South Barrule

Points of Interest
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Malew, Isle of Man, | Directions

A climb up South Barrule in the Isle of Man gives views of much of the Island


Height: 1585 feet (483 metres)




South Barrule is located in the south of the Isle of Man, closest to the villages of Foxdale, Ballasalla, Ballabeg and Dalby. Access by car is from the A27 road (which runs from Colby to Peel), roughly ¼ mile from where it intersects with the A36 Sloc Road, known at the area of the junction as the 'Round Table Road.' There is minimal parking on a rough track just off the road.


Ascent and View


South Barrule rises to 1585 feet (483m).  There is a narrow path to the summit, the peaty earth clearly visible amongst short heather coverage.  It is a steady, moderate climb and will take 25-30 minutes at most at a moderate pace.


From the summit, there are extensive views across the Island in all directions and on a clear day, further views of the coastlines of Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales.  Immediately below, to the south, are the Cringle Plantation and Reservoir, while out towards the coast, the smaller peak of Cronk-ny-Arrey-Lhaa can be seen.  To the west are the upper slopes of Glen Rushen and Foxdale and looking north, the Island's central hill range is also clearly visible.


History, Folklore and Tradition


South Barrule's ancient name was Warfield, or Warfell.


On the summit are the remains of an ancient fort enclosing an irregular area of 22,000 square yards, with the base of a wall on the northern side being over 9 yards in one place.  This fort was believed to be the seat of Manannan, the pagan sea god who once ruled the Island.  Up until the early 19th Century, bundles of grass were laid down here on Midsummer's Day (21st June) in tribute to Manannan, who appeared as a heron, seeking women to court.


According to some sources, South Barrule was once an important military station.  During the invasion of Richard de Mandeville, in 1316, the Manx retreated towards the stronghold of Barrule, lending weight to this theory.


There are many legends surrounding South Barrule.  One tale has it that Godred Crovan ('King Orry') dwelt in castles on the brow of this hill and killed his termagant wife by hurling a block of granite at her.  Another tells that Kitter, the mighty Viking hunter, lived here.  He was hunting deer on the Calf of Man when he heard the cries of his cook, Eaoch ('of the loud voice') telling him that his castle was on fire.  In his haste to reach Barrule, he perished in his coracle in the fierce tidal currents of the Calf Sound (the rocky islet in the Sound still bears the name 'Kitterland').  One version of the story has it that the Islanders themselves set fire to his castle, in revenge for the huge numbers of animals he had slain; in others, they called upon a witch to aid them, and it was her spells which caused Eaoch to fall asleep while the fire started.


The famous Phynnodderee, a benevolent Manx faerie, was said to have dwelt on the northern foot of the hill.  There is also, reportedly, a Giant's Cave at the foot of the hill, in which it is said that an immortal prince has been bound by enchantment for the last six hundred years.  Other tales include accounts of a huge dragon, with a tail and wings that darkened all the elements and eyes like two globes of fire, descend into a cave, from within which then came the most terrible shrieks and groans.  "If a horse or dog is taken to the mouth of the pit, its hair will stand of end, its eyes stare, and a damp sweat will cover its whole body."


Waldron, writing in 1726, tells us of a splendid palace which existed on this mountain, in the days of enchantment, where dwelt a celebrated magician.  "Every mortal who happened to venture within its portals was instantly converted into stone.  This spread such terror that the country for many miles round became desolate.  One evening after dusk, it happened that a poor man, looking for charity, was travelling on that side of the Island.  He had never heard of the enchanter.  Seeing no place where he might obtain lodgings for the night, he wandered about a considerable time, until at length he came in sight of the palace, which rose before him in all its splendour; but, not presuming to enter within its doors, lest he should be turned out again, he sat down under one of the large piazzas by which the edifice was surrounded.  Being hungry, he took some bread and meat, with a little salt, out of his pocket to eat; but a small portion of the salt having accidentally fallen to the ground, instantly terrific groans issued from the earth, a dreadful hurricane arose, lightning flashed around, and thunder rattled over his head.  The gorgeous palace, with its lofty porticoes and brazen door, vanished, and the mendicant found himself in the midst of a barren waste.  When he communicated this wonderful adventure to the inhabitants of the neighbouring village, they refused to believe him; till, having gone to the spot where the palace of the necromancer stood, they were convinced of the truth of the beggar's statement, and all united in prayers and thanksgivings for so great a deliverance.  It appeared evident from the beggar's story that the salt which had been spilt upon the ground had occasioned the dissolution of the enchanter's palace. For this reason salt has since been held in such high estimation with the Manx, that no person will go out to transact business without taking some in his pocket.  Many will neither put out a child, nor take in one to nurse, without salt being mutually exchanged.  Should any person ask the meaning of this veneration for salt, he will be told the above story, by doubting which he will incur the censure of the inhabitants of the Island as a very profane individual."


South Barrule is not only interesting to lovers of legendary lore but to modern geologists, for in the blocks of granite which are strewn about its western side and near its summit, it raises the question of how and by whom they were carried from their parent source - the granite outcrop, which is hundreds of feet below on the eastern side of Foxdale.