[from Jenkinson's Practical Guide, 1874]


THERE are few things more enjoyable, or more beneficial to mind and body, than a walk along the sea-coast ; but although the Isle of Man is peculiarly adapted for a sea-side ramble; presenting a constant succession of bays and headlands, rocks and sands, with magnificent and ever-varying views ; hardly one of the many visitors to the island ever thinks of undertaking it.

Those who combine scientific knowledge, with a taste for the picturesque, will find much to learn during such an excursion. The geologist will observe the rocks and cliffs, and the pebbles on the beach ; whilst the conchologist and botanist will find fresh sources of information in the shells and seaweed, and the rare plants in the crevices of the cliffs.

‘The towns and villages of Laxey, Ramsey, Kirk Michael, Peel, Port Erin, Port St. Mary, and Castletown, are pleasant resting-places, situated at convenient distances ; and if the traveller pleases he may commence or leave off the journey at any one of these localities, and readily be conveyed to other parts of the island.

Should every bay and headland be included, the whole round will be about 100 miles ; which may be divided as follows:



Douglas to Laxey . .


Laxey to Ramsey . .


Ramsey to Kirk Michael


Kirk Michael to Peel . .


Peel to Port Erin . .


Port Erin to Port St.Mary


Port St. Mary to Castletown


Castletown to Port Soderick


Port Soderick to Douglas




In the following description of the excursion the pedestrian is supposed to start from Douglas, and travel northwards.

After passing in front of Derby Castle there are a few pretty recesses, from which stretch into the sea rocks with sharp vertical edges, difficult to walk over, and impassable at high tide ; therefore it is well to ascend the cliff; where there is a magnificent view of the whole of Douglas town and bay, from Onchan to Douglas Head.

After crossing over Little Head, the secluded nook of Onchan harbour is reached. Here there is a cart-road leading from a stone quarry to the village ; this must be crossed, and the cliff line kept all round the headland of Bank’s Howe. The latter point is the northern boundary of Douglas Bay, and at its base is a deep sea, and some rugged rocks an caves. It is 393 feet above the sea-level. Should the tourist make a slight detour, and ascend to the top, he will be amply repaid, there being a most comprehensive view which includes the whole of Douglas Bay, Onchan village, and a large tract of the eastern part of the island ; with the mountains North Barrule, Snaefell, Pen-y-Pot, Carraghan, Greeba, and South Barrule. This is a height to which visitors residing in Douglas ought to stroll, and then descend to Growdale, and return by Onchan.

Those who shirk the toil of this ascent, and confine themselves to the cliff, will have some good glimpses of perpendicular rocks, tenanted by hundreds of wild-fowl.

Presently Douglas is lost to sight, and a peep is had down into the charming creek of Growdale, with an indented coast stretching to Clay Head. When Growdale is reached it is found to contain a clean pebble beach, with water as clear as crystal, very tempting for a bathe. Here are a small flour-mill and the miller’s house. Sometimes picnic parties visit the spot, by small boat, or with conveyances from Douglas.

Clay Head is very bold, the rocks having a sheer descent into a deep blue sea. From the summit of the hill are seen Maughold Head, North Barrule, Slieu Lhean, Slieu Choar, Snaefell, Slieu Mullagh Oure, Pen-y-Pot, the Cairn, Carraghan, Greeba, Slieu Whallin, South Barrule, Cronk-na-Irey-Lhaa, and Douglas Head. Bank’s Howe hides Douglas town, but Onchan village and the valley in that direction are seen; also the coast of Cumberland, which in clear weather is in sight from almost every point on this side of the island.

On the top of Clay Head has lately been levelled a small mound, called Cronk-na-Irey-Lhaa, one of the many similar mounds bearing that name which are planted on heights in round the coast, having evidently in old times been used as beacons for giving warning of the approach of an enemy.

When descending Clay Head the view to the south is entirely obstructed, but to the north the whole of the coast is seen to Maughold Head, and from this point it appears to consist of smooth slaty cliffs sloping straight into the water, at an angle of about 45 degrees. Near at hand is Laxey bay and town, and Lonan new church, with houses scattered here and there on the ground gradually rising from the sea to the summit of Snaefell, and the heights to the right and left of it.

