Victoria Pier, Douglas
THERE are few places in the British Isles which could rival the Isle of Man in displaying within a little space a great variety of scenes. Man, still largely autonomous, was at one time a Kingdom, and that is not to be wondered at. It contains, on its fairy scale, all the elements of a complete national life : ports and harbours, rivers and glens, hills that attain at times almost to the dignity of mountains, towns and villages, a continuous and interesting history that can be traced back for centuries ; a sturdy native stock pursuing native industries. It has even succeeded in breeding its own brand of cat ! That cat is symptomatic. It is nearly like other cats-but not quite. And the Isle of Man, nearly like other islands, has its subtle differences.
The most striking feature of the island is the close juxtaposition of mountain, glen and sea. In one day, and on foot, you may take your fill of all three and pass through a variety and beauty of scenery that it would be hard to match in so small an area elsewhere. The climate is kindly. True, you will find that on the western coast the branches of the trees stream like blown hair all in one direction-towards the north-east. That indicates strong winds from the south-west, and these certainly are not uncommon ; but no one can fail to notice, in walking about the island, luxuriant growths of fuchsias, hydrangeas, and other plants that demand a mild atmosphere. The warm drift of the Atlantic undoubtedly helps to keep the Isle of Man comfortable ; its winds, though frequently strong, are not cold. An analysis of the temperature made some years ago, showed that the mean annual (Fahrenheit) was 49 degrees. The temperature of the coldest month (January) was 41.5 degrees, and of the warmest month (August) 58.5 degrees. The average temperatures through- out the seasons were found to be : spring 46 degrees ; summer 57.2 degrees ; autumn 50.9 ; winter 42. The climate then is equable, not subject to violent fluctuations ; and records show that the Isle of Man has a larger share of sunshine than any part of the United Kingdom except the south and south-east coast and the Channel Islands.
The greater part of the island's surface is hilly, and from the central range many spurs tend seaward, some of them reaching the coast. On the south-west they fall precipitously to the sea, helping the cliffs north and south of them to achieve the bold and striking effects characteristic of the coast-line scenery of the island. This rugged grandeur of the coast extends for a great distance : from Peel, half-way down the western seaboard, right round the southern toe, and then northward again past Castletown and Douglas to Maughold Head, which juts boldly eastward.
Between that and the Point of Ayre, the island's northern tip, is the deep semicircle of Ramsey Bay, sandy and admirable for bathing ; and the low sandy nature of the shore is maintained from the Point of Ayre down the western coast almost to Peel.
The chief feature of the scenery inland is the beauty of the glens. Those who have wandered in them in springtime and seen the primroses carpeting the ground in unforgettable abundance, and the blazing of the gorse whichever way the eye looks, are not likely soon to forget their experience. It must not be supposed, however, that looking at the scenery is the only thing to be done in the Isle of Man. Douglas knows most that is to be known concerning the entertainment of visitors, and elsewhere golf and tennis, bathing, boating, fishing and other recreations are amply provided for.
There are a number of ways of reaching the Isle of Man. From Liverpool the distance is seventy miles. From Fleetwood it is fifty-six miles, and from Heysham fifty-nine. The port at the other end is in all these cases Douglas. Occasionally boats sail from Liverpool to Ramsey ; and sometimes there are sailings from Blackpool to Douglas.
The chief import of the Isle of Man is visitors. Perhaps no other place in Britain is so utterly dependent upon visitors for its very being.
Man has slowly, but by now irrevocably, abandoned the pursuits by which it once lived. It could still, perhaps, maintain its native population, but it cannot maintain the army that enters into occupation in the spring and departs in the autumn. Agriculture still flourishes., but the once famous fisheries are not what they were. How they wrapped themselves into the very life of the island at one time is shown by the oath which the Deemsters (judges) used to take ; that they would administer justice " as indifferently as the herring-bone doth lie in the midst of the fish." The textile industries, too, which were once considerable, are declining ; and altogether one must accept the fact that the Isle of Man has made a conscious choice to devote its whole energies to the entertainment of visitors. We cannot wonder at that. This little island, which is only thirty-three miles long and about twelve across in the broadest part, has incomparable features and is not unwise to exploit them.
