NEW BOOK AUGUST 2017
Walks Isle of Man – Author: Richard Hallewell & Becky Coope
This year, we took our first publishing steps outside the UK – the Isle of Man is a Crown Dependency, which means that, while the Queen is its Head of State, it is outside the UK and has its own parliament and currency. The island sits in the Irish Sea, is of a regular shape (around 32 miles/51km x 14 miles/22km), and has a population of 85,000. It is generally known for its tail-less cats, TT racing, three-legged insignia and generous tax laws, but its walking is terrific and deserves to be better known.
If people have not visited the island then the climb up Snaefell may be the only walk they have heard of, but this undemanding climb up a conical moorland hill (2037ft/621m) is only one aspect of an extremely varied walking environment. The central moorland area drains to the sea through deep wooded glens bisecting prosperous farmland. The flat northern part of the island is edged by dunes and beaches; in the south-west are high coastal cliffs. There is a varied coastal path running right around the island (the Raad ny Foillan – 102 miles/164km – see centre left) and a mass of signposted rights of way and ‘greenways’ (essentially bridleways). More generally, the island has a surprising variety of landscape, so visitors can easily spend a week there and find a distinctive corner of the island – and distinctive walking – every day. Highlights include the cliff walks of Bradda Head and Spanish Head (watch out for the red-legged choughs on the cliffs), the circuit around Peel, Glen Maye and St Johns (site of the Tynwald Hill, where the island’s parliament meets in the open air once a year), the pleasant farmland behind Maughhold Head and the deep, wooded Dhoon Glen. The island’s industrial heritage is also well preserved and many of the walks pass sites of interest such as the Laxey Wheel (see left) and the famous railways that provide an alternative form of transport around the island.
The island can be reached by ferry from Heysham, Liverpool, Belfast or Dublin, and there are also links with a number of British airports. Car ferries operate to Douglas (the populous capital, with its famous promenade), but car hire is an obvious option on the island. The roads can be busy in places (the island is only a third larger than Arran, but the population is 17 times larger), but you soon get used to the leisurely pace.
I had not visited the island before researching the book, but I am greatly looking forward to returning. The Isle of Man is a unique corner of the British Isles and its walking deserves to be better known.
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