Isle of Man Coastal Path: The Way of The Seagull

Walking the beach to RamseyGroudie Glen WatermillCregneash Village, farm lifeWalking towards St. Patrick's IslandThe Start of Marine Drive

Isle of Man Coastal Path: The Way of The Seagull

Trip Highlights

  • Beautiful Coastal scenery on quiet trails
  • Cultural heritage towns such as Castletown, Peel, Ramsey and Laxey
  • Wildlife spotting opportunities
  • Seascapes embracing views to England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland
  • Bathing opportunities
  • Tourist features such as steam, electric, mountain and horse drawn railways
  • Interesting histories to discover

Trip Summary

This is a walking challenge of approximately 100 miles / 161 km around the Manx Isle. Called the 'Raad ny Foillan' which translates to: 'The Way of the Seagull', people have been walking segments of this trail for hundreds of years and was first written about as a walk in 1874. It was however in 1986 that the Way was inaugurated at Peel, the cultural heart of the island, and has changed little since. Starting at the Island's largest town, Douglas, the route quickly leaves the built up area behind and follows a quiet coastal road that becomes a cliff top trail towards Castletown. There are tiny glens and bays on the way. From Castletown the route passes around the southern point of the island following dramatic high cliffs and the 'Calf of Man' a small island where tidal races whip around the rocks and seals play. From Port Erin to Peel the way follows the high coastal hills and dales and on a clear day you might see the so called 'realms.' This leads to Peel, a beautiful town with more of an Irish feel to it. Next the walk follows the lowering cliffs and joins the line of a defunked railway line to beyond the village of Kirk Michael, where you actually join the beach and walk around Jurby Head. Over the next day the coast path follows the beach round to the old fishing village of Ramsey. From here you wind back up onto the cliffs around Maughold Head with some beautiful coves and glens, to continue on quiet roads to Laxey, famous for its lead mines, and the huge Victorian wheels that used to pump water out of them. The final leg takes in a nature reserve, an ancient church and a final fling on the coastal trail before joining the long Promenade back into Douglas to complete the island loop.

Suitability

We grade this tour as moderate to challenging (grade 4); anyone used to mountain walking with a daily height gain of up to around 1000 metres (3300ft) and walking up to 25 km / 15 miles, over up to 7 hours should be able to enjoy the walking. There are some sections of cliff path which may upset someone with severe vertigo, but this is subjective. There is a good bus network on the island which is cheap an can get you around in bad weather.

Itinerary

Make your own way to Douglas via Ronaldsway Airport (IOM), or at Douglas Sea Terminal by ferry from the UK or Ireland. Douglas is the largest town on the Isle of Man and has a resplendent two mile arcing promenade and beachfront. In high summer there is a horse drawn tram that you can take right along the sea front. This has been operating since 1876. There is also the Manx Museum where you can learn about Manx history and myths. Otherwise, just spend time strolling around this very Victorian town with its quaint harbour. Accommodation: We use a number of small hotels on, or just off, the seafront in Douglas with ensuite rooms. Good standard accommodation.

Meals:  Nil

Or 31.6km / 19.6 miles if completing the Langness Peninsular A solid days walking to beautiful Castletown. Leaving Douglas, for the first few kms you warm up on a quiet road called 'Marine Drive', the route of an abandoned railway line. Later you bear off to follow a delectable section of coastal path around Santon Head and various little coves and beaches, including Port Grenaugh and Port Soldrick. The walk passes in front of the Isle of Man airport runway, then for the last couple of kms on the coastal road into Castletown. This was the former capital of the Isle of Man and site of the Tynwald parliament. It has narrow streets, a picturesque harbour and small fishing cottages. Castle Rushen (at the center of the town) was originally built in 1265 for a Norse king, and there is The House Of Keys on the site of the Tynwald. You can extend the walk 7.5km by following the newly (re)opened path around the Langness Peninsular and visit St. Michaels Island with its ancient church. Although this makes the day very long - it will make the 'Raad ny Foillan' 100 miles! - but it does have its own particular beauty! Accommodation: There is amazingly really just one place to stay in Castletown, a small pub hotel with basic ensuite rooms. It's an attractive place overlooking Castle Rushen and the main square of the town. It may be that you will have to have 2 nights in Port Erin and take the regular bus back and forth.

Meals:  B

This is a walk of two halves. The first is a warm up walk around the coastline close to sea level around ‘Scarlett Point’ which is a good birding area if you have binoculars. There is then a few km of road walking into the attractive bays and marinas around Port St. Mary. From here the nature of the walk changes as from Perwick Bay you ascend steeply to the sea cliffs of Bay Stacka and ‘The Chasms’ teeming with birdlife in spring. The walk rounds the southern cliffs of the island and round to the visitor’s centre overlooking the Calf of man and Kitterland Islands, where you can normally see seals resting or swimming about. You then have some remote sea cliff walking before descending into the attractive seaside resort of Port Erin with its extensive beach. Accommodation: We use either a comfortable B&B with ensuite or separate private bathroom in a quiet residential area, or a Victorian hotel above the seafront.

