[from Jenkinson's Practical Guide, 1874]
Ballasalla, 7½ miles ; Port Erin, 13½ miles ; Port St. Mary, 15 miles; Castletown, 19 miles ; Douglas, 28½ miles.
For a car or carriage drawn by one horse, to carry four persons
and the driver, 15s.
For a wagonette or other conveyance, to carry six persons and the driver, 23s.
For a wagonette or other conveyance, to carry eight persons and the driver, 26s.
For a post-carriage and pair of horses, to carry six persons and the driver, 23s.
For a sociable or long car, to carry ten persons and the driver, 28s.
This is the principal drive in the southern part of the island, and it will always be an especial favourite with tourists. Almost every inch of the ground traversed commands charming and extensive prospects of the mountains, the plains, and the sea ; changing alternately from the Douglas to the Castletown district, as the high ground in the direction of Mount Murray is ascended in going and returning.
Besides being favoured during the whole journey with excellent views, the tourist visits Rushen Abbey and Rushen Castle, places of great historical interest ; Port Erin, a bay, almost universally pronounced the most lovely spot on the island ; and Port St. Mary, the beau ideal of a Manx fishing village.
By starting early in the morning the days journey may also include a visit to the Calf of Man, and to the chasms on Spanish Head, where Nature will be seen playing some of her most wild and fantastic pranks.
When the railway is completed it will supply a want much felt at present, but it is to be hoped that it will not prevent those whose means will allow taking the tour on the good old plan, for so pleasant a days drive affords a real treat to all who visit the island.
After crossing the Douglas Bridge turn to the right, along the South Quay, and presently the Nunnery grounds are passed, and a fine view had of the beautiful castellated mansion. Then there is an extensive prospect across the valley, and beyond the Asylum and the Race Course, to the upland country, backed by the mountains of Greeba, Slieu Reay, Colden, Carraghan, Pen-y-Pot, Snaefell, and the Cairn.
One mile from the bridge the road branches. On the left hand is the old Castletown road, which is very nneven, and necessitates hard work lbi the horses, although it allows of the best views, and is ½ mile shorter than the other way. It is now very little used. The reader will find it described in the next page. The right-hand branch is called the Castletown New Road, although it has been in existence a great many years. The two meet when about 6 miles from Douglas.
Following the latter, and passing under the Castletown Railway, a steep ascent is made up the Kewaigue hill, with fine retrospective views of Douglas town and bay. After another descent a rise is made up the Richmond hill, with the same excellent prospect in the rear, and the sea gradually appearing on the left, in the direction of Port Soderick.
Three miles from Douglas the Richmond Hill Inn is passed, and presently the tourist leaves the parish of Kirk Braddan and enters Kirk Santon parish, at the small stream called Crogga, which flows into the sea at Port Soderick. Close to the stream is the pleasant mansion of Mount Murray. Here Douglas is lost to sight, but this is amply repaid by the grand prospect which opens in front, including the mountains Slieu Whallin, South Berrule, Cronk-na-Irey-Lhaa, the Mull Hills, and Spanish Head. Port Erin rests out of sight in the hollow on the right of the latter height. There is a wide tract of sea, with Castletown close to the shore ; King Williams College, with its cathedral-like tower, forming a prominent object. The high ground to the right of the road is Mount Murray.
The " Lancashire Half-way House " is presently reached, 4 miles from Douglas ; and a few hundred yards farther is the Brown Cow Inn, or " Old Half-way House," evidently the original bearer of this favourite Manx title, for it looks more dignified in its old age than its younger neighbour, but it appears as though its conservatism were standing in the way of its interests, and promoting the advantage of its radical opponent.
The small stream is now crossed which enters the sea in the Greenwick Bay, and presently the road runs over the railway, and crosses the river Santon Burn at the Ballalona, or Fairy Bridge, a spot which tradition has rendered sacred to the revels of the fairy elves, those tiny mischievous people who play so important a part in the domestic life of the Manxman. There are still living hundreds of persons on the island who firmly believe that they have seen the " good people," but this superstition is fast dying out and succumbing to the ridicule and scepticism of the rising generation. Now that railways are being made, and the land is being overrun every summer by tourists, the last haunts of the fairies will be invaded, and those interesting little folks will have to betake themselves to some more congenial sphere.
A very respectable farmers wile told us that when she was a girl her mother and family seldom retired to rest without first seeing that water was in the house, in the crock, ready for the fairies, and a thin cake broken and spread on the table for them. One night her mother could not sleep, being disturbed by disagreeable noises ; but remembering she had forgotten to leave the cake, she went down stairs and threw it on the table, saying at the same time, " There, eat that ;" and when she returned to bed she fell asleep in the happy consciousness that her nocturnal visitors were then satisfied. She always maintained she had once actually seen the fairies, and described them as young girls, with scaly, fish-like hands and blue dresses. The custom here described of leaving water and bread for the fairies, was common over the whole of the hilly part of the island until within the last few years. We prefer giving these stories as they were told to us, and without exaggeration, in order that our readers may obtain a just insight into the actual workings of this curious phase of credulity.