When you approach the island, your first impression is of mountains. They are not really very high ; Snaefell, the highest point, is a shade over 2,000 feet ; but, seen from the sea, they dominate everything. They are not difficult or dangerous hills. Mostly, they are smooth and round-topped, with verdure, though without trees, to the summit. On Snaefell several streams arise, and these, carving their way to the sea, have created those glens upon which, with the splendour of the coast scenery, the island's reputation for natural beauty chiefly rests. Sycamores, firs, and mountain ash grow beside these delightful streams, and as the eye follows the rise from the glen bottom to the bare summits of the hills it sees the transformation from the verdure below to the baldness above carried through a delicious gradation in which gorse and fern and heather play their part.
Thus, with hill and stream, secluded glen and rocky wind-blown shore, with isolated yellow sands and the urban delights of Douglas all his to choose from, the visitor is likely soon to come to the conclusion that the Isle of Man is a charming little kingdom indeed. And the fact that it is a kingdom adds to its interest. Man, of course, has its own legislature, manages its own affairs and fixes its own taxes, which are enviably low.
Douglas provides most of the diversions that are to be found in popular seaside places ; and a very large percentage of those Lancashire, Yorkshire and Midland folk who are the island's chief patrons, make Douglas and its immediate vicinage their headquarters. When you have left Douglas out-if we may be pardoned that audacity for a moment-you may say that the Isle of Man caters for the holiday-maker who wants peace and who doesn't mind doing without varnish. There are, to be sure, at a great many places besides Douglas, fine hotels and comfortable boarding-houses ; but there are even more places where visitors are quite content to leave the social conventions at home and to take their golf or fishing or rambling or beach-lounging as they find them. There are plenty of homely cottages where you need have no concern for your wardrobe beyond that occasioned by a ten-year-old tweed jacket and a pair of flannel trousers. And that's the sort of holiday from which you are most likely to go back feeling glad you went,
The island is an easy place to get about in. The roads are good, and the holding of the Tourist Trophy motor-cycle races upon them have made them in recent years very well known. Bus services run from the towns to the most remote villages, and have opened up many beautiful spots in the valleys or by the coast. There is also good railway communication. Two lines start from Douglas. One of them runs south to Port Soderick, where the cliff scenery is notable, and thence goes on to Castletown. From Castle- town you cross the southern foot of the island to two charming towns : Port St. Mary and Port Erin. The second line runs right across the island to Peel. Just before you reach Peel, you come to St. Jobn's, and there a third line has its beginn´ng. It meets the coast at St, Germains, just above Peel, and follows it north through Kirk Michael to Ballaugh. There it turns inland and goes eastward to Ramsey. From Ramsey you can return to Douglas by an electric tramway. Perhaps the best way to take a more detailed look at Man will be to follow these three lines and get out at the chief places that lie along them.
Douglas is a beautifully sited town, as you see when you are approaching it on a ship. To its south is the bold rise of Douglas Head and to its north Onchan Head. Those two points stand sentinel at either end of a half moon of beach, and within the southern tip of that half moon Douglas is built. Behind it the ground rises, and with the ground the houses and the gardens in a fine imposing townscape.
It is apparent at once that Douglas is not going to be a bright prison. Obviously, leave the town by which way you will, you will come upon something attractive. When you have landed, you find this surmise to be very well justified. You mount Douglas Head and find that there-abouts is one of the island's eight golf courses, and that from the summit a Marine Drive goes southward to Port Soderick : a drive which closely follows the cliff, giving you a succession of splendid views and landing you at last among some first-rate bathing pools. If you are not up to walking, you can make the journey by electric tram.
