If you come to Isle of Man, Laxey is the exact place you should not miss. Laxey is a small town in the North of the island called Isle of Man where you can learn the lives of miners who worked precariously in the past.
Isle of man is the island in the Irish sea between England and Ireland. It used to be a hard place to live due to unpredictable weather and isolation. A few hundred years ago , a lot of islanders left the island to move to the prosperous countries such as America and Australia. However, discovering minerals such as lead, copper , zinc in Laxy gave a boost of economy and the area became the hub of migrants . Isle of Man exported all these treasure to UK and Wales.
In Laxey, you can go for Laxey heritage trail, I would rather start with the church, where a lot of miners used to go. The lives of miners were very precarious and nobody knew whether they could get hurt at work. Some laborers could be as young as 12 year old. When they got injured or lost their lives, there was no compensation that time and people could be in bed for months out of injuries such as fractures or chronic illnesses related to mining.
The Church shows the faith of the islanders in mining villages. It opens daily from 10 am to 4 pm and there is no entrance fee. But you can give some donation for maintenance of the church. You can also see stories about people inside the church and it will not disappoint you.
Then you can go and see Laxey washing floor where the stones were extracted from the mines and cleansed with water. It is now regarded as community area.
From there you can walk across the road to have a cup of tea at ” Ham and Egg Terrace”. The Terrace was the longest line of purpose built industrial housing under a continuous roof of line on the island in 1860 . It was nicknamed as ” Ham and Egg Terrace ” after most houses started selling tea and meals to visitors in their front rooms. The terrace still maintains its charm after 150 years. The Terrace is next to the statue of Miners.
From there , you can walk towards Laxey wheel ” Lady Isabella “. Entrance fee is 8 GBP and it can be free if you have purchased the annual ticket for heritage trails .If you are not afraid of height, you can climb up the stairs to see the panoramic view from the top of the wheel.
Lady Isbella is the largest wheel in the world and it was created to remove water from the mines into the river.
I have also walked inside the mine and I was not comfortable knowing the suffering of miners ( cold , wet and dark inside the mines). we met a very nice gentleman who told us how fragile our society became. ( I am sure he is referring towards us ). In a nutshell, we have a better life obviously compared to 100 years ago, but still we cannot convince ourselves that we are content and happy. I am feeling a bit embarrassed right now.
From Laxey wheel , you can also stroll along the Laxey beach where you can simply relax and watch some people either swimming in the sea or walking around . There is a shop called ” the shed ” at the end of Laxey beach and it is a nice cafe.
If you are interested to walk around, you can also walk in Laxey village or stroll along a row of shops just beside the road.
Some houses are very pretty and located just beside the stream.
There are some wild flowers on the trail too.
In Laxey, there is woolen mills where you can purchase some expensive wool products such as kilts, jumpers , hats. You can see the woolen mill at the end of the village.
Just beside the main road, you can also see The flour mill where has been the source of bakery . The mill was constructed by the same engineer who built Lady Isabella. Prior to that, the local people had to bring their corns to Lord’s mills to grind in 17th and 18th century.
After going to nearby places, there is some prehistoric stones near Laxey called ” King Orry’s Grave”. It is at least 30 minutes walk from Laxey wheel and just beside the Minorca train station. Only MER ( Manx Electric railway ) can arrive this and please do not be confused with Snaefell railway which only goes up the snaefell mountail. Here is the information how to go to King Orry. ( credit to https://www.transceltic.com/isle-of-man/king-orrys-grave )
On the East coast of the island in Minorca near the village of Laxey.
- By car – Minorca is near the village of Laxey where the B11 crosses the A2 which is the road between Ramsey and Douglas.
- By bus – Routes no. 3, 3A, 3B, and 3C from Ramsey and Douglas. Take the nearest stop to Minorca, then walk along the A2 to the site.
- By tram – Take the Electric Railway to the Minorca stop. Walk along the B11 to where it crosses the A2.
This site is the largest known Megalithic tomb on the Isle of Man and is said to belong to King Orry, an almost legendary character revered by the Manx as their greatest king and founder of Mann. This mythical figure is based on King Godred Crovan, a Viking warrior who created the Kingdom of Mann and the Isles upon his arrival on the Island in 1079. But at actual site, it was mentioned that King Orry was never buried there and at the time of excavation, only one skeleton remain was discovered. The tomb was abandoned in neolithic time. According to the painting at the site, it seemed like the tomb was immediately next to the beach and it was assumed that people gathered around the tomb and did a lot of activities such as dancing and eating.
King Orry was credited for the introduction of the island’s legal system and his arrival on the island is seen as the starting point of Manx history . He was also responsible for founding the Crovan dynasty, his descendants who ruled in Mann and the Isles for almost two centuries. ( Information credit goes to http://www.visitisleofman.com ). King Orry’s grave was separated into two parts and one of them is behind the private house, however, visitors are allowed to visit freely.
Last but not least, you can visit Snaefell mountain which is the island’s only mountain, its summit is 2036 feet ( 621 metres ) above sea level. The name Snaefell comes from the Norse meaning ” snow mountain “. To reach the summit of snaefell, you can either take Snaefell railway or climb from bungalow station ( which is situated on the mountain road to Ramsey ).
Snaefell railway was opened on 21 August 1895 and carried 900 visitors on the same day. It has been a popular tourist activity even after introduction of competition from motor buses. The journey can either starts at Laxey train station ( 12GBP for return ) or at the bungalow station ( 8GBP for return ).
At Bungalow station, you should get off and observe the statue of Joey Dunlop . He was named as ” King of the Mountain ” as he won TT for 26 times. TT is a motor cycle race in Isle of Man which has been operating since 1907. TT attracts a lot of bike lovers all over the world.
For the first time, I climbed snaefell by riding on the tram. I went there with my friend Glenn and we had a good time on the train. I felt like we were back at least a century back as the tram is very old and rattling . It was so much fun.
At the top of the mountain, there was a cafe called ” summit cafe ” where you can purchase breakfast, lunch and dinner .
Meals are not sold on the tram. But you can book one of the special dining events held at the Snaefell summit cafe such as sunset dinners ( suitable for couples ), seven sunday lunch and Pie in the Sky, featuring stargazing and supper with the island ‘s Astronomical society.
It is a belief that you can see seven kingdoms from summit of Snaefell such as England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, the Isle of Man and the kingdoms of heaven and the sea.
In Celtic times, the domain of “otherworld ” was to be found in the heavens above Snaefell. More recently in late Vitorian times, an observatory was established at the summit of Snaefell to enable astronomers to study the stars from the highest point on the island.
My boyfriend was worried when I decided to climb Snaefell. 2000 feet does not mean the height from the base, it simply the height from the sea level and the mountain is manageable even for someone like me who does not do regular exercise.
Even with this tiny achievement, I have to say that I am happy to have been at the summit of Snaefell by climbing.