If you haven’t been to the Isle of Man, I’d say you’re missing out! The island is beautiful, has a great mix of general tourist activities and hill and glen walking and the place is well-run, clean and orderly. Another bonus is that you don’t need a car! You can get more or less all over the island by various forms of public transport. By various forms, I mean there are all of the following methods of transport on the island: horse trams, electric and steam railways, a mountain railway and buses. To get to the island, there are ferries from both Liverpool and Heysham (Lancashire).
This post is going to deal with the touristy bits and I plan to post a further three posts, one for a coastal walk we did on the south of the island and two mountain walks.
From when I was very small (4 years old), right up to my pre-teenage years, my family went on Youth Hostelling and walking holidays to the Isle of Man (in addition to the Lake District and Wales). A few years back I was reminiscing about those holidays and felt it was time I went back over to see whether the island was as wonderful as I remembered – it was!
My Mum and Dad were interested in a revisit and my usual walking partner Richard was also intrigued. We booked a lovely holiday flat not far out of the main town (and ferry port) of Douglas. We had such a superb week that, when the Paddle Steamer ‘Waverley’ was going across to the island for the day from Whitehaven in Cumbria, we hopped on and went across for another visit. When I finally finish my Munro-bagging in Scotland, Richard and I fully intend to have another week over there too.
At the time we visited, our local train service didn’t connect up to the ferry at Heysham for the journey out to the island (it now does) so, on the way out we went via Liverpool (which is hard for us to get to by train) and came back via Heysham. Luckily, the next time we go, Richard and I will both be able to get a train from our respective homes straight to Heysham for the outgoing and return journeys.
When you arrive at Douglas and step out of the ferry terminal, it’s like you’ve gone back in time. One of the first sights you’re greeted with is the horse trams running up and down the promenade.
From Douglas, the Manx Electric Railway runs, via the lovely town of Laxey, to Ramsey with it’s grand long yellow-sand beach (unfortunately, for some reason, I haven’t got a single picture of Ramsey ). Our first day out, we took a ride on this railway as far as Ramsey. During the journey, one of the things I noticed about the beauty of the Manx countryside was that most of the hedges are gorse so the emerald green fields were interspersed with bright yellow hedges – truly gorgeous!
Laxey Wheel, being already over a big drop, was a very scary climb and my mother and I only made it to about half-way up. It didn’t help you were going up the outside of the structure on slatted wooden steps which you could see lots of space between!
You can break off at Laxey to take the Snaefell Mountain Railway which we did on another day. There’s a nice cafe on the summit with its altitude painted on it – 2036 feet.
Also, near Douglas, we took the bus one day to visit the Home of Rest for Old Horses near Douglas. Again, strangely for me as I love horses, I have no photos of this visit either. The rest home was mainly set up for the horse tram horses’ retirement but there are other equines there too…
We made several day’s use of the steam railway as it starts in Douglas (with a superb cafe in the Victorian station buildings) and visits all of the following places: Port Soderick, Santon, Ballasalla, Ronaldsway (airport), Castletown, Ballabeg, Colby, Port St. Mary and terminates at Port Erin. We used it on different days to visit Castletown, Port St. Mary and Port Erin. Information on the railway is
The first trip we visited Castletown – a very pretty and quaint town which has its own castle – Castle Rushen.
Another day we took the train to the terminus at Port Erin and walked round the southern tip of the coast to Port St. Mary via the historic museum village of Cregneash.
I noticed that Port Erin was a superb place to buy my souvenirs to take home so, the day before we left, I went back there to get some. We also took a short walk of a couple of miles up the road above Port Erin to visit a burial chamber circle.
Finally, we took the bus across to Peel where there is another castle and another great beach.
There is also a lovely hill above the town which gives great views and a pleasant short walk…
Get yourself a trip over there!