Familiar as the TV backdrop to the TT motorcycle race, the ruggedly beautiful Isle of Man has something for everyone – from quirky events and archaeological sites to seals, kayaking and Manx kippers
As a frequent visitor to the Isle of Man for the famous TT motorcycle races, it never fails to amaze me how beautiful the place is – and how, even after many years, we manage to find something new to see and do. You can travel on a tram or a steam train at a leisurely pace, visit the world's largest working waterwheel in Laxey, explore the old mines, amble through gorgeous glens, climb a mountain, discover old Viking/Celtic settlements, watch the seals at Peel or the Calf (an islet with a 616-acre nature reserve) or go kayaking round the coast… the list goes on and on.
As well as the motorbike racing, there are many other events to choose from throughout the year (see www.iomguide.com/events for details). Among them are Crown Green Bowling, the World Tin Bath Championships and the World Championship Viking Longboat races. The island has its own currency and government, plus a wealth of fascinating history. The Manx Museum (01624 648000, www.gov.im/mnh/ heritage/museums/manxmuseum.xml) in Douglas, the capital, is well worth a visit – and entry is free.
If food is your bag, there are several award-winning restaurants (see www.wheresgoodtoeat.com for honest reviews) – and don't forget to try the famous Manx kippers, and even get some sent home because they are rather heavy to carry in your luggage.
During the TT races, we stay with a local lady – but there are many b&bs and hotels. Top of the range on the sea front in Douglas is probably The Sefton, which really is a bit special. However, you can be assured of a very warm welcome and a lovely breakfast in most places.
There is some breathtaking scenery on the island, which is often used as a film location. For example, Waking Ned was shot entirely on the Isle of Man (albeit masquerading as Ireland!). You can download a locations brochure at www.gov.im/lib/ docsdti/iomfilm/iomfilmlocationsbrochure.pdf
My message? Go on, give the Isle of Man a try. You won't be disappointed, since there really is something for everyone. And remember… don't forget to say hello to the fairies as you cross Fairy Bridge…