Saturday, August 30, 2008


The Isle of Man is a remarkable island. The shoreline is varied and fascinating. Dotted with caves, colonies of birds, seals, beaches and charming towns all of which call out for exploration. It would be easy to spend an extended holiday here getting to know the secret places and wonderful people of the island.

If fortune should once again come my way and I should I be granted an opportunity to return to paddle this coast I'd start in Peel. Ideally I'd return with two or three companions and together we'd make our way to this port city on the west side of the island. At least a day would be given over to exploring the narrow streets, the history and the charm of the town.

Peel Castle sitting out there guarding the entrance to the town on St. Patrick's island is worthy of a days exploration.

From Peel I would head south to Port Erin. Along this coast I'd try to stay inshore to paddle the cIiffs that I had to pass by. Bradda Head would also come under closer scrutiny.

Already I feel a kinship with this town. It was here that I truly took control of my trip. Because of the weather I came ashore early and was able to spend at least a few hours getting to know the town. I'd look up the kayak shop owner Jenny and buy her lunch for the help and assistance she gave me. I'd also introduce my friends to the Grosvenor Hotel and it's friendly proprietors. Up town we could hop aboard the steam train for a ride. When we got back I'd look up the Manx Phone company and politely explain what I think of them.

Each town, Port Mary, Castletown, Douglas, Laxey and Ramsey would be on our itinerary to explore and discover. Just as important as the present habitats it would be grand to come ashore and examine any number of the forts that dot the Manx coast line. There is no doubt that Manx men where warriors, the proof is in the ruins of forts that lookout from almost every head land.

But of course we'd have to experience the ultimate Manx custom – racing down narrow lanes lined with stone walls in some car of uncertain quality and reliability. Just about any little old grandmother should be able to provide that experience as they all race home seemingly afraid the eggs will go bad or the milk will spoil if they don't get home as fast as possible.

Ultimately for a kayaker the attraction to the island is the Caff of Man and those headlands where tide races form. Here's where the devil may care thrill seeker in us would come to the fore. I'd show those Manx grannies a trick or two.

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