Isle of Man - Travel

By far the smallest of the Celtic nations, the Isle of Man’s 83,000 residents inhabit an island just 32 miles long and 14 miles wide. The island sits in the middle of the Irish Sea, about 35 miles from Ireland to the west and a similar distance from England to the east. It’s the only place in the British Isles where, from the top of Snaefell Mountain, you can see all of the UK’s constituent countries.

The island has an unusual constitutional status, similar to that of Jersey and Guernsey, as a Crown dependency or self-governing possession of the British Crown. It’s also home to the world’s oldest continuous parliament, the Tynwald, which was established more than a thousand years ago.

There are just two cities on the Isle of Man. The Victorian seaside resort of Douglas on the east coast and Peel, a fishing port with a mediaeval castle, on the west.

While there’s plenty do there and in the islands smaller towns and villages, it’s the natural environment that attracts many. In the Isle of Man you can find all the variety of the UK’s landscapes packed into one small island, with varied coastline, rolling countryside and highland vistas. This was recognised by Unesco in 2016 when it designated the Isle of Man a biosphere reserve, one of only five in the UK.

One of the best ways to experience the island’s natural beauty is on foot. Of the many walking trails, the most significant is the Raad ny Foillan (The Way of the Gull), a 95-mile footpath that circles the Island.

There are plenty of signs of Man’s Celtic past as well. Iron Age Celts arrived here around 500BC and left a legacy of forts built on hills and on promontories along the coastal cliffs. There are many to visit – for example Cronk ny Merriu, a coastal promontory fort with defensive ditch and rampant. With it’s elevated location and good views of the neighbouring coastline it’s easy to see why it was selected as the site for defensive fortifications. There are also remains of domestic buildings; at the summit of South Barrule you’ll find the remains of more than seventy round stone walled huts. And, of course, Celtic crosses dot the landscape throughout the island.

Finally, perhaps the best way to get an overview of the island's Celtic and Viking heritage is to make a visit to the House of Manannan museum in Peel.

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Isle of Man
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