In many ways today’s walk is exactly what this blog is about. Any of the three summits can be accessed from the mountain road within a few minutes (Slieau Meayll from Creg ny Baa via the concrete road to the mast where there is a stile onto the hill, Slieau Ree from Kepple Gate and Slieau Lhost form Windy Corner) but by combining them into one walk from Abbylands each one becomes quite a challenge across wet heathery ground. On a misty day like today only the traffic noise form the mountain road slightly spoils the feeling of remoteness. Certainly not many seem to come this way. Despite mostly easy gradients the 14km took nearly three and a half hours.
From Abbeyland I drove up the Ballamenagh Road and parked at the end of the track, which the sign near the Abbylands chapel suggests is called the Ammal Road.
The track is very clear for the first 1.5km.
An interesting memorial is soon past…
The track continues, today giving misty early morning views over the east coast and one of Slieau Ree looking like a proper hill.
A new stile is reached which gives access to the open hillside.
From here I wanted to head straight for the top of Slieau Ree. There is no path so heather bashing was the only way forward, something which was going to be a bit of a theme today.
Several small flocks of redwing flew over and two or three snipe flew off from the heather a short distance away. They looked very small, I wondered if they could be jack snipe.
The top of the hill is muddy and undistinguished. I backtracked a little to make sure I had crossed the spot height of 316m but the highest point is actually just above the mountain road.
From here I accessed the road at Kepple Gate via the yellow gate and crossed over to the gate and stile on the opposite side.
There is a decent path which heads straight to Slieau Lhost but I wanted to traverse to Slieau Meayll first. From previous wanders over these hills I knew this would be hard work and in the mist I needed to carefully follow a compass bearing across the boggy, tussocky, heathery ground. Actually you can’t go far wrong as if you go to low you will just meet the wall.
The point marked as ‘cairn’ on the IOM outdoor leisure map just has a few stones, the larger cairn is a couple of hundred metre further.
From here on a clear day you can see the large, well built cairn on a rocky rise towards Conrhenny plantation. I thought I would pay it a visit and found a rough stile over the wall. The cairn is a fine construction and even has a large slab which acts as a seat. It’s a shame there is no direct way to this point from the carpark at Conrhenny – a ‘private’ sign makes the landowner’s feelings clear.
It was hard work again back in the heather heading back towards the path to Slieau Lhost. Despite the mist I saw more snipe, a mountain hare and a male hen harrier. Then in the grass a dead redwing, perhaps a victim of the harrier.
Once I picked up the path the going was much easier and the top of Slieau Lhost offered a little shelter for tea and sandwiches.
I then followed the path down to Windy Corner (I have never been able to decipher the crest and writing on the gate here) and crossed the mountain road, turning sharp left along the path just below the road rather than the one that goes down into the East Baldwin valley.
This path start well, reaching a gate where it took me a few minutes to work out that I had to slide it open.
The path seemed to be heading back up to the road despite the map showing it actually dropping away slightly so I headed off to the right to pick up a faint path by a ditch. This eventually reached a broken gate by a stream.
After that the path was intermittent through yet more heather until eventually the stile at the top of the outward track appeared.
Then it was just a case of retracing my steps down to the car.
A tough ramble in the mist but an interesting alternative way of climbing these hills.