Exotic Europe – the Isle of Man
Now it is the turn to tell about the third exotic island and country – the crown possession of the British monarchy, which is not formally part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and is not its Overseas Territory.
Before that there were islands with a similarly complicated status of Jersey and Guernsey.
From Guernsey we flew to London, more precisely to Gatwick airport, spent the night there, and on the morning of the fourth day we flew to the Isle of Man from the same airport.
They got their cars first. Last time in Guernsey they were red, now they were bright blue. Let me remind you, there were 9 of us traveling through the European islands.
Before we continue, let me show you where Maine is. The island is located in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland. It is about 51 km long and 13 to 25 km wide. The area of the island is 572 km² (for convenience, I have turned the top map horizontally, south left). The red flags mark the places we were able to visit.
On the bottom left you see the coat of arms. In the middle is a triskelion – three running legs coming out of one point. This symbolizes stability, which is reflected in the motto of the island: “Quocunque Jeceris Stabit”. The literal translation is “No matter how you throw it, it will stand. Such a good meaningful masculine motto:)
The exact etymology of the name of the island is unknown. In Gaelic, the island was called Ellan Vannin (ellan means “island”). The oldest known form of the name Maine is Manu or Mana. In his Notes on the Gallic War, Julius Caesar mentions the Isle of Man (an island that lies halfway between Britain and Ireland) as Mona.
The Isle of Man originated about 8,500 years ago (Mesolithic Era), when the isthmus connecting the Isle of Man to Great Britain was flooded by melting glaciers (at the same time Great Britain itself, which previously connected with Eurasia, became an island).
The exact location of the isthmus between the Isle of Man and Great Britain is still unknown.
The history of the Isle of Man can be divided into three main periods – the Celtic period, the Scandinavian period (Viking period), and the British period. We will talk about that in the next posts, now about the Maine sights we saw.
The first point of our island route was Castletown (number 2 on the map). This town is known to have existed as early as 1090, making it one of the oldest towns in the British Isles. For several hundred years it was the capital of the island.
Castletown has preserved its historic buildings. It’s a pleasant little town. When the weather is nice, you can stay here longer.
We visited the main attraction, Rushen Castle, founded in the early 13th century. In the picture it is not all there, as there was restoration (it was in the scaffolding). The name has nothing to do with Russia and Ukraine:) In English it is written – Rushen.
Originally the castle was owned by the Scots, but later came under the control of the British.
On May 18, 1313 the Scottish King Robert the Bruce invaded the Isle of Man and five days later seized it together with the castle, which became an outpost covering the approaches to the west of Scotland. We all remember this one of the greatest Scottish monarchs from the acclaimed movie Braveheart (played there by actor Angus MacFadyen).
From 1405 to 1738, the Isle of Man was ruled by the English Stanley family.
In the eighteenth century the castle ceased to be the main defensive structure of the island, and within its walls was located the mint, and later the court of the Isle of Man. From the end of the eighteenth century the castle was used as a prison.
In 1929 the castle from the British Crown was transferred to the Government of the Isle of Man. Currently – a museum, quite interesting and informative.
Next we went to the southernmost point of the Isle of Man (number 4). I really liked it here.
Inspired by the action scenery, untouched by time and people.
Jellyfish in shallow water. I like to look at them, touch them – no.
There are two more islets near the southern tip. The larger one is called Calf of Man, and the one in the foreground is Kitterland.
The memorial cross is a symbol of the tragedy and heroism in the sinking of the French schooner “Jeaune St. Charles” happened here April 8, 1858.
It is noteworthy that nearby Kitterland is home to a large colony of seals (up to 30 individuals). We were lucky enough to photograph several of them.
Other tourists were happy about the seals, the beauty around and life in general.
Satisfied with what we saw, we went to the town with the original name of Peel (number 3 on the map).
Here, in addition to the port romance, on a small island of St. Patrick, connected to the city by a causeway, is the castle of Peel, built by natives of Norway in the XI century, during the reign of King Magnus III the Golonogogo.
The town is remembered for its tasty seafood street café, cool lookout hill and seagulls. Details in a separate piece.
I remembered, on the way from the south point to Peel, I took a picture of the Milner Tower. It was built by the islanders in 1871 as a tribute to William Milner, a Liverpool safecracker who did much for the development of the town of Port Erin.
The scenery outside the car window. I don’t know why, but a herd of cows caught my attention. More often I see them grazing standing up, but here apparently they are so full that they are even too lazy to get up. This is not surprising – the Isle of Man is one of the largest offshore centers in Europe and the world.
