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The charms of the Isle of Man

While unable to travel far this year because of the virus lockdown, Shaun, one of our team, has been reminiscing about a family vacation he enjoyed on the Isle of Man a couple of years ago. Here is his blog about the visit.

Castletown.jpgCastletown on the Isle of Man

Although I had lived in or around the north west of England for many years, I had never taken the opportunity to visit the Isle of Man, just 86 miles off the coast. Finally, one day, while thinking about somewhere different to holiday, we decided to take the fast ferry from Liverpool to Douglas, the capital of the Isle of Man, to explore this enigmatic island.

The Isle of Man is so easy to get to from the ferry port in Liverpool, which is centrally situated in the shadow of the famous Royal Liver Building. The speedy ferry was well-served with eating places, shopping opportunities and plenty of comfortable seating, so the 2 hour 45 minute journey just flew by. Leaving Liverpool by ferry is a fascinating experience, as there is so much to see as you make your way along the famous River Mersey.

The Isle of Man is a self-governing British Crown Dependency in the Irish Sea, between England and Ireland. It is known for its rugged coastline, rural landscape and Celtic and Viking history. In fact, the island has been inhabited for over 6,000 years. The Isle of Man (also known as Mann, or Ellan Vannin in the traditional Manx language) is perhaps best known for its annual motorbike races and the tail-less Manx cat.

The distinctive three-legged ‘triskelion’ symbol of the Isle of Man represents the independence and resilience of the Manx people, with their motto: ‘whichever way you throw it, it will stand’.


The apartment we were staying in was in a pleasant semi-rural location on the outskirts of Douglas. Douglas is perhaps one of the quietest and most laid back capitals in the United Kingdom! With its horse-drawn trams and sweeping Victorian promenade, it has a timelessness it is difficult to find on the British mainland. Douglas has been a popular tourist destination for over 150 years, and is bursting with quirky shops, cafes and restaurants, parks, gardens, two theatres and the Manx national heritage museum.

Laxey_Wheel.jpgThe Laxey Wheel

Perhaps the most famous tourist attraction on the Isle of Man is the Laxey Wheel. Built into the hillside above the village of Laxey, this is the largest working waterwheel in the world and is a truly impressive sight. Originally built in 1854 to pump water out of the Laxey lead ore mine, it was water powered as the Isle of Man did not have a supply of coal for a steam-powered pump.

One of the best things to me about the Isle of Man is its size. Because the island is only 220 square miles, it is quite possible to explore all the main sites within a week, or on an even shorter vacation.

The main natural landmark on the island is the mountain Snaefell, bang in the centre of the island, which is often notoriously shrouded in mist, or ‘Manannan’s cloak’, in reference to the mythical first ruler of Mann. The peak can be reached by electric tram on the Snaefell Mountain Railway and on a clear day, all four countries of the British Isles, as well as Ireland, can be seen from the top.

Peel.jpgPeel harbour and castle

For us, one of the most pleasurable activities was exploring the pretty little seaside towns and fishing ports, which dot the coastline. With its imposing castle on a small island reached by causeway, Peel is a fascinating place, perfect for enjoying traditional fish and chips on the seafront! Peel is famous for its kippers and we took a tour of one of its kipper houses. We were amused by the fact that it was possible to send kippers from there by post to anywhere in the UK! The former capital, Castletown, was another delightful place to visit.

Castle_Rushen_Castletown.jpgCastle Rushen, Castletown

Point of Ayre at the north eastern end of the island is an atmospheric landscape of shingle beach and grassy dunes, with a distinctive red and white lighthouse, built by the grandfather of novelist Robert Louis Stephenson. The lighthouse is located at the point on the island closest to the British mainland.

Point_of_Ayre_Lighthouse.jpgPoint of Ayre Lighthouse

The Isle of Man is one of the best places in the United Kingdom for whale and dolphin watching, and we enjoyed visiting The Sound at the southern tip of the island, where we spent an engrossing couple of hours learning about and trying to spot these fascinating creatures. The Calf of Man, a small island near The Sound, is a popular destination for birdwatchers, accessible by boat in good weather.

The_Calf_of_Man_and_The_Sound.jpgThe Calf of Man and The Sound

While the main tourist spots can of course get busy in summer, we found the island to be generally unspoilt and uncrowded, allowing visitors plenty of freedom to explore at their own pace, in peace. A visit to the Isle of Man is like stepping back in time and, while there are of course plenty of modern attractions and activities to keep all the family entertained, for those of us who enjoy holidaying at a slower pace of life, exploring rural landscapes, visiting quaint fishing ports and discovering historic towns, then the Isle of Man is second to none.

If you or your group would like to enjoy a tailor-made tour discovering the charms of the Isle of Man, perhaps as part of a wider tour of the UK and Ireland, please do contact our friendly team today.

Tags: UK Tours  Vacation  Isle of Man  

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