After descending over ground covered with gorse, heather, and ferns, Garwick comes into view immediately at the traveller’s feet. It is a tiny creek, but truly picturesque, about 2 miles south of Laxey. The rocks around are beautifully covered with vegetation almost to the water’s edge. A trickling rill comes down a pleasant dell and enters the sea on the beach, where there is a fine bathing-ground and white pebbles shining through the clear transparent water. A fisherman’s hut with one or two boat-houses are the only signs of habitation. The nets are hanging about drying, and there are a dozen small boats on the shore. The Manxman’s belief in mermaids ceases to astonish, and becomes quite natural when we know of the existence around the coast of such lovely secluded coves as this of Garwick. Without too great a stretch of the imagination we can almost fancy we see these sea-nymphs disporting themselves on the beach, and combing their hair when perched in the crannies of the adja cent rocks. Stretched on the pebbly beach at high water and basking in the sun, we are almost persuaded that the sunlight-flashes on the ripple of the sea wavelet are jewels, airing, and being prepared to adorn the hair of the mermaids on festive occasions. We are told that when these chains are in full sparkle, strict watch is kept on the adjacent cliff or crag that no marauder approach unawares. Should any monster of the land or sea prove too wary to be enticed away by the wiles of the syrens, or too strong to be successfully resisted, the mer maids instantly dive down td their sparry caves, the jewels vanish, and a dark shadow is thrown over the whole line of wave. These water-sprites and fairies will, on rare occasions, unite for the protection of some mutual interest ; moved either by enmity against some rude syren-despiser, or in a caprice of friendship for some fair daughter of earth’s mould, and then the spell-bound shore cannot be approached, but their favour is as unstable as the elements.

Again ascending the cliffs, and leaving Garwick, the shore to the north of Laxey Head is gradually lost to sight, and after some distance of up and down work, a descent is made to the beach of Laxey, a beautiful bathing-ground about mile in extent. Here there are some houses, and a small harbour where vessels of 250 to 300 tons burden can enter with coals, &c., and take away the produce of the mines. Laxey Bay, as seen from the shore, presents a fine appearance, and is 3 miles across from Clay Head on the south to the point on the north called Carrick.

Walking up the glen for mile, on the road by the side of the tramway, the hotels are reached. On leaving Laxey the glen is crossed at a bridge just above the washing works, and below the large wheel. The road then gradually inclines to the top of Laxey Head. Those who do not need refreshments at Laxey may cross the river near the bay, and follow an old road which ascends steeply to the top of Laxey Head, and there joins the new road. On again entering the open ground, the cliffs all round Laxey Head are seen to make a precipitous descent into the sea, and the view is entirely shut out to the north, and only Clay Head is seen to the south. When about 2 miles out of the town the coast is visible northwards to Maughold Head. After crossing Laxey Head Bulgham Bay appears below, and here the cliffs are so steep that perhaps the best plan now is to follow the wall until the road is entered. The tourist may continue on the road for a mile to the Dhoon granite quarries, and then ascend to the Dhoon mountain on the right ; or he may descend to the Dhoon stream, from the south side, and visit the waterfalls, which are the largest and most beautiful on the island. These cascades are about mile from the sea, and may be reached from the mouth of the stream by those who keep on the rough steep ground close to the coast.

On gaining the summit of the Dhoon mountain, which is often called Barony Hill, and stands on the north side of the glen, a fine view is had of North Barrule and the hills branching in the direction of Laxey. Clay Head and the tops of Bank’s Howe and Douglas Head appear to the south, and Maughold Head is well displayed to the north. The Dhoon mountain has a steep descent into the sea, and when it is crossed the Cornah creek is entered : a secluded inlet with a small beach at the mouth of the river Cornah. Some distance up the stream is the Ballaglass Fall. There is a lovely view up the wide glen, rich in foliage, with North Barrule prominent at the head. On the beach are a few small boats used by the natives for fishing and pleasure. A hut stands a few yards up the glen ; and near it is a limekiln, apparently a very unlikely place ; but the owners have been accustomed to bring limestone from Castletown by boat, and burn it here with peat from the mountains, mixed with coal, which they cart from Ramsey.

Ascending Ballaskey Howe, a wild cove is passed, and again Maughold Head comes in front, assuming curious fantastic shapes. A retrospective view includes the Cornah, Laxey, and Clay Heads, which form the coast into three well-shaped bays, and present a fine appearance. The coast now becomes comparatively low, but here and there the rocks are wild and contorted. Mooar creek is presently entered; it is wide, with a low, rocky shore, but without any high cliffs.