Further, in the town of St. Johns (number 9) we walked along the site where the oldest functioning parliament in the world originally sat, which functioned uninterruptedly throughout its history. It’s called Tinwald and was founded back in 979. The president of Tinwald is the de facto head of the island.
In 1979, during the Millennium celebrations, Tinwald had its anniversary gala, presided over by the Lady of Maine, Elizabeth II.
On the same historic earthen square stands the Royal Chapel of St. John the Baptist. It was closed at the time of our visit. Tinwald Hill and the church are depicted on the Maine £1 coin.
The next site will appeal not only to people with an engineering background, but also to ordinary tourists. In the village of Laxey (number 7), local talented architect John Casement built the “Laxey Wheel” in the late nineteenth century, which is still considered the largest in the world. Its diameter is 22.10 meters and its circumference is 69.18 meters.
The Laxey was created in 1854 to pump water out of a mine and was later named the Lady Isabella, after the wife of Lieutenant Governor Hope, who was governor of the island at the time.
The wheel drove the pump from the Glen Moore site, which was part of the Great Laxey Mines industrial complex. The mine employed over 600 miners, producing lead, copper, silver and zinc until the mine closed in 1929. Today it is a hallmark of the Isle of Man and one of its most popular attractions.
The area of the open-air museum is decent, here you will see overgrown utilities, the ruins of mines, etc. It takes at least an hour to see the outside.
We go further along the excellent roads. By the way, there is practically no speed limit when driving on public roads outside towns and other populated areas, which makes the island very attractive to fans of fast driving from neighboring Britain.
Maine is one of the favorite places of Top Gear magazine for sports car comparisons, the so-called “Isle of Man Grand Prix”.
Since 1907 the Isle of Man TT motorcycle race was held on the island, and for many years it was considered the most prestigious motorcycle race in the world. A lot of people came and still come to the Isle of Man. We flew here right after the event ended. We saw many bikers and riders in bright motorcycle gear.
And this is Charles Collier, the very first winner of the 1907 race.
These days on the roads of the island the speeds during the races reach more than 320 kilometers per hour.
Beautiful, but dangerous, every year one of the participants dies. Over its long history, this uncompromising race has claimed the lives of 260 people, 245 of whom were athletes on motorcycles and 15 of whom were spectators, marshals and police officers.
Even when the race is gone, there are reminders of it everywhere: books, magazines, souvenirs, clothing and graffiti. In the center of the photo is a monument to a famous racer.
I bought myself a sweatshirt and a sports hat with competition symbols. Recently, in Iceland, I was patted on the shoulder by people passing by, most likely taking part in the event and seeing the letters TT on me. It’s almost like being a paratrooper in the Airborne:)
If that kind of outfit doesn’t interest you, at least try this rare beer. There are other brews that are unique to this island.
There are many museums on Maine, but we didn’t visit them this time. After driving up to one of them, we decided to go, but it was closed. The name is Jurby Transport Museum (number 10 on the map). The only thing I took a picture of was a large scale outdoor exhibit.
We were at the southernmost point in Maine this morning, now it’s time to visit the northernmost point, Point of Ayre. The little lighthouse.
And this is the big one, the oldest one on the Isle of Man. It was designed and built by Robert Stephenson (a Scottish civil engineer and famous lighthouse designer). The same man is the grandfather of the writer, poet, and traveler Robert Louis Stevenson.
The Ayre Lighthouse was brought here from Paris and first illuminated the surrounding waters in 1818. I love lighthouses. Remember Shakespeare: “Love is the lighthouse lifted above the storm, never fading in the darkness and fog, Love is the star by which a sailor determines his place in the ocean.
The next point on the map of the Isle of Man was the second largest town, Ramsey. It’s also known as “Royal Ramsey” because of visits from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1847, plus visits from King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in 1902.
The abandoned pier and wide promenade here are gorgeous.
The finale of our trip was Douglas – the capital (since 1863), transportation and economic center of the Isle of Man. The city is home to 28,000 people (a third of the country’s population).
For only two years we missed one of the city’s significant landmarks. Until 2016, Douglas was home to the only horse-drawn streetcar in Europe and the last in the world. Although a number of sources write that the people were against the closure and this mode of transportation was left in operation. In any case, I haven’t seen it.
In the evening we had a good meal in a restaurant and then took a walk around the city at night.
