The Isle of Man!

The Isle of Man Railways:

St Johns to Ramsey

As well as the remaining steam railway from Douglas to Castletown, the Isle of Man Railway previously used the same terminus in Douglas for its route to Peel, and via the Manx Northern Railway (later incorporated into the IoMR) to Foxdale and Ramsey via the western island coast - where the views are outstanding.

These lines only closed in the late 1960s and, if they had survived a few more years, might well have been kept open because of increasing public interest. Even now, obstructions are few and opening the line to Peel, in particular, could have many advantages. For now however, most sections are walkable and have been incorporated into public paths as you will see...

The Manx Northern Railway (MNR) commenced at St Johns and shared a station with the Isle of Man Railway company's Douglas-Peel route. Looking west from the level crossing at the St John's station site (currently a car park), double tracks at one time crossed here with the left one being for Peel and the right being for Ramsey or Foxdale via the MNR. Note also that the road is starting to climb to cross the Foxdale branch by a bridge to the right.
Over the crossing, a further current parking area was previously the site of sidings and the junctions with the Foxdale branch .
About 1/2 mile west, at the crossings of the River Neb, the two tracks, which had run parallel since St John's, eventually separate. This photo is looking east with the Douglas-Peel route on the right and the Ramsey route to the left. Note that the Ramsey route is already climbing prior to crossing the nearby Douglas-Peel (A1) road. Train racing was common to this point and several old photos show this!
Immediately, the MNR shows a different character to the Peel line and this extra elevation through a large part of the route is what made it so attractive for sightseers. I've yet to walk the next couple of miles - which include the demolished A1 road crossing and the still extant overbridge on the A20 - but expect these at a later date.
The Ramsey Road out of Peel crosses the track at St Germaines. The next few miles share the route with the Isle of Man coastal path .
Only a few yards along we reach the former St Germaines Halt - now a private dwelling.
For the most part this was good walking - only spoilt in short sections by excessive wetness! Sadly, rather than restore the old railway drainage - which is presumably just blocked or damaged - the authorities have chosen to put in new drainage chanels or piping which seems rather inappropriate somehow. Anyway, here at Knocksharry we can take a look back toward Peel and St Patricks Isle.
A straight, but rather damp, section of railway near Buggane Mooar.
Looking back at a fine preserved bridge near Ballanayre.
Looking forward at Ballanayre we enter a good cutting - which was unexpectedly dry!
At the end of the cutting, this is Lady Port. Here a section of the trackbed had obviously subsided/slid down the slope a few feet - but seems to have been stable for a while now.
From the same point, looking back is another headland.
A little further on is this derelict linesman's hut.
Followed by this footbridge over a somewhat damp cutting - despite new drainage!
Still around Lady Port is this picturesque glen. The road is high up the valley as we cross over a short embankment.
This is the view down to the sea from the same embankment.
Near LagDhoon we pass under the main road via what at first appears to be an old bridge - surmounted by a girder bridge?
Looking back all becomes clear. Due to road widening/realignment the original bridge has been superceded by an armco tunnel. Its a shame the opportunity wasn't retained to keep this viable for any future railway restoration - of which talk is occasionally heard.
Near Ballaquine we have to take a momentary detour down onto the road and up the other side - because the bridge is gone!
Reaching Glen Mooar, the path takes another descent as we reach another missing bridge. This was one of a number of trestle bridges (of which few photos exist) which spanned the glen on the ivy-covered stone piers that are barely visible here.
Viewed from below, it all becomes a little clearer.
What a fine site it must have been to have had trains up there!
The coastal path does not take this route but deviates to the beach whilst the railway path continues northward - incidentally, rejoining the coastal path at Glen Wyllin.
This fine ivy-covered bridge is on this section.
The last section of this track gets very narrow and damp before springing out into Glen Wyllin and over another former girder bridge. The campsite shop has some good old photographs of trains crossing there. Fantastic - almost not of this country - more like some of the little railways in the north of India somehow.
At Glen Wyllin, this is looking back in the direction of Peel across the missing trestle bridge.
This is from the same vantage point looking down the glen to the sea.
This is also from the same point but looking to the north. Note the crossing gates in the distance!
Arriving at the crossing gates we find there is only one. Just beyond is the former Kirk Michael station - now the local fire station!
Also here is the sign which explains it all.
After leaving Kirk Michael Station, a good path continues along the old railway track.
Looking back at the same point, the station buildings can be seen in the distance.
Meanwhile, beneath the first overbridge, is a surprisingly complicated, and picturesque, group of crossings and junctions.
Continuing north, the railway keeps pleasant walking - and is popular with the residents of adjacent Kirk Michael.
To the north of Kirk Michael, the coastal path leaves the railway route for the last time at this footpath 'crossroads'.
Just north of Bishopscourt, the railway route goes over two former minor road crossings. At the first is what appears to be an original crossing gate post (inset).
The second Bishopscourt crossing. At both are well maintained former crossing keeper's houses.
Just before Ballaugh, a small river crossing is used by both footpath and a large pipeline.
On the Jurby road crossing in Ballaugh, the former goods warehouse (on the left) was been restored by the Ballaugh Heritage Trust in 2014.
The goods warehouse was just part of significant railway infrastructure at Ballaugh - of which this platform is another remnant.
Here at Ballavolley Halt was yet another level crossing. This sets the new character of the railway route as the line crossed back across the island on the way to the Ramsey terminus on the level of the northern plain, below the mountains to the south.
After passing the Curraghs, the line reached Sulby Glen station. The original station building has been extended slightly but the iroonwork for the station canopy is still visible.
On reaching the centre of Sulby itself however, we have to make a detour here to regain the route. Because...
...looking the other way there is no longer a path! I suspect one still remains in theory, but it is long overgrown.
As elsewhere, the gate keeper's cottage has been adapted for new use. Note the railway styled house number.
It is however only a short detour along the main Sulby straight to turn onto the A17 and visit the former Sulby Bridge station in all its modernised glory.
Unfortunately again, there is no obvious way forward along the former trackbed - although maps indicate a road track along here. In actual fact, access to the route is very difficult between Sulby Bridge and the outskirts of Ramsey - with only the occasional site of a level crossing available. This is very sad. There is a good case surely for having at least a walkable path so that people can have a traffic free route into Ramsey from the west?
So, after a number of detours, we can access the trackbed again. In fact, from Gardners Lane/Bayr Yn Ghareyder the remainder is now walkable all the way into Ramsey.
Once again we have our own green corridor - despite housing to either side.
At Gladstone Way (or is it Bircham Avenue?) there is even a pedestrian crossing - although the trackbed was actually to the left of the distant trees behind the lorry trailer and not the more obvious path behind the houses to the right.
Emerging at the other end of the road loop, this is almost the Ramsey station site.
So this is looking up Station Road from the town end. The terminal station previously stood on the current bakery site to the right behind the low wall.
At the north side of the bakery is an old wall. This may be the last remnant of the original station works. However, although the station was the passenger terminus, it wasn't the end of the line! A loop round from the north side of the station continued across the road here and...
... ran all the way down the side of the harbour for transhipment between sea and rail transport.