The Isle of Man is famous for its stunning coastline, superb sandy beaches, spectacular scenery and gentle pace of life. This charming island also boasts some of the most impressive heritage railways found anywhere in the British Isles, not to mention the historic horse-drawn trams.
We meet in Heysham, Lancashire, ahead of our early afternoon ferry journey to the Isle of Man. Heysham is easily accessible from other parts of the UK and the train from Lancaster arrives straight into Heysham ferry terminal. Arriving into Douglas sea terminal, porters collect our luggage as we walk the short distance along the waterfront to the Claremont Hotel, our base for the next five nights. The hotel occupies a superb location on Douglas' sea-front promenade, overlooking the impressive two-mile sweep of Douglas Bay.
Our excursion today takes us to the summit of the island's only mountain: Snaefell. We begin with a journey north along Douglas promenade, travelling by historic horse-drawn tram*. The trams, known locally as 'toast racks', have been running since 1876 and remain a testimony to Victorian engineering, as popular today as they were when first introduced. We then board an electric train to take us to the fishing village of Laxey.
Here we board the Snaefell Mountain Railway - the only electric mountain railway in the British Isles, dating from 1895. The journey takes us all the way to the summit of Snaefell at 2,036 feet. On a clear day you can see England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
A café at the summit offers the opportunity for you to purchase lunch while enjoying the stunning views. We then return to Laxey, where you have time to explore. Separated into two parts, the main village and Old Laxey, which surrounds the picturesque tidal harbour, the town is home to the Laxey Wheel, the world's largest working waterwheel.
The 'Lady Isabella' was built in 1854 to pump water from Laxey's lead and zinc mines. It is possible to climb the steep spiral staircase to view the working wheel from the platform above. The wheel is one of the iconic images of the Isle of Man and to see it from above and in action is a fascinating experience. Later we make our way back to Douglas by electric train.
*Please note that the horse-drawn trams may not operate on the April and October departures.
Today we take the coach to Peel - an old-fashioned fishing port whose quaint, narrow streets lead to its deep harbour. On the way you call at Tynwald Hill, in the village of St John's, where you see the Church of St John and the Tynwald Exhibition. The Tynwald claims to be over 1,000 years old with the earliest records dating back to 1422.
A parliamentary assembly, the Tynwald has operated under Celtic and Viking rule as an institution designed not to pass laws but rather to settle local disputes and as a community forum. The museum charts the history of this fascinating political entity and proves a delight to discover.
We then arrive in Peel. The thriving fishing industry and many smokehouses have made Peel famous for its kippers. During our time here, you may wish to visit Peel Castle, located on St Patrick's Isle, which dates back to the 11th century, or the House of Manannan, a museum that explores the island's Celtic, Viking and maritime heritage, which you can explore thanks to your included Heritage Explorer Pass. Alternately, seek out the kippers, which are regarded to be some of the finest in the country.
After some interdependent sightseeing, we enjoy a journey on the full length of the Manx Electric Railway from Ramsey to Douglas. The railway is recognised as the longest narrow-gauge vintage railway in the British Isles, taking you on a 17-mile journey through glorious countryside, across gorse-topped hills and along the stunning shores of the east coast on our way to Douglas. We make this journey travelling in the oldest working tramcars in the world.
This morning we walk to Douglas railway station to board the Isle of Man Steam Railway, the island's oldest Victorian rail system. The mesmerising steam-hauled journey in restored heritage carriages takes us through verdant countryside, beside shimmering seaside scenery and past small towns and old-fashioned fishing ports. We pull into the station in Port Erin, an imposing town set within a beautiful bay on the south west point of the island. After time to explore, we are collected by coach for a tour of the headland overlooking the spectacular Calf of Man.
This terrific corner of the island is home to an array of delightful wildlife including seals and a wide variety of nesting birds. After touring the prominentary, we travel to Castletown, the island's ancient capital. Castle Rushen, a magnificently preserved medieval fortress, dominates the town and merits a visit during our time here, as do the Nautical Museum and the Old House of Keys. Entrance to all three sites is included with your Heritage Explorer Pass.