I’ve already exhausted the photo limit again in one post, and I didn’t have time to tell you half of what I wanted to tell you. Sorry, I didn’t have time to break it into two parts.
In general, it was a pleasant, rich, varied and extremely interesting to get to know the Isle of Man. I hope in the detailed albums I will show you everything in more detail.
The only thing, in conclusion, I will give here a few curious facts, which I did not know and have read only now, preparing this material.
1. From 1962 to 1965, the Peel P50, the smallest production model in the world, was produced on the island. I wonder if Sobyanin knows that they exist. Let him buy them for Moscow:)
2. On the Isle of Man they bred a unique breed of cat without a tail – the Manx. What is the point? And where to step now, to cause a long and loud “meow”?
3. In 1979, the Isle of Man Post Office issued a 13 pence stamp depicting a Maine kturk . I didn’t even know who that was? Now you too can sleep easy and enlightened. The most useful info of the day. Family of carnivorous two-winged insects of the suborder Short-eared.
4. The island is home to popular British musician Chris Norman . Famous guy, I used to listen to him. I wish I had an address, I would have got his autograph.
5. In the 1930s, the island became famous for the urban legend of a talking mongoose named Jeff . No photo, just a picture. There is more information on Wiki about him than the island itself. Brain blast. I recommend reading:)
Eh, I should have made a crossword puzzle for you, not a collage:)
The next day at 06:00, our travel team (minus one battle buddy) set sail for Douglas Seaport. The introduction to the three European, exotic islands was over.
We boarded the ferry and sailed to meet another, already larger in size, but no less striking, island…
Isle of Man
When you come to the Isle of Man, give preference to small private pensions, designed for 4-5 rooms. They have charm, and give you a chance to experience the local way of life and the charm of the British outback. The price includes a typical English breakfast (scrambled eggs, bacon and toast) cooked by the hostess.
Maine is vast green hills, a rocky coastline, picturesque rolling hills, and heathland. The landscape is somewhat reminiscent of the Faroe Islands terrain, only more cheerful and varied, though sunny weather on the island is a real rarity. The area is a mixture of Viking and Celtic cultures, medieval castles and endless fields.
Castle Rushen is the most famous local landmark. It was built in XIII century, the fiefdom of Scandinavian princes; later the Scots and the English fought for its possession. Restored in the century before last, nowadays there is a place for walks and a museum on its territory.
Another ancient castle is Peel Castle, built by the Vikings in the XII century. Later, archaeologists dug out a large pagan cemetery and the remains of the wooden fortifications of the castle. According to legend, the hero of many chivalrous romances, King Arthur, was buried here.
The Laxey Wheel is a giant waterwheel, a peculiar monument to the Victorian era. Originally, of course, it was built to pump water out of a mine.
The main museum of the country is the Maine Museum, located in the capital Douglas, but many of its branches are scattered all over the island. It’s a great place to start exploring the country. The museum consists of two parts: an exhibition of paintings and sculptures by local artists and halls with archaeological artifacts found in the country. Part of the exposition is presented through multimedia, which will be of interest to children.
Climate of the Isle of Man:: Temperate. Cool summers and mild winters. Overcast about one-third of the time.
The Isle of Man is a wonderful place for a simple and unhurried life. Despite the frequent overcast, it has a mild climate. The coldest month is February, when the temperature does not exceed +5.
Set of activities here is simple: sports and contemplation of natural beauty. But that’s all you need to take a break from the bustling city.
You can fly to the island from London, Manchester and Birmingham. You can also get there by ferry by loading a car. In summer, you can travel to the island by train: the railroad connects the main population centers.
The island has excellent roads. On large routes there are few cars and there is no speed limit (except in settlements, of course). You can drive all over the island, enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Isle of Man topography:: Hills to the north and south divide the island in half in the central valley.
Standard of Living
The Isle of Man is a British Overseas Territory. If you are flying in from there, you do not need a visa. If, however, you want to visit Maine separately, in which case you must obtain one from the British embassy. It’s a nice, quiet place with neat houses, beautiful sea and countless lighthouses. Retired people and lovers of quiet and simple relaxation go to live on the island.
The island is the largest offshore zone in Europe. Tourism brings good revenues to the treasury. Local residents are engaged in fishing, traditional crafts or public service. It is very safe and quiet: the stores close at 16 o’clock.
The city of Douglas is the capital of the country. Nice, provincial town with 28 thousand people. Architecturally it resembles the British countryside with cozy streets, pretty quay with lots of pubs and restaurants for tourists, which are obscenely-early closed.