The walk in the other direction-to Onchan Head-is well worth making when the night is coming on. Douglas from this headline is a lovely sight when the lights are up, the long promenade curving away under its lamps to the huddle of light that is the town ; and out in the bay the small boats riding at anchor with their mast-head lights swaying gently like a cluster of flowers in a breeze.
If the day should chance to be Sunday, your walk will almost certainly lie towards the old parish church of Kirk Braddan, where for many years the services in summer have been held out of doors. The service is, in itself, a spectacular attraction. The congregations sometimes number 10,000, and even 20,000 has been recorded. It is customary for the preacher to stand on what is called the Drury Stone, placed there to commemorate a popular bishop named Drury who began these services. But when the service is over and the crowds are gone, it will be worth while to stay and look at the old church itself. It is not often used now for public services, but it is planted as deep, almost, as anything in the history and tradition of the island. The fabric which you see to-day is not very old, for the place was rebuilt in 1773, but the tower is older than the rest, and here and there are other evidences that parts of an ancient structure are incorporated in the modern building. There is little doubt that for centuries successive religious structures have stood upon the spot and a number of crosses which still exist are of great antiquity.
Old Kirk Braddan
The surroundings and appearance of the little church are exquisite, and it has associations with famous men. In the south-west corner will be found the tomb of the Rev. Robert Brown, once Vicar of the place, and father of two sons who became famous. One was T. E. Brown, the most distinguished poet the island has produced, a writer of charm if not of greatness. The other son was a famous Liverpool Preacher, Hugh Stowell Brown. There is also to be seen a memorial to Wordsworth's brother-in-law, Henry Richardson.
The church is in the Dhoo Valley, about 2¼ miles to the north-west of Douglas, and there are easy ways of reaching it. You may go along Peel Road from the Douglas railway station as far as the Quarter Bridge. Then bear left and take the road running parallel with the railway. Another way is by a public footpath through the grounds of the Nunnery, which is entered from the Castletown old road. The way goes under the Castletown railway to Castletown New Road. This road must be crossed, and then one proceeds along the Saddle Road till the church is reached. Those who do not want to walk can go on Sunday mornings by a special train to a temporary station near the church.
New Kirk Braddan
The new church was built in 1890. It is one of the finest in the island, having accommodation for 1,000 people. It has the distinction of having had its spire twice blown down.
There will be no difficulty about getting back to your hotel from Kirk Braddan. In so small an island there is necessarily hardly a place which may not be reached from Douglas in a day's trip, and the return journey from the more popular walks can almost always be fitted into the time-tables of the railways, tramways or buses.
Unlike any other town in the island, Douglas has definitely laid itself out to provide indoor amusements for those who want them. It has two theatres, the Gaiety and the Grand ; and between them they satisfy most demands, whether for drama, comedy, opera or revue. The Palace and the Derby Castle (here is a reminder that Earls of Derby were once Kings of Man) have for many years been known to the dancers of Lancashire and Yorkshire ; and variety entertainment is to be found in the Coliseum, which is in the grounds of the Palace. There are, of course, picture houses and "talkies," and several new places of amusement will be opened this year.
Douglas from Falcon Cliff
The business of providing amusements has not been left exclusively in private hands. The estate on the front known as the Villa Marina belongs to the Corporation. The pleasant gardens are lit up at night ; and during the season fine orchestral concerts and entertainments are given both in these gardens and in the spacious concert hall which is set in the midst of them. Roof gardens, a lounge, a cafe and recreation rooms are attached to the concert hall. An extensive improvement scheme to meet the ever-increasing demands of holiday-makers has been approved, and when completed will place Villa Marina in the front rank of public amusement resorts of its kind.