Soon after leaving the Ballalona Bridge the Kirk Santon parish church is observed at some distance on the left. After recrossing the railway the point is reached where the old and new Castletown roads meet ; and before proceeding we will describe the former from the place a mile out of Douglas where the two roads divided.
Two miles from Douglas the old road crosses the railway, and then ascends a hill where the traveller obtains a sight of the sea in the direction of Port Soderick, and a retrospective view of Douglas.
One and a half miles farther the Crogga stream is passed, close by the railway, and a pretty peep had down the tiny glen to the northern portion of the bay of Port Soderick and the rocky promontory of Little Ness. In the glen, behind a stone quarry, and 20 yards on the right of the railway, is the Fairy Well, a small and rustic but neglected grotto, with water trickling down it, which must have been in former times a most suitable place for elfin eames. To this spot the natives used to resort to drink the water, and it was the custom to leave a small piece of silver, or some such articles as pins and buttons, as a payment to the fairies. There are people still living who remember the observance of this custom.
When a steep ascent is made, and the brow of the hill gained, the prospect opens to the south, with Langness promontory spread to view, and to the right, in the distance, appears South Barrule.
A mile from the Crogga stream there will be observed, in a field to the right, on the Ballakelly farm, a dozen large upright stones which are placed rather irregularly. They appear to form a grave some 10 yards long and 3 or 4 yards wide. The stones are unhewn, and 3 or 4 feet high, placed almost due east and west ; but what now appears to be the head is to the west. The natives call it a Giant's Grave, and in one stone is a number of round holes about ½ inch deep, which they say were made by the giants with their fingers when the stones were being brought to the spot. It is scarcely to be wondered at that ignorant, superstitious people should look with awe on these wonderful monuments of an unknown past, which are perhaps more plentiful in Man than in so limited an area in any other part of the world.
When over the railway, and the rivulet flowing to Greenwick Bay, the Kirk Santon parish church is reached, and in the churchyard will be found two or three noteworthy grave-stones, particulars of which are given at page 145.
After leaving the church, Castletown and King Williams College appear, and presently the Santon Burn stream and railway are passed and the New Road is entered.
There is now an extensive prospect embracing the heights of South Barrule, Cronk-na-Irey-Lhaa, the Carnanes, Brada Head with its tower, and on the opposite side of the gap in which rests Port Erin, are the Mull Hills and Spanish Head; and nearer the spectator are Castletown, the College, Langness, and a large tract of ocean. This part of the drive is very pleasing, the eye ranging over almost the whole of the southern part of the isle.
On arriving at Ballasalla the traveller has the choice of routes. He may go direct to Port Erin and thence to Port St. Mary and Castletown, which is the plan usually adopted; or he may go first to Castletown and then to Port St. Mary and Port Erin. For those who desire to visit the Chasms on Spanish Head, perhaps the latter plan is preferable, as it allows of the conveyance being sent from Port St. Mary to Port Erin, with orders for dinner to be in readiness, whilst the tourist walks up to the Chasms, and thence over the hill to Port Erin, a distance of 4 miles. If that walk be considered too toilsome the carriage may be taken up the Mull Hills to Craignaish, the most southern village on the island, and within ½ mile of the Chasms. A good dinner may be obtained at either Castletown, Port St. Mary, or Port Erin, but it is usual to dine at the latter place, and afterwards to loiter for an hour or two in that lovely bay.
Those who go direct from Ballasalla to Castletown, 2½ miles distant, will bend to the left, and presently obtain a view of Derby Haven village, Langness promontory and tower, and St. Michaels Isle, upon which stands a small ancient chapel and an old circular fort. Castletown is directly in front, with its castle and church very prominent. The prospect all the way is excellent. On the right, a few fields distant, is the Kirk Malew parish church, beyond which is spread a wide extent of country dotted all over with cheerful-looking white-washed houses, backed by the heights of South Barrule, Cronk-na-Irey-Lhaa, the Carnanes, Brada Head and Milner Tower, Mull Hills and Spanish Head, to the left of which are the Calf Islet and the Burrow and Eye Rock. Close to the road is Quayles Tower, an old square building resembling an observatory. It was built in the beginning of this century by Captain George Quayle, uncle to the present Clerk of the Rolls, and is now used as a summer-house. In it are two old carriages, one of which is said to have been the first spring vehicle used on the island. The College is a noble cathedral like object, and the neighbouring ruin on Hango Hill presents quite a picturesque aspect, and recalls to the mind of the tourist the fate of William Christian, who occupies a prominent position in Manx history, and who was shot here in the year 1662. Castletown also shows to advantage, and gives the impression of being much larger than it really is. After leaving Lorn House on the right, where formerly resided two or three of the Lieutenant-Governors of the isle, the road runs along the edge of the bay, and then crosses the river Silver Burn, at a stone bridge by the head of the harbour, and under the walls of the castle, to the Market Place.
