Seasons of the Tholtan

You say plantation, I say forest. Let’s call the whole thing wood.

As we emerged, blinking like bush babies from the latest lockdown, a friend suggested using our rediscovered freedom to go for a walk in the Manx countryside. As I live in the middle of Douglas, and therefore hadn’t left the town boundaries for eight weeks or so, this seemed an excellent idea. A bit of fresh air and a bit of photography. Splendid.

We took a stroll around what I’d previously known as Archallagan Plantation. I notice that the official blurb now refers to the place as Archallagan Forest. I’m pleased by this change. Although the heavily wooded area was created artificially, I always felt it was a bit on-the-nose to use the rather functional word ‘plantation’ which conjures up visions of commercial crops on a large scale. ‘Forest’ has more poetry and is more visitor-friendly. Now if we could continue this trend by renaming the Island’s reservoirs as lakes, that would be just beezer.

As we walked along the edge of the plantat….forest, I glanced through the trees, across the valley. In the near distance was a tholtan, and I think it’s revealing that one of the best-known words in Manx is our very specific name for an abandoned farm or other rural building. There are dozens and dozens of these haunting structures scattered around the countryside, but this one rang a bell in the back of my mind.

I remembered that I’d been walking this path a couple of years before, and photographed the tholtan in very different weather conditions. Working from memory, I tried to find a spot as close to where I’d taken the first photo as possible. I think I was pretty close.

So here for your comparison, are the two tholtan pictures. One on a deeply murky autumn day, the other in the slightly hesitant, but growing more confident brightness of spring.

It will be good to be able to share these views with visitors again.

Tholtan in autumn.
Tholtan in spring.

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