An easy 3 hour ramble with sweeping vistas and ancient shaded woodland, starting and finishing on the Steam Heritage Trail which links Peel with the Isle of Man’s capital, Douglas. Don’t be fooled by the short distance and minimal elevation gain – this route includes a river crossing and several squelchy bogs.
The idea for this hike came about after a failed attempt to locate the footpath on the eastern edge of Greeba Plantation some weeks earlier. We had climbed up into the plantation from the road and intended to cross over towards Braaid Farm before dropping back down to the Steam Heritage Trail, but once we were among the trees there was no path to be found.
What we did find was a wall at the edge of a field, and a small wooden gate marked ‘private’. Very odd. If you look closely at the Isle of Man Leisure Map you can see the footpath from Braaid Farm but it appears to end near Bawshen before reaching Greeba Plantation. The Ordnance Survey map meanwhile shows the footpath connecting with the forest, while OpenMap doesn’t show it at all. In the end we decided to go back and attack the path another day, from east to west. That day was today, and it didn’t disappoint.
- Start in Crosby, where there’s plenty of parking next to the bowling green and playground. From here it’s easy to pick up the Steam Heritage Trail, which makes for a nice flat start and finish.
- Walk east on the disused railway line for 700 meters and bear off left at the start of Glen Vine. A short while later you’ll be on the main road, where you turn right and immediately left, taking a narrow road that leads off between two cottages.
- Follow Glenvine Road for about a mile until you reach a junction, where you’ll go straight across.
- After another mile you’ll come to a large white building on your right, Braaid Farm. Take the footpath off to the west just after the farm’s upper entrance.
- Here’s where things get moist. It’s not too bad at first, just marsh grass and the odd cowpat, but that tiny stream that’s barely visible on the map does a great job of turning this little used footpath into quagmire. At times you have to squeeze between gorse bushes too but don’t give up – this really is the path, and before long you’re through the worst of it.
- Turn south after passing through a wooden 5-bar gate onto manicured lawn between two rows of trees. The contrast between the last section is stark, but you’re still on the right path, even as it flows through another gate and into somebody’s farmyard.
- Follow the posted footpath west into the field at the lower edge of the Bawshen farm, keep going until you reach Greeba Plantation 200 meters later.
- Hop over the crumbling wall and start wondering where you’re supposed to go next, because there’s no path, and no obvious way to cross the stream that’s between you and the rest of this walk. We tried north first, but a fallen tree and stubborn undergrowth barred the way. South proved more successful, but we had to do some wading before ending up in a field of sheep. This might have been the path of least resistance, but it was far from what you’d call a footpath.
- Follow the fence line along the top of the field until you come to a stile, where you can hop across and pick up the fire road which runs up and down the plantation. Turn left, and follow the track downhill all the way back to the main road.
- Turn left on the main road back towards Crosby. After 480 meters you can see the ruined chapel of St. Trinians on your left, then it’s another 170 meters before you turn right past the driveway of a house in order to pick up the Steam Heritage trail once more. From here it’s just under a mile back to the starting point.