This time last year I had to go the Isle of Man for work. I'd never been before, so wasn't sure quite what to expect, but found it to be a really pretty place, at least when the sun is shining The time I needed to go back again this year happily coincided with the extra bank holiday we were getting for the King's coronation, so Tim and I decided to make a weekend of it and travel to the Isle of Man on Friday evening.
When I went with work last year I flew, but it's the sort of place where it's useful to have a car so this time it seemed more sensible to go by ferry. There are two places in England - Liverpool and Heysham - from where you can catch a ferry to the Isle of Man. Liverpool is the closer of the two to Nuneaton, so I opted for that. Our ferry was scheduled to depart Liverpool at 19.15 on Friday, with check-in closing at 18.30. Google Maps suggested that Nuneaton to Liverpool would be a drive of around 2 hours and 20 minutes. I decided we should set off at 15.30 to make sure we were there on plenty of time and had a bit of leeway if we got stuck in rush hour traffic around Liverpool.
We left the house almost at 15.30 on the dot and I put the postcode of the ferry terminal into the satnav. I was rather surprised to see the satnav calculating our arrival time as 18.25, suggesting the journey was going to take almost the full three hours available to us. I had obviously underestimated just how much traffic there was going to be on a Friday evening! Just getting out of Nuneaton seemed to take forever, then our route took us along the A5 where we seemed to get stuck in endless roadworks and traffic jams for roundabouts. By the time we made it to the M6, we had lost so much time that our estimated time of arrival was now 18.41, 11 minutes after check-in for the ferry closed. We managed to make some more time back on the motorway initially, then lost it all again when an accident brought traffic to a standstill again. By the time we were getting close to Liverpool, our estimated arrival time at the docks was 18.45. Oh dear!
There was a fair bit of traffic in Liverpool on a Friday evening too and the minutes began to slip away even further. Eventually we made it to the water and I even saw an Isle of Man symbol with three legs on the side of a building, so I figured we were in the right place, albeit 20 minutes late by this point. We couldn't find a way to get to that building though and when I looked at the map on my phone, I realised the terminal we needed was marked further away down the docks. We lost another 5 minutes navigating our way around a one-way system before we eventually found ourselves at the correct ferry terminal.... 25 minutes after check-in had closed.
The ferry was still there but there was a horrible second where it looked like the car check-in booth was closed. Luckily, the people in Liverpool were absolutely lovely and allowed us on regardless. We were definitely the final car to make it on to the ferry and as we parked we could see that they were closing the gates ready for departure. One of the ferry workers explained that the place where we'd first ended up is the location of a new terminal for the Isle of Man ferries, due to open in August/September.
Phew!! It was a big relief that we had made it. We found a seat and got some drinks and snacks from the onboard cafe as the ferry began to pull away from Liverpool.
The journey time from Liverpool to the Isle of Man is just under three hours, so we were timetabled to arrive at 22.00. It was daylight when we left Liverpool but obviously pitch black by the time we arrived in Douglas. It had been raining for most of our drive to Liverpool but seemed to clear up once we arrived, so we had a nice calm crossing at least.
Once we arrived in Douglas we had a drive of around 20 miles to our accommodation, which is on the northwestern side of the island, not far from a small village called Andreas. I booked it on Airbnb and the host had given amazing instructions on how to find it, so despite it being pitch black and in the middle of nowhere we actually located it on the first attempt.
Once we got inside we could see the place was really lovely. There's a big kitchen..
...a cozy living room...
...and a lovely bedroom too.
Arriving in the dark meant we obviously couldn't see the views outside the cottage but when we woke up in the morning it became clear that it's in a really beautiful location. This was the view from our bedroom window...
...and when I got up I realised that from the landing we could even see the sea!
It was one of those fantastic places where they leave you some food, so we had some bread and coffee for breakfast which was really great. We'd arrived far too late last night to pick up any supplies ourselves.
We clearly weren't far from the sea, so after breakfast we set off on a walk to explore. Although we had to start by walking down an A-road, it was pretty quiet...
...and we had some great views as we walked.
Before too long we arrived at the sea.
There were some beautiful sand dunes...
...and the beach was lovely and sandy too.
Definitely sandier than the one we'd been on in Spain last weekend, even if not quite as warm!
Once we'd finished admiring the views, we had to climb back up towards the road.
We walked back to the cottage, got in the car and began driving south towards the town of Peel.
It was a pretty seaside town, with a colourful promenade.
The reason I wanted to come to Peel though was to visit Peel castle.
We parked and followed signs towards the entrance, which took us around the harbour.
Somehow we actually missed the entrance and had to double back on ourselves. We got some good views though.
Eventually we found the entrance and made our way inside.
The castle is run by Manx National Heritage, who have an agreement with the National Trust, so we were able to get in for free.
We were free to explore wherever we wanted, although the man on the gate warned us to be careful as there were a lot of rabbit holes in the grass.
The castle was built in the 11th century by Norwegians, to whom the island belonged at the time.
It was a really nice place to walk around and there were some good views of the town...
...as well as of the coast.
As you can see, it was a bit of a cloudy day - but not raining, which is the main thing
Once we'd finished exploring the castle we walked back into the town and along the promenade, from where we had a good view back towards the castle in the distance.
We went into a local pub for lunch where I ended up with this amazing chocolate pyramid desert!
Then we went back to the cottage to relax. It actually got a bit sunnier as the day went on and so we were able to enjoy some amazing views of the hills in the middle of the island.
We've had a great first day and I'm very relieved that we made it! Hopefully tomorrow will be similarly dry