To Douglas and Peel

To Douglas and Peel on the Isle of Man tour

Saturday, 14th September 2019

The tour officially starts on Sunday 15th, when I meet the passengers at Heysham ferry port. The ferry departs at 14:15 and the only train into the port on a Sunday arrives at 12.56. I would be due to meet the tourees between 13:00 and the boarding time of 13:30. Prior to meeting the tourees I need to collect and double check tickets/boarding passes. Because this is a tight turn around and there is the risk that the train could be delayed I need to travel up to Heysham the day before.

At Euston station it was nice to see a Virgin Intercity train logo-ed in tribute to my favourite architect. 

Having caught the 09:30 train I arrive in Lancaster at 11:55. After a short trip outside the station I am back on platform 1 for the short, old, two carriage, EMU to Heysham Port. 

Heysham Port station has absolutely no charm at all.

Arriving at 13:17, I walk to my B&B. After I deposit my luggage I take a taxi into Lancaster. I did my degree in Lancaster, and having only been back once since, and even that was over 30 years ago, it was an interesting afternoon/evening revisiting my old haunts. 

Sunday, 15th September 2019

The ferry terminal at Heysham opens at 11:30 but my B&B check-out time is 10:00, so I spend some time sitting on my own in a deserted terminal. 

At 11:30 I am able to collect the tickets for the tourees. Now I wait for them to arrive. Some drive, some are due to arrive by train. It is at this point that I discover that it is a bus replacement service which doesn’t arrive at the port until 13:30. By 14:00 all the tourees are accounted for and we are on the ferry for the departure time of 14:15. 

As you leave Heysham port you get views of the nuclear power station. 

After the three and a half hour, calm, crossing we arrive in Douglas on the Isle of Man. Our coach arrives and drives us to our hotel where we eat at 19:30. 

Monday, 15th September 2019

Following a nice buffet breakfast at our hotel, The Ascot, we meet John, our coach driver for the tour. Heading off to the town of Peel we follow the road route of the TT motorcycle race. 

John gives us a running commentary as we drive along. This is very detailed including speeds, jumps, crashes, corners, injuries, deaths and times you need to get to each location if you want to see the race. We pass the start/finish line. 

We stop at the village of St Johns. Here the government of the Isle of Man meets once a year to pass the year’s legislation. First the parliament meets in the church . . .

. . . and then moves to Tynwald Hill for an open air meeting. This four-tiered hill is one of the Island’s most distinctive landmarks and a symbol of the Isle of Man’s independence as a self-governing crown dependency. It is believed that the open air ceremony, which takes place on July 5th, was established by Norse Viking settlers over a thousand years ago with the hill thought to have been built in the 13th century, making it the oldest continuous parliament in the world. 

At St Johns there are also some standing stones that are over three thousand years old but have been moved to their current location. 

In Peel the first stop is the House of Mannanan. This is the old railway station that has been converted into a very informative interactive museum.

At the House of Mannanan there is a reconstruction of a Celtic roundhouse, Odin’s Raven Viking longship . . .

. . . and a Viking longhouse. You walk around a sailmakers loft, chandlers shop, quayside, all come complete with sights and smells from the Manx kipper yard.

Following on from the museum, a walk through the harbour . . .

. . . takes us to the beach and then on to . . .

. . . the castle. Peel Castle was originally a place of worship before becoming the fort of Magnus Barefoot, an 11th century Viking King of Mann.

Back in Peel there is the opportunity to visit the kipper factory to see the smoking. Unfortunately this is closed on a Monday.

In the yard next to the kipper factory is the small Manx Transport Heritage Museum. The railway no longer runs to Peel and the museum is also closed on a Monday.

The coach then drives us along more of the TT course to the town of Ramsey. At Ramsey Tram Station we catch a tram back to Douglas along the complete length of the Electric Tramway. 

Arriving at Douglas Tram station the coach collects the tourees and takes them along the promenade back to our hotel. Along with about half of them I opt to walk along the promenade taking in the stables of the horses of the horse drawn tramway – which doesn’t run on a Monday!

Back at the hotel a buffet dinner is eaten at 19:00.

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