The Coast between Douglas and Port Soderick
Golf at Castletown - the 15th tee
Leaving Douglas, let us take first of all the line that runs south. We shall pass through Port Soderick, with its bathing pools and magnificent cliff scenery, and come to Castletown, the capital of Man until 1862, and now a place where you will find golf and tennis, fishing and boating, and all the pleasures of outdoor life. A jolly stream, the Silver Burn, flows down into Castletown Bay, and the old town stands picturesquely on both sides of the harbour. In the very middle of the town is its oldest monument, Rushen Castle, which is said to have been founded by the Dane Guthred in the tenth century. The present building, which dates from the fourteenth century, is splendidly preserved, and it was in use as the residence of the Lords of Man until the 18th century. Then, until 1891, it served as a prison. It has a square, massive keep, surrounded by an outer wall with towers and a moat.
It is held by many authorities that Castle Rushen is one of Britain's finest examples of mediŠval military building. Many famous names are associated with its history. Robert Bruce besieged it in 1313 ; Queen Elizabeth gave it a clock, which is something of a curiosity, for it has only three wheels. It still keeps good time. The family of the present Earl of Derby were for many years lords of the island, and it was during her occupancy for the settlement of a dispute concerning succession by rival Derbys that the queen presented the clock to the castle.
Near the castle is the old House of Keys, where the Parliament sat before Douglas became the seat of government ; and a mile to the north-east of the town is Man's most important school, King William's College, which was founded in 1833. F. W. Farrar, the English divine, was at school here, and his novel of school life "Eric, or Little by Little" reproduces at any rate the external circumstances of the school. Probably the modern scholars of King William's would prefer to be altogether dissociated from a tale so maudlin to modern taste. Other "old boys" of note are the poet Brown and his brother, who have already been referred to ; the soldier Sir George White, who served with distinction in the Boer war; Sir William Bragg, President in 1928 of the British Association ; and the Rev. John Ellerton, whose well-known hymns include "Now the Labourer's Task is O'er" and "Saviour, again to Thy dear Name we raise."
Near the town is Hango Hill, and if you go to Hango Hill let it remind you of how a woman may bide her time. The story of William Christian and Charlotte de la Tremouille is perhaps the most striking ir. the modern history of the island. Charlotte was the countess of that Earl of Derby, known as "the Great Stanley" whose hand was heavy, and in the main beneficent, upon Man when Charles the First was King. Charles met his end, and Ireton called upon the Earl of Derby to surrender Man to the Parliament. Derby, so far from complying, set sail from the island with some troops who included 300 Manxmen, and ranged himself under the standard of Charles the Second. The defeat of the Royalists at Worcester saw the little party overwhelmed and Derby a captive. From Chester Castle he was takel. out and executed at Bolton.
Meanwhile, Charlotte de la Tremouille held the island. The Receiver General was William Christian, and under him the Manx militia rose against the Countess and captured all the forts save Peel and Rushen. She stood her ground as long as she could, but when a Parliamentary general arrived and allied his force to Christian's there was nothing for it but surrender. But the Countess was not a woman who forgot, and William Christian's triumph was short-lived. Cromwell passed. Another Charles came back to Whitehall ; another Stanley came back to Man; and in 1663 William Christian met on Hango Hill the fate that Derby had met at Bolton.
From Castletown the line crosses the island to Port Erin and Port St. Mary. Neither is a big place. Both are charming. Port Erin is on a little bay terminated by one of the island's most magnificent headlands-Bradda Head : a piece of rock which artists from far and near find it a delight to paint. It is the contemplative person, the person with some artistic twist latent or expressed, who comes to Port Erin and Port St. Mary. In neither place will you find much urban amusement ; but if what you ask of a holiday is precisely freedom from urban shackles, then either of these places will give you what you want. Pleasant sands, blue seas, great walks to the glens inland, impressive scenery on the island's western seaboard : these are the things that you are offered in rich abundance.
