Melons and artichokes

…in the greenhouse and the walled garden at Attingham. We’re taking a short leg-stretch, staying close to civilisation as there’s a chance of a heavy shower (inevitably, as we’ve taken a brolly, it stays dry). It’s very busy here today – car parks overflowing, with visitors to a classic car rally, but we’ll keep away from that, walking around the perimeter of the estate where there are relatively few others. As we near the end of our wander, we pass through the walled garden, where there’s plenty of summer colour.

Attingham Park NT

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)

IoM: Cregneash

Tuesday 23 July: a ride on the steam railway to the south-western tip of the island. Leaving the train at Port Erin, we walked up the steep and narrow minor road to the museum at Cregneash, where there are numerous thatched buildings and exhibits from crofting life. We’ve missed – by yards – the stone circle on Meayll Hill (blame the mist!) – we’d better walk back and take a look.

We’d thought of walking to take a look across the Calf Sound, to the Calf of Man, but the mist was reluctant to clear. Instead, we’ll follow the coastal path “Raad ny Foillan” to Port St Mary and the train back to Douglas. There are “chasms” close by the path – we’d better take a look at those. Wow!

Walking back to our hotel, after dining well (we’ve earned it – walked nearly 12 miles today) by Douglas harbour, there’s an interesting and unusual building beside the road. It’s Tynwald.

Isle of Man Steam Railway
Cregneash (Manx Heritage)

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Summer fields

Weds. 3 July: a short wander from Benthall Hall. There’s lots of colour in the fields and hedgerows, and later, it’s pleasantly cool under the trees of Benthall Edge, with views down to the doomed cooling towers, and Ironbridge. Back at the hall, the ice creams are perfect, though I’m not sure we’ve really earned them.

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