Directly on the way to Douglas harbour there are some rocks. High tides hid these rocks just below the water surface, causing many shipwrecks.
In 19th century the Tower of Refuge was built on those rocks. Now they could be seen even in high tide and the ships no longer crashed into them. The name is by the poet Wordsworth. He had written a poem titled " In the Channel between Cumberland and the Isle of Man", from which these lines were taken to name the new building on the rocks:
A Tower of refuge built for the else forlorn.
Spare it, ye waves, and lift the mariner,
Struggling for life., into its saving arms!
Another building left from Victorian times is the Salisbury building. It used to be a hotel, now it houses the Communications Commission of the Isle of Man government. The beautiful façade shows the Greek sun god , riding his chariot over the clouds.
Judging from the amount of rain I experienced on the island, the Victorian builders knew what they were doing.
Queen Victoria seems to have been quite popular in Douglas. There is a Victoria Street in the downtown area and also a statue of her. It took me some time to find this statue, even though I knew more or less where it was supposed to be. I just didn't see it!
Only when I sitting on the upper deck in a bus did I finally see it, it's high above street level, in the corner of a building.
Douglas is the capital of the Isle of Man.
Arriving by ferry I saw it appear on the horizon, the long row of mostly white houses and the promenade. The promenade was built towards the end of 19th century, in Victorian times. To make getting from one end to the other easier, the horse tram was introduced. ( see transportation tip).
Today mostly hotels are on this long promenade. I heard it's about 2.5 km from the sea terminal to the electric railway. Even though I don't know if this is the exact distance, it is quite a walk. But a very pleasant one, along the sea and the beach.Just be careful not to step onto the bike lane, as the cyclists seem to appear out of nowhere and are really fast.
Across the street from the beach, there are flowerbeds and the flowers are often grown to form pictures.
At the sea terminal end there is the Jubilee Clock, put up in 1887 to celebrate the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria.
Do yoiu consider youreslf a walker?
21st June, 2008 saw the annual 85 mile Parish Walk in the Isle of Man.
When i first heard about this i thought of the film Forest Gump but what is important about this walk is that walkers choice their individual charities to donate money to.
It really is a very incredible feat - it has to be done in 24 hours (and only so many make it - this year 1600 took part and 121 past the finishing line) - many still raise loads of money for charity but do 39 miles to Peel which is still a long way.
It set off at 8am from Douglas and heads south and then comes back up on West side (the sorst part being something which on radio sounded like "the sloc" (and i also saw this - it is some climb).
Many people only get as far as Peel (39 miles) - then the more serious head North and then all through the night). What is great is that there is one village in the North that has a prty about 1am to celebate the walk and they play the drums for the walkers passing through.
What ius great also is attitute of local people and when some folk go to bed they leave candles out and some drinks for the walkers at some households and something for them to eat - I was speaking to one walker before walk and this seemed like something that he really appreciated - esp as the nights can be very lonely.
What is great is that the ordinary man takes part - like amateaurs take part in teh TT races - here - ordinary working folk compete with top athletes - and often win (ie with the postman who won for about 6 times but came 2nd or third this year)
This year - for the very first time - someone (a women) attempted to to it 2 times in one go - and she succeeed - doing it in under 48 hours - some amazing feat (170 miles)
What is great is that everyone raises lots of money for charity (may have a go myself next year).
There is a book all about the Parish Walk and the history (after reivial in 1960's there was only a handfull took part but now (this year) there were 1600 walkers registered)).
The last pic is that of Robbie Callister - the well known local Postman and fav to win again this year but came 2nd after Jock Waddington by some margin - he is a great personality - in Kirk Michael he stopped to talk to and thank the local people there supporting him - and instead of going away and sulking after not winning the race - he came out the day after and gave the women who was doing the walk twice (also for individual charity fo her choice which was very important) - he came out and walked with her for some of the way) - he seems like a really nice guy.
In fact the Isle of Man is full of very nice people that have good hearts - but for me - my heart goes out to the women (Bethany Clague) who did this 2 times - she deserves some very big medal and a hug.
There is a great book about the Parish Walk called "A Walk Through Time: from 1852 to the Present Day" " by Dermot O'Toole (2005) ISBN: 1 873120 78 8
www.parishwalk.com - updated and has some great youtube videos with nice soundtracks (reminds me i need to upload mine - and my first video here onto vt)
Manx Spirit is a very fine Scottish Malt that has been sent to the island and then has all its impurities removed - ie the impurities caused by the Whiskey being made in Port Barrells.
So it is distilled to give this spirit
Colour is deceptive because it smells very much like Whiskey but is much much smoother. You must drink this neat - no other way in my book.
You can buy this on the ferry going accrross - the supermarkets there sell it - but i found not all Pubs on the island sold it.
It seems to be promoted very little - the exception being it was on offer or something on the ferry (although it was in fact not -- because it was same price as supermarket) - the gimmick on ferry is "Buy here for Tax Free Prices"
The price was excactly the same on ferry and supermarket at £16.99.
To try it in a Pub will cost from £1.80 a shot - although some employees will look at you strange when you ask just for a "Manx" - although when you say the more correct "Manx Spirit" they still look at you strange - ie especially the younger clientelle - they do not seem to have heard of it.
Why? - because North of here it is very flat and easy bike riding.
The North of the island past Ramsey is quite flat - and the south can be very hilly
There is a place called Eurocycles at Douglas for cycle hire
AT Ramsey however much of the Official Tourism info is incorrect and the bike hire place in tourist info had been closed for some time.
