The Isle of Man!

Coastal Path Day 9: Ramsey to Laxey,

Go to: Day 1: Douglas to Castletown, Day 2: Castletown to Port St Mary, Day 3: Port St Mary to Port Erin, Day 4: Port Erin to Dalby, Day 5: Dalby to Peel, Day 6: Peel to Kirk Michael, Day 7: Kirk Michael to Point of Ayre, Day 8: Point of Ayre to Ramsey, Day 10: Laxey to Douglas.
An unusual roundel above a doorway in Ramsey.
Approaching the Queens Pier alongside Ramsey's excellent sandy beach.
Closed off for now, this pier once had its own railway along its length.
At the pierhead, someone seems to be doing some work!
A fine pier it is - another one of the Isle of Man's wasted assets.
The name 'Queen's Pier' stems from the fact that it was originally built in honour of Queen Victoria (and Prince Albert of course) who paid a brief visit to the island - at Ramsey - being unable to land at Douglas due to foul weather.
Looking back to the north, we can see all the way past the harbour entrance - almost to the Point of Ayre.
A couple of hundred yards inland, away from the coastal path, is the northern terminus of the electric railway - a convenient means of getting back to one's starting point on this leg to Laxey.
This next section of the walk starts by descending the steps next to the pier down to the beach. If the tide is in, then one has to stick to the road - both for this short section and one at Port-e-Vullen.
Heading south along this magnificent, almost empty beach (its July incidentally!) we look back at Ramsey's fine piers.
Alternatively, the view from the electric railway can also be quite stunning. Here is a look back at Ramsey Bay from higher up.
Near the southern end of Ramsey beach, we see the small double bridge where our route takes us.
Passing through the first arch of the bridge, we enter a different world - so much so that we found ourselves going back through the bridge to check the beach was still there!
After this dramatic transition, we enter the new cooler, tree-filled world of Ballure Glen, where a couple of paths meet and we climb upwards.
Soon however we emerge at a level crossing at Ballure.
At Cooil there is a fine view back at Ramsey Bay.
This is a similar view from further away on the electric railway.
At BelleVue the electric railway crosses our route once again as we head east towards Maughold Head.
Although this section from Ballure is along roads, they are generally empty of vehicles as we descend gently towards Port Lewaigue.
Port Lewaigue is a tiny hamlet. Just a couple of boats are pulled up here.
Looking back from here gives a superb view of Ramsey.
Leaving Port Lewaigue we edge round the promontory of Gob ny Rona and get our next view of Maughold Head.
Rounding Gob ny Rona we start our descent to the beach at Port e Vullen. This is the last section on this part of the path where you need to be careful of the tides. The alternative route at high tide merely continues on the road the other side of Gob ny Rona.
It is easy to see why you would not wish to be here at high tide! The power of the waves is evident in the erosion caused to these rocks. That being said, this is a very short section and easily avoided if necessary.
Climbing from the beach, via the slipway, at Port Vullen the route follows the short access road and then back onto the main road for a couple of hundred yards before we are once again on the island paths.
An adjacent sign shows we are on Manx National Trust property. It is probably worth mentioning that the trust (ie Manx National Heritage) has reciprocal arrangements with the mainland National Trust, English Heritage and the like. This means that members can freely access each others' properties.
As we climb again, along a pleasant grassy path, there is a good view back at Porth e Vullen.
Looking back at Stack Mooar and Ramsey Bay.
At Traie ny Feeney there is a potentially useful shelter for less-clement weather. The 'black slab' has a map giving distances and bearings to the nearest points of interest on the mainland. This includes points on Galloway - whose mountains are just visible in the distance to the right.

Also visible from here are the Bride hills we passed yesterday and the lighthouse at the Point of Ayre.

Another view from Traie ny Feeney - this time to the north-east - again the mainland is easily visible on a clear day.
From the same viewpoint, we can see our way ahead towards Maughold Head.
Still from the same viewpoint, this is the view to the south along the coast yet to be explored.

This area has some wonderful panoramic views!
Our route takes us to the foot of the distant 'hump' but then around the nearside before descending to the south via the village of Maughold itself.

It is worth leaving the coastal path at this point to climb around that 'hump' and take a final look back at Ramsey Bay.
There is a superb view of the head and its light house.
Heading forward past that final hump is this incredible 'aerial view' of a small bay where we saw a couple of puffins.
Right at the end is this light house and a huge keeper's house.
After returning to the coastal path, only a couple of hundred yards further on is the 'back entrance' to Maughold Churchyard.
In this churchyard is the largest collection of ancient crosses and headsones on the island.
These photographs are just a small sample of this large collection.
Most of these are in a small specially built shelter in the south west corner of the churchyard.
I particularly liked this black pig :-)

After passing round the edge of Maughold church, our southern route descends slowly through the fields and then around Gob ny Portmooar, where there is a good view back at Maughold Head - including its lighthouse.

