Once upon a time, a trickster God came from the north and made his kingdom upon an island paradise. He was Lord of the Sea and of the islands that lay beneath; the islands of the dead. The water of the mists were woven into his cloak, through which he would shroud the island to hide it from sight of his enemies; watching their ships turn away in confusion. His anger would raise thunder and spark lightening from his shoulders, making the approach to the island one of peril and grief.
With a steed that could ride on both ocean and land, a sword that could cut through any armour, an armour that would bend and shatter any sword, a ship that he drove through thought alone, and a proud herd of magical swine that gifted him and his kin with strength, healing and vitality, the God was almost impossible to defeat and he and his wife, the shapeshifting queen of the fairies, lived without fear. Stories of his weakness were few and far between; on being surprised by an invading army, in his outrage he turned himself into a wheel of three armoured legs and rolled down from his mountain stronghold as fast as the wind to cut down the ships with his spurs.
However mighty an adversary he was, he was celebrated as a fair and beloved lord. The inhabitants of his island lived a happy, safe and prosperous life with their only tax being a sheath of rushes to be offered to him once a year. It was with a keening sorrow that after so many years of his guardianship, they saw their Lord eventually meet his match in Uillenn Faebarderg. Where he fell, a great lake appeared; the waters pulling its master’s spirit into the otherworld where he remains between the mists and clouds and sea, never on land again.
The God, Lord and Protector, Manannan, gave his name to the island paradise, an island that sits in the Irish Sea equidistant from England, Scotland and Ireland, only 33 miles long and 13 miles wide. His erstwhile stronghold of Barrule rises in the north and the mists still silently descend, occasionally sending an ill fated ship to its end on the rocky coasts. The flag of the Isle of Man celebrates him with its triskelion; the wheel of three armoured legs.
I would be arriving on a ship to the island, hopefully with safe passage, to walk the Raad Ny Foillan path following the coast all the way around the island. Starting in the capital city of Douglas, to traverse down the slate formed ridges of the south, over the summit of Cronk ny Arrey Laa, and past smugglers’ caves to the ancient castle at Peel to the west. From Peel the slate gives way to red sandstone cliffs and animals that appear out of place; four horned sheep, tailless cats and wild wallabies. The remote and rugged north of the island is sanctuary to many ground nesting birds, and the tide’s proximity to the path becomes more hazardous, until the path turns and heads east, down the final length of the island, past the brooding Barrule and over the flank of Snaefell, through tranquil glens to return again to Douglas harbour.
A hundred miles of an incredible gaulimaufry of geology and wildlife, on an island that has a parliament structured by the Norse, a language influenced by Gaelic, and a folklore that flits in between. I quite liked the sound of that.
I also quite liked the sound of the other things the island was known for; motorbikes and the associated bikers, seafood, chips and cheese, and loads and loads of cats. Sure, I dig rocks, cliffs, wallabies and mythology. But I really love bikers and cats.
What I didn’t know yet, was that there was so much more than that.
The 100 miles of the Raad Ny Foillan are usually written up as twelve short sections that would be far too short for a days hiking of most long distance walkers aiming to cover it all at once. As it is, people walk it in as little as four days, but I felt that if I aimed for that then I wouldn’t be giving myself the time to fully appreciate the island and therefore roughly planned for six and a half days of walking. I wildcamped on four nights and spent two in campsites. The last night was spent in a basic BnB in Douglas before an early morning ferry back to the mainland.
- Day 0.5: Douglas to Santon Head (10 miles)
- Day 1: Santon Head to Port Erin (22 miles)
- Day 2: Port Erin to Peel (14.5 miles)
- Day 3: Peel to Ballaugh (11.5 miles)
- Day 4: Ballaugh to Ramsey (19 miles)
- Day 5: Ramsey to Laxey (13 miles)
- Day 6: Laxey to Douglas (10 miles)
Anything goes on a coastal path. Especially on a small island that both benefits from warm ocean currents from the south, but gets battered by winds from the north. It would be yet another trip of both sunscreen and raincoats. After flippantly leaving my insect repellent at home on a weekend in the Howgills prior, I had learnt my lesson the itchy way and desp
|Tent plus pegs||907g|
|2L Water Bladder||150g|
|Clothes Bag:||2 x shirts|
|1 x leggings|
|1 x shorts|
|2 x hiking socks|
|2 x liner socks|
|1 x tankini|
|5 x pants|
|1 x sports bra|
|2 x tissue packs|
|Hair ties and clips|
|Electrical bag:||Power bank|
|3 x charging cords|
|Miscellaneous:||First aid kit|
|5 x small binbags|
|Water purifying tabs|
|Base Weight = 7.55kg|
|Tortillas x 10|
|12 x protein bars|
|Pack Weight = 12.3kg|