U3A’s Visit to the
Kingdom of Mann –
Off we go on a
wet grey Monday morning. A
May 16th to Friday May 20th.
visit to the newly opened Brockholes Nature
Reserve with its Floating Visitor
Village broke our journey and gave us all a taste for a great day out
later on in the Summer when it is more established.
Having boarded at 1.45pm, the journey seemed long, the ferry crowded
– what will be at journey’s end?
A Country Club Hotel (Mount Murray) with superb rooms & local food (the wine
is not bad either!).
Next day the weather is fair and our Isle of Man tour starts
– what a gem, wherever you look the scenery is a delight to
the eye and lifts the spirit. Cregneash Folk Museum is our first stop.
Here we stepped back to see life on the isle in bygone days.
I could have happily stayed for a long time with the
delightful needlewoman, sat in her cottage with the Manx cat sat by the
fire, as she worked on a Manx bonnet, what skill – I came out
relaxed and charmed.
Then on to 'The Sound' by
the Calf of Man – spectacular says it all, rugged rocks,
choppy sea, seals, sea birds, cliff walks, viewing benches, it had
everything. After a steaming bowl of lamb broth in the new
Visitor Viewing Centre, we were off to Castle Rushen.
Here we had a guided tour which brought bygone days of the rulers of
the time to life for us with various period vignettes. Just
time for a walk round the harbour & town of Castletown before
returning to the hotel.
This magical isle is not disappointing – truly stunning.
Thank you Ellan Vannin – I will return. (June
Wednesday saw the group dispersed with a free day to explore Douglas or
travel further afield, some to Ramsey, some up Mount Snaefell, which is
where this intrepid traveller went.
Our excellent driver,
who joined in almost everything we did and was great fun, deposited
twenty or so of us at the terminus of the Electric railway and refused
to let it depart until we had all bought our rover ticket for the day!
Ten minutes late the train/tram slowly wound its way along
the front of Douglas and up into the foothills at Laxey where we had
just missed the connection up the Mountain. They laid on an
extra train for us and we departed up the Mountain. It's
quite high and took us 30 minutes to ascend its 2000ft+. It
was blowing a gale at the top and most took to the cafe and safety.
A few decided to have their ears blown off and venture out to
the summit stones. I think all made it back!
On a good day, you can see the 7 kingdoms from the top of Snaefell -
England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Mann, Neptune and Heaven.
Back at the
bottom a few went back to Douglas
for lunch and a ride along the front in the horse drawn trams.
We visited the Villa Marina, others the Manx Museum.
I chatted for a while with Sir Norman and lent on a lamp post
on a corner with George Formby.
A full and interesting day. (Peter Kress)
On Thursday, the group awoke to
glorious sunshine. After a hearty breakfast, a very happy
party left our excellent hotel to visit Laxey, situated on the east of
the island, between Douglas and Ramsey. Laxey is famous for
its Great Water Wheel (Lady Isabella), which was built in 1854 to pump
water from Laxey’s lead and tin mines. The wheel
has an impressive diameter of 72.5 feet and is one of the
island’s most iconic sites being the largest surviving
working water wheel in the world. Many of the group climbed
to the top and were rewarded by magnificent views across the
surrounding countryside. Most then visited the nearby lead
and zinc mine, established in 1780, which became one of the most
profitable metal mines in Britain.
The Lady Isobella at Laxey
We left Laxey and drove to Peel, which is on the west coast, taking the
scenic route via Ramsey which is in the north of the island.
On arrival in Peel the party scattered; small groups made their way to
any hostelry that could produce food quickly. Speaking
personally, the crab sandwich was divine! Peel Castle, an
ancient fortress situated on St Patrick’s Isle and
overlooking Peel harbour was our next venue. The views
awaiting us were ample reward for the efforts of the climb.
Finally, and still in Peel, we visited the House of Manannan where we
were greeted by the island’s mythological sea god Manannan,
who welcomed us into his fascinating kingdom and guided us through the
island’s rich Celtic Viking and maritime past.
We departed Peel for our
hotel, passing through Tynwald Hill, the seat of the Isle of Man
parliament. After dinner, we gathered in the Green Room for
fun and games. Thanks go to Peter Kress for providing us once
again with excellent quiz questions and for running the quiz which was
somewhat brief this night due to our tiredness and an impending early
start for our return home the next day. A very tired but
happy party retired to bed on this our final night.
The return journey was thankfully less crowded on the boat and we had
time in Morecombe for lunch (potted shrimps of course!) and a visit
with Eric Bartholomew, his statue still bringing Sunshine to the
We must thank our organiser Ruth and her husband David for a tremendous
holiday which ran to time, but was flexible to adapt to circumstances.
We had lots of laughs and saw and learned a great deal, but
there is more to see. I think there’s still another
holiday in Man!