When on the north side of the creek, an iron-ore mine is passed, and the rocks begin to descend so sheer into the sea that the bold promontory of Maughold Head must be scaled. The summit commands an extensive prospect of the coast, stretching from Clay Head round Maughold Head and past Ramsey Bay and the sandy cliffs of Point Cranstal to the Point of Ayre. North Barrule is also a fine object ; but the most lovely bits of scenery are obtained by looking down the perpendicular cliffs into the charming nooks at the traveller’s feet. By diverging a few yards, Maughold church may be visited, and a road entered leading direct to Ramsey ; but if the cliff line be kept, the famed well of St. Maughold and the iodine works and an old lead mine will be passed. When the lovely creeks of Port-y-Vullin and Port Lewaigue are left behind, a pleasant stroll along a sandy shore leads to Ramsey, where the river Sulby has to be crossed either at the bridge or the ferry, a low sandy ridge is seen stretching along to Shellag Point, distant about 4 miles. The sands all the way are as firm and extensive as any on our coasts, and if the tide be out, the tourist may walk for miles along them without coming on a single bit of pebble, shell, or sea-weed. Looking back, Maughold Head, Albert Tower, North Barrule, and Snaefell are in sight.

At Shellag Point the sandy cliffs wear a picturesque aspect, and are most interesting to the geological student. They are composed from base to summit of layers of sand and rounded pebbles, similar to what is being formed at the present day in the adjoining ocean.

It is well to climb to the top of Cronk-na-Trey-Lhaa, or Break’o’-Day hill, and there get a view of the plain, which, with the exception of a little undulating tract of country surrounding the point where the spectator is standing, is per-fectly level, and stretches from Ramsey to Point of Ayre, and for a great distance inland, and lies at the foot of the mountain range of North Barrule and Snaefell. The Point of Ayre lighthouse is a distinct object, and the whole of the Bamsey bay is visible, with the town in the centre. Steam-ships, merchant vessels, and fishing-boats are moving in every direction across the expanse of ocean, and in the distance are the Scotch and Cumbrian coasts. Curious it is to note an immense granite boulder, weighing many tons, which rests about a dozen yards from the top of the hill. it must have been brought to its present position by the agency of ice during the glacial period.

From this hill it is a pleasant walk along the tops of the cliffs, which are quite smooth, and covered with short grass, and tenanted by innumerable sea-fowl. When viewed from the edge of the precipice at different points, these cliffs present a charming appearance. The surrounding country is variegated here and there with farmsteads, many of which are embosomed in trees ; but excepting these clusters close to the houses, there is scarcely a tree to be seen. The fences are 6 feet high, and composed of sand and soil, overgrown with grass and gorse.

Five miles from Ramsey the cliffs subside into a level tract, only 20 feet higher than the sea, and a shingly beach extends round the Point of Ayre. The land is cultivated to within ½ mile of the lighthouse, and then the soil is composed of sand and pebbles, overgrown with long coarse grass, called bent, which the Islanders gather, and use for thatching houses. Evidently within a period geologically recent it was covered by the waves. This is borne out by the fact that, in ancient deeds and maps relating to the Isle of Man, lakes and estuaries are mentioned where now exists dry land. if the sea were to recede a few feet more, there would appear above the water a sand-bank, which extends from near the Point of Ayre to the Bahama Bank, off Maughold Head. At times when the tide is low the breakers may be observed dashing over it, and the fishermen represent they can sometimes touch the bank with their oars ; and it is said that some have been known to stand upon it. Farther distant is King William’s Bank, so called from the Prince of Orange, who was nearly wrecked on it when on his way to the battle of the Boyne.

If our great geologists would visit this part of the Isle of Man, we think they would see that what they now consider impossible and absurd is the actual fact, and the only natural order of the workings of nature, and that it is not the land which rises and sinks by the force of internal heat, but that it is the sea-level which changes. The writer advanced this theory in his ‘ Guide ‘ to the English lakes, and the more he studies the subject the more fully is he convinced that he is right, and that that theory is the only true foundation for the science of geology.

The Point of Ayre lighthouse is seated on the plain at the northern extremity of the ilsand. It is a noble-looking building 106 feet high, built of freestone, and was erected by the Northern Lighthouse Commissioners in 1818. The Rev. J. G. Cumming says, ‘ It was at first close upon high-water mark, and has now a good piece of bank extending between it and the salt water.’ This would lead us to infer that the sea is leaving the land at a perceptible rate.* The light may be seen on an average about 20 miles, and in very fine weather 36 miles. It is a revolving catoptric light, and consists of fourteen parabolic reflectors. It revolves every two minutes, showing one minute a white light, and the other minute a red light. The lights visible on a clear night from this point are those of the lighthouses of the Mull of Galloway, Little Ross, and St. Bees, and the lighthouse ship close to Bahama Bank. The distance to the Mull of Galloway is 21 miles, to Burrow Head 16 miles, and to Whitehaven 28 miles. Two keepers and their families live on the spot, and visitors are allowed to see over the building free of charge. It may be reached with carriage from Ramsey, a distance of 7 miles.

