Day 182-187 The Isle Of Man

Sunday 4 – Friday 9 October 2015

Isle of Man

Diane and Colin’s house, Castletown

Firstly, a huge thank you to Diane, Colin and their children for inviting me into their home and making me so welcome. Colin did a great job of guiding me around the Isle of Man and I had a fantastic 4 days of sightseeing, made even better by unexpected sunny weather most of the time.  

Manx Loaghtan Sheep
 I visited the towns of Douglas, Castletown, Port Erin and St John’s, and the City of Peel.  

Castletown
 
Port Erin
  I saw Tynwald Hill at St John’s, where the oldest continuous parliament in the world annually announces its laws to the people.  

Tynwald hill
 I caught the train to Laxey (saw the huge waterwheel named Isabella) and then up Mann’s mountain railway to the top of Snaefell.   

I travelled up a mountain in this, and the driver let me have a go at winding the brakes on during the descent – hard work!
 
The Laxey Wheel
 I walked bits of the coast, particularly out to Langness Point and to the Chasms (huge splits in the rock at the South of the island).  

Langness Point
 
One of The Chasms (some are fun to jump the gap!)
 I visited Cregneash Village (a crofting community maintained as it would have been in the 19th Century), Rushen Castle (one of the best-preserved medieval castles in Europe) and Mull Hill Neolithic burial site.  

Two of the Cregneash crofts
 
Rushen Castle, Castletown
  I visited the Manannan and Manx museums to learn about the history of Mann.  

“The Wedding Cake” (the Manx Parliament building in Douglas)
 I sat in the cafe at Calf Sound and stared at the Calf of Man.  

What a stunning view across the sound to the Calf of Man
 I ate Manx kippers, Manx cheese, Manx honey, Manx Queenies and drank the local Okells beer. 

Amazingly, amongst all of that activity I managed to chill out a bit, enjoy the company of my hosts and deliver a hockey training session to the Buchan School under 12 girls. 

The Isle of Man is a fantastic place; a small island with a big mentality (a bit like the UK then!). It seems to me that it is most influenced by its Viking history, when it was at the centre of the Viking world. In the 11-13th Century the King of Mann and the Isles (most of the Western Isles if Scotland) was a very influential ruler. Modern Mann seems quite wealthy – more big houses and SUVs than I’ve seen anywhere else – but then it does have a very low tax rate.  

Langness Point
 The main thing is, when Diane drove me to the ferry on Friday morning, I remembered to say goodbye to the fairies as we drove over the fairy bridge. Hopefully this means I’ll stay safe and be allowed back again! 

Looking towards Castletown from Mull Hill

Day 182 Ferry to the Isle of Man

Sunday 4 October 2015

Douglas to Port Grenaugh

7 miles

Diane and Colin’s house, Castletown

Zephyrine very kindly offered to drive me to Heysham Port to catch the ferry to the Isle of Man. There was just enough time to take a quick trip to the Half Moon Bay Cafe on the shore of Half Moon Bay, Heysham. 

I had decided a couple of weeks ago that as I was passing through Heysham I would take a trip to the Isle of Man. Luckily I have a friend who lives there and she offered to host me for the duration of my stay. What a great opportunity to see her and see Mann. I leapt at the chance.  

The Manannan Sea-Cat
 Today’s ferry was the sea cat – super fast and comfortable on a calm day. It was a bit misty so the views weren’t great and I took the opportunity to do a spot of planning.  

Docking at Douglas
 By the time I arrived in Douglas, mid-afternoon, the sun was just breaking through and it was perfect weather for a coastal walk.  

Looking down on Douglas
 Douglas has quite an impressive sea front with its tall hotels facing the sea. When I got a bit closer I could see some of its faded glory but it looks like it’s time is coming again.  

The restored Gaiety Theatre, Douglas, built in 1899
 From the ferry terminal I walked up to the cliff top and admired a war memorial there. Unlike all the other war memorials I have seen, commemorating the Great War, this one was for the 69 Manxmen killed alongside Nelson in the Battle of Trafalgar. 

Walkin along Marine Drive
 The Isle of Man has a 95-mile long coastal path (called Raad Ny Foillan in Manx Gaelic) and I walked 7 of those miles. It was a beautiful walk along the cliff top road (no longer open to vehicles) called Marine Drive staring at the sea and the sky. At Port Soderick the path headed inland along one of the beautiful wooded glens that Mann has.  

Looking back along the cliffs towards Douglas
 I crossed over the railway line for the steam train (which I saw twice) and cut across Santon Head towards Port Grenaugh, past a big posh house, where I was meeting Diane. 

Looking along the cliff to Port Soderick and beyond towards Langness
 It had been a lovely walk to begin 4 days of sightseeing around the island, hosted by Diane and Colin and their family.