Saturday Stroll with James Franklin
What is your favourite Saturday Stroll. This week, James Franklin, Online and Educational Resources Officer for Culture Vannin, takes us on a tour of round mounds, sea beasts and Holy wells as we visit Peel Hill:
Where is the walk?
Starting in Peel, cross the swing bridge and turn up the hill at the entrance to Fenella Bridge (which stretches across to Peel Castle awash with shells).
As you go past the bench on the top of a little hillock, note that Agatha Christie inspired hundreds of tourists to hunt for this in 1930 when she featured a picture of it in her treasure hunt short story, ‘Manx Gold’.
The bench featured in Agatha Christie's short story
Go over the craggy first peak of the hill, passing by a series of Early Bronze Age burial mounds hidden as bumps in the gorse but dating back around 3,500 years, and drop down the ridge to the dip by the mast. Resist continuing up towards Corrin’s Folly, but peel off right through the heather and gorse towards the kissing gate and the open broogh beyond.
Looking back towards Corrin's Folly
It is not for the faint-hearted, but this path is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in the Isle of Man, or anywhere.
If you can handle the thought on this narrow path, it was here that Hall Caine set the dramatic final scene of his 1923 novel, ‘The Woman of Knockaloe,’ wherein Mona and Oskar leap to their death here rather than suffer separation in a world embittered by wartime hatred. Heart-rending stuff!
As you progress, look out for the rock in the sea below with a sharp ridge along its back. This is the sea beast which St Patrick turned to stone when he first visited the Island.
Above it is Chibbyr Pherick (Patrick’s Well); today a damp piece of sunken ground with jinnies in inland from the path, but once a place of pilgrimage renowned for its Holy Water, and many visit it yet with reverence.
Looking back from Chibbyr Pherick
Continue around the hill until you meet the path heading up the hill towards the Tower. Ignore this and head down by the wall to the stile which lets you out towards the farmhouse. Take the footpath left here and follow its turns down towards the Raggatt.
Here you emerge at the main road, where you can turn off at the wooden steps on the bridge and go under the bridge to follow the old train track back towards town.
Start point: Peel quayside
Finish point: Peel town centre, behind House of Manannan
Approximate duration: Two hours
Level of difficulty: Moderate/steep in places.