To the south-west of the lighthouse the sandy grass-grown plain stretches monotonously for 4 or 5 miles, and the beach consists of sand and pebbles, sloping gradually into the sea; but it is beautiful to witness the long stretch of uneven lines of white foam caused by the clear transparent water dashing over the shore. If it were near any of the sea-side watering places it would be considered most splendid bathing-ground.

When the plain ends it is well to ascend the headland of Blue Point, and walk along the cliffs. One spot, where there appears to be a hole in the cliff, is called by the natives " King Orry’s Castle," or " Chashtal Ree Gorree." There is nothing to denote that any castle or fortification existed here, but according to tradition it was the point where that ancient Scandinavian warrior first landed on the island.

A few yards farther a small limekiln will be observed close to the shore. The farmers collect limestones from off the sands at low tides, generally after a storm, and burn them with coals carted from Ramsey. Most of the limestones are full of perfect fossils. Geologists will wonder where is the parent rock whence these stones come. Perhaps it is not far distant in the bed of the ocean, under the recent or pleistocene strata, which occupies the whole of the northern level portion of the island. Should search be made and lime-stone found under the pleistocene series, there is also just a bare possibility that above the limestone a bed of coal might be discovered. It is to be hoped that the insular government will ere long settle the doubt by having borings made in a few of the most likely places. Some of these limestone boulders may, however, have been imbedded in the sandy cliffs, which have already been washed away, having succumbed to the unceasing action of the waves.

Close to the sands there is no difficulty in crossing the Lhane Mooar river, the first stream met with since leaving Ramsey. Jurhy Head is now in sight, with the same unvaried line of sandy coast stretching right to it. When it is reached there is found to be a small mound on the top, close to Jurby church, called Cronk Mooar, which commands an extensive view in every direction. The coasts of Cumberland and Scotland are in sight, also the mountain range stretching from Maughold Head to South Barrule ; and Peel Hill, and Corrin’s Tower are distinct objects. The ruins of Peel Castle, Cathedral, and Round Tower, present a picturesque appearance, and are rarely lost to view during the remainder of the journey along this part of the coast.

Close to Cronk Mooar is another of the many high mounds, called Cronk-na-Irey-Lhaa.

For some distance beyond Jurby the cliffs have rather a bold aspect, with the usual sandy coast at their feet. They overlook of most of the level country extending to the foot of the hills, with churches, hamlets, and farmsteads scattered about in every direction ; Ballaugh new church being a prominent object.

Close to Killane river, which is a mere streamlet, is another limekiln. The cliffs now almost disappear until the opening is passed, in which, a few hundred yards distant, stands the old parish church of Ballaugh.

At Orrisdale Head the cliffs are again bold, and present a fine appearance, whilst at their base are some excellent sands, upon which in summer may usually be seen scores of natives digging for sand-eels, a small fish which they boil and mix with butter and pepper.

The first small aperture to the south of Orrisdale Head is Glen Trunk, which contains a purling mill, and conducts to Bishop’s Court. A few yards farther is Glen Balleira, and then a third and larger opening leading up Glen Wyllin.

Kirk Michael is gained by walking ½ mile up the latter glen. Half a mile beyond Glen Wyllin is Glen Mooar. The cliffs composed of sand and gravel, which have continued almost uninterruptedly all the way from Ramsey, with fine bathing-ground at their base, now vanish, and are succeeded by a picturesque and indented coast with rocks descending into the sea, and a shore strewn with boulders. The clay slate, of the same character as that which composed the bulk of the mountains on the island, suddenly appears a few yards south of Glen Mooar, with the sand and gravel of the pleistocene series resting upon it.

A few yards farther are caves and natural arches in the rocks, and if the tide be out, and the tourist succeed in passing through an arch, he may continue on the shore as far as Glen Cam ; but here he must ascend the brow, or take up the Glen to the road, which is a few yards off.

