Transportation – Isle of Man

21 04 2017

After the previous day’s walk from Douglas to Peel, which the GPS tracklog showed us to have been just over 25 km we decided to have a lazy day. The island is known for it’s working museum transport so we walked up to the Electric Tram terminus at the north end of the promenade where we parted with £16 for a day pass on the Manx transportation system. That included travelling on modern buses, the electric trams, horse drawn trams and steam trains. We had already travelled by bus a couple of times and liked the £2:70 single fares.

There are in principle two electric tram lines. The first runs between Douglas and Ramsey in the north and the second runs from Laxey, half way between Douglas and Ramsey, to the top of Snaefell (621 m). The steam trains run from Douglas to Port Erin at the south end of the island. The horse drawn trams run along the promenade from the Electric Tram terminus.

Electric tram at Douglas terminal

Interior of restored tram

A tram pulled into the terminus as we were buying our day passes and a few minutes later we were aboad. It didn’t take long before the tram was full. Not bad for a cold day in April. I wonder what it will be like in summer when that tourist season is in full swing?

We set off at a moderate speed following and crossing back and forth the road to Laxey. The trams are much slower than the usual traffic but have precedence at the road crossings. At Groudle Glen we noted that there was a private Victorian 2ft narrow gauge railway that covered a kilometer or so up the glen. When we arrived at Laxey we got of the tram and got on a waiting tram that is specially built for the steeper incline up to the summit of Snaefell. The route is characterised by having a third central rail that allows a mechanical grip type brake to operate in case the normal motor brake fails.

As we moved out of Laxey we saw the famous Laxey wheel. This is a 22 m diameter water wheel built in 1854 to pump up water from the 460 m deep lead mine (now disused) and still in operation. Signs of mining were seen further up the valley.

Water wheel at Laxey

The wheel at Laxey

Remains of old lead mine

At Snaefell summit we jumped off the tram and rushed up and over the remaining few meters to get to the Six Kingdoms cache so we could get back onto the tram that started it’s downward journey in 30 minutes. It was blowing hard and zelger and I were both pleased that we had hats and gloves with us. Of, course as a radio amateur the masts were of interest and I had listened to traffic on and tried to activate GB3GD and GB3IM-S without success on our walk between Douglas and Peel.

ds8300 at Six Kingdoms

The Snaefell tram at the summit terminus

After spending some minutes at the earthcache twoofnine (two of nine) we jumped back on the tram and rolled back down into Laxey.

View from the journey up Snaefell

On the way down. Note the rope safety brake!

After a few minutes the tram to Douglas appeared and we made our way leisurely back into the main town.

View of Douglas bay from the north

We had intended to take the horse drawn tram along the Promenade but the next tram was too late for us to get to the railway station for our next leg of our travels, so we jumped on a regular bus that wisked us away towards the station. We got off a few stops earlier to log the virtual cache NOW I AM ON MY OWN.

At the station we had just enough time for a quick cup of coffee. We bumped into Steinmann, a geocacher (and radio amateur) from Germany that we had met a couple of days previously at the Meet a Swede event.

Steam train to Port Erin at Douglas Station

No 13 Kissack

ds8300 travelling first class

We chose a first class carriage and enjoyed the leisurely journey into Port Erin. We had time for a short walk (no geocaches in sight) and a pint in the pub opposite the station before making our way back.

Port Erin

Some kilometers out of Port Erin we stopped to swap locomotives with the train coming from Douglas. It seems that loco No13 (Kissack) lives in Port Erin and No 8 (Fenella) in Douglas.

Changing locos

No 8 Fenella

Upon arrival in Douglas we set off towards Manx the islands oldest geocache.

Douglas inner harbour

On the way we passed by the inner harbour and found two urban nanos at Back in Time and Tongue Twister.

We finished off our geocaching with The Isle of Man’s Shortest Multi-cache which wasn’t easy to locate but when zelger triumphantly fished it up from it’s hiding place we both had a laugh. I won’t post any spoiler, but it’s on my list of caches to copy.

So after an evening meal at the same location we used for the event we went back to the hotel and packed ready for the early morning plane to Gatwick and more geocaching adventures.

