Isle of Man
August 2009 [photographs below]
with Jill Atkinson and Phil Craine
of us enjoyed a week of largely fine weather exploring the hills and
coastline of the Isle of Man in the heart of the Irish Sea. We stayed
in a couple of self-catering holiday cottages about 1.5 miles outside
Ramsey, in the north of the island. The steep walk from the town was
well rewarded by superb views from our cottages, looking out to the
Point of Ayre with the Scottish and Lake District hills often visible.
walks ranged from 4 to 8 miles, and we took advantage of the island’s
excellent public transport system by using ‘Explorer’ passes which
allowed access to buses, steam train, and electric trams (which happily
stopped outside our cottages). A range of scenic coastal and inland
walks took us to some holy sites and Celtic crosses, often pausing for
times of prayer
Our trips included:
- Electric railway to Laxey, exploring its mining heritage, before ascending Snaefell on a branch line of the electric railway.
a superb 7 mile walk around the southern tip of the island between Port
Erin and Port St Mary, with views of choughs, seals, and the unspoiled
islet of the Calf of Man. We returned using the Victorian steam
- One day we caught a tram to Maughold parish, spending a
few special moments in the old Quaker cemetery in the hills, before
descending to explore the coastline around Maughold, the easternmost tip
of the island. In Celtic times Maughold was the island’s main
ecclesiastical centre and in the churchyard we visited the remains of
early ‘keeills’ (chapels) and ancient crosses.
- After a long bus
ride, we made a 4 mile circular walk (with a picnic) in the west of the
Island, combining beach and hills, taking in Glen Mooar, Glen Wyllin,
and the keeill at Cabbal Pherick (Patrick’s Chapel) near the delightful
waterfall of Spooyt Vane (White Spout). Then into Peel, the island’s
only city, to visit the cathedral and enjoy crab baps on the breakwater.
On Friday, our final day, we explored the flat northern plain - a
glaciated area quite different from the hills which dominate the rest of
the island. We travelled by bus north to the village of Bride (more
crosses), then walk on to the north coast and along the dunes, looking
out for seabirds. That’s when the rain started, but we pressed on to
the island’s northerly tip, the Point of Ayre. The lighthouse afforded
no shelter so after some very brief sodden sandwiches we continued back
to Bride village and the welcome tea shop, returning to Ramsey by bus.
- Saturday was a day of farewells and au revoirs, with trips to the airport and ferry terminal.
Looking towards the Calf of ManSulbey reservoir from Snaefell Taking