I took a little jaunt around The Raad ny Foillan (Manx Gaelic for “The Way of the Gull”) on The Isle of Man. This coastal route is a 160 km hike around the circumference of an entire nation! A must do if you enjoy hiking, spectacular scenery and the water.
The coastal path has cliff footpaths, sandy beaches, wooded glens and farmlands! The path takes you through towns, farms where owners graciously allow you to walk through and pastures where animals are grazing.
Before the hike, I was in Manchester visiting my friend Paul and figuring out my next steps on my journey and decided upon the Isle of Man. I was researching what to do on the island and discovered this hike. As soon as I read the first sentence my decision was made. I was going to walk around the Isle of Man!
I took almost 2000 pictures during my walk and met many wonderful people. My days were spent strolling along and enjoying the solitude and the scenery. Evenings were spent in local accommodations, enjoying dinner and planning the next day.
Before I started the hike, I spent a day in Douglas visiting the Fairy Bridge and the Home of Rest for Old Horses. I’m fascinated by anything to do with “fairies” and as per legend, I left a note under the bridge with my wish. The Home of Rest for Old Horses was closed and I didn’t get a chance to visit and pet the horses.
I left to walk around the Isle of Man, it rained a bit, I chatted with the sheep and I loved every moment!
I walked along the coves, climbed up and over many, many stiles and saw more animals. I navigated The Chasms, which are deep fissures in the rock and relaxed on a stone fence with my feet up.
More animals, the amazing views of Milner’s Tower, three ridges to climb, brambles everywhere (sucks to be me when I stumble a little bit and reach out to grab them to steady myself) and the privilege of looking at the water all day. Pure beauty.
The guidebook I had recommended a detour to the Niarbyl Bay Café. A gal has to eat, so off I went. It was a buffet and my waitress asked me if I wanted one meat or all three. I wasn’t that hungry so I said one meat. Then I stood at the little buffet line. Sweet Baby Jesus I ended up having all three ~ turkey, ham and prime rib. The yorkshire puddings were massive and the Chef let me have 2. I covered it all with gravy. I ate it ALL. Just like my Mom makes. This meal was fabulous.
I started chatting with the lady at the table next to me. Her name was Anne and she was originally from Isle of Man, but spent the last 60 years living in Canada. Wouldn’t you know it, she lives in Sherwood Park which is another city on the outskirts of Edmonton (like St Albert where I live). We chatted for quite some time.
Now I dawdled here quite a bit and left very full, but very happy. Unbeknownst to me, clocks had went back an hour on this day which is a DIFFERENT day from when time changes in Canada. Note that the week before I had also seen the new Halloween movie with Jamie Lee Curtis all by myself in the theatre in London. I wouldn’t go to the bathroom by myself after in the theatre and waited until some other ladies went too. (How do you spell chicken shit? J.a.c.k.i.e!)
The sunset was breathtaking.
BUT, it got dark. Fast. I wasn’t expecting it. I put on my headlamp and was thankful I had looked at the route the night before. I knew there was a direction choice closer to Peel and I could continue straight along the cliffs or turn right and go through the farmland into Peel. I was PETRIFIED in the trees and along the cliffs. I saw Michael Myers everywhere coming to kill me and every single horror movie I ever seen was going through my mind. The wind rustled the leaves and I would freeze in terror. I was hoping for a quick death that I wouldn’t see coming.
I got to the stile where I had to make my choice and it was pitch black without my headlamp.
I turned right through the pasture because it was quicker. I walked through another field of sheep. It was so dark I couldn’t see them next to me until my headlamp would catch their eyes shining in the dark. I had to pee. Of course I did. There’s nothing like squatting in a field full of sheep when it’s pitch black and while your bladder is quivering in fear.
I continued on and came to a fence where I had to turn left. I continued down this path and came to some dark buildings. There was no movement and no noise anywhere. How many horror movies have you seen where the stupid female naively goes into the building and gets slaughtered? I did NOT have the courage to walk by these buildings so I turned around and walked back to the fence where I had turned. I thought about calling the lady at the B&B I had booked that night, but didn’t know where to tell her I was. I zoomed down as far as I could on Google Maps and the line to the highway took me right back by the dark, empty buildings.
I had two choices. Either go all the way back through the field of sheep and go the other route along the cliffs and coast or suck it up and go by the buildings. I have to admit I stood there for a while trying to decide. I went back to the buildings. You never saw a gal with a backpack on run faster than I did. As soon as I rounded the corner of the big building, lights went on. I was at the back of a farm and the motion sensor lights had kicked in. There was a house with lights on and off I went to knock on the door and beg them to call me a taxi.
I knocked on the door and met Darrell. He had two dogs, lived alone and I went in. He told me there are no taxis, but he could drive me to my B&B. I had walked up the back of his farm. Darrell took me for a quick drive by the buildings that I was so scared of. The farm I was on was an internment camp during World War II.
Darrell drove me to my B&B and came in with me and said to the lady “Look who I found.” Isle of Man isn’t very big and it reminds me of Newfoundland, everybody knows everybody. I made it through my adventure safe and sound. In the morning, the lady who owned the B&B kept telling me Darrell was single. He is also my saviour and my hero, I have never been so glad to see another human being before.
In the morning, the lady from the B&B drove me back into Peel and I began hiking from there. Peel Castle is the highlight here.
Another beautiful day with gorgeous views, animals and the water!
Another moment that stands out for me are the amazing people I met in Kirk Michael. While strolling through Kirk Michael, I started exploring the graveyard at Michael Parish Church. The headstones were old and there were a lot of celtic crosses. There is one Commonwealth War Grave there for a Mr. Harold Collins. There are a lot of Manx Loaghtan roaming around the graveyard. Manx Loaghtan are a rare breed of sheep native to the Isle of Man with dark brown wool and usually four or six horns.
As I was exploring, a gentleman came out and invited me into the church for tea. I went inside and met the Reverend and an amazing group of people! They treated me to tea and walnut cake and wonderful conversation.
I wandered through Ramsey. The tide was out!
Once outside of Ramsey, I was back on the trail.
Maughold Parish Church had a lot of old graves as well as a Commonwealth grave. I’m fascinated reading headstones and always wonder who the person was and how they lived.
I took the Manx Electric Railway the last little bit into Douglas.
I stayed at some interesting places on Isle of Man.
The scenery was breathtaking. I climbed over a lot of stiles and saw a lot of animals. I still believe the sheep were plotting to attack me. I had the most spectacular views all around me and I loved every moment of this hike except when I was scared of the dark.
If you like to hike, give “The Raad ny Foillan” a go!
Jackie is “Mom” to one amazing son, an IT professional, and an obsessed traveller. She spends her time reading, golfing at Ladies League, and implementing software projects. Jackie has travelled to 7 continents and 90 countries and is always planning the next destination and adventure!