Blowing away the cobwebs on Spanish Head

Walkers at the start of Leg1 of the Raad Ny Foillan Anti-Clock Challenge in Port Erin – Sunday 28 January,

Now why would Bob Dylan have come to mind this evening as I thought of today’s walk from Port Erin to Port St Mary? We all know where the answer is to be found – (and if not, search at the foot of this blog) – for today it really was windy!

Before we left, the forecast was predicting wind of a steady 25mph, with gusts of 45mph. But ….. it seemed we only had the gusts, none of the steady stuff! Luckily it was generally “onshore” which meant we were being blown up the hills, rather than out to sea – which was a relief.

Forty of us assembled outside the Bay Hotel in Port Erin and after the group pic, were treated to a flexibility class by Mandine – that was a first for the Raad Ny Foillan Challenge walks! This was followed by some more serious stuff about the mud, the wind and the need for care on the hills – safety first.

It wasn’t long before the wind made itself felt, and as some started to struggle a bit, so the team spirit cut in with wonderful scenes of cameraderie and support; one lady finding it difficult to keep her footing in the wind was soon accompanied by a chivalrous Steve who walked with her holding her walking pole to provide stability, Dominic volunteered to help walkers through a tricky, slightly exposed patch and Jay helped one who was inadequately shod to negotiate the muddy patches – of which there were many!

And thats what makes our Raad Ny Foillan Challenge walks so special.

The Sound Cafe presented a welcome break for a coffee, an all too brief shelter from the gale and for Amber, Molly and Winston to be reunited with their owners; dogs not being allowed on the stretch to the Sound.

Amongst others waiting at the Sound Cafe was Rob Sellors, meeting wife Jan, her sister Angie and nephew Oliver. Rob knows the RNF better than most – he ran the RNF anti-clockwise in March 2015 in just under 22 hours with Ben Scott.

And there we also found Michael from IOMNewpapers, armed with camera and good humour sent out into the tempest to capture the spirit of the Raad Ny Foillan Challenge for posterity. Having been on hand when we started the first RNF Challenge walk in June 2016, it was a pleasure to find Michael had once again given up his spare time to take photos of our walkers.

All too soon we were back on the track – and first had to tackle the four hundred steps up Spanish Head – I didn’t count them, but Charlie the Fell Runner had and he should know. From there on, the wind, relatively, was starting to blow from abaft the beam and walking became much easier. Had we spinnakers, we would have flown home!

Lunch had been arranged at Andrea’s Pizzeria and Trattoria in Port St Mary and it was  bunch of tired – but happy – walkers who, four hours after departure from Port Erin, collapsed into their chairs and enjoyed lasagne and other italian delights.

Reflections from the trail:

  • How important it is to have the right gear for the occasion; good boots, layers and effective wind and rain gear (although today happily there was no rain.)
  • Chairman Ron, hors de combat at present, will need to catch up and do Leg1 in the next few weeks, so any latecomers will be welcome to join him when he starts his Anti-Clock Challenge. Newcomers are very welcome, please register on the Entry Form, and latecomers who want to join Ron for the Leg1 reprise, there will be a box on the Entry Form for you, too.
  • It was a pleasure to walk the first half in the company of young Oliver (11yrs old) who clearly will be soon out there taking on Uncle Rob on the runs. Schoolgoing hikers walk free on the RNF Challenge Walks. So, please do bring your children with you; families are very much encouraged.
  • And compliments to Jae and Adrian who joined us from Peterborough and intend flying over to make future legs!
  • We are hoping that Ben Scott will be running the RNF, again, raising money for Hospice at Home. More about this epic to follow.
  • We are looking at the best way to communicate with RNF walkers; we use FB, considering WhatsApp, and will continue to post through the H@H website.
  • As this post is circulated under the email address <Info@HopsiceatHome.im> by our email service, MailChimp, please do make sure that you “whitelist” <Info@HopsiceatHome.im> to ensure that our posts don’t get lost in your junkmailbox.
  • We are also considering putting an e-commerce facility on the H@H website, to allow walkers to pay their walking fees online at the same time as they enter – and there will be a simple Entry Form for walkers to complete for each walk. This makes it much easier for those all important souls – the organisers!
  • Everybody is welcome to walk, and your friends are welcome to join us – but please do complete the Entry Form rather than just pitching up.
  • And please don’t forget to pay! £10/pp to register for the RNF AntiClock Challenge and £10/pp for each leg.
  • And to Kim who has joined our team to help with the admin and Jenni who will be ensuring FaceBook is always uptodate – welcome and many thanks for volunteering.
  • The next walk, Leg2, will be on Sunday 25 February and led by Jennifer as Juliet and I will be away in the snows.
  • Per the programme the Leg2 start will be at 10:00am in the parking area behind Paddy’s Fish House in Port St Mary, and will finish at Cafe26, DerbyHaven where preparations are already being made for the RNF arrival.
  • There is an EntryForm – here  for Leg2, PSM to Derbyhaven – for walkers to confirm they will be walking and whether Jennifer should book them a place at Cafe26.
  • And finally, if you have never heard of GDPR, as they say about the football results – “if you don’t want to know, look away now”. But for the rest of us, this expanded data protection legislation arrives in May and we are required to have consent to hold personal details, so have added an appropriate button to the Entry Form.

 

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Bob Dylan