The walk along the brow of the cliffs is rather fatiguing, on account of the uneven ground, but few who undertake it will regret the toil, for there are numerous peeps down fantastic rocks and pretty recesses, where the lover of nature will have presented to his gaze many of her wildest features. The geologist will be especially interested in one or two places in noting the rocks, contorted and sometimes vertical. As Peel is approached, the Castle and surrounding ruins are attractive objects ; and the town of Peel, Peel Hill, Corrin’s Tower, and South Barrule are also in sight.

At the White Strand, 1½ miles north of Peel, there is a patch of the old red sandstone, the rocks jutting into the sea; and close by may be discovered the remains of a bed of limestone resting on the sandstone. This, and the neighbour-hood of Castletown, are the only places where the old red sandstone is found on the island. A wild secluded creek and dark water-worn caves are passed, and then a point is reached which commands a view of the whole of Peel Bay, with the town, the picturesque ruins on St. Patrick’s Isle, and the Peel Hill crowned with Corrin’s Tower.

Descending to the shore, the Neb river may be crossed at the ferry close to the castle, or at a footbridge a short distance up the stream.

The Peel Hill has to be mounted, it being impossible to walk along the shore, the ground having a steep descent into the sea. During the climb there are beautiful views of the town of Peel with its mouldering ruins, and a wide extent of inland country watered by the Neb river. The traveller may con-tinue the ascent to Corrin’s Tower, which crowns the summit of the hill, 501 feet above the sea, and now serves as a land-mark ; but he will perhaps prefer continuing on the brow of the cliffs, with the sea-breakers in sight dashing amongst the rocks hundreds of feet below. A tramway leads to a slate quarry, and close to it, and not far from an old building, is St. Patrick’s Well, famed in ancient times, and then much visited, but now in a neglected state. When beyond the well and tower, the south-western shore comes in sight, presenting a grand appearance with Cronk-na-Irey-Lhaa, Brada Head, and the Calf Isle rising sheer out of the water. The Stack rock is seen at the foot of the Calf Islet, and nearer to the spectator are the Niarbyl rocks, whilst inland stands South Barrule.

Continuing along the brow of the cliffs, many fine glimpses are had down into wild but lovely miniature creeks, with the sea dashing amongst rocks composed of hard clay slate, the old red sandstone and limestone not appearing on the coast at this side of Peel.

About 2 miles beyond the tower, the deep hollow of Glen Meay has to be crossed at the mouth of the stream which flows from South Barrule and Glen Rushen, and passes the Beckwith vein mine, where the water is discoloured by the lead-washings. Three-quarters of a mile from the sea is the Glen Meay waterfall. The stream comes tumbling down a rugged bed with high cliffs on either side, and is spanned by a small wooden footbridge close to the shore. In the pleasant little bay are a few boats used for fishing. The high ground to the left, which rises gradually to the Dalby and Carran hills, is well cultivated, and farmsteads are dotted here and there on the hill-sides. South Barrule is in the background, and only occasionally seen. The houses at Dalby village are also prominent. The cliff-line, though not high, is very uneven between here and Dalby Point, and commands a good retrospective view as far as Contrary Head.

At Niarbyl Point the rocks are picturesque, and the shore to the south presents a remarkably wild and charming appearance. The Carran Hill, Cronk.na-Irey-Lhaa, the Carnanes, Brada Head, and the Calf Islet are all visible, rising steeply out of the ocean, and forming, apparently, one grand bay, but which in reality they subdivide into smaller bays, presenting lines of great beauty. Many persons will consider this the most attractive part of the whole coast ; and certainly there are few coasts anywhere which are wilder and more enchanting and lovely.

Nestling amongst the rocks, close to Niarbyl Point, are two secluded and pretty creeks, in one of which are two fisher-men’s huts, and in the other is a sandy beach suitable for bathing, at the mouth of the Lhag stream. It is to be regretted that there is not an hotel erected here, for it ought to be one of the most attractive places on the island.

The work which has to be done before Port Erin is reached looks rather formidable from this point, each separate height having to be scaled, owing to the sea, at both the ebb and flow of the tide, washing close to the base of the cliffs. There is, however, just sufficient slope to allow the pedestrian, who does not lack courage, to walk a few feet above the water; and such an excursion is very romantic and pleasant, and will never be regretted by any true lover of the wild and stupendous in nature.

Most persons will keep on the tops of the hills, and for this course it is advisable to ascend the Carran Hill by a rough cart-road which winds round the north side of Cronkna-Irey-Lhaa, and passes over the table-land between that mountain and South Barrule, offering a fine prospect of Glen Rushen, with the central mountains in the back-ground ; or descends to the south of the island by the side of Cronk-naIrey-Lhaa.

