[from Jenkinson's Practical Guide, 1874]

Douglas to Peel, by Railway.

Union Mills, 2½ miles ; Crosby, 5 miles ; St. John’s, 8 miles; Peel, 11½ miles.

The railway between Douglas and Peel, opened for public traffic July 2nd, 1873, was a new feature in Manx history. At first it met with much opposition from part of the inhabitants and landowners, similar to that experienced in England in the time of the elder Stephenson ; and even yet some of the farmers think it is ruining the island, by depriving them of the services of many of the horses, which formerly were used by the car-drivers in summer, and then sent to work on the farms during the rest of the year.

It is amusing to see countrymen from the north-west part of the island looking with blank astonishment for the first tine on the wonderful fire-horse. It recalls to mind times comparatively recent, but which, in our age of rapid advancement, appear to belong to a remote past.

The line is single, with a narrow gauge of 3 feet, that common in England and Scotland being 4 feet 8¼ inches; the broad gauge, found on some railways in the south of England, being 7 feet, whilst in Ireland the gauge is 5 feet 3 inches.

Another railway is being constructed from Douglas to Port Erin, via Port Soderick, Santon, Ballasalla, Castletown, Colby, and Port St. Mary, in connection with the above, which the company intend shall be ready for public traffic early in the summer of the present year.

The undertaking has been carried on by a limited liability company, formed under an act of the insular legislature, with a capital of 160,0001., divided into 32,000 shares, of 51. each, the whole of which has been subscribed.

The line is likely to be continued before long, from a point near St. John’s, to Ramsey, via Kirk Michael, Ballaugh, and Sulby ; but previous to making this branch a fresh act will have to be passed, as the present one does not contain the necessary powers.

The Duke of Sutherland and John Pender, Esq., M.P., each took an active part in the formation of the company, of which the former is now chairman, and the latter vice-chairman. The board of directors consists of the following gentlemen :—

His Grace the Duke of Sutherland, K.G., Chairman.
John Pender, Esq., M.P., Vice-Chairman.
The Honourable F. A. Stanley, Witherslack, Lancashire.
Major J. S. Goldie Taubman, Isle of Man, Speaker of the House of Keys.
Rev. W. B. Christian, Milntown, Isle of Man.
J. T. Clucas, Esq., Sunnyside, Isle of Man.
George Sheward, Esq., 17, Leinster Square, London.

Henry Vignoles, Esq., of London, was engineer ; and Messrs. Watson and Smith, of London, contractors. The three engines, named respectively Sutherland, Derby, and Pender, were made by Messrs. Beyer, Peacock and Co., of Manchester ; and the rolling-stock by the Metropolitan Railway Carriage and Wagon Company, Limited, Birmingham. The chief offices of the company are at St. George’s Street Douglas. A. W. Adams, Esq., of Douglas, is Advocate; and G. W. Wood, Esq., secretary, to the company.

The following return shows the receipts for traffic for ten months from the opening of the line to the 4th of April, 1874.

 Month Ending Passengers
 £ s.d.
£. s.d.
July 26, 1873
1050 4 7
7 1 4
10575 11
August 23 ,,
1477 17 0
12 9 8
14906 8
September 20 ,,
1079 10 1
14 17 2
1094 7 3
October 18 ,, . .
444 6 4
16 10 10
460 17 2
November 15 ,,
278 17 7
30 9 5
309 7 0
December 13 ,, . .
251 19 3
38 5 9
290 5 0
January 10,1874..
309 18 2
18 1 2
327 19 4
February 7 ,, . .
217. 11 8
39 9 2
257 0 10
March 7 ,, . .
274 14 7
47 9 3
322 3 10
April 4 ,, .
312 1611
36 10 10
349 7 9

The railway station at Douglas is situated at the end of Athol Street, close to Douglas Bridge. The line runs along the low land called " The Lake," and then by the side of the Nunnery grounds, the mansion appearing through the trees. Half a mile out of the station the Castletown line branches on the left. After passing the crossing leading to Pulrose Mill, the river Glass is spanned, close to the Quarter Bridge, the surrounding grounds of Ballaughton and Spring Valley being beautifully wooded.

