We decided to spend our final day on the Isle Of Man being the ultimate tourists: we were taking the electric railway north! And then the electric tram up Snaefell mountain! And then, back in Douglas, taking the horse-drawn tram along the promenade! And then… taking the steam train south!
And in the middle of all that, we even managed to fit in a stop in Laxey.
It was an ambitious day. But I’ll tell you: it was TOTALLY worth it!
I know I said in my last post that taking the car was the best decision we made, but actually the Isle Of Man has great public transport, and so many unique options too.
We got off to a rocky start when we arrived at the electric railway station in Douglas, to be told most of the mountain trams weren’t running due to the incident the previous week (we were lucky to even be able to get it at all as it was cancelled when we first got to the island) so there would be delays.
This meant that when we arrived in Laxey, the queue for the first mountain tram of the day (it should have been the third by this point) was astronomical and we didn’t have a hope in hell of getting on it. It compromised my meticulously timetabled day, which is the reason I never like to have meticulously timetabled days.
We would be meeting our friends at the Laxey Wheel at 1pm, giving us plenty of time to get from the 12.40pm arrival, but now the mountain tram would be leaving an hour and a half later than expected, so I frantically texted him to find out if he could meet us at 2pm instead. I should point out now that the Isle Of Man isn’t actually part of the UK, and therefore doesn’t run on UK phone networks, so I had no idea if my messages would go through, and I couldn’t get online to Facebook him either. Half an hour later, I received a reply. All was good.
By this point, I had taken off for a little wander around the small town of Laxey. I stumbled across the miniature Laxey wheel, walked along a delightfully named Ham & Egg Terrace, and finally reached the place I was looking for all along (silly photo alert):
(Side note: this was in 2017. Now those signs are popping up everywhere, including one on Victoria Street in Edinburgh! So I realise it’s not exactly unique any more.)
Our next set-back, or set-forward as it turned out, arrived with the second mountain tram. The driver announced that while the tram normally stops for almost half an hour at the top, due to the limited service it would only stop for ten minutes. The next tram then wouldn’t be up for at least another hour.
So it was a quick run around the top of a mountain for me. Not quite the relaxed wander to take in all the views that I had envisaged.
Still, the views on the way up and down were pretty good, too.
I sound like I’m complaining, but I’m really glad we actually got to go at all after the tram service was cancelled altogether for a few days, and it offered fantastic views over all seven kingdoms (Isle Of Man, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, the sea and the sky), which is exactly what I had hoped for.
Have a car? Check out this post: A Day Road Tripping The Isle Of Man
We stopped off at the Great Laxey Wheel on our way back to Douglas, which we saw last time we were on the island but hadn’t gone in. As it’s included on our Historic Scotland pass, we weren’t going to turn down the chance this time!
The wheel, which is actually called Lady Isabella, is huge and is part of the Great Laxey Mines. In fact, it’s the largest working waterwheel in the world and has become a Manx icon in itself.
I also went into the mines and looked very excited about it.
Or scared? I can’t tell.
There are some beautiful walks around the wheel and to the mines, too.
And then it was time to head back south on the electric railway, back to Douglas for some more exciting transport.
The horse-drawn tram!
We’d been watching the horses go up and down Douglas promenade for four days, and I was excited to finally get on one! My parents actually used to run carriage driving tours around Kirkwall, Orkney, but this was a totally different experience altogether. There’s one horse and a lot of people, but the tram is on a track so the horse doesn’t bear too much weight. I was always impressed when I saw a full carriage, though! (There’s even a double decker one with 52 seats!!)
We then realised the connection times didn’t work out at all, and we would have to wait another hour for our steam train. I was half-tempted to take the car and hit up some more places on our list, then jump on the train at another station further down the line, but considering the day we’d had and the journey still to come, we decided to stop in a pub by the marina instead.
And that’s why we didn’t make it to Silverdale Glen. Had the trains and trams all been on time earlier, we would have ended up with lots of time, and I would like to have taken the car out again. Instead, it was rapidly approaching 5pm and we still had a steam train to take, friends to meet, and then a bus back to Douglas. (And chips, cheese & gravy to eat, of course!)
In fact, we ended up getting the last steam train of the day… to be told we would be stopping at the third station on the line for an indefinite amount of time due to a fire on the track. Good lord.
Luckily, we arrived at the station in question and moved on virtually immediately, so we ended up making good time. But we were going all the way to Port Erin.
It was a really enjoyable ride through the countryside, and because we were on the very last train going out of the main town on the island, we had a carriage all to ourselves. Plus so many of the stations were unbearably cute! (Then again, so were some of the stations along the electric rail route.)
We bought a public transport pass at the start of our day for £16, which turned out to be brilliant value. The return from Douglas to Snaefell (electric railway + mountain tram) alone was £14, and horse-drawn trams are £3, so we saved money on those two alone. Throw in the entire length of the steam train ride plus a bus at the end of the evening – we really made the most of it! I think the only thing we didn’t do was take the electric railway all the way up to Ramsey.
There are also some cute woodland railways like Groudle Glen – the Isle Of Man is full of quirky transport, I love it!
So that was it – our five days on the Isle Of Man had come to the end. I’m still thankful that we lucked out with the weather, because that doesn’t happen to us very often! We had one rainy day which we spent at the Manx museum, shopping for last minute wedding bits, and having lunch with friends. But apart from that – perfect sunshine for the most part!
Until next time, IOM! xo
Do you love taking unique transport when you travel? What’s the weirdest mode of transport you’ve used?
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