On the top of the Carran Hill, South Barrule is in sight, and Cronk-na-Irey-Lhaa presents a noble appearance. After leaving the road, a rough walk amongst heather soon brings the traveller to the summit of Cronk-na-Irey-Lhaa, 1448 feet above the sea. The prospect is extensive, and close to the feet of the spectator is the ocean, across which are seen the Mourne mountains in Ireland. To the south are the Carnanes, Brada Head, Mull Hills, and the Calf Islet, with a wide extent of level country in the direction of Castletown. In the opposite direction are South Barrule, Slieu Whallin, Corrin’s Tower, and Snaefell with its neighbouring mountains.

After a descent, the Carnanes have to he ascended, and this is soon accomplished, over a few hundred yards of steep ground. When on the top the coast is seen to Contrary Head, with the heights of Corrin’s Tower, Cronk-na-ireyLhaa, and South Barrule. Beyond the level country are seen the Poolvash and Castletown bays, Langness Point, and the Calf islet, whilst close at hand is Brada Head. By walking from the top to a point overlooking the sea a charming coup d’œil is obtained. Fleshwick Bay is at the traveller’s feet, and a glimpse is caught of Port Erin. Brada Head presents a grand appearance, rising perpendicularly Irom the ocean, and at its base it forms two small semicircular bays. Advancing a few steps farther Port St. Mary and Port Erin are both seen, along with the Mull Hills and the Calf Islet.

A steep descent leads to Fleshwick Bay, which, though very small, is a wild and secluded nook. High hills rise steeply from the bay on either side. A road runs to the shore, where there are about half a dozen small boats, and a beach about 50 yards across composed of beautiful white rounded pebbles. There are no houses in the bay, but one or two farmsteads are a few hundred yards distant. On the north side are some fine picturesque rocks and caves, which have been formed by recent landslips. One rock is a regular stack, entirely surrounded by water. Close to the bay the sea has eaten into the rock for some distance, and formed a long deep cleft, which presents an extremely wild aspect, and is a favourite resort of the jackdaw and raven. These, along with the seagulls and other birds which frequent the coast, appear to be the only denizens of this romantic place.

Although Brada Head is only 766 feet above the sea, it presents from Fleshwick Bay so bluff and formidable an appearance that many will be inclined to evade the toil of the ascent, and follow the road to Port Erin. One mile and a quarter from Fleshwick Bay the road runs through Brada village, and then ½ mile farther Port Erin is reached.

Those, however, who ascend Brada Head will be amply repaid for the exertion. The best plan is to commence the climb at the first house from Fleshwick Bay. A good walker will accomplish the task in about thirty minutes. When the top is reached, the mountain is observed to descend perpendicularly into the sea, and a view is obtained of the coast past Niarbyl Point, and as far as the Peel Hill and Corrin’s Tower. The nearer heights of the Carnanes and Cronk-na-Irey-Lhaa look very grand, rising abruptly from the ocean, with large water-worn caves at their base. To the south are seen the Mull Hills and the Calf Islet, and innumerable fields and houses in the landscape ending in the bays and promontories around Castletown and Port St. Mary.

The traveller ought not on any account to omit obtaining vantage points for looking down the steep western side of the mountain into the deep blue sea, across the broad expanse of which are the mountains in Ireland. Some of these peeps are remarkably grand. Continuing along the summit, the Milner Tower, and a disused building attached to an old mine, appear in front, and romantic cliffs are observed, and at their base, close to the water, is a mine, which is now being worked.

Here, if the traveller stand at the edge of the cliffs, he will behold a wild weird-like scene close at his feet, and on his left the beautiful bay of Port Erin. Those who love to commune with nature in her various moods may do so to their hearts’ content, and will be loath to leave a spot so charming. From the tower the view is very extensive, and at the edge of the bay is the clean and comfortable-looking village 1 mile distant, which is entered after a quick descent.

Port Erin is a charming spot, situated in a pretty bay, between Brada Head and the Mull Hills, and here the traveller will do well to rest awhile before resuming the excursion.

The Mull Hills may be reached from the breakwater, but perhaps it is best to ascend by the road from the village. During the walk a fine view is had of the sea around Castle-town Bay, and Port St. Mary gradually comes in sight. When the summit is attained, which is 466 feet above the sea-level, the prospect is very good and extensive. There is a long stretch of level land, backed by Brada Head, the Carnanes, Cronk-na-Irey-Lhaa and South Barrule. By bending to the right, until directly above the sea, a capital view is obtained of the Calf Islet. The one occupied farmhouse which it contains is hidden in a hollow, but two small empty buildings and a lighthouse are seen. The bold cliff of Brada Head, upon which are Milner Tower, and the offices connected with a lead mine, is a fine prominent object to the north.