When over the level crossing at Quarter Bridge, which is exactly one mile from Douglas, the line runs close to, and parallel with, the Peel highway ; the charmingly-situated mansion of Kirby, the residence of his Honour Deemster Drinkwater, being on the left, and on the right the level grounds of Port-e-Chee, which are also the property of the Deemster. The farmhouse at the end of Port-e-Chee was occupied by the Duke of Athol prior to the erection of Castle Mona. On leaving the grounds of Kirby, the Kirk Braddan churches are close to on the left, and present a picturesque appearance. Here the line runs under the Peel road, and by the side of the Dhoo river, which it afterwards crosses three times.

Close to the Union Mills station are a few pleasant villas, and Dalrymple’s cloth and flour mills ; also a small inn, and a pretty memorial chapel belonging to the "Independents."

Half a mile farther a capital view is had of the Asylum and the Race Course, by looking back in the direction of Douglas. There is nothing worth notice for the next mile, but on passing the crossing leading to Glen Darragh and Mount Murray (which is generally called Closemooar Crossing) the grounds all around begin to present a cheerful aspect, villas and farmhouses being prettily situated in the midst of clumps of trees. The large chimney on the left is connected with the Great East Foxdale silver-lead mine. The new parish church of Marown is on the right, the old church being on the high ground of Archallagan, and almost out of sight, on the opposite side. The castellated mansion, called Eyreton Castle, mentioned in the last chapter (see page 49), is seen on the right.

Close to Crosby station is Crosby village, charmingly situated at the base of the Greeba mountain, which height comes fully in view, and presents a beautifully coloured front. Perhaps in no part of the island, at a distance from the seashore, are there more delightful places of residence than hereabouts.

Crosby is the point whence the tourist ought to visit St. Trinian’s church, the stone circles of Glen Darragh, and ascend the Greeba mountain.

A mile beyond the Crosby station may be seen the roofless church of St. Trinian, amongst the trees in a meadow, close to a small inn, and at the foot of Greeba.

For fuller particulars respecting this and other places of interest which are passed refer to page 48.

An excellent view is now obtained of the ivy-covered embattled mansions of Stanley Mount and Greeba Castle. They are modern, but present so noble an appearance that the stranger will at once jump to the conclusion they are the residences of some of the greatest personages on the island. They are, however, not occupied by persons of note in Manx history either past or present. Mr. Noble, an English merchant, erected the higher building, and called it Greeba Castle. It was then purchased by Mr. Emmerson, an Irish gentleman, who changed the name to Stanley Mount, a son of his bearing the christian name of Stanley. A dispute having arisen between Mr. Noel and Mr. Emmerson, respecting a boundary fence, the case was tried in one of the Courts of the island, and the decision being in favour of the latter gentleman, the other, still considering he had right on his side, built the lower mansion to obstruct the view from the higher, and called it Greeba Castle, but it now often goes by the name of Greeba Tower.

On the left of the railway is the height of Creg-y-Whualliam, just beyond which is the Ballacurry stream, which comes from the Cornelly- lead mines, through the Cornelly glen. This stream flows to Peel, and the stream rising at the back of Greeba flows to Douglas, the two not being in one place many yards apart, so that the traveller is on the watershed and on the highest point of the railway between Douglas and Peel.

The " Round Meadow," or Yn Cheance rhunt, where the reprobate fairy, the Phynnodderee, formerly played his wicked pranks, is situated about 80 yards on the right-hand side of the railway, close to the Ballacurry stream, on the south-west side, and about one mile from St. Trinian’s church.

Should the tourist now look ahead in the direction of Peel, he will see the Slieu Whallin mountain, St. John’s church, and Corrin’s tower on Peel hill.

A cutting seen a few yards before arriving at the St. John’s station will be glanced at with interest by the geologist. In it is displayed a fine section of the Pleistocene strata of sand, gravel, and small rounded stones ; and the onlooker will picture in his mind the time when the valley formed a kind of bay or strait covered by the sea. Along the whole length of the line there is not a tunnel, and hardly a single cutting. It runs along the ancient strait, and rests upon the sand and gravel formed at the geological era known as the Pleistocene, or recent.

