For 7.5 days that we were on the island, practice and races have been cancelled or postponed day after day. Manannan has smiled upon us on two days and gave us practice runs on Sunday and races on Monday. What we did for the other 5 days? Added miles to our tyres, had a lot of sea food and drank many a Manx pint.
Peel was our starting point every day, our home on the island. It is on the opposite side of Douglas, the capital. It is a cute little town with quite a lot to do, from visiting Peel Castle and walking up Peel Hill to House of Manannan and the Moore’s Traditional Curers, the Kipper factory. Here we also found the best value for money at the Marine Hotel restaurant. The food was really good, the portions big and the price more than reasonable. Speaking of good value for money, beer price is also very affordable all over the island and they have quite good Manx beer so do not miss out on trying it!!
Douglas is the capital and the ferry port that connects the island to the mainland UK. We did not spend too much time here, we only visited the race bits like the pits and the Bushy’s TT village. They do have several interesting museums like Manx Museum, A.R.E. Motorcycle Collection, etc and you can still find trams pulled by horses. We passed one and they look absolutely magnificent. Once the horses retire, they send them to a farm out of town (not the farm your childhood pet went to that one time and never came back) where you can go and see them enjoy their old age.
One thing I did not expect nor have seen mentioned in any of the guide books/website is the fact that IOM has its own access to Hogwarts through the platform 9 3/4 which can be found in Douglas train station. We saw it as we got off the steam train (see Castletown bit below). The difference between the access at King’s Cross was that there were no people whatsoever around it, you could take all the photos you wanted and hog it to yourself for hours if you wanted to!
Apart from the steam train which connects the capital to the south (all the way to Port of Erin), you can also take the electric railway to travel up north to Ramsey. This will take you through Laxey where you can see the famous Laxey Wheel. We did not go in ourselves so could not tell you if it’s worth it or not, but if you get the TT Manx National Heritage pin, the entrance to the Wheel is free anyways.
We visited Castletown on one of the TT days They are organised in different towns across the island on different days. It is usually a gathering with stalls selling different bike and TT related paraphernalia but also loads of food stalls and entertainment. We decided to take the public transport so we could all enjoy more than one pint of beer and not get soaked in case of rain. Castletown is on the far south of the island and also has the only airport on IOM. We bimbled around the centre a bit, enjoyed the views from the lighthouses and tried not to get blown away by the relentless wind that has been smacking us in the face.
On our way back to Douglas we decided to take the afore mentioned steam train. The Steam Railway is the longest narrow gauge railway in Britain that still uses the original carriages and locomotives. It runs from Douglas to Port Erin and back. Whether a train enthusiast or not, you should definitely take the train at least one way as it is such a fun, crazy little experience that costs as much as a pint in London! If you take the train from Castletown to Douglas, sit on the right side for better views. Trust me, you will not take your eyes of the landscape.
We did a run to Port Erin on Saturday late morning while waiting for the practice runs updates. On the way there we also stopped at Nyarbil for some nice views. Apparently this is THE place to watch sunsets from. There was no clear night in the 7 days so I have no idea if this is true. However, the view is stunning any time of the day (see featured photo). It was fascinating watching the fog roll in over the hills down from the south, getting thicker and thicker and covering more and more ground.
The chances of any practice laps were minimal so we continued to Port Erin which we found shrouded in fog. On the way there we barely saw 10 meters in front of our noses on the road so we just kept on going as it was too risky to try and turn around. When we finally stopped, we found a cafe to get some coffee and continued to glare at the outlines of houses surrounding the little beach in the town centre. I was not amused by this weather. The way back to Peel was no better and we stuck to max 30 mph until we were clear of the fog.
Point of Ayre
Point of Ayre is the lighthouse high up north of the island. I think it takes about 20 mins ride from Ramsey and it mostly goes through fields. We passed through one village and maybe by one more. The lighthouse itself is not particularly spectacular, but that might have been because of the wind relentlessly blowing and making it near impossible to enjoy where we were. The beach in front was closed off to people as it was nesting season for one of the bird species there. TBH, I completely forgot which one but it was the conservation project.
There is definitely more to see on this remote island, but unfortunately, weather really was not on our side. We had time, but a lot of mornings and afternoons were spent checking Twitter and waiting for the race updates. Don’t think this island is for bike lovers only, it is worth a visit even if you are not a fan of two wheel travelling.