Gob ny Portmooar is a popular place for seals. There are three hidden in this photo - although we actually saw seven on our walk by. There is a useful bench here incidentally, in memory of a lady who used to come here daily to watch the seals.
Further south on the electric railway is an excellent view of Maughold Head - around which the coastal path winds.
Port Mooar is a curious place. Whilst it once sustained a fishing colony, all now seems left to a few houses whose owners walk their dogs amongst the rocks on the shingly beach.
Looking back the way we have come - the path having descended to the beach through the grassland.
From Port Mooar, the coastal path actually leaves the coast for a while and climbs steadily along near deserted roads to this crossing with the electric railway at Ballajora.
Alternatively, this is approaching Dreemskerry, just slightly north of Ballajora - southbound on the electric railway.
Looking back from Ballajora we can see nearly all of our route so far this day; all the way along from Port e Vullen to Maughold Head - the lighthouse is just visible - around Gob ny Portmooar and through the fields uphill from there.
Climbing a little further we reach the summit of this section of the walk near Ballafayle. Here is the site of a quaker burial. IoM2011-pict0414quakerburialsballafayle.jpg
Directly across the road from the quaker site however is this far more ancient burial site - overlooking the sea.
Thesign reads, "Ballafayle Cairn. Remains of Neoltic burial site 2000-1500 BC. Wedge-shaped cairn containing many stones fused by heat. Bounded y dry-stone walling on one side. Cremated burials found in cairn. Concave bank with standing stones on this side of cairn borders a paved fore-court. Excavated 1926. Manx Museum and National Trust".
Our slow and gentle descent continues to follow minor roads past Ballasloe.
On a hot day in July we welcomed the coolness of the trees as we entered the upper end of Glen Mooar.
The further we went down Glen Mooar, the more we appreciated its beauty.
Curiously, the further we descended the narrower the road became.
After this split, our route became a mere path.
Fnally, at this bridge, we cross the river that has accompanied us down the glen.
After crossing the river, the route emerges rather unexpectedly into this field in the hinterland of Port Cornaa.
Despite its name, Port Cornaa isn't much of a port. Apart from this small building, there is only a huge bank of shingle - but it is not clear whether this has been deposited by man or storm...
Turning back from Port Cornaa, our path starts back up the other side of the valley.
As we climb once again, we join Glen Mona as it splits away from Glen Mooar.
Glen Mona is nearly as beautiful an ascent as Glen Mooar was a descent.
Near the head of Glen Mona is a solitary house.
Just past the house, we decied to cross this bridge rather than continue along the road to the left.
After a steep, but interesting climb, we crossed back over the electric railway to reach...
...The Glen Mona Hotel! This is the main road from Douglas, via Laxey to Ramsey - and the hotel provides a very welcome watering hole (and food!).
Continuing along the more minor road south from the Glen Mona Hotel, we reach the road junction where we should have emerged had we not taken the detour.
After another short climb aong the road, the route once more crosses the electric railway as we approach Dhoon.
Dhoon is an important maintenance depot for the railway.
Leaving Dhoon - and back across the railway!
Dhoon depot from the electric railway.
Only a little further on, our view from the road is down toward Dhoon Glen and Dhoon Bay. As we walked, a vessel came into view - this was the same tug - the Wendy Ann - we had previously been impressed by in Peel Harbour. IoM2011-pict0441dhoonglencrop.jpg
There is then a short, lush tree-lined section before the waymarks led us over the second stile here...
...and across this field (note the passing tramcar!)...
IoM2011-pict0444dhoonglen.jpg yet another crossing of the electric railway and the main road...
IoM2011-pict0445dhoonglen.jpg this higher field where these fine long-horned Laughtan Sheep were grazing.
After rejoining the road a little further on, we gazed upon this view to the north - where the electric railway, and much of our route this day, could be traced back to the distant range of hills.
From a similar vantage point, above Bulgham Bay, we were also able to look ahead and down onto the main Douglas-Laxey-Ramsey road below as it winds above the cliff edge end the adjacent railway.
Our more sedentary route however approaches Ballaragh.
At Ballaragh is this ancient monument which has spiral markings cut into it.
Heading southwards towards Ballachrink, the road starts to descend gently...
...and we get our first glimpse inland towards Laxey and the valley leading up to Snaefell in the distance.
Approaching Laxey from the electric railway.
Leaving the road at Ballachrink, the path starts to descend more steeply - but still comfortably.
As the path gets a little steeper, one is rewarded by the opening vista of Laxey Bay.
First view of the beach at Laxey from the electric railway.
Starting the descent to Laxey - from the electric railway.
Almost down, the coastal path route crosses the road below near here.
Towards the bottom of the descent however things get really steep and reminiscent of some of the screes we slid down on the other side of the island! For those of fainter heart (or shoe) it is recommended to rejoin the road which crosses part way down the slope and stroll more easily into Laxey.
A last we emerge onto a minor road which accesses a few houses. At the same moment we get our first view of the pub - the Shore Hotel - at the head of Laxey harbour.
A little further on we can see the harbour entrance.
We also appear to be at the confluence of several walking routes!
Just before crossing the river however, backtracking up the road to your right will lead you to Laxey Campsite. A small, but very friendly site from which it is only a short walk to one of the village pubs, the chinese takeaway or anywhere else!
This is the view of the head of the harbour from the river crossing next to the Shore Hotel.
Anybody wondering how boats in harbour end up in nice straight lines, have only to look here at the maze of chains and ropes to see how in Laxey's neat little harbour.