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Heritage Power Trail – Isle of Man

20 04 2017

Isle of Man flag


The last time I visited the Isle of Man was in 1964 and the railways were still in operation. Fast forward to 2016 and I had the notion that I would like to revisit the island and add another geocaching country to my list. I mentioned this to my brother who is half of team “zelger” and he said that this would be a great opportunity for a “lads reunion”. Anyway, time passed and nothing materialised due to everyone having commitments. Finally, in March 2017 I raised the idea again and booked my tickets for Easter 2017. Half of zelger decided that this was not an opportunity to be missed and booked tickets too.

The aim of the trip was twofold. Walk the Heritage Power Trail in a day and spend a day of nostalgia on the electric trams and steam trains on a second day. While we were at it I threw in a geocaching event so we could meet some of the local geocachers. A friendly bunch they were too. The event was Meet a Swede, which isn’t quite a lie as I have dual nationality. Teamkiisseli from Finland were relieved that they were able to speak English not Swedish and didn’t need to discuss ice-hockey.

The Heritage Power Trail crosses the Isle of Man from Douglas in the east to Peel in the west. There are other trails as well but this one seemed to be the definite trail and also gave us the chance to brag that we had walked across the island. After a hearty but early breakfast at our hotel we made our way through Douglas to the start of the trail. Well actually, the end of the trail. Number 1 is in Peel and the last one, number 79 is in Douglas. I had been watching the weather forecast for a few days and it seemed as though we may be in for a wet day. Apart from some light rain early on we had no problems. The sky remained cloudy most of the day but cleared up for a while in the afternoon. There were several information boards along the trail. This was close to Douglas.

Steam Heritage Trail – Douglas to Peel

Our walk together with lunch and a couple of other diversions took all day but was worth it as it gave a nice string of smilies right across the island.

Heritage Power Trail – done in a day!

The majority of the caches were micros, either film canisters placed in nifty little wire baskets on trees and fence post or PET preforms. A few of the caches were larger, notably the TB hotel, the letterbox and the bonus cache.

Bonus cache

Of course, as the trail follows a disused railway line there are no really tough gradients. I think that the highest point we reached was 49 m asl. There were various remains from the days of the active railway, amongst them a couple of rusty bridges like this one.

A rail bridge across a river

The old station at Union Mills has gone along with all the track but there are details available on line for those interested.

Maps of the trail at Union Mills

Historical railway crane at Union Mill

After the third run of micros it was great to find the TB hotel. There was a TB in the box that we picked up and took with us along the trail.

zelger extracting a TB from the trail’s TB hotel

Even though it was overcast and only about 8 degrees C spring was still well on it’s way and there were flowers of all kinds along the trail. These were just some of them.

Plenty of flowers along the trail

Needless to say we were pleased to get to HPT #24 at Tynwald Hill so that we could get lunch. We got there a couple of hours later than expected but a couple of pints of beer to replenish our fluids and a hearty Manx cheese sandwich put us back in good spirits. I had originally planned to find a handful of caches at Tynwald Hill but decided to skip them as we were running late. Tynwald is also the name of the legislature for the island of Ellan Vannin (Isle of Man).

Tynwald Hill – of historic significance for Ellan Vannin (Isle of Man)

As we neared Peel the track followed the River Neb and the scenery changed somewhat. There was plenty of bird life including this heron.

Heron and mill wheel

Heron

After the intial difficulty we had finding HPT #76 the rest of the caches were easily found, until we got to Peel that is. HPT #2 was located at a sign but we couldn’t see anything. As we were searching we heard a voice. “Are you looking for the geocache? It’s in the …” It was a local guy getting something out of a nearby parked car. He saved our day. He had probably given the same hint to others before us too.

Peel Harbour

As we arrived at Peel Harbour we just had HPT #1 to find and that was a nano under a bench. Of course there were four people sitting there but we HAD to find that cache so we told them what we were doing and suddenly there were six people on their hands and knees searching for the cache. We found it after a rather long search much to our relief. All that remained was to get the bus back to Douglas. We had to wait an hour as it was Easter Monday and the busses were not running the regular weekday service. Once on the bus we were back in Douglas ready for dinner in just over half an hour.








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