Monday, 18 April 2016

# 19 - Manly Scenic Walkway

Sometimes it just isn't enough for a walkway to be scenic.  Sometimes it needs something a bit extra.  Something to set it apart from other scenic walkways.  I'm talking of course out a bit of raw masculinity.  If you're tired of completing feminine scenic walkways, then the Manly Scenic Walkway is the one for you.

This scene is even better if there is a blue sky
Of course, not only am I not being very funny here, I'm also not being funny using the same joke I used on an earlier post.  The Manly Scenic Walkway is so named, not because it is the most macho walkway in the Southern hemisphere, although I'm sure few would argue with that, but because it generally starts or finishes in Manly.  In actual fact, it is not a single walkway, but a number of connected walkways.  You can do them in one go, but this would be a long day, and we went with the more common option of doing it in parts.

Good old Tim Moore - two jobs and still enough time to open the Manly Scenic Walkway
The two main walkways are the Spit Bridge to Manly walk, and the Manly to North Head walk.  In yet another example of the flawed category system in TripAdvisor, the Spit Bridge to Manly walk is recorded as a 'thing to do' in its own right, and we reviewed it as #24, Spit Bridge to Manly Walk.  I won't review it again here, but it is an excellent 10k walk through bush and beaches, and is thoroughly recommended.

Cliffs.  Don't know why they're nice.  They just are
The other main walk is the Manly to North Head walk.  This is a loop, with the main entry point being just past Shelley Beach.  It actually has three loops, with two connecting paths that are covered both in the way out and the way back.  You can do them in either direction, or even mix and match to make figures of eight if you so desire.  We started from Shelley Beach, and basically followed the loops in a clockwise direction.

This scene felt very Australian to me.  Throw in a kangaroo and a crocodile, and this is what I pictured before we arrived
The section starts at clifftops, but quickly makes it way into bush.  You very quickly feel like you are far away from civilisation, despite still being quite close to Manly.  There are various small tracks to the side, that mostly lead to viewpoints.  You also pass some interesting old World War II installations, where cannons used to be placed to help defend Sydney from marauding attacks from the sea.  This is quite interesting if you like that sort of thing.

The swamp - a surprisingly nice place for a walk
You also pass through a swamp area, which is an optional but nice detour from the main track.  As you'd expect, there is plenty of wildlife in this area.  Mostly frogs, lizards, butterflies and birds, and a few spiders.  I am sure there are probably some snakes in there somewhere, but we didn't see any.  The walk continues through lovely bush with plenty of nice views and scenery.  It passes through the Gatehouse Visitor Centre, which we didn't check out, and also the North Fort Artillery Museum, which I believe closed in 2010.  Again, we didn't check this out - if it wasn't in the top 100, we weren't interested.

More of those cliffs - they just have that je ne sais quoi
When you get to North Head, there are a couple of really excellent viewpoints with some of the best views in Sydney, in my humble opinion.  These are also apparently good points to see some of the migrating whales during the whale migration season, although we didn't see any during our trip.  If you continue round, you start to loop back and head back towards Manly.  The path returns to parts you covered on the way out, but then splits again so you can go in a different direction and see some different views.

There is a lot of blue in this picture
The entire walk takes about 4 hours, but could be done quicker if you walk briskly and don't spend too much time at the viewpoints and optional side tracks.  Conversely, you could quite easily turn it into a whole day by bringing some food for a picnic, checking out the visitor centre, or just taking your time and stopping to enjoy the views.

You can see why Sydney is such a boat-y place
All in all, the Manly Scenic Walkway is an absolutely fantastic walk.  Whether you do it in one go, or spread it out and do it in sections, you will get some breathtaking views and get to enjoy walking through the bush.  The fact that it generally starts or finishes (or both) in Manly means you have plenty of options for a post walk meal or cold beer.  Or if you prefer, a bit of time to chill on the beach.  The full walk covers bush, beaches, cliffsides, peaceful inlets, the open ocean, and the lively area of Manly Beach.  It's hard to think what more you can want from a walk.

Back towards Manly - there really aren't many bad views along this walk
Is there something else you want from a walk?  Want to pull me up about my monotonous and unfunny Manly jokes?  Please use the comments below to share any questions or comments.

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