The St. John’s station is the best point whence to visit Glen Helen, which is 2½ miles distant. A coach runs to and fro during the summer months and meets most of the trains, the fare being 6d. Many visitors also alight for a journey to Glen Meay, 4 miles off in the opposite direction. At the station there is a good view of the Peel hill and Corrin’s tower. Slieu Whallin rises direct from the station to a height of 900 feet, and may be ascended in half an hour. The Tynwald Hill and St. John’s church are only a few yards from the station. The spire of St. John’s church and the flagstaff on the ancient historical mound are seen from the train. A road runs direct from the Tynwald Hill, past the station, by the foot of Slieu Whallin, and through the Foxdale valley, to Castletown.

Half a mile beyond the station the river Neb is crossed. It rises amongst the hills on the right, and flows from Glen Helen, where it forms the Rhenass waterfall, and is presently joined by the discoloured water from the Foxdale valley and mines.

One mile from St. John’s station are some brick and tile works, called Abbey Clay Works, very few of which exist on the island, the principal building material being the stone from the slate rocks.

The line now winds by the side of the Neb river, and at the base of small sand-hills. On the left is seen the parish church of St. Patrick, over which peers, in the distance, the top of Cronk-ny-Irey-Lhaa.

A short distance farther, the Peel hill stands prominently on the left, and when the Glenfaba mill is passed, the ruins and houses at Peel come in sight, and the town is entered.


Douglas to Glen Darragh, and back.

12 miles.

Glen Darragh may be visited either with carriage or on foot. The pedestrian will take the train to Crosby station, and thus reduce the walking distance to 7 miles. Crosby is also the best route for those who travel in a carriage.

Close to the station the road crosses the line, and over the Dhoo river. It then makes a steep ascent up the heights of Archallagan, with a fine prospect across the vale, and beyond Crosby to the Greeba mountain, and in the distance Carraghan and Pen-y-Pot.

The old parish church of Marown is reached ½ mile from the station. It stands by the roadside, is now half its original size, and is merely used for burial services. Here, according to a Manx ballad written at the beginning of the 16th century, are interred the three bishops, Lomanus, Conaghan, and Rooney (from the last of whom the church and parish derive their name) ; but there is nothing existing to denote their graves. In all probability it is a very ancient place of interment. When we visited it, the adjoining road was being cleared, and some stones on the road, opposite the north-east corner of the graveyard, were uncovered, which evidently formed a grave. It is just possible that Bishop Rooney, the patron saint of the place, may lie neglected and unknown under the wheels of the traveller’s carriage. In the yard, at the foot of the bell-turret, lies, uncared for, a large old font, and near it is a granite pedestal, upon which was formerly erected a sundial.

From the church the tourist may go down a lane to the Great East Foxdale silver-lead mine, which is situated on the Ellerslie estate, and thence to Glen Darragh ; hut most persons will desire to see St. Patrick’s Chair, which stands ½ mile off, and is reached by continuing along the road beyond the church for some distance, and then turning up a lane on the right. It is discovered in the third field on the left, called Magher-y-Chiarn, or the Field of the Lord. It consists of a few upright stones, on a stone platform, forming a seat. Two upright stones have crosses carved on them liming to the west. This chair, in which St. Patrick is traditionally said to have sat to bless the people, stands in a commanding position, allowing a prospect which embraces a wide extent of undulating country, through which flows the river Dhoo, with the heights of Slieu Chiarn and Mount Murray on the right, and on the left Greeba, Colden, Carraghan, Pen-y-Pot, and the Cairn.

Again returning to the road, the point is reached, ½ mile further, where four ways meet. The direct road leading to St. Mark’s, and the right to Eairy, in Foxdale ; the left-hand one, which the tourist must follow, leads to Cooil, each place being 2 miles distant.

The view on the right includes the dark, heath-clad heights of South Barrule, and the Granite Mountain ; also a wide extent of country, watered by the river Santon Burn, and on the left Slieu Chiarn. The houses of St. Mark’s are seen perched on the top of the opposite high ground.

