems to be a lot more wild land there than I imagined looking at the maps. Maybe get there after all.

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14 03 2013
mountaincoward

There’s quite a bit in the centre of the island – and pockets of wild land elsewhere, like the SW coast up to Niarbyl and the hills just east of that – we didn’t manage to get there due to the lack of time, roads and public transport but with a pedal bike or something and more time, you could.

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11 03 2013
fedupofuserids

Looks pleasant walking 🙂 very peaceful.

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11 03 2013
mountaincoward

Was definitely my favourite area on the island – I tend to like the quiet, central bits…

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11 03 2013
lanceleuven

Hah! That cow looks hilarious. Although, he also looks a bit angry. Perhaps he has short man cow syndrome.

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11 03 2013
mountaincoward

She was probably fed-up by the time I brought my mother the next day to laugh at her! 😉

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