Isle of Man – Manx is a curious Island

As mentioned in a previous post Claire is a collaborator of Little Big Explorers and has visited The Isle of Man quite a few times to visit friends who live there; each time they are there they are able to enjoy different parts of the island and activities organised there.

Isle of Man is an Island between Ireland and England. It’s an island enveloped by mystery, boasting with taste from all corners of the island and landscapped with trees and countryside that look like a fantasy artist just painted them. How can you get there? A 2 hour ferry across from Liverpool is one of the easiest ways to get to this fantastic little island, rich in nature, history and residents who look after their country with pride!  If a ferry is not your thing then flights to the Isle of Man are also available from various UK and international airports. Claire’s outings and tips are focused on entertaining adults and kids aged between 8 and 15, alike.

One important tip that Claire advises anyone interested in visiting The Isle of Man no matter when, is to carry a rainjacket and also good comfortable, may be even waterproof, shoes. The weather is very unpredictable; it can get very wet and windy and also warm and sunny, all with a couple of hours.

Here are a few interesting places they have visited:

Cregneash

A traditional little village where one can experience what life on the island was like when there were no commodities we enjoy today.  One can see various indigenous animals and also farming methods used in the past.  Workshops and kids activities also take place such as weaving and baking.

 

Making Bread at Cregneash

Milner’s Tower is close to Cregneash and is a challenging but enjoyable walk to reach this tower.  Keep little ones close as the wind when Claire reached the top was so strong they had to hold on to them!  Once there you can see great views of Port Erin below.  Once back down in Port Erin, you can relax or enjoy some water sports always depending on the weather.

Castletown

This area of Isle of man is full of history to relive. One place Claire’s kids found interesting is The old school; they could observe and experience what Victorian classrooms were like.  There are props for the kids to use and enjoy during the visit

The House of Keys is very close by, it housed the Manx Parliament in the 19th Century.  The Curator eagerly shares his knowledge and makes it interesting for the children. Once again the kids coulc enjoy wearing different hats that signified different levels of authorities while they re-enact their own parliamentary session.

For those that love visiting Castles, Castle Rushen is a very well-preserved medieval castle which depicts various eras of Manx history.

The tour of the castle can be done independently or with a guide. Check their website to see if they are open when you are going. The children had the opportunity  to ‘join’ a traditional medieval banquet here.

Rushen Abbey is another interesting place the kids enjoyed. It is the remains of an abbey transformed into a history-based activity centre that will keep kids busy for hours.  Lovely gardens to enjoy while enjoying a picnic or some tea and cakes.

Peel

Talking about Castles one cannot forget the remains of a magnificent Viking’s Castle – Peel Castle. This is very famous for it’s huge grounds which are ideal for a picnic during your visit.

Since it is close to a lovely beach it also offers an opportunity for seal and basking shark spotting.  The beach is also used for  festivals and family fun day activities.

While in Peel visit The house of Manannan. Manannan is the island’s mythological sea god. The Isle of Man was the throne of Manannan, and some say that the name of the Island came from this Celtic deity.

The house of Mannan is a multisensory museum which offers a journey from past to present, about the island’s stories and superstitions. If you love celtic mythology this is a place to visit!

 

Up for something fishy? While in Peel, visit the traditional Kipper Smoke House.  Situated close to the sea to ensure freshness of the catch, is the last standing (and working) traditional curing house.  Factory tours are available to see the smoking process for this traditional food on the island.

 

For all those that love visiting museums here are some that are recommended by Claire to visit with kids:

  • Manx Museum – The perfect place to learn about the celtic and Viking history of the islands.  Many hands on activities for the young and not so young.  There are often exhibitions and workshops to enjoy.
  • Nautical museum – A small but quaint museum, with a treasure hunt and prop area for kids to keep them engaged.
  • Aviation Museum – A small museum inside Nissan huts houses lots of information for war and aviation enthusiasts.  This is situated on the outskirts of the airport and therefore offers the opportunity to see various unique aircraft that visit the island from time to time.
  • Manx Fudge Factory – Not really a museum but a fun and ‘sweet’ activity that offers the opportunity of fudge-making workshops.  Tasting sessions of their vast variety of flavours, are also held

 

 

For something a little different visit the Laxey Wheel. Visiting the largest water wheel in the world is a unique experience.  Climbing to the top is not suitable for the faint-hearted, but a great achievement for the younger ones!

Close by one can also enjoy a visit to the old mines. Kids like ours that come from a place where mines do not exist, always find it interesting going down dark tunnels and wearing funny hats. Again good clothes are a must.

For a more adventurous days when then kids can’t take another cultural visit to the museums try a visit to Apemann This adventure park is a tree top adventure and have ziplines for all ages of kids great and small.  If your kids are like my boys, active and full of energy this place should be high on your to do list while in Isle of man. There are various tracks for different abilities/ages. If you want to extend it a bit further there is also a Laser tag activity called Laser Mayhem. Laser tag through the forest is something unique for us Maltese for sure.

For the animal loving type of vistors a suggestion from Claire would be to go to the southernmost tip of the island, the Calf of Man. Here you can observe various wildlife and if you take a boat trip around the calf you can see the island from its coastal point of view along with having unique opportunities to see animals up close.

Another wonderful opportunity to see animals living in their habitats is at Curraghs Wildlife Park. Comfortable shoes, ideally wellies or something waterproof is suggested.  There are opportunities to attend workshops and feeding sessions.

For horse lovers the Horses home of rest is a place to visit. The animals are retired or rescued and have vast grounds where to rest and enjoy grazing.  Kids can bring along carrots and apples, or purchase food pellets at the entrance, to enjoy some one to one feeding time.

Douglas

This seems to be the most busy town, with the best shopping areas you can find. While there get a ride on one of the horse drawn trams, sure to be a hit with little children. Being in Douglas doesn’t mean just buildings and shops, being an Island Douglas has a port and beach worth visiting too. Be aware that Seagulls are like pigeons, they are everywhere! Along with Seagulls one can also enjoy collecting shells, pebbles and Quenies – Queen Scallops (traditional treats of Isle of Man)

Being in touch with Celtic history, Fairies hold a special place in Manx folk and history.  Reference to the manx fairies will be found in most parks, glens and villages.  It is even tradition to have a little fairy door close to the main door of your house especially in most older buildings.  Each time Claire visits, a stop to a Fairy Bridge to leave wishes or little notes, is a must.

Something which is becoming more and more appealing with kids are visiting farms and being able to pick your own produce that you might need for your afternoon tea. Here the kids are picking Rhubarb.

 

If you visit this Island in the month of June you will definately come across the TT races. These are international biking races held yearly in June.  The roads of the island turn into a racetrack, and the island is packed with biking and racing enthusiasts.

There are several other races throughout the year.  Driving (not racing) on the island is a wonderful experience with breath-taking  views of untouched nature. If you see a map of the island you will notice that there are not a lot of roads and being that the place is not too densely populated (unlike Malta), driving is not so stressful and is recommended to see the island well.

Claire has visited all these places across four visits to the island and this was all possible thanks to their very dear friends Camille & Owen, Arthur, Aristea & Alexander! She tells me that she still needs to visit the steam train, Camera Oscura, Motor museum and so much more so as you can see, Isle of Man is definetaly packed with so much to do. She is definately going to visit this magical isle soon, maybe it will be for a white and chilly Christmas!

Have you plans for Christmas? Would Isle of Man be of interest to you? What did you think of these hints and tips? Get in touch and tell us your views.

 

 

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