The road winds round the south side of Slieu Chiarn, and between that hill and Mount Murray. The Mull Hills, and the landmark on Langness promontory, with a patch of the sea, are also in sight. Half a mile farther four roads meet, the right-hand being the main way to St. Mark’s, and the left leaning down to Ellerslie and the Great East Foxdale mines. Keep straight on, and presently the Stone Circles are observed in the gorse-covered ground on the left. The stones are very small, and there appears to have been more than one circle. They are sometimes called Druid circles, but they are in all likelihood very ancient burying-grounds. These circles will disappoint many visitors, but they are placed in such a commanding position that few will regret visiting the spot. The view is beautiful and extensive ; whitewashed houses, embosomed in trees, are dotted here and there in the valley and on the upland, which is backed by the central mountains of the island. Standing like giant sentinels are Greeba, Slieu Beay, Colden, Carraghan, Pen-y-Pot, Snaefell, ~ Slieu-Mullagb-Ouyr, and the Cairn ; and over the neighbouring height of Slieu Chiarn peers South Barrule, and over Archallagan are Slieu Whalhin and the Beary hill.

After leaving the circles, the view opens in the direction of Douglas, with the town, a pleasant object, in the distance.

From the hamlet of Cooil the traveller may descend to Kirk Braddan, or to the Quarter Bridge ; and the pedestrian may enter a footpath when a short distance down the road leading to Kirk Braddan. It commands a good view of the sylvan lands of Spring Valley, and leads into the Saddle road, close to the Saddle stone. Thence a walk through the Nunnery grounds to Douglas forms a pleasant termination of the day’s excursion.


Douglas to Glen Helen, and Rhenass Waterfall. Douglas to Glen Helen and back:

For a car or carriage drawn by one horse, to carry four persons and the driver, 11s.
For a wagonette or other conveyance, to carry six persons and the driver, 17s. 6d.
For a wagonette or other conveyance, to carry eight persons and the driver, 19s.
For a post-carriage and pair of horses, to carry six persons and the driver, 17s. 6d.
For a sociable and long car, to carry ten persons and the driver, 22s.

Glen Helen may justly claim to be considered the most lovely of the glens of Mona ; some are larger, and some more wild, but this is unequalled for quiet, unassuming beauty.

As an inland place of resort, it is the tourist’s favourite, and it may be visited in many ways. Some will drive from Douglas, a distance of ten miles, going by the Peel road as far as Ballacraine, and then through Glen Mooar (see fares quoted above). This drive may also be varied and lengthened by visiting Peel and Glen Meay. Others will include it in the long drive round by Kirk Michael, Ramsey, and Laxey ; but in so hasty a glance as must then suffice, justice is not done to the place. Those who drive from Douglas, by Injebreck, and Little London, or Kirk Michael ; or from Snaefell, by Sulby, Kirk Michael, or Little London ; often stay at Glen Helen on the return home, and remain there a short time, having tea, and a stroll to the Fall before finishing the day’s excursion. Most persons, however, go by train to the St. John’s station, and thence to Glen Helen by a coach which runs to and fro, and meets almost every train during the summer months. The railway company issue cheap return tickets from Douglas to St. John’s, the fares being 2s. first class, and 1s. second class. The return coach fare from the station to Glen Helen is 6d., but no single-journey tickets are issued. A person in Peel owns the coach, and it leaves that town in the morning on weekdays, and returns there in the evening ; therefore tourists may, by taking a 1s. coach ticket, travel from St. John’s to Glen Helen, and thence, at five o’clock in the afternoon, to Peel, where they may remain for an hour or two, and return to Douglas by the last train. Those who stay at Glen Helen later than five o’clock may obtain a private conveyance at the Swiss Cottage. Visitors cannot gain admittance to Glen Helen and Rhenass Fall on Sundays.

Those who walk from St. John’s station may save ½ mile by following the road which passes close by the west end of the Tynwald Hill. A few hundred yards distant the Glen Helen stream is met, and as the water in it flows from the Rhenass fall, the tourist cannot make a mistake if he follow its course. The best plan is not to cross the bridge, but to continue by the side of the river a short distance, until a cloth-mill is reached, and then go over a wooden footbridge. Presently the road is entered which leads through Glen Mooar to Glen Helen.

The coach travels from the St. John’s station along the Douglas road for nearly ½ mile to Ballacraine, and then enters the branch road on the left, which runs through Glen Mooar. Half a mile from Ballacraine the Glen Helen river is crossed at the Ballig bridge, and the road continues by the side of it for 1½ miles, with the Beary hill on the right, and on the left the Ballakilley hill and old slate-quarries.