When the point is gained where there is a view of Port Erin, the rocks jutting into the sea from the Mull Hills are very picturesque. After passing the ruins of an ancient land-slip the southern part of the island is reached. The distance across to the Calf is 500 yards. The current in the Sound is very strong, and it is only in clear calm weather that the tourist can be taken across. It is at all times a grand sight to see the water on every hand lashing violently against the rocks. A farm outbuilding and an unoccupied hut are situated on the extremity of the main land ; and the village of Craignaish is ½ mile distant, where a stranger may some-times obtain a boatman to row him across to the Calf. The Calf is, however, generally visited by small boat from Port Erin, or Port St. Mary.

After passing the hut, the lighthouses on the Calf and the Chickens, and the rocks called Burrow and the Eye, come in sight, and presently, after a slight climb, the top of Spanish Head is gained. The waves are seen dashing in every direction and forming lines of spray. At the spectator’s feet are deep abysses overhung by wild picturesque cliffs, with the sea lashing furiously below. If the day be fine, many times will the tourist throw himself on the heather and, in a listless mood, contemplate so wild and lovely a scene, all alive with its ever changing, ever sounding waters. In such places and at such times man often muses not unpleasantly, and in after-life the scene is reproduced on his mind, and tends to make him a happier and a better man, for " a thing of beauty is a joy for ever."

" When scenes less beautiful attract my gaze,
I shall recall thy quiet loveliness;
When harsher tones are round me, I shall dream
Of those mysterious notes, whose thrilling sound
Peopled the solitude."

On rounding the first part of Spanish Head the tourist will iiot venture to approach the edge of the cliff, as it slopes steeply, and then descends perpendicularly to the sea. Some magnificent rocks and caves are passed, where the waves are seen surging in the depth, the whole combining and presenting a sublime spectacle. The famed rock, the " Sugar Loaf," is observed at the north corner of one of these bays, the sea having entirely surrounded it and partitioned it off from the adjacent cliffs. in the waste gorse-clad land, in front of the one solitary house on the hill, will be found "the Chasms," those rents in the rock which are said by one writer to be " the greatest attraction in all the island."

When on Noggin Head an excellent prospect is obtained of Port St. Mary and Poolvash bays, Castletown bay and town, and the Langness promontory ; also a large extent of the island, covered with dwellings, and stretching to the dark heath-covered summit of South Barrule.

Round Perwick Bay the rocks are very wild, and the sea rolls over them with great fury. From this point the tourist will walk round Kallow Point, either by the shore or along a road which leads over the hill, and he then quickly reaches Port St. Mary.

The coast now loses its wild, cliff-like character, owing to the absence of the slate rock, which does not again appear until we pass Derby Haven ; the low southern part of the island being covered chiefly by sand and gravel, with here and there the limestone visible, the latter no doubt existing at no great depth over most of this area.

Leaving Port St. Mary, and passing the school, the Chapel bay is skirted by following a lane on the right which leads round Gansy Point, and then the Castletown road is entered at the smelt mill. The traveller will continue on this road, which runs close to the waves, and past Mount Gawne, a brewery, the Shore inn, and the mansion of Kentraugh, to Strandhall. Between the two latter places the limestone appears on the shore, and continues round by Poolvash, Scarlet Point, and Castletown, to Derby Haven.

From Strandhall, Castletown may be reached direct by following the road ; but a pleasant stroll is had by branching to the right and going past Poolvash, and round Scarlet. At Castletown the river Silver Burn is crossed, and Derby Haven reached after passing Hango Hill, King William’s College, and the Race Course. Those who will not have another opportunity of visiting Langness ought not to omit a walk round that peninsula, as it is most interesting in a geological point of view, and presents scenes eminently picturesque.

Leaving Derby Haven, with its neighbouring islet of St. Michael, containing a small chapel and fort, the traveller continues along the coast, past Ronaldsway, to the mouth of the Santon Burn, with a view in front of St. Ann’s Head, and on the left of Brada Head, the Carnanes, Cronk-na-Irey-Lhaa, and South Barrule.

