A Final Fling

The last full day. The big walk is done. What else to do with the last day now that no “rest day” day has been taken. Bernie was determined to do a last walk and had picked a route and Chappers was less inclined to go up another hill, especially as it looked like a lot of it would be in grey, wet, unrelenting cloud … and where’s the fun in that? Especially when there’s a lot of the island still to see that the coast walk hasn’t revealed

Marine DriveLet me share the gory details…

This morning it was Eat-up-the-rest-of-the-sausages-and-bacon Day, so I placed a large plate of said comestibles in front of each of us, with grilled cheese for Bernie but he had to take care of that bit.

I said yesterday that the plan for today would depend on the weather forecast — which turned out to be ‘not brilliant’. Bernie is tough though and he decided he was going to “do” the Millennium Way. Or at least a bit of it. We dropped him off just after 09:30 at Crosby and will see him later at Ramsey.

Bye Bye Bernie

“Happy walking, Bernie”. [This image may have been posed].

Chappers & I then set off up the middle of the island “sightseeing”. Given that it’s another grey and damp start with mush less prospect of it brightening up anytime soon, the sights were limited. A marginally photogenic reservoir at West Baldwin and the very Dark Peak-esque landscape around Injebreck Hill. Then we turned right and climbed up into the cloud and all sights were off.

West Baldwin reservoir Injebrack Hill

We visited The Bungalow, start of the last section of the assent up Snaefell but as the railway wasn’t running it was deserted. Nothing to see here, move along please.

Snaefell looking up from Laxey

Down at Laxey at least it was clear if still a little on the grey side. We parked up in the Wheel car park and found the Ballacregga Corn Mill cafe open at the bottom of the approach road. My chauffeuring services for the day were duly compensated for by the provision of coffee.

Suitably sustained we walked back up to the Wheel. As we did so I spotted a black cat, which I am sure had no tail, scamper over the road a short distance away. I’m going to claim it as a Manx Cat sighting. (We saw a cat in Peel which Bernie swears had no tail when we were walking back from the pub earlier in the week, but it was white, so I’m going to stick my neck out and dispute that one).

At the Wheel, Chappers handed over his £5 admission fee with only a passing aside about his National Trust card being at home. The lady in the kiosk recognised me (which is slightly alarming, but they’ve probably not had many visitors this week) and waved me in with barely a glance at my proffered card.

With Dave’s influence I managed to cover a lot more of the site this time, enduring the slow but steady climb up to the engine houses level. My effort was rewarded by learning a lot more about the place. Brave David managed to overcome both his vertigo and his claustrophobia by not only climbing to the top of Lady Isabella but also venturing into the Adit. I passed on the chance of doing the latter for a second time, working on the theory with two of us in there it would likely be far more cozy than either of us would really want.

Laxey Wheel Laxey engine houses Chappers studying an information board

Bob the Builder

Can We Fix It?

It was another interesting diversion, even if an encore presentation in my case.

Next we went down to Laxey Harbour as Dave wanted to see it with the tide in. The tide was out. Oh dear.

We then headed down the coast to Douglas, retracing my steps from Tuesday. I parked up on the Promenadae just at the end of the unrestricted zone. It meant a half mile or so walk into the centre, but despite his fatigued joints and my inherent sedentariness, we both agreed it was a good plan. We wandered through the shopping area which is like anywhere else in the UK; charity shops, coffee shops and empty units being to the fore. (Only one vape shop that I noticed, so make of that what you will…)

As if by magic we found ourselves outside Starbucks and Dave did nothing to stop my instinctive motion through the door. We were both ready for a snack so I had another bacon butty… but in a conscious effort to have something other than pig, Dave went with a slice of fruit toast. As is the Starbucks way, we were both asked for a name. I was in front and duly said ‘Dave’. Borne of bitter experience, my accomplice decided two Daves would over complicate things, so for the duration he became Bernie.

From there we walked back up to the front, round past the ferry terminal (surely the ugliest building on the island?) and along the harbour (surely the most photogenic past of Douglas?). Finally we closed the triangle and took a beeline through the town toward the front and back out to the car. Fair to say Chappers’ legs had warmed up by now and he was haring off down the Prom with me trailing in his metaphorical wake.

