I first visited the Isle of Man in 1997. We’d been talking about visiting for several years so expectations were high and there is always the risk of being disappointed. We took the overnight sailing from Heysham and I’ll always remember my first sight of the island around 4.30 on a crystal clear morning. It was a magical sight with the island sparkling in the early morning sunshine. There was a slight cloud cover on top of Snaefell hiding the gubbins on the top. Twenty plus years later, it is still magic.
I didn’t need asking twice when I was invited to join the family for two week holiday on the Isle of Man in August 2018. They were renting a self catering property in Port Erin at the southern tip of the island and there was a spare bed for me!
We had a very comfortable “bungalow”:https://www.visitisleofman.com/stay/self-catering on Droghadfayle Road which was next to the level crossing. This was great for the two engine mad grandsons who disappeared to wave to the trains as soon as they heard the bells on the barriers. They were also allowed to take themselves to train spot on the station and most mornings were waiting for the “railway museum”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/man/transport/museum/index.html to open so they could go and play engine drivers on the loco in there.
Port Erin also has a lovely sandy beach – great for running off steam at the end of the day. It also has a large branch of Shoprite, the excellent local supermarket chain, as well as a small co-op and bakers. It also has a very good chippie too. What more could you want?
As well as the “steam railway”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/man/transport/steamrailway/index.html to Douglas, it has an excellent bus service which starts early and ends late. This worked really well as I could go off and explore by myself without depending on the family for lifts.
We had a wonderful time and there is plenty to occupy all ages and interests. It is anorak Heaven with the steam railway, “Manx Electric Railway,”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/man/transport/manxelectric/index.html “Snaefell Mountain Railway,”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/man/transport/snaefell/index.html “Groudle Glen Railway”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/man/transport/groudleglen/index.html and
“horse trams”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/man/transport/horsetram/index.html along the Prom in Douglas. We all had “Go Explore cards”:https://www.gov.im/categories/travel-traffic-and-motoring/bus-and-rail/go-cards/go-explore/ which give free transport across the island and I certainly got my money’s worth with mine.
The scenery is superb and although the island is only small there is everything from sandy beaches to rocky cliffs, bare exposed mountains to fertile farmland.
Culturally it feels very different to the UK as the Celtic and Norse influence are still strong. Place names are different and it has the oldest “parliament”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/man/page_three/index.html in the world. There are ruins of all sorts to explore, old “churches”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/man/churchesandcrosses/index.html with carved crosses and the “industrial heritage”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/man/north/laxey/mine_one/index.html as well as good museums for when the weather is bad
It is a very laid back place. People are friendly and helpful. Drivers slow down to let you cross the road. You are not aware of graffiti or litter. Crime is low too. In many ways it is like stepping back into the gentler world of our youth.
There were tears when we left and daughter has already booked two weeks for next year – and I’ve been invited back!
You can read all about my holiday “here”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/man/index.html.