Meals:  B

For most people this will be the hardest day of all. It is long with three significant ascents / descents, over the remote coastal fells. However the views can be stunning and you are on several of the wildest mountain and coastal paths of the Isle of Man including the summit of 'Cronk ny Arrey Laa' 437m, which is the highest point on the whole route. There are some steep ascents and descents but also fantastic views back towards the Calf of Man. It is a walk between two coastal towers, one in Port Erin and the other just before Peel. On the way there is a diversion that adds about 1km to the trip to the pretty beach at Niarbyl. The final descent into Peel on a sunny afternoon will be a great memory as you look across to Peel Castle on St.Patrick’s Island. If the weather is good it is a stunning sight as you descend into the town. Peel is sometimes referred to as the Rose Red City, due to the red sandstone used in its construction and there has been some settlement here since at least 550 A.D when a monastery was established. Vikings then used to park their long-ships up on the sheltered River Neb. Accommodation: Very few places to stay in Peel, generally it will be in a couple of tourist hotels on the sea front, comfortable basic rooms. Great breakfasts.

Meals:  B

From Peel you continue on the lowering red coastal cliff path before joining the old railway line path of the 'Steam heritage Trail' until the village of Kirk Michael where you can visit the old church containing some ancient Celtic crosses. The second half of the walk reaches the sea near Orrisdale Head where you continue for about 7km along the beach to exit at Jurby. There is little accommodation here and you will need to walk 1.5km or so inland to Jurby to pick up the bus to Ramsey where you will be staying for two nights. There is a section at Orrisdale Head about 1 hour after Kirk Michael which cannot be passed at high tide, so you will need to check the high tide times, however in normal conditions you will be able to pass the head very soon after high tide peak. Accommodation: Jurby doesn't have anywhere to stay so two nights are spent in Ramsey normally at a beautiful town house with large ensuite rooms, and great hosts who know a tremendous amount about the island and fishing!

Meals:  B

Returning in the morning by bus to Jurby, the longest walk of the trip is virtually all on either the beach or along the foreshore dunes. In many ways quite a remote walk, although you are likely to meet people at various wildlife viewing points along the walk and at Point of Ayre, which is the most northerly point of the island. There are sections fenced off on the beach Spring until August as these are the nesting areas for birds like Arctic and Common Tern and Oyster catchers. Naturally there are good wildlife viewing opportunities particularly birds, but also there are normally seals bobbing around at higher waters, and they will be curious about you. Rarely in the summer you may get sightings of whales or whale shark as at Point of Ayre the sea currents mix. Again you will have to take the weather situation into account as well as the state of the tides. There is one place where in normal tidal conditions you cannot pass at high tide mark and this is around 'Shellag Point,' 5km before Ramsey, it is possible to bypass this on the coast road. All the other sections at high tide you have just about a wide enough beach or you can walk on paths in the dunes. Beach walking is not for everyone so there is the option to return to Kirk Michael and follow the railway line walk, before following the last few km into Ramsey on the road (14km / 8.5miles). Accommodation: In Ramsey as yesterday

Meals:  B

A beautiful day, leaving Ramsey by either high or low tidal routes, the way follows the cliff paths around Maughold Head with its lighthouse. An excursion to Maughold Church is recommended to see some ancient Celtic crosses. You pass tiny coved beaches at Gob ny Strona and Port Moar where swimming may be possible in good weather. Some steep road walking follows before descending into beautiful Ballaglass Glen and the clear waters of Port Cornaa where another swim may be enticing. From here you follow quiet roads all the way to Laxey, famous for its lead mine wheels. An extra day at Laxey will give you more time perhaps to take the Mountain Railway up to Snaefell, The Electric Railway to Douglas and back, and a visit of the Lady Isabella Wheel. Accommodation: We use a homely B&B or a small pub on the edge of the village at the head of the Laxey Glen close to the mining wheels.

Meals:  B

The pretty last stage to complete the 'Raad ny Foillan' is a fairly easy romp mainly on quiet roads as unfortunately there are large sections where there is no actual coast path. There is a lovely low tide start from Laxey Bay. Attractions include peaceful Garwick Glen, the Ballannette Wetlands and the beautiful Lonan Old Church of St.Adamnan which is a tiny gem. The actual coastal path has a short final flourish off the main road before Onchan, sometimes with Peregrine falcons wheeling and diving around. From Onchan you finally follow along the sea promenade for the long walk past the tram station and round back into Douglas. We finish at the Sea Terminal where we started the walk from, but you could end just about anywhere along here perhaps with an ice cream. Accommodation: We use a number of small hotels on, or just off, the seafront in Douglas with ensuite rooms. Good standard accommodation.

Meals:  B

Depart Douglas for your onward journy

Meals:  B

What's Included

  • 8 Breakfasts
  • 8 nights accommodation in small hotels, pubs and B&Bs.
  • Luggage transfers between accommodations
  • Information pack including route notes, map and book.
  • Emergency hotline

What's Not Included

  • Dinners, lunches and drinks
  • Entrance Fees
  • Travel Insurance
  • Travel to the start and from the end of the trip
  • Personal expenses such as laundry and phonecalls
  • Public transport or taxis

Upcoming Travel Dates

AT A GLANCE

Duration:9 Days
Countries:Isle of Man (not part of the UK or European Union)
Starting Point:Douglas
Finishing Point:Douglas
Activities:Self-guided Walking
Trip Code:WOM
Prices From:GBP£710 Per Person
single supplement:GBP£190  Click for more information