Let us look at both these places in some detail, and, because it is first on the line, we will take Port St. Mary first. It is on a small peninsula, with Perwick Bay to the west and Port St. Mary Bay to the east. Travel which way you will, you will come upon coastal scenery of a varied and romantic nature. The town justly claims to be more than picturesque : it is very healthy. The soil is of sand over gravel, and beneath much of the gravel is limestone, and those who understand such things tell us that that is an ideal arrangement. Moreover, Port St. Mary, in its modern development, has taken care not to close in upon and choke up the old town, as so often happens with the result that what is undoubtedly picturesque is also probably insanitary. Port St. Mary has not made that mistake. The new parts go north and south, leaving the old town healthily open to the winds from mountain and sea. There is a good water supply and good drainage.
These are points about which many holiday-makers like to be sure ; and, being assured, they may now turn their attention to the attractions Port St. Mary has to offer. There is plenty of fishing to be had, and there are rowing boats, sailing boats and motor boats to be hired. The places to be explored by water are endless, for the coast hereabouts is broken up into many creeks and inlets. Some of the boldest features of the island's coastline are at hand. There is Spanish Head, which legend, if not history, associates with the loss of the Armada, where the seas boil against a great cliff that rises to a noble headland clothed with gorse and heather ; there is the Calf island ; and there is the Chicken Lighthouse.
The country to be reached on foot is not less attractive than the coastline as seen from the sea. One of the most famous walks is that to the Chasms, which lie along the shore of Bay Stacka. The Chasms are great fissures riven inland, according to some by earthquakes ; according to the modern scientific view, because the sea has battered its way subterraneously, causing the overlaying strata to slip. It is as well to walk warily in this district. The Chasms are an interesting phenomenon, well worth seeing ; but it also is well worth seeing that beneath your feet is not a rift obscured by gorse or heather.
Port St Mary Harbour
It is an easy walk from Port St. Mary to Perwick Bay, and thence there is a cliff path to the Chasms. Many walkers do not get beyond Perwick Bay, and one can understand that, for the place opens its arms to you and invites you to stay. If you can resist that invitation and want to strike inland, the little valley called Glenchass will reward your venture. At the right season it is just a glory of gorse, and one can imagine how the sight of it tore from the poet Brown that characteristically simple and enthusiastic cry
" And gorse runs riot in Glenchass Thank God! "
Port Erin is no great distance from Port St. Mary. It lies just opposite to it, on the other side of the thick, sturdy peninsula that ends in Spanish Head. There is a good high road between the two. The geographical position of Port Erin is magnificent. Imagine a deeply-recessed bay looking west -that is, towards the sunset, a fine thing in a holiday place. The entrance to the bay is half a mile across, and it runs inshore a mile. The bay is guarded on the north by the finest headland in Man, and one of the finest in Britain-Bradda Head, which, as Brown says, has " thunder in her caves." It stands up to 766 feet, a great bastion against which the sea drives and hammers and spumes in spectacular fury when the weather is wild, a sleeping sentinel in the fine days, its swart shoulders mantled with royal purple of heather and bright gold of gorse. The southern side of the bay is guarded by another headland known as the Castles. Inshore, you find a broad curved edging of sand and pebbles, and above that the scattered cottages which once were Port Erin. A lovely spot those old inhabitants had chosen, snugly settled at the head of that deep bite into the land-as perfect a haven as storm- plagued sailor could dream of. But when the Isle of Man became primarily (to borrow, with a little emendation from. Stevenson) "Pleasure Island," so favoured a spot was not left for long to the few who had gone out thence to their affairs upon the sea. On the green slopes above and beyond the old village new houses came into being, looking out across the bay to the sunset through the high gateway of Bradda and the Castles. When days are clear the purple smudge of the Mourne Mountains and the hills of Wicklow give majesty to the horizon.
