I’m spending tonight at Low Ballacotier Campsite, the winner of the 2011 1-star campground on the Isle of Man. Except for Wi-Fi, it’s got everything you’d expect in a UK campground: bathrooms, (hot) showers, a kitchen, shared common space, nd the potential for “glamping” (glamour camping-small wooden huts with beds, letting you camp in shelter). However, everything is musty and rundown. The elderly couple that own it have a sign on their door that says, “Please ring the bell. Please wait a few minutes, we are not as fast as we used to be.”
Leaving the hostel this morning, I knew exactly where the ferry to the Isle of Man would be. In addition to having consulted the GPS and asked the hostel staff, the turnoff was on the cycle path I followed yesterday to (and from) Carrickfergus. So I was unsurprised when I got there, and it was the ferry for Liverpool. I’d given myself plenty of time, so after receiving updated directions from there, I headed to the correct place. After stopping again at the Port Authority for further directions, I arrived at the ferry for the Isle of Man with 40 minutes to spare. The Port Authority space in Belfast is BIG.
The relatively modern ferry to the Isle of Man is a hydrofoil, and fast. Looking at the spray from the engines left me a little dizzy, and I retreated back inside. I’ve been seasick in the past, and it is so not fun. Fortunately I didn’t have any problems when we hit rough seas. That didn’t hold true for everyone; the crew liberally handed out barf bags. The crew even scampered off to further tie down the vehicles in the hold. Most the trip over to the Isle of Man was cold temperatures, heavy rain and high seas. When it came time to disembark, I wasn’t looking forward to the afternoon. I went ahead and added an extra layer (ok, my only other layer) to try to stay warm.
Rolling out of the back of the ferry in Douglas, the rain stopped, and the temperatures were warmer than they’d been at sea. It’s amazing how much better I feel when I’m not thinking I’m about to be cold and wet. I stopped at a nearby ATM, and a Tesco (grocery store) before heading out of town. There were a couple of nearby campgrounds, and I figured I could cycle to one, set up camp while it was still dry, and then cycle back into Douglas to explore. If the campground wasn’t there, I’d just head to the next one. I neglected to take into account just how mountainous the Isle of Man is, which would have made casually moving from one to the other not so casual.
Approaching the first campsite, a sign indicated a campground ahead, always promising. Yet when I arrived at the place located on the GPS? No campground. By that point I’d been solidly climbing (or walking) for 45 minutes, and wasn’t excited to reverse course before heading to the next icon on my GPS. But there’d been a sign!
Currently at the top of a hill, exploring forward was downhill. I hate heading down a hill when I think I’ll have to reverse course. However, the road back to Douglas was REALLY downhill. Exploring forward another 500m I encountered another sign, and shortly thereafter found this rustic campground. I had planned to explore the island from my basecamp, but instead I think I’ll pack up and move forward tomorrow.
The news on the ferry indicated that the hurricane that’s been threatening the coast at home is headed this way, and is going to put the UK underwater on Sunday. That works out well; I can spend that night in a hostel in Liverpool.
The forecast for tonight was heavy rain. I’d just enough time to set up camp, take a shower, and ensconce myself in the common area before the sky opened up.