The next day of walking starts rom here.

Into Laxey the alternative way - from the electric railway.
Almost alongside the walk route in Laxey is this waterwheel - but this is NOT the great 'Laxey Wheel'. This one was rescued some years ago from the former Snaefell mine; higher up the same valley.

The electric railway route from Ramsey descends the slope in the background.

At the tram station in Laxey, the electric railway from Douglas to Ramsey passes through on the two lines to the left whilst the separate single track on the right is for the line to the summit of Snaefell.
Looking the other way, the lines diverge at this road crossing. Around the corner to the right is the Snaefell Wheel in the gardens shown above. However, straight ahead, in the distance, just above the cab of the blue bus, is the greatest prize of all - the great Laxey water wheel!
Laxey is famed the world over for this famous waterwheel. Commonly known as 'the Laxey Wheel' it is more correctly the 'Lady Isabella'.
This magnificent wheel is just up the minor road in Laxey, past Brown's cafe and the coach/car park. Once seen, it is not easily confused with the smaller wheel in the gardens, shown previously, near the road which has been resited from the Snaefell mine - higher up the valley.
The next few photographs give general views around the site. This series of arches support the pump rod driven by the wheel.
The substantial base supporting the great wheel.
The view from the top - overlooking the rotating wheel and the entrance.
Also from the top of the wheel, this is looking back along the top of the pump rod arches.
A similar view from the previous with the arches just visible. Note the 'spare' crank lying on the ground.
The flag near the mine entrance from where the wheel draws its water. Laxey village is visible beyond.
Where the horizontal pump activation rod meets the vertical rod to the pump itself.
This is the view of the Snaefell mountain railway behind Brown's cafe - the terminus is just beyond the road in this view.
See just how close the railway is here for the 'tram spotter'!
This is inside the tramcar - heading for the Snaefell summit!
This view, early on the climb from the road to the summit of Snaefell, looks down a glaciated valley - with Laxey and the Lady Isabella just round the corner. The sea is in the extreme distance.

Also noteworthy is the dark line along the right hand side of the valley - which is the Snaefell Mountain Railway. Lower down on the left is another, lighter coloured, line which is the road track leading up to the site of the former Snaefell Mine - whose water wheel is the one restored alongside the road in Laxey village.

During TT fortnight, having trams crossing the track is obviously 'not on'. Therefore up at Murrays (the now sadly ex-motorcycle museum!), trams meet a the edge of the track and passengers cross the footbridge to complete their journey. Incidentally, this is a great place to watch the sidecar racing! In the background can just be seen the summit of Snaefell (the highest point on the island) where the trams terminate - having spiralled all the way round. The footpath route is almost straight ahead - and gets much steeper than it looks!
Part way up the path - this is the view back to the circuit and the south towards Castletown - and time for a breather!
The view from the top is worth the climb - or the tram fare. This is looking north towards the Point of Ayre. The town of Ramsey can just be made out.
Looking to the south west, beyond the radio mast landmark, can be seen the upper tram terminus and the Summit Cafe - which houses some interesting exhibits and memorabilia.
Go to: Day 1: Douglas to Castletown, Day 2: Castletown to Port St Mary, Day 3: Port St Mary to Port Erin, Day 4: Port Erin to Dalby, Day 5: Dalby to Peel, Day 6: Peel to Kirk Michael, Day 7: Kirk Michael to Point of Ayre, Day 8: Point of Ayre to Ramsey, Day 10: Laxey to Douglas.