Day 5 is free to enjoy the island at leisure. An included Explorer Pass allows you to travel on the local trains and buses (payable locally). As the island is brimming with heritage and fantastic scenery, you are never without something interesting to see and do. One popular option is a tour of the Gaiety Theatre, the Isle of Man's opera house. Drenched in Edwardian splendour, this impressive room plays host to all manner of productions, and many of its rooms and exterior hark back to that age, with a wonderful main room decked out in splendid gold. Alternatively, perhaps visit the steam train sheds, which first opened in 1900.
Your included Heritage pass also allows you to explore a myriad of fascinating National Heritage sites on the island. One option is to visit the captivating Grove Museum. The preserved former home of the Gibb sisters, who lived here until the 1970s, the house has been practically untouched since Victorian times, granting its visitors a unique and compelling glimpse into the past. Exploring the house and grounds is like taking a step back in time, as you discover authentic Victorian furniture, clothing, farming equipment, and more.
After our breakfast, we make our way back to Douglas Sea Terminal. We arrive back into Heysham just after midday, where our tour concludes. You are then free to leave Heysham at your leisure.
We include two passes in this holiday: an Explorer Pass and a
Heritage Explorer Pass.
Available for use on your free day, the Explorer Pass allows you complimentary travel on trains and buses across the Isle of Man.
Heritage Explorer Pass
Available for use on your free day and during our excursions, the Heritage Explorer Pass gives you free entrance to Manx National Heritage sites. These include the Laxey Wheel, Peel Castle, the House of Manannan, Castle Rushen, the Old House of Keys and the Nautical Museum, among others.
Please be aware that the order of the excursions may be different than appears here.
All prices are per person and assume full occupancy of the room.
Please always refer to the website for up-to-date prices and availability.
The narrow gauge Isle of Man Steam Railway runs over a 15.3 mile (24.6km) route which links Douglas, the island's capital, with Port Erin. The line was originally opened for service in the 1870s and is just a small section of what was once a much larger network of railway lines which connected many towns and villages on the Isle of Man. Passengers on the Isle of Man Steam Railway are taken on a scenic journey through verdant countryside and along the spectacular southern coastline in vintage carriages hauled by original steam locomotives bought for the railway in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Manx Electric Railway is recognised as the longest narrow-gauge vintage railway in the British Isles at 17 miles (27.4km) long. The railway runs from the Isle of Man's capital, Douglas, to Ramsey and includes a stop in Laxey for connections with the Snaefell Mountain Railway. The railway take its passengers through beautiful countryside, across gorse-topped hills and along the stunning east coast in original rolling stock - widely acclaimed to be the oldest working tramcars in the world.
The '4-Star Gold' Claremont Hotel is the highest rated hotel on the Isle of Man, occupying a premium location on Douglas promenade. Just a short walk from the sea terminal in the heart of the town, the hotel is also near to local shops and other amenities. As well as the in house 'Coast Bar and Brasserie', the Claremont has an extensive lounge area for relaxing in the evenings. Standard room facilities include an en-suite bathroom, direct dial telephone, flat screen television with satellite news and sports channels, mini-safe, iron, complimentary high speed Wi-Fi access, tea and coffee making facilities, executive toiletries and hairdryer. Sea view bedrooms which also feature a Super-King Size bed, bathrobes, coffee machine, daily turn down service & complimentary magazines, are also available on request for a supplementary charge.
Please note that due to the original architectural features of the Claremont, we advise that it is not suitable for any guests requiring mobility assistance or street level access. The property has a number of external steps to access the hotel entrance, as well as internal steps to the upper floors, including the access route from the lift to bedroom corridors.
We offer a selection of upgrades and 'add-ons' designed to help you make the most of your holiday - and make it even easier!
We can book UK rail tickets from your local station to and from Heysham. Please call us to discuss your requirements.
Upgrade at the Claremont Hotel to a Sea View room: From £165 per person (twin occupancy only)