Castletown

Friday 26 July: We’ve travelled on the steam railway as far as Castletown, for a day’s exploration (and lunch, of course). Firstly, Castle Rushen – what a great place to explore! It’s not a ruin – it’s intact. When a castle was no longer needed locally, it was used as a jail, and now it’s preserved by Manx Heritage.

After the castle, we need to scuttle back to the station to record passing trains, before heading back into town, to find the aforementioned refreshments, and then walking out along the shore to Scarlett Point. Wonderful great slabs of rocks – tilted and folded, and eroded by the sea.

Castle Rushen (Manx Heritage)

View OS map on Streetmap http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?X=226193&Y=467191&A=Y&Z=120

Ramsey and Snaefell

Thursday 25 July: Firstly, a ride up the full length of the Manx Electric Railway to Ramsey. Here, there’s time for some exploration – a look at the pier, long closed but now undergoing renovations, followed by a visit to the small commercial harbour. Then lunch…

After lunch, we head back down to Laxey, where we’re in nice time for a departure to the summit of Snaefell (2036 ft high, the Summit Hotel declares, but that’s the elevation of the summit of Snaefell itself). It could be clearer, though the coast of Northern Ireland is visible. It’s less clear to the east now – earlier, on the Ramsey run, we could make out the English Lake District, and to the north we could see the Galloway coast.

In need of a leg stretch, we walk down the well-trodden path to Bungalow, where we’re able to hop onto car no. 2, which we saw arriving at the summit a little earlier.

We’re eating late tonight – it’s almost 10pm when we get back to our hotel, pausing to take in the sweep of Douglas Bay, before calling it a day – another well-filled day at that.

Manx Electric Railway
Snaefell Mountain Railway

Groudle Glen and Isabella

Wednesday 24 July: We’re visiting the Isle of Man to coincide with its “Heritage Transport Festival” – the upshot of which is that the Groudle Glen Railway will be operating during the daytime today (it mostly operates on Sundays and Wednesday evenings). As we’ll be home again on Sunday, we’d better pay the line a visit.

We arrive at Groudle Glen tram stop an hour or so before services are due to begin – so we walk down the glen beyond the station, then up onto the headland to the terminus high above the sea and the site of the former zoo, where sea lions and polar bears were kept as a visitor attraction.

It’s possible that not everyone has heard of the GGR, but the Laxey wheel is probably the one thing everyone has heard of. So we’re back on the “Electric Railway” to Laxey, for lunch in the outside seating area of the Mines Tavern (whose bar is decorated to resemble a tram). What a great place to sit and enjoy the passing scene! Then we’re off past “Ham and Eggs Row” to the great red water wheel – “Lady Isabella”. It’s quite a sight to see this 22m wheel slowly turning (at 3rpm), alternately pushing and pulling the rod which once operated the pumps at the mine further up the glen. It’s a pretty good view from the top of its water feed tower too.

Groudle Glen Railway
The Great Laxey Wheel (Manx Heritage)