I’ve resisted the Isle of Man for many years thinking it wouldn’t be very interesting. Having been invited by some old neighbours who now live there, it seemed hard to refuse, so we booked ourselves into a cottage right on the seafront in Peel.
As it turns out, it’s a very interesting place, and has lots to offer: (small) mountains, forests, beaches, lots of lovely countryside, great cycling, good food, and even an artisan bakery. It’s a bit like a miniature Scotland, though hopefully I’ve not done a disservice to either by saying so! The Isle of Man is in the diocese of Sodor and Man, where the name of the Island of Sodor came from in Thomas the Tank Engine. What with state-run steam railways, mountain trams, train tracks right next to the road with no separating fence, horse-drawn trams, water wheels, and a rugged landscape that goes from beaches to mountains in a few miles, it was very much like being in one of Awdry’s books. Though to be totally accurate, the books, although inspired by the Isle of Man, are based on a fictional island between it and the mainland.
A particular surprise, with the annual TT races making it a magnet for motorheads, was that it was actually a very relaxed place to drive and cycle. I didn’t experience a single scary moment on the bike (at least, not due do anything any motorist did: some of the roads were treacherously steep which did lead to some ‘moments’), even when I found myself on the Snaefell mountain road in thick fog, and driving around was fairly relaxed too, given many of the roads were no good for any more than 40mph; how the TT racers average 130mph is beyond me!