The Isle of Man: small and perfectly formed

Monday 06 June 2011
zoocha-admin

This lovely island lies just off the North West coast of England, nestling in the Irish Sea. Only 33 miles long and 13 miles wide, it still manages to pack in a long and fascinating history and some magnificent scenery.   It has its own Government and the Tynwald, the oldest continuous Parliament in the world.

The famous symbol of the Three Legs of Man is said to represent the wheels of the sun and its oldest representation is on the 12th Century Manx Sword of State. My favourite one is the very quirky sculpture that greets you as you come out of the Airport.

Legs of Man

There are so many places to visit and things to do; take the Mountain Railway to the top of Snaefell, marvel at Lady Isabella, the enormous Laxey Wheel, stock up on Manx Kippers and visit the castle at Peel, test your driving skills on the TT course, go back in time at Cregneash Village National Folk Museum …  ‘The Story Of Man’ is a trail of museums, visitor centres and presentations around the island which reveals its 10,000 year history in fascinating and unique detail Here are a just a few of my favourite things: Douglas The capital of this delightful island has a buzz about it that reflects its rejuvenation over the past years.  It's a lively, attractive sea-side town with ferries darting across the Irish Sea and horse-drawn trams showing off its attractions to visitors from far and wide.   My quirky must-see is the newly renovated Gaiety Theatre, designed by renowned theatre architect, Frank Macham, with its beautiful rare painted Act Drop and unique Corsican Trap, or ghost Glide.

Gaiety Theatre Act Drop

Photo courtesy of Visit Isle of Man

 

Castletown Originally the island’s capital, this pretty town is the site of Castle Rushen, one of the best-preserved medieval castles in Europe.  It’s well worth a visit. However, for me the most fascinating place was the Nautical Museum, home to ‘The Peggy’, an 18th century armed yacht which was only discovered on the site a few years ago. The museum is a treasure chest of maritime history, curious architectural designs and also a replica of a sail-maker’s loft. 'The Peggy'Port Erin Visit this little fishing port and wander along the shore with an ice cream or a sit at a local pub and watch the sun go down.  It's the terminus for the Steam Railway from Douglas and there's a Railway Museum, one of a number of transport attractions around the island.  Boat trips sail in the summer to nearby Calf of Man where seals and dolphins play and, if you are very lucky, you can see the enormous basking sharks from May till late summer. Port Erin boatsRamsey The second largest town on the island, this working port has an industrious air about it and is surrounded by magnificent scenery.  There’s a long jetty pointing out into the sea; the Queen’s Pier was opened in 1886 and Queen Victoria arrived 0n the island from here.  The Grove, on the outskirts of Ramsey, is a well-preserved Victorian house which belonged to a Liverpool shipping magnate; it feels as if he and his family have just stepped out to take the air and will be back any moment. The Grove bedroom I stayed in the lovely harbour town on Port St Mary at the very quirky Aaron House, full of Victoriana and serving afternoon tea to rival the Ritz ... Getting to the Isle of Man is quite easy: Manx2 has regular flights and there are car ferries from various ports.  Visit Isle of Man provides excellent tourist information on everything you could wish to know, from where to stay to which restaurant serves local 'queenies '... a delicacy you'll have to go there to try!

Port St Mary bay

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