Isle of Man – Are You Missing Out?

9 02 2013

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.

P S Waverley
P.S. Waverley at Whitehaven Pier

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.

Stormy sky2
Arriving to Douglas Under Stormy Skies
Douglas storm

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.

Horse Tram, Douglas
Traditional Horse Tram

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!

Manx Electric Railway1

Manx Electric Railway

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!

Laxey Wheel
Laxey Wheel or ‘Lady Isabella’ from the Snaefell Mountain Railway (click on for larger picture)

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.

IOM-Snaefell Mountain Railway

IOM-Snaefell Summit Caff

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

Here

IOM-Douglas Station
Dad admiring a steam engine

The first trip we visited Castletown – a very pretty and quaint town which has its own castle – Castle Rushen.

Castle Rushen
IOM-Castle Rushen Bell

IOM-Castle Rushen

IOM-Castletown Castle Grounds1

Castletown Harbour
IOM-Castletown Harbour

IOM-Castletown Harbour Flowers

Castletown Weir

The Police Station
IOM-Castletown Police Station

IOM-Castletown Pub
… and the pub!

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.

Creagneash

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.

Burial Chamber Circle Above Port Erin

IOM-Port St Mary
Port St. Mary
Flowers in Port St Mary

Finally, we took the bus across to Peel where there is another castle and another great beach.

Peel Castle

IOM-Peel Battery

IOM-Peel from Castle

Dragon Boats at Peel Harbour

There is also a lovely hill above the town which gives great views and a pleasant short walk…

Peel Harbour Hill

Peel Harbour Hill (portrait)

Ascending Peel Hill (S)

Peel Castle & Beach from Hill

Peel Castle from Hill Descent

Get yourself a trip over there! πŸ™‚

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22 responses

12 02 2013
Paul Shorrock

Great post Carol – I hope the Manx tourist board are going to send you a cheque, ‘cos just about all of us readers seem to be planning a trip over there after reading this πŸ™‚

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12 02 2013
mountaincoward

Yeah I think they should too – I keep looking in the post but it hasn’t arrived yet! πŸ˜‰

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11 02 2013
bob

Hi Carol.
Place I’ve always fancied but never been due to having 700 hundred islands still to bag off the west coast of Scotland 😦 My late parents went there 40 years ago on holiday and loved it. Some great photos in your collection. I still have theirs in an album somewhere.

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12 02 2013
mountaincoward

You’ll have to leave it till you’re old and knackered! πŸ˜‰

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11 02 2013
Dan Hudson (aka icemandan)

Must get over there. Have looked at it from the Lakes so many times and only live half an hour from Heysham. I’ve always been a bit put off by the fact that Jeremy Clarkson lives there.

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11 02 2013
mountaincoward

Ugh! I didn’t know he lived there! Well, rather than being put off, it’s made me determined to seek him out and chuck him in the sea! πŸ˜‰

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14 02 2013
Dan Hudson (aka icemandan)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1277575/Jeremy-Clarkson-loses-battle-ban-ramblers-walking-1-2m-holiday-lighthouse-Isle-Man.html
See attached – it’s just a holiday home. Be worth spending a whole day walking back and forth just to annoy him.

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14 02 2013
mountaincoward

It certainly would! I’ll bear that in mind for my next visit – be best with a largish group though πŸ˜‰ That guy’s such a pillock!

The article was hilarious but shame a lot of the commenters underneath don’t seem to understand what a ‘public right of way’ or footpath is and are siding with Clarkson 😦

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11 02 2013
lanceleuven

Ah, this takes me back. I spent a week there with a school trip when I was about nine or ten. Wonderful place!

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11 02 2013
mountaincoward

That would be a really nice place to have a school trip! πŸ™‚ We ended up going to an historic building about 30 miles away for ours 😦

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10 02 2013
chrissiedixie

I spent a weekend there once – with husband no. 1 and my parents – about 25 years ago. We flew out from Liverpool airport (called Speke airport in those days), and stayed at a hotel in Port St Mary. We didn’t get to see an awful lot of the place in such a short stay, but I do remember it being a really nice, relaxing, atmosphere and we did a few lovely wanders around the coast. Perhaps it’s time we went back for more!

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11 02 2013
mountaincoward

It’s the height of relaxing – that’s the main reason I love it. All the walking is really peaceful too. It was definitely the atmosphere I liked best. We used to fly over to the islands sometimes when I was little – from Blackpool Airport – I think there still might be flights from there…

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9 02 2013
fedupofuserids

Great photos – looks an interesting place Carol. I’ve never been but my brother has been several times for the TT, hopefully I will visit one day πŸ™‚

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10 02 2013
mountaincoward

We were careful to avoid TT week as there’d have probably been no accommodation and I’m sure it probably goes up in price that week too!

Manx money’s great by the way πŸ™‚

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9 02 2013
McEff

Hi Carol. I was born within sight of the Isle of Man but have never been there. Only last week I was walking with my mother and granddaughter on the Duddon estuary, and we could see the island on the horizon. Thanks for that. I really must pay a visit some time.
Cheers, Alen

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10 02 2013
mountaincoward

It’s a superb little island with a great atmosphere and something for everyone I think…

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9 02 2013
smackedpentax

I have sadly never been…but after reading your post I have decided it would be a great place to visit – so maybe next year…thanks for sharing.

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10 02 2013
mountaincoward

I’m hoping it’s no later than next year by the time we revisit – I’m dying to get back to the Outer Hebrides too!

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9 02 2013
Janice

Am off to the Isle of Man this summer, so really useful, thank you.

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10 02 2013
mountaincoward

Great – I’m glad it was useful. I’m putting the coastal walk we did past the Calf of Man next and then two mountain walks so you might get even more ideas in the next couple of weeks…

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9 02 2013
rebecca2000

Awww I feel like I was there. Thanks for giving us a tour of the island through your eyes.

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10 02 2013
mountaincoward

It’s a lovely island but I guess if you were to come over to Britain, there’d be plenty of other places you’d want to see first.

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