Pocket Britain
Britain > North West > Isle of Man

A small island between mainland Britain and Ireland, with a long history and famous for the TT race

Listen to this article
The Isle of Man is a small island between mainland Britain and Ireland, in the geographical centre of the United Kingdom. It is just 221 square miles big, and home to 80,000 people.
Despite its size, the isle has a long history, dating all the way back to the Stone Age. Both Celtic and Irish immigrants arrived, strongly influencing the culture of the area, and eventually resulting in their own language, a form of Gaelic that is distinctly different from the Scottish or Irish varieties. Later, the island had periods under Viking, then Scottish control. Since 1765, the British crown has taken control - however, although UK's monarch is its official head of state, the Isle of Man doesn't actually belong to the United Kingdom.
Instead, it governs itself, from its own parliament known as "Tynwald". This was set up by the Vikings in the 10th century, and has been in continuous operation since that time - making it the longest continuous parliament on the globe. For most of the year, it operates out of the island's capital, Douglas.
The city sits on the south-east coast, and is home to more than a quarter of the population. It has everything you might expect from a modern city, including pubs, restaurants, museums, and all the familiar shops. There also many locally owned stores, providing a more unique flavour to the shopping district. Getting from place to place is easily done on foot, but a much more interesting method is via the town's horse-drawn tram, which runs down the length of Douglas' main promenade. When you're done looking around, the capital is a great place to try out one of the island's signature dishes - fish and chips! Local kippers are the fish of choice, and it makes no sense to leave without trying one.
Douglas is also the start of the Isle of Man TT, considered by many to be the most dangerous motorbike road race in the world. This is an annual event that takes over the island with a festival-like atmosphere. The course makes its way out of the city and all the way and around the nearby Snaefell Mountains, using public roads which are closed especially for the race.
There are many other things to do on the island, which features everything from mountain ranges, to hills, to the spectacular coastline. Such varied terrain is well-used by extreme sports enthusiasts, who go gliding, canoeing, or scuba diving. On the other hand, fans of more restrained pursuits will find plenty of things to occupy their time, including fishing, and golf.
The island has several other popular tourist sites, including Laxey, From here the 2036ft Snaefell Mountain summit is accessible via the quaint Victorian electric railway - a worthwhile sight all by itself. Laxey also has the largest functioning waterwheel in the world. It used to pump water up from the nearby Laxey Mines, which can also been seen. From here, the railway continues to Ramsey, a small town that was once visited by Queen Victoria. The island also has numerous other small towns and villages, such as Peel, with its cathedral, and Port St. Mary, with its thatched cottages. Almost all the settlements sit on the coast, looking out to sea.
A trip to the Isle of Man means taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the mainland. There is a calmer, more relaxed atmosphere here. So if you've been working too hard, come on over, and slow down for a while.

Back ~ Top ~ Home ~ Index

Pocket Britain is optimised for use on a smartphone or tablet with internet access. All content is subject to copyright. All reasonable methods have been used to ensure information supplied is accurate at the time of publication. However, it is advisable to check information before relying on it. Privacy Policy