It is a pleasant drive through the narrow secluded glen, but there is nothing of special interest until the beautiful miniature Suspension Bridge and the Swiss Cottage are reached. Here the scenery is remarkably beautiful ; hills covered with foliage rise on every hand, and the crystal stream winds pleasantly at their feet.

The Suspension Bridge is a very pretty object. It spans the river, and leads to the slate quarries, which were opened five years ago, and are now extensively worked. These quarries, and also the lovely Swiss-like cottage and grounds around, belong to Mr. R. Bell, a Glasgow merchant. The slate is of a deep blue colour, and of a very durable material. It is principally used for roofing on the island ; the Kirk Braddan new church and other important buildings are covered with it, and occasionally there are consignments to Glasgow and other places. The slate being also suitable for tombstones, chimney-pieces, and cisterns, &c., works for dressing it have been erected close to the quarry, with a saw-mill driven by water power.

The Swiss Cottage was built about thirty years ago, as a private residence, by a Mr. Marsden, of Liverpool. It stands on a small rivulet, in which fish may occasionally be caught by holding a line out of one of the windows.

To Mr. Marsden the public are indebted for ornamenting, and thereby making this the most beautiful glen on the island. He planted about a million trees, and was awarded a premium by the managers of the Woods and Forests Department in England. Here is a variety of wood, such as Scotch fir, larch, sycamore, ash, oak, hazel, chestnut, &c., apparently in a thriving condition, thus proving that timber, the one great desideratum on the island, might be advantageously introduced, not only for its scenic effects, but also as a commercial speculation. It is to be hoped that some proprietors will follow Mr. Marsden’s example, and by planting beautify other glens, so as to make them vie with this most lovely spot.

After Mr. Marsden’s death the cottage passed through many hands, but fortunately for the visitor it is now tenanted by a Mr. Clague, formerly a confectioner in Douglas, who provides refreshments of every description. Almost all beverages not requiring a licence may be had, and there is always ready a supply of excellent cheese-cakes and home-made confectionery, with milk, eggs, &c., from the adjoining farm.

The tourist may enter the cottage free of charge, but to visit the grounds, where croquet, swings, skittles, and other sources of amusement are provided, the charge is 4d. each person, and this includes admission to the waterfall and grounds in the neighbourhood, where the traveller may enjoy himself and wander at his will. Tickets, 1s. each, also include trout-fishing in the stream, but Parties must provide their own tackle.

The Rhenass Fall is about a mile farther up the glen, the latter being called Glen Helen, after a daughter of Mr. Marsden. The best plan is to follow the path with the stream below on the right. A few hundred yards from the cottage is a summer-house, where a ril is seen descending the opposite bank and forming some pretty cascades. All the way up the glen the stream flows musically along a rugged bed strewn with large boulders, and hills rise on either side, those on the right being entirely covered with trees, but it is to be regretted that on the left there is hardly one remaining of the many formerly adding so materially to the beauty of the place. Most of them were destroyed by fire. The ground has been replanted within the last few months.

Just where the stream divides into two branches, the water on the left hand winds through a narrow gorge and makes a descent of about 20 feet, forming the Rhenass Fall. The cascade itself f is not large, nor one of great beauty, but the picturesque rocks, and wooden bridge spanning the chasm, with the surrounding foliage, impart to the place an aspect in the highest degree romantic and pleasing. Here the lover of nature may loiter and muse for hours not unpleasantly.

Ascending by a winding path, and arriving at the top of the fall, the chasm is found to be spanned by two footbridges, where are wild picturesque rocks, through which the water eddies and rushes with loud deafening sound, and forms three or four other falls, which some will consider better than the one observed from below. Any feeling of disappointment that may have been felt by those who have expected the water to make a longer descent, will be succeeded by one of satisfaction and wonder, for every spectator on standing here and looking down the sylvan glen, with its beautiful silvery stream, must feel that he is gazing on a truly lovely scene, one which will bear comparison with any of a similar nature in the British Isles.

A few yards above the falls is a small unoccupied stone building, adapted for picnic parties, and a place of retreat in case of rain. Close to it a peep is had up a little glen, down which tumbles the Blabae streamlet over ledges of rock, with heather, shrubs, and trees, on either hand, forming a little gem in the diadem of this charming spot.