The route of the Road ny Fallion had taken them out of Douglas along Marina Drive, This was once a through route along the coast but now a couple of miles long dead end as part of it had slipped down the cliff. Therefore, at Chappers’ welcome recommendation, we drove as far as we could, through a very grand masonry arch at the start, and I went on foot far enough to see the sight of the slip. It’s quite an impressive sight and easy to see why the engineers have given up. There’s an awful lot of detritus at the bottom of the cliff, including quite a lot of steel girders which were once part of the efforts to shore the road up. Eventually enough was obviously enough.

Marina Drive slip Bottom of the cliff Douglas skyline

The last port-of-call in Douglas was on behalf of Matt, who wanted some photos of the TT Start/Finish line, which Dad was happy to oblige with.

Seeing as we were on the TT course, we decided to follow it to Ramsey — albeit in the ‘wrong’ direction. Back up on the mountain the cloud was as we’d left it so we feared the worse for Bernie’s day. For most of the journey, the Peugeot we were following nearly gave me an epileptic fit such was the frequency of the driver’s “comfort braking”.  As we descended out of the cloud into Ramsey, Dave’s phone rang and with perfect timing Bernie announced he was now in Ramsey and we arranged to meet at the harbour. To describe him as looking like a drowned rat would understate his appearance!

Drowned Rat

I understand comment has been made about Bernie’s wardrobe choices on the basis of photos on previous day’s blog entries. Er, what can I say?  🙂

Chappers' new yaucht

Chappers’ yacht?

It was a little after 15:30 but the consensus was to go straight back to the house, not least as Bernie was ready for a shower, dry clothes and a coffee.


As we set off for tea, Bernie announced that he’d like to inspect the far end of the harbour wall at Peel. No problem. Indeed, it was an interesting little walk; past the castle, the lifeboat station and onto the harbour wall with the Windbreak Cafe. A young lad was fishing in the far end of the wall and seemed to be doing quite well — a supermarket carrier bag serving as his “keep net”!? He gave us a bit of a sheepish look, especially when he saw all three of us were taking photos – I’m sure all was perfectly legit though, no?

Peel wind break

Beer called. We each had a lovely meal of steak at the Marine Hotel, agreeing that a last-night-of-the-holiday-steak  was the sort of tradition which ought to be perpetuated. Rump for me and Dave and sirloin for Bernie. Dave was most unimpressed that I deposited a significant quantity of the beer he’d just bought me on the floor as I passed under a low doorway which I (uncharacteristically) failed to duck for. I’m not sure the bar staff were that sympathetic, either, as they had to mop up after me.

Around the corner to The Creek. More good beer between us, including; Mauldon’s Blackberry Porter (4.8%) which both smelled and tasted of the berry of its name. Also on offer — and copiously stamped — was Banks & Taylor Black Squirrel porter (3.9%) and, slightly less popular, Slater’s Top Totty (4.0%) which was as bland as it was blonde. Okells also featured in there somewhere.

We decided to move on and Bernie set off for “The Hotel” without really knowing where he meant. A very well meaning and helpful lady walking her dogs tried to give us directions to this vaguely named establishment. Ultimately she pointed us toward The Central, a back street boozer tucked out of the way which no-one would find by accident (except us). This was  a real local’s local. Here we all had Shepherd Neame’s –something-.  It was a handwritten label which I failed to make out but did note it was 4.5%.  We took refuge in a nook, as the lounge (I dread to think what the bar was like) was the province of some really loud and very animated tradies who’d clearly been there drinking since knocking off time. Meanwhile, the Shepherd’s Neame was surprisingly drinkable.

We moved on again, intending to head for “home”. However, completely by accident we discovered that “The Hotel” in Bernie’s hazy recollection turned out to be “The Royal”. We established that it served real ale and so felt it needed exploring so we went in. As we entered a bloke in a small group going out suggested to Chappers (with a big grin) that he shouldn’t go in as he was too old. It was all very good natured, and looking at the rest of the clientele, he probably had a point. Once over threshold Chappers kindly stood the round. Various Okells products all round, thank you. Another lively locals place but no one quite as, er, emotional as in The Central.

The Creek


The Royal

Hard target to be on the road for the ferry tomorrow is 08:30. All up and ready by 07:30. Good night.

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