The Santon Burn, which is close to Cass-na-Hawin Head, may be crossed a few hundred yards farther up the glen, or when the tide is out a passage may be found along the shore. The mouth of the ravine down which flows this stream is hemmed in by high banks covered with gorse and heather, but without trees ; a spot which the Rev. Mr. Cumming mentions as being one of the most picturesque on the island. Though agreeing with him in this, we must dissent from his mode of accounting for the origin of the ravine. He says, " The valley down which the river runs into the sea is one of elevation, a great crack in the earth’s crust in consequence of extreme tension across a saddle when the country was being elevated. Even an ordinary observer must mark how the salient points at one side of this lovely winding valley correspond to recesses on the opposite side of it ; so that if the earth were to sink down again, we see at once that they would lock into each other, just (to compare small things with great) as the teeth in a rat-trap when the edges approximate. The earth here in opening her mouth has exhibited a set of teeth, compared with which those possessed by the most monstrous saurian that ever paddled in the secondary seas sink into utter insignificance." This is very fanciful, and at first sight plausible ; but we prefer to attribute the formation of the ravine to the denuding agency of water, rather than to search for " salient points at one side corresponding to recesses on the opposite side," a rather fruitless and hopeless task.

All the way to St. Ann’s Head the coast is observed to be rock-bound, with the water dashing at the base of moderately high cliffs of slate rock. A few yards beyond the Santon river, and the fine sandy creek of Saltrick, are some water-worn caves, and at one place there is a rock which has a romantic eye or archway running through it, and at high tide is surrounded by water. Good retrospective views are obtained of the rocky indented coast, with Derby Haven and Langness in the distance.

The next principal inlet is Port Greenwick or Grenaugh, a fine open bay, which branches inland for a few hundred yards. At its head are a sandy beach and a pretty private residence ; and on each side are rocks and caves.

At St. Ann’s Head the rocks are wild, and beautifully stratified. Here the view is lost of Derby Haven and Castletown, but the shore to Douglas Head is visible, and on the latter point is observed the tower of the Head Hotel. The cliffs during the whole way are high, and the coast is rocky and indented. In one sense there is a sameness on the coast all the way from Derby Haven to Douglas, but in another sense there is an infinite and pleasing variety, for no two rocks, creeks, or headlands are the same ; and the waters of the ocean have a constant and ever changing motion, sending forth sounds as varying as are the positions, near or distant, high or low, of the traveller on the cliffs above. " Here are the favourite haunts of the sea-fowl ; and when a storm has been spending its fury on these rugged cliffs with a heavy swell rolling in from the north-east, their wild screaming, mixed up with the roaring of the billows on the rocky caves and deep gullies, and the dash of the foaming surge upon the pinnacles of schist which stand out here and there into the sea, form a concert of discords wonderfully impressive and heart-stirring.. And so again are we soothed into a kind of romantic melancholy when not a breath of air stirs the waters, and the only sound is that of the lap-lapping of the wave, and its faint echo against the sides of the picturesque cavern on the quiet influx of the tide, mixed with trickling of water from the roof and the splash of the little neighbouring cascade which comes tumbling down fifty or sixty feet, and mirrors a rainbow from the morning sun ; and there is the gentle bleating of the sheep on the crag above, and the plaintive cry of the curlew, which has made its nest in some rocky cranny along the shore : and then to look down into the clear deep azure pools and watch the finny tribe there disporting themselves, and tempting lobsters and crabs peeping forth from their holes, and all the beautiful variety of algæ waving to and fro in the briny swell ; where can we see these things in greater perfection than in Mona ? Who that loves such scenes will not hasten to enjoy them here?"

After passing over one or two heights, the traveller will be pleased with a sight of the charming Bay of Port Soderick, where is a solitary hotel, pleasantly situated on the beach.

Ascending from this little haven, a view is had of the coast to Little Ness, the sea dashing wildly amongst the jutting rocks. After passing Little Ness, the rocks are in many places beautifully contorted and almost vertical. A wild rock-bound coast exists all the way to Douglas, with high cliffs, which are in places deeply rent. Soon after passing Pigeon’s Cove, where is some grand rock scenery, Douglas Head is reached, and the tourist finishes his circuit of the isle, in all probability better in health, mind, and spirit for the outing.

* The same writer, when speaking of the Douglas estuary, which formerly ran up to Port-e-Chee, says :—" It has been drained by an elevation which is probably the last affecting materially the physical condition of the island ; and the tourist may find some reason per-haps for the supposition, that the movement then commenced has been quietly proceeding even down to the present time."


Back index next

 indexRaad ny Foillan

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2000