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The weather took a turn for the worse overnight. When we woke up in the cottage this morning, there wasn't much of a view. Luckily the host didn't need us to check out straightaway, so we were able to have a relaxed start to the day and wait for the weather to dry up a bit. Once it did we had a few hours spare before we needed to go our separate ways, so we decided to drive back down the coast to Peel, which we'd really enjoyed visiting on Saturday. We didn't go into the castle today but we realised there was a little walk you could do around the walls of it, which we'd missed on Saturday. As we walked we had some lovely views of the coast... ...and back towards the town of Peel. The weather still wasn't great, but at least it wasn't pouring with rain From Peel we drove across to Douglas, on the opposite side of the island. The weather wasn't any sunnier there! Tim had to head off to the ferry terminal, to catch a ferry back to Liverpool at 3pm. Luckily this time around he had plenty of time I went to check into my hotel, where I'm staying with work until Thursday. It's on the seafront, which is nice. The room itself is fine, with a bed... ...and desk area. I was quite excited to hear it had a sea view... but I wasn't prepared when I pulled back the curtains to see this slightly scary statue of a raven right outside my window I guess maybe it's there to scare off other birds? Even if the weather hasn't been perfect today, it's been a fun weekend and a nice treat to get an extra bank holiday this May
It was so nice and sunny yesterday evening that we decided to go out for another walk after dinner. We retraced some of our steps towards the nature reserve we'd visited earlier in the day and got some lovely sunset views as we went. We had to be careful not to walk too far though, as we didn't want to be caught outside in the dark. When we woke up this morning the weather seemed surprisingly good again. We decided to start the day by driving to a place called Point of Ayre. This is the northernmost point of the Isle of Man and home to the oldest lighthouse on the island. Theoretically it was possible to walk along the coast here for a while, but the beach was very pebbly and also fenced off. Eventually I found a sign which explained why - nesting arctic terns! I didn't fancy being attacked by aggressive arctic terns, so we soon made our way back to the car. Our second stop of the day was a rather unusual attraction: the Laxey Wheel. This is the largest working waterwheel in the world. It was built in 1854 to pump water from the nearby Great Laxey Mine. This is another site owned by Manx National Heritage, which meant we were able to get in for free with our National Trust cards. Otherwise, a visit costs £13 for adults. There are approximately 100 steps to climb to the top of the wheel. You can see the spiral staircase on the lefthand side of this photo. As we climbed, we had close-up views of the wheel. And once we got to the top, we had views out over the surrounding countryside... ...and down towards the village of Laxey itself (which is where I'm working next week). Here's me at the top of the wheel There's a Manx flag at the top too. Climbing down was easier than climbing up, although there was one tricky bit where we had to duck under a low beam. We managed it though and made it back down to the ground, where we were able to follow a short trail. At the end of the trail there's an entrance to a short section of the mine. We were given hard hats to wear and warned that it would be damp inside. And it really was! I think we only went about 30 metres in, but it felt like further with having to duck down and try to avoid all the puddles! Once we got to the end we had to turn around and retrace our steps to the fresh air. Working in a mine definitely wouldn't be a lot of fun! After the mine we went back to the car and drove a bit further south towards a place called Groudle Glen. This was a really pretty location for a woodland walk, alongside a stream. We met a slightly strange wood-carved figure along the way... ...and although they haven't come out very well in the photos, there were loads of bluebells growing alongside the path. We passed a miniature version of the Laxey waterwheel, which was built here in the 19th century when the glen was developed as an attraction for Victorian tourists. There was some very fast-flowing water here. We walked under a viaduct... ...and the glen became narrower, with fallen trees across the stream in places. There were more bluebells here too It wasn't a circular walk unfortunately, so eventually we had to turn around and retrace our steps back towards the car park. We were only a few miles outside Douglas at this point so we drove into the town and found a lovely pub to have lunch. By the time we emerged it had started to drizzle with rain, which put an end to our exploring for the day. The weather has been much better than I expected this weekend though, so can't complain
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