A fine retreat indeed this is, whence one may go out for glorious days in the sun, either on the sea or on the land. By sea there are endless excursions to be made. All those places which we have spoken of as accessible from Port St. Mary are equally accessible from Port Erin. A number of private yachts belonging to members of the Isle of Man Yacht Club are usually to be seen in the bay ; but one need not be the wealthy owner of exclusive accommodation in order to take the joys which the fine coastline offers. You can cruise along the coast or fish from a motor-boat for a moderate charge ; and if you would rather be in the sea than on it there is good bathing to be had. The Traie Meanagh Bath lies in a creek that gets plenty of sun and little wind. Sea water is pumped in daily. There is good trout-fishing, and the golfer will find two courses to choose from, each of 18 holes. One is the Old Rowany Golf Links ; the other spreads itself upon the high headland of Bradda. There is tennis, too ; and the walker has plenty of fine varied country to stretch himself upon. Young and old will find instructive and amusing things at the Marine Biological Station and Aquarium, which is close to the base of the ruined breakwater-memento of a lost endeavour to curb the power of the Atlantic when it wishes to show off in Port Erin Bay.
Swimming Baths Port Erin
There is only bus communication between Port Erin and Peel, which is half-way down the western seaboard. Let us therefore return to Douglas and begin a new journey. The journey will take us through Union Mills, which lies just three miles out of Douglas in what a writer has demurely called "a sheltered valley of superior appearance," and through Crosby, which has good trout- fishing in the Dhoo and which is the nearest station for Sir Hall Caine's residence, Greeba Castle. Thence we come to the junction of St. John's. It is worth while leaving the train here, for a number of interesting things are to be seen. For one thing, St. John's is the nearest rail-point for Glen Helen and the Rhenass Waterfall. Glen Helen lies about the upper part of the Rhenass river. It is a little valley whose great natural beauty has been heightened by careful afforestation. You go about two miles from St. John's to Creg Willysill, where there are a restaurant and some amusements for those who want them. A walk of about a mile beside a sparkling stream leads to a series of waterfalls. A second glen runs into the one we are following, and at the junction of the two is an elevated peninsula whence one may look right down the charming valley. Glen Helen is certainly one of the minor joys of Man.
Before we go on to Peel there is a famous piece of land to be seen. This is the Tynwald Hill, which is very near St. John's station. Here on Old Midsummer Day, July 5, the legislators of the Isle of Man gather and read aloud to the people the laws which they have made and, as Sir Hall Caine has shrewdly put it, "pretend to ask them" if they may be promulgated and passed. No doubt, a good deal of ceremonial make-believe attends the gathering, but it is thrilling, all the same, to reflect that here we have a continuance into our days of a unique thousand-year-old institution that must once have been real enough. For what it is worth, you may see here, on a raised platform of earth said to be composed of soil brought from the island's seventeen parishes, the members of the House of Keys, the Deemsters, the Bishop and the Governor go through with this historic ceremony.
It will not take many minutes to make our run from St. John's to Peel, which stands about the harbour made by the Neb's meeting with the sea. More than most towns in the Isle of Man, Peel has kept a hold on its past, and, as much as any, it can show us things which make it clear that that past goes back a long way. You will not feel that Peel may be compared to an ancient family which has sold the estates and gone in for trade. Here, more than anywhere else, the fisheries, for one thing, continue to have some importance. Admittedly, they are not what they were. Not many years ago the mackerel and herring fleets could reckon on a muster of 2,000 men and boys. Nothing like that number could be counted on now, and with the decline of the fisheries the allied trades have declined, too. There has been some revival lately, for the drifters from Fleetwood and Scotland now come into Peel.
