The Isle of Man is so close to the rest of Britain that it is often overlooked as a place to visit for a holiday and yet as the article below describes it has plenty of attractions to suit all tastes. It’s easy to fly there from Gatwick if you live in the South East of England or by ferry if you live in the North. If you do decide to fly, why not book one of the many gatwick airport hotels with parking so that you can drive, park, stay the night in comfort without the worries about parking or onward travel arrangements.
So, what does the Isle of Man have to offer? Perched in the Irish Sea it can be likened to an offshore platform where armed with a pair of good binoculars you can sit back and watch some amazing marine life swim by in the most peaceful surroundings. At least twelve species of whales including Risso’s dolphins and minke whales, have been recorded close to the Isle of Man coast. The warmer months of the year are the best for viewing these large cetaceans, as the sea is calmer and more whales are swimming and visiting closer inshore.
Guided wildlife tours are available from Douglas (the island’s relaxed capital), Peel or Ramsey which allow you to get up close and personal to pods of dolphins, seals or basking sharks. In the colder months, if you are a bird watching enthusiast, come and see the return of thousands of migrating seabirds that use the island cliffs and shores as an over wintering ground, escaping from the frozen winter conditions of the Arctic.
For those interested in history, the island has ancient monuments galore. Commonly spotted on the island are Neolithic burial tombs like the one at Cashtal yn Ard in the North of the island. Viking boat burials were common here and many of the historic sites are located in spectacular spots high up on cliff sides. The main cultural influences on the island in the ancient past were from the occupation by the indigenous Celts and then Vikings who occupied the island like many other parts of Britain from the ninth century onwards.
One of the best preserved castles in Europe is found at the appropriately named Castletown. The castle dates back to the ruling Norsemen who built the castle to defend the entrance to the nearby Silverburn River and remind their unruly subjects who was boss at this time. The castle is famous for its huge, towering walls constructed from limestone which dominate the view over a lot of the southern part of the island.
Part of the Manx National Heritage and acquired by the Manx Government in 1998 is Rushen Abbey, probably the most important historical site, apart from the castle, on the island. It lies close to the Silverdale Burn and is an important reminder of the Christian heritage of the Isle of Man.
The abbey buildings are intact in parts and through extensive archaeological investigation and reconstruction more of the original structures will be available for the visiting public to see.