January 2015

An island with plenty packed in

Most people’s first thoughts about the Isle of Man will probably relate to motorbike racing, particularly the TT races.

Or maybe its the ‘Three legs of Mann’ symbol, or perhaps its position as a tax haven within the British Isles.  Sunset at Port Erin But from a walker’s perspective, this is a gem of a place. It has rolling hills, lofty sea cliffs, lonely beaches and glorious glens. There are sensational sunsets (if you’re lucky) and it is the only place in the British Isles from where you can view the seven kingdoms all at once (again, if you’re lucky). Throw in a steam railway, a mountain railway, electric and horse-drawn trams, and more heritage than you can shake a stick at...

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December 2014

Aiming low

Cat Bells.Dale Head.

Fleetwith Pike. Pillar. Scafell Pike, Illgill Head, Whit Fell and Black Combe. It’s a distinguished roll call of Lakeland tops. And over a windswept weekend in autumn, I didn’t climb any of them. It wasn’t exactly planned that way. I had tried to design a route that included some bits I hadn’t visited: the Newlands valley for one, then Mosedale and Wasdale Head. Then there was Ennerdale, and I had only passed through Eskdale on the miniature railway. Devoke Water, recently featured in a walking magazine, also looked enticing. A rough outline started to take shape.          The Newlands Valley But while the Lake District has a commendable bus network, these...

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December 2014

The lost village of Imber

We had finalised our plans the night before, sat in front of a blazing fireplace.

Up early next day, quick cup of tea, then boots on and straight up on to Salisbury Plain, a ten-mile stomp and back home mid-morning for breakfast. This schedule would allow us to enjoy Wiltshire’s vast chalk plateau in near solitude, before the hordes of walkers, cyclists and rangers arrived. Hopefully we would see plenty of the wildlife that abounds on the lush, undisturbed grasslands and copses. Standing outside at 6am on a freezing January morning, the flaws in our plan became apparent. My caffeine requirement correlates sharply with how early I rise, and the one cup of tea so far (cup, mind, not mug, and...

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