St Germain's Cathedral and ferry Peel
Peel gives way only inch by inch. It did not just give up everything suddenly at the golden prospect of visitors, and that is why many visitors are attracted. They feel there more definite affinities with the island's past than at most other towns in Man. But, though Peel gives way slowly, it is giving way, and along the promenade and on the rising ground behind the old town many new houses have come into being. There are good hotels and boarding-houses, and there is a cinema, with ball-room attached. Sea and river fishing, sailing, golf, swimming in an excellent open-air bath, and tennis are among the sports which the visitor will find,
The great antiquarian attraction of Peel is Peel Castle on St. Patrick's Island, just off the land and connected with it by a causeway. Here St, Patrick is said to have first brought the Christian faith to Man. On the island there is a small and very ancient chapel dedicated to St. Patrick, and the ruins of Peel Castle and St. Germain's Cathedral. Peel Castle takes us a long way back in history. In 1397 Richard II sent the Earl of Warwick there, a prisoner for conspiracy ; and the Duchess of Gloucester, half a century later, was banished there for having used magic arts to bring about the death of Henry VI. It was a picturesque scheme. She obtained the services of a "witch" who made in wax an image of the king. As the wax melted, so, it was hoped, would the king peek and pine. Things worked out differently. Roger Bolingbroke, who also was in the plot, was executed, the "witch" was burned, and the Duchess's fate may be found recorded in Shakespeare's King Henry VI, Part II
" You, madam, for you are nobly born,
Despoiled of your honour in your life,
Shall, after three days' open penance done,
Live in your country here in banishment
With Sir John Stanley in the Isle of Man,"
A modern writer points out that the Stanley was a Thomas, not a John. The Duchess ended her days in the castle. If she had tolerable liberty, it was not a bad place to end them in.
On the seaward side of the castle is what is called Fenella's Tower. Fenella is the heroine of Sir Walter Scott's novel "Peveril of the Peak," and he describes, with wonderful accuracy of detail, though he was never on the spot, how she escaped from this tower.
Golf at Peel - the fifth tee
The cathedral is not less interesting than the castle. The present remains, in red sandstone, date from the thirteenth century, but there is evidence that church building had been done on the spot before that. Altogether, the little island is as close-packed with the record of church and state as almost any comparable patch of land in Britain. Near Peel is a farm called Knockaloe, which was used during the war as an internment camp for 25,000 aliens. "The Woman of Knockaloe," by Sir Hall Caine, has made the place and the circumstances known to thousands of readers.
Our objective now is Ramsey, on the eastern coast of the island, and to get there we must return from Peel to the junction at St. John's. There we get a train which will go north before tending east. We shall pass through one or two places which are worthy of a visit, and first of them is Kirk Michael, about six miles north-east of Peel. The village stands on a plateau, with the sea before it at but half a mile's distance, and, for background, some of the finest hills in Man. It is a place where the holiday-maker who seeks absolute restfulness, uninterrupted by any modern "improvements," will find it. It is a great centre for a walking holiday. Under the lych-gate of the church is to be seen a remarkable collection of old crosses, dating forward from the sixth century.
After Kirk Michael the next station is Ballaugh. This is the district whence Sir Hall Caine's forbears come, and hereabouts are set some of the scenes of "The Deemster," one of his earlier and better books. The mountains of Shen Dhoo and Slieu Chiarn rise behind the village, and the sea is no great distance away, Ballaugh, like Kirk Michael , is an admirable centre for a quiet holiday. The "curragh" of Ballaugh, the dried-up site of old lakes, is a fascinating place for a naturalist. More than a hundred years ago there were found in this spot the fossil remains of a huge elk, now in the Edinburgh Museum, It is supposed that this is the spot where the first animals appeared in the Isle of Man after the Glacial Age had extinguished so much life. Peat of great depth is in the district, and sometimes whole trees are found in it, standing upright as they have been while slowly sinking through the cen- turies. Relics of ancient man have also been dug out of the peat-men, doubtless, who once sheltered beneath those trees which now, with them, have sunk beneath the earth. Old Ballaugh Church contains a Saxon cross with the inscription : "Olaf Liotulfson erected this cross to the memory of Ulf his son."
