A First Manx Escapade
It sometimes happens that a trip idea takes a while to become a reality and the prospect of a trip to the Isle of Man became as good an example of this as any. Eventually, a day sailing from Liverpool a year or two ago put an end to that though the introduction was a very short and wet one. However, I came away with more information that came in useful on subsequent visits.
That first crossing on the catamaran Manannan (pronounced ma-NANN-an) was a smooth and relatively speedy one, even if there was some swaying. The travel environment was pleasant too with plenty of seating without the need for any reservations. However, I'd suggest swapping Sky News for the less intrusive BBC alternative; the latter's tennis coverage made for a more relaxing afternoon crossing. The safety briefing videos were an acquired taste too and it's all too easy to pay the same amount of attention to these as is often paid to their airborne counterparts.
Travel to Liverpool was by train (just 90 minutes from Macclesfield and another first visit too, a surprise given the fine buildings and open spaces that abound; it wasn't a European City of Culture solely because of the Beatles...) and a 15 minute walk got me from Lime Street train station to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's ferry terminal by the Mersey. The ferry company suggest a distance of 2 miles and use of bus service C2 but I think that 2 km feels more like it and is how it looks on OS 1:50000 mapping too. Sunshine and blue skies gave the city a lift on the way home and caused me to dally in order to make something of my surroundings with my DSLR.
There are sailings from Heysham too but that's less convenient for me because of its proximity to Morecambe and Lancaster. A more convenient alternative for me would be Flybe's flights from Manchester airport to Ronaldsway in the south of the island. For others, there are flights from other places too and this is a boon given that ferry services are curtailed in the winter time.
It has been the prospect of coastal and hill walking that has caused me to return to the Isle of Man for short stays on the island. One of these featured a walk up the coast from Port Erin to Peel. That took me over a few steep sided hills and the fact that they aren't as lofty as in other parts was no compensation for my legs. There was plenty of dramatic coastal walking along the way as was proven by an exposed section on the approach to Peel; it felt more precarious than would be to my liking. Another section of the coastal path, that between Port Erin and Castletown, has been walked since then and that wasn't as dramatic but that isn't to say that it isn't unattractive either. Both of these have been the cause of the southern section of a pair of Isle of Man Survey 1:25000 maps looking more worn than you'd find one in a shop. A pair of Cicerone guides acquired on that first visit are in more pristine condition and have inspired and informed the walking too. More exploring may follow but what has been done already has been both relaxing and satisfying.