A local sent to towards "Outdoors Ramsey" - which is opposite the Bus Station.
Not really a cycle hire place - more a shop - but in the back where 4 serviced bikes for hire (i mens - 3 ladies it looked like) - so it is good idea to ring beforehand to see if he has what you want on 01624 811550
Bike hire for standard Mountain Bike (without suspension) was £8 for 24 hours which is very good value for me because cycling gives me so much more enjoyment than travelling by bus)- the guy gave me a small lock but helmets are not included .
You may want to bring your own helmet from home or especially you own saddle for comfort.
There is a tourism leaflet on 6 cycle trails on island but a good idea is to also take an OS Map - not only if you get lost but so you can improvise on routes.
For those into Cycle Camping and touring there are good camp sites at Laxey, Peel and Kirk Michael (I don't think there is much in the South for camping).
Visit Laxey by Electric Tram or other - from here there are many options
You have halk a walk - maybe half an hour to the very beautiful working water wheel - "The Lady Isabella" - the largest of its kind i think that is still in use
The pic here is the sister wheel near the tram station which has recently been renevated
You can visit Laxey Glen Gardens
You can have a walk down to the Harbour
You can eat in a very nice Pub in the centre called "The Miners Tavern" - last time i went they had much seating outside too - food is good - wash it down with a Pint of Manx (ie - from Isle of Man) Bitter - Okell's.
You can get the Tram from Laxey up to the very top of the mountain of the Isle of Man - "Snaefell Pike" - at just over 2000ft.
The title here maybe should read "The Smell of Coffee"
Walking from Douglas Bus Station towards the Steam Train Station the route i took i went past this small coffee shop - and the smell of coffee was so good i had to go back.
As you see by the pic - the shop is called "Spill the Beans" - it opens till about 5pm which is good.
What was a great sign for me is that it was very popular with the locals.
OK - It is small with only 2 tables so you may have to find yourself sitting on the high stools by the window.
I ordered a large Black Coffee and and a Coffee and Walnut Cafe which was excellent with real coffee beans (see the 2nd pic - although the pic does not do it justice - the cake was very big) - and at £3.55 i consider it very good value.
Or you may come another time and write your postcards here and then put them in post box outside
Cregneash is both a living village and a museum. Examples of the traditional Manx house with thatched roof can be found here including Harry Kelly's cottage. Harry Kelly was one of the last fluent Manx speakers and his home, restored as a traditional crofters cottage opened as the beginning of the museum in 1938.
The site is basically an isolated traditional crofters village out on the south west of the island, not far from the Sound and the calf of Man, the little island of the tip of the Isle of Man. In winter you can still walk around but the interiors are closed (this is a bit of a theme on the island...). It costs £3.00 to visit between March and October.
The village was also used as a location for the film Waking Ned. While the film was set in Ireland, it was actually filmed entirely on the Isle of Man, giving you an idea of how similar in feel the Manx landscape is to the one across the Irish Sea.
Tynwald is the independent government of the island. Each year around 5 July the island's lawmakers gather at the Tynwald Hill in St John's in the centre of the island and read out in Manx and English abbreviated outlines of the laws that have been passed over the last 12 months.
The Tynwald is thought to be the oldest continuous parliament in the world at over 1000 years. Since the Isle of Man became a crown dependency of Britain in 1765 a representative of the crown has come to this ceremony. The Queen even makes it over herself now and again, last time in 2003.
The site consists of the hill itself which is a series of tiered circles linked by a processional walkway to the Chapel of St John.
Across the island you'll find a selection of historic Manx stone crosses. Similar in Celtic style to Irish or Scottish crosses, there are a lot of very well preserved ones in various graveyards.
At Lonan there's a big selection in a cross shelter at the bottom of the graveyard and also one of the oldest intact Manx crosses on the island, the Lonan Wheelheaded cross.
The Old Grammar School in the former Manx capital of Castletown is a two minute walk from Rushen Castle. With a prime view of the sea, it now sits in a rather un-historic car park, but remains part of the historic trail of The Story of Mann.
The building has seen different uses since a chapel was first built on the site around 1200 AD. It was St Mary's Chapel for hundreds of years, then converted into a school around the 1700s. It remained a school well into the 20th century.
Like many of the sights on the Isle of Man, the school is closed over winter, open March to October and entry is free.
Legend has it that this is the spot where St Patrick stepped ashore to bring Christianity to the people of Mann. On it is a fortress castle, inside the walls of which you'll find the ruins of several buildings including a cathedral.
The site is one of the best known monuments on the Isle of Man and you can follow the story of the Isle of Patrick in the Mannanan museum also in Peel.
During winter the site is closed, but you can get a view into it by walking up the hill opposite. From March to October it's open 7 days a week and entry costs around 3.00 pounds.
The Laxey Wheel, also known as the Lady Isabella, is a massive 22 metres high wheel that was built to pump water out of mines in the late 1800s. It's apparently the largest of its kind remaining in the world today.
The wheel is situated in quite a pleasant location above the town of Laxey surrounded by woods and with great views across the island. There are also some useful information points dotted around the site.
Many of the main historic sites on the Isle of Man are closed during the winter months and unfortunately the wheel is one of them. It's open from March to October and entry costs around £3.00.
1 Empire Terrace, Douglas, IM2 4LE, United Kingdom
Good for: Solo
Athol Park, Port Erin, United Kingdom
Good for: Couples
Stayed here with grown-up family and it met our needs perfectly. Easy walk to airport and only 20...more