Sulby is the next station after Ballaugh. . The village is at the mouth of the most famous of the island's glens-the deep and narrow Sulby Glen down which a fine stream tumbles, The hills that overlook the valley are the most impressive to be found in the island : Mount Karrin, that rises to 1,084 feet on your left as you climb ; Slieu Menagh (1,257 ft.) on your right ; and Snaefell, the highest of them all, a shade over 2,000 feet, straight ahead. The glen gives you as varied a walk as you could wish for. Here is a waterfall ; there the opening of a small valley that pours its tributary waters into the Sulby ; farther on a solitary farm, eking out a scant existence on earth reclaimed from the rock, gorse and heather that every- where abound. The fisherman will find the glen as much to his heart's desire as anything that the island can offer. The Fishery Board takes great care of Sulby's waters, which are replenished each year. There are a number of long, deep runs, mill-races and pools which give the trout-fisher as good sport as he is likely to find in many a day's stream-whipping.
In Sulby Glen
Ramsey is the terminus of the railway we are now on. It lies on a wide bay at the mouth of the Sulby River. North and west of it the country is flat ; southward it rises towards the heights of Barrule and Snaefell. To the north of the town a creek of the Sulby has been formed into a fine lake, and alongside the lake is the charming Mooragh Park. Ramsey is connected with Laxey, the summit of Snaefell and Douglas by electric railway.
One of the great attractions of the town is the perfect bathing which is afforded by the gently-sloping shore. There is a pier which permits of the landing of passengers at all times, though most of Ramsey's visitors come by way of Douglas. Sulby Glen, which many generations of visitors have considered to be the island's finest inland feature, is easily accessible.
Mooragh Park is a very well-thought-out pleasaunce. Hills shelter it from the north, and sturdy palm trees are evidence of the amiability of the climate. The visitor who wants simply to rest can do it here amid every circumstance of natural beauty ; but in the park is provided also plenty of opportunity for games. There are summer and winter tennis courts and bowling greens ; and the lake, which is nowhere more than three feet deep over all its twelve acres of extent, is an admirable place for learning to handle a sailing-boat.
Those who do not care to venture on to the sea will find good rowing on the river. There is an open-air swimming-bath and an 18-hole golf course. The bay is a good place for yachting, and regattas are often held. There are two picture-houses and a dance hall in the town.
Ramsey - on the Golf Links
We have now ended our run on the railways of the island, if we consider under that name only lines which carry steam locomotives. But there is an electric line on which we can return from Ramsey to Douglas, and on the way we pass through Laxey. Thence a branch of the line curls inland along the valley of the Laxey River and ascends to the summit of Snaefell.
Great Wheel Laxey
Laxey is an ancient and interesting place. It is rather widely scattered, for we must include in it the houses round the actual mouth of the river as well as the village called Minorca and the houses that run inland to thicken into a township at the point where Roy Glen joins Laxey Glen. There is still a good deal of sea-fishing at Laxey, and the mills for making home-spuns in accordance with the economic and humanitarian principles of John Ruskin are at work to-day. So, too, are the leadmines, though these have not the importance that once was theirs. But they provide one of the "sights" of Laxey in the great wheel. 226 feet in circumference, which operates the pumps that take water out of the mines. Laxey is a good place to stay at if urban delights are not what one seeks, though these are not hard to obtain with Douglas at the end of a short run in the electric tram. Some of the most romantic country in the island is at hand, and Laxey Bay is fringed with a fine bathing beach.
The Pavillion Laxey Glen
A three or four mile walk from Laxey takes you to the foot of Snaefell. Those who do not want to walk can use the electric tramway which goes to the summit. Snaefell is 2,034 feet high and is the central point of the British Isles. It is well worth visiting on a clear day, for not only can the whole of Man be seen set about with the sea, but beyond the sea the four partners of the British Isles can be glimpsed. England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales all fall within the field of that unique view-point. It is difficult to think of any other spot of land in the British Isles whence four countries can be seen.
Garwick Bay near Laxey
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