Forget the TT, there is more to this Island! Read more..
Updated: Dec 30, 2020
Think of the Isle of Man, and you probably think of motorsport and the TT motorcycle race. Whilst this has been part of the islands history for the last 100 years, put that aside and see the true beauty that exists on this 33-mile-long,13-mile-wide island in the middle of the Irish sea.
Travelling from London Gatwick, EasyJet has a well-timed flight leaving early evening, meaning you can arrive, sleep and be ready for a full day ahead. The return flight is equally late, making this a good place for a full weekend break. Providing you live near Gatwick I guess! The Manx airport is very well connected from other parts of the UK and Ireland so where ever you are coming from it should not be hard.
Flying not your thing? Then ferries also arrive from Belfast, Dublin or Liverpool.
Transport around the island is an interesting one. Choose from a hire car, bus service, steam train or electric tram, even horse drawn tram if you are in Douglas.
Full Travel Guide Video on YouTube> IOM >>>>>>
Douglas is the Capital and largest town in Manx.
Our hotel was the lovely Inglewood Guest House, booked via Booking.com it has a high rating and was excellent.
Clean, comfortable and with a great breakfast!
Having stayed on the promenade during this visit, would I do it again in hindsight? Probably not and for no other reason than there are prettier places around the Island that I discovered. You will see!
Having researched before the trip it was clear that there are many activities, attractions, walks, and scenery to be seen. Clearly on a 48 hour break you cannot do everything but the following is a collection of our experiences in that time!
1. Peel Castle, Peel
A Viking stronghold, Peel Castle stands on St Patrick's Isle, linked to the town of Peel by a causeway. The rugged coastline and the ruins of the castle outer walls make this an interesting stop.
2. Niarbyl Bay
Down a long winding lane, past the cafe and steep hill, you arrive at Niarbyl Bay.
Secluded and quaint, you suddenly feel like a fisherman from years gone by.
There are fantastic views of the Calf of Man and the mountains of Ireland on a clear day. Interesting to know that the fisherman's cottage was also used in the film Waking Ned.
3. Magnetic Hill
Find the magnetic stone, put your car in neutral, release the break and wait.....
Your car starts to roll back up a hill being dragged by a magnetic force. Or does it?
4. The Calf of Man
Calf of Man is a 2.50-square-kilometre island, off the southwest coast. It is separated from the Isle of Man by a narrow stretch of water called the Calf Sound.
There is a cafe and some rugged walking trails too keep you occupied, and on some days you can see the seals basking on the rocks
A small charming village with a tourist museum, seen on map above.
Home to a flock of the rare four-horned Loaghtan sheep, much of the village is made up of a living museum with the small white cottages forming the exhibits. Inside the victorian farming and fishing equipment is displayed and demonstrated.
Very quaint village that can get busy at times as coaches stop off on the way too or back from the Calf of Man.
6. Isle of Man Steam Railway
Starting in Douglas and steaming east to Port Erin via Castletown this narrow gauge railway is a must do attraction. The scenery is stunning and is a superb way to spend an hour or so chugging along the countryside.
Top tip, buy a one or three day explore card from £17 as it allows for travel on all public transport, heritage steam and electric rail and is the cheapest way around! https://www.gov.im/categories/travel-traffic-and-motoring/bus-and-rail/go-cards/go-explore/
7. CastleTown - Annual World TinBath Championships
CastleTown is the former Capital of Manx, and is home to Rushen Castle. The narrow streets and fishing cottages make this a delightful place to walk around.
In early July ( and by coincidence) when we visited the town was hosting the Annual Bathtub races.
Great weather, a fun and exciting vibe made this a real joy to watch. £3 entry into the harbour area covered supporting the event.
See Bathtube Championship Video here >>>>>
Even without the event there is lots to do, with the castle, Lorne house and just a generally lovely place to walk around.
8. Ballaglass Glen
The Isle of Man has many a Glen to explore and we randomly picked Ballaglass.
We picked well, although I am sure they all have something special to offer.
A lovely glen to walk through, a nice wooded area with the river flowing through the middle of it with some fantastic waterfalls, and there’s a fairy house hidden along the river too. Plenty of quirks for kids too like the wizard statue along one of the paths.
10. Manx Electric Railway
Running from Douglas to Ramsey via Laxey this has to be the most picturesque heritage railway (tramway) I have ever been on.
We were blown away by the length and scale of this line and just how closely it hugs the coastline along the 17 miles.
We were already at Laxey looking at the Waterwheel so only experienced the ride to Ramsey and back. However this was a 1 ½ hour round trip of just beautiful scenery.
The turn round in Ramsey is 30 minutes and to be honest that’s all you need. Just enough time to walk to the sea front get an ice-cream and be back on board.
Remember this is included in the explore ticket so part of that great value £17 daily charge!
11. The Great Laxey Wheel
The Great Laxey Wheel, dominated the local skyline, and is a masterpiece of Victorian engineering.
Built in 1854 to pump water from the attached mine, Lady Isabella as she is known is the largest surviving wheel of its kind in the world.
Open from April to Nov, between 9.30 to 5 pm each day. Entry is £8
Top tip, if you are staying for a few days consider the explore card that includes entry to all heritage sites this is £34 a day and could be good value if you plan to visit many attractions in one day.
We also found out that if you are a UK National trust member then all heritage sites are free to enter due to a reciprocal agreement.
A climb to the top offers panoramic views across the Laxey Valley and if you wish to stay longer there is a walking trail into the Glen Mooar Valley.
With a hard hat you can walk a short distance into the dark wet and damp mine shaft and see what working conditions were like for the miners.
12. Snaefell Mountain Railway
Starting in Laxey and part of the Manx Electric Railway, the Snaefell Mountain Railway offers daily services to the summit. Be sure the check the website for timetables and note that it’s only one small carriage so spaces are limited.
Return tickets are £12 so again I mention the explorer day pass for £17 is better value if planning other trips.
For 45 minutes you wind your way to the Island's only mountain, Snaefell’s summit, breathtaking views await.
If you like to walk get off at the Bungalow, the only stop on this 5 mile journey. From here you can walk the rest of the way up.
At 2,036 feet above sea level, on a clear day you can see England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, the Isle of Man, of course.
To see our full video guide to the Isle of Man click below
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