Some tourists may delight in following the Rhenass stream for ½ mile farther, to the Rhenass farmhouse, and on the way, in the secluded glen, perhaps enjoy the luxury of a bathe in one of the tiny pools of pure transparent water. At the farmhouse they may enter a rugged road which leads to Crook-y-Voddee, and there joins the main road from Glen Helen to Kirk Michael ; or they may continue by the side of the stream for another 1 mile to Little London, and then follow the mountain road which descends to Injebreck, and thence by the Baldwin valley to Douglas.

At the hamlet of Little London may be heard strange fairy tales, and an account of manners and customs of the Manx country people which are only just dying out, but which seem to carry us back to antediluvian times ; and, curious to note, they are related by some elderly resident farmers of the name of Cain. An old gentleman of that name told us he well remembers the time (some fifty years ago) when to one plough, which was made of wood, with the exception of a small piece of iron for the sock, they used to yoke two oxen and three horses, attended by three men ; one man holding the handles, one sitting on the plough to keep it in or lilt it out of the ground, and one leading the horses The harness was made of straw and old stockings. In the harrows, instead of iron, they used. pins made of the stems of gorse. They had no carts, and carried all their lime and manure in cradles made of twisted straw, which were fastened to a piece of wood and then placed on the horse, one cradle thus being on each side. Our readers may find it difficult to credit these statements, but we can assure them they are quite correct and free from exaggeration, for we heard the truth of them attested in many other parts of the island.

Some tourists will return from the Rhenass farmhouse, by a cart-road which ascends the hill on the right, passes two other farmsteads, and then crosses the Blahae streamlet near its source. When on the hill a glimpse is caught of the sea to the south-west, and the traveller is surrounded by heath-clad hills, which look so suitable for a ramble, that the pedestrian fond of mountaineering will have a difficulty in resisting the temptation to cross over the Greeba and Colden range, and descend to Baldwin. When the Blabae rivulet is crossed, it may be followed through a plantation to the Rhenass Fall.

Those who do not desire to extend the day’s excursion in any of the ways just mentioned will find pleasant paths leading from the waterfall, and across the twin stream, by a wooden bridge, to a circular summer-house perched on a mound on the opposite side of the water, where the surrounding foliage presents a delightful variety. Paths lead down the glen, either high up the side of the hill or close to the stream, on the opposite side to that by which the tourist came. By following the higher track, a small but perfect stone circle will be found in a field at the back of the plantation, on the Eairy Moar farm, nearly half-way down the glen. It is evidently one of the many ancient burial-places met with on the island.

The lower path is the one most frequented. It may also be entered from the foot of the fall by crossing the Blabae rivulet, at a small bridge ; but the visitor is recommended not to leave without following one of the winding paths previously mentioned, which cross the nil a few yards higher up the hill. The walk down the glen will be found very agreeable, with here and there some pretty peeps of a character differing from those which were presented on the other side. At one or two places planks lead over the streamlet, but it is well not to cross until the slate works and quarry are passed, and then a footbridge will be gained which conducts direct to the Swiss Cottage.

Those who desire to drive from Glen Helen to Peel must turn to the right before crossing the river. The distance is about 4 miles. Pedestrians going to Peel may, by taking a shorter but rather out of the way course, visit a remarkable grave, called the Giant’s Grave, situated on the Kew hill, near Rock Mount, the residence of William Harrison, Esq. Though little known, it is perhaps the largest and most perfect ancient tomb to be met with on the island. A mile from the Swiss Cottage, down the valley, enter a steep rugged cart-track, called Laurel Bank road, which commences on the right hand close to a thatched cottage and a small rivulet. Leave a Methodist chapel on the right ; and, after taking direct across, where four roads meet, a slight ascent is made, and the grave will be found close to the road, behind a high earthen fence on the right hand. It consists of thirteen large unhewn stones or boulders, from 3 to 4 feet high. It lies due east and west, and is 10 yards long, and from 1 foot to 4 feet broad ; the head or east end being the narrowest part. The position is one commanding an extensive view of the sea, and the town and neighbourhood of Peel, and it is a spot that cannot fail to interest the thoughtful visitor.

Those who drive to Peel may also visit the grave, after leaving Glen Mooar, by entering the second road which branches to right and leads past Hock Mount, or the third road which branches at the hamlet of Poortown. From those two places the grave is only a few hundred yards distant.



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