If the tourist go direct from Ballasalla to Port Erin, he will turn to the right, in the village, and then to the left, and over the river silver Burn, but before leaving Ballasalla he will probably desire to loiter for a few minutes in the grounds and among the ruins of
Very little of the old monastery remains ; only parts of the tower, refectory and dormitory, which do not present any architectural pretensions. The only relic is a coffin lid, but constantly, when turning over the soil, bones, graves, and coffins are exposed, and then re-covered with the earth. The house on the grounds was in recent years an hotel, but now it is a private residence. The tourist will regret the chance, for it was a delightful sylvan resting-place. The grounds encircling the ruins at the back of the house are rented and cultivated as fruit gardens, in which strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries, and cherries are produced; about fourteen tons are preserved annually on the spot, and shipped to Liverpool, and then principally to South America. The old refectory and dormitory are used as store rooms.
A few yards higher up the river is the Crossag stone bridge, which spans the stream by two arches, and is of a very ancient date, as it appears in the earliest histories of the island. It is too narrow for carts, and only suitable for foot passengers and pack horses.
Rushen Abbey is noted as being the latest dissolved monastery in the British Isles. It is said to have been founded in 1134 by Olave, King of Man, who granted lands for the purpose, to Ivo, Abbot of St. Marys, of Furness. Previous to the grant of Furness the lands had been offered to the monks of Rievaulx, in Yorkshire ; but they did not build upon them.
It has been stated by some historians that a religious foundation had been begun at ilushen in 1098 by Macmarus, a governor of the isle ; and this is supported by the fact, that in a bull of Pope Eugenius III, which confirms to Furness the gift of Olave, mention is made of a monastery of Rushen, called St. Leoc. From this we must conclude either that the Abbey of Rushen was originally known by the name of St. Leoc, or that another monastery had previously existed in the Isle of Man, which became absorbed in that of Rushen.
Although the lands were granted to Furness in 1134, the building was not completed and dedicated until 1257. We have, however, the record of interments within the Abbey of several illustrious persons prior to this date, chiefly kings and bishops of Man, and others connected with the royal family.
The Abbey was occupied by an abbot and twelve monks of the Cistercian order, who wore neither shirts nor shoes, and only ate flesh meat when on a journey. At first they were meanly endowed, and lived mostly by their labour ; but in process of tinie they had good revenues. They received one-third of the tithes of the island for education of youth and the relief of the poor.
The Abbots were appointed from Furness. They were endowed with great privileges, being barons of the island, held Courts br their temporalities in their own names, might demand a prisoner from the Kings Court if he were their tenant, and try him by a jury of their own.
There is said to have been a subterranean passage leading to Rushen Castle. To make such a passage must have caused no little trouble to the excavators in those days, as they would have had to tunnel through two miles of hard mountain limestone. There are, however, few abbeys or castles without a similar legend, and of the same amount of credibility.
The dissolution of the Abbey did not occur until late in the reign of Elizabeth. The endowments were considered to revert to the Crown of England ; but in 1610 they were granted to the Earl of Derby, Lord of Man, and his heirs, to be held under the manor of East Greenwich, under a yearly stated rental.
On leaving Ballasalla and Rushen Abbey, the traveller presently passes the principal lime-kilns on the island. The limestone rock no doubt occupies most of the southern basin, but, with the exception of this and a few other spots, is hidden by a covering of the sand and gravel of the post-tertiary formations.
On the left is observed Kirk Malew parish church. South Barrule is in sight all the way, and the principal objects now seen are Castletown, with its Castle, Port St. Mary, Spanish Head, and the Milner Tower on Brada Head, overlooking Port Erin.
At Arbory, 2½ miles from Ballasalla, stands an old house, on the left-hand side of the road, with a lot of large elm and ash trees in front. Here formerly existed the Friary of Bimaken, which was founded in 1373, and is sometimes alleged to have been dependent on Rushen Abbey ; but this is extremely doubtful, as the friars were Franciscans, whereas the monks of the Abbey were Cistercians. The remains of the ancient building have been converted into a large barn.
Close to the road on the right hand, at the extremity of the village, stands the parish church of Arbory. Three-quarters of a mile farther is a small inn, called King Orrys Tavern, and then the road runs through the Colby village, and over the Colby stream. At the hamlet called the Level are observed the Ballacorkish and Scholaby lead mines, at the foot of the Carnanes.
Brada Head now comes fully in view in front, with Milner Tower very prominent. On the right of this height is the hollow in which rests Fleshwick Bay, and on the left Port Erin.
Fleshwick Bay is not usually visited, but the stranger would be amply repaid if he made a slight detour to it, for it is a most secluded and charming little creek. It might be reached from near Colby or the Level, and a road conducts from the bay at the base of Brada Head, and through the Brada village to Port Erin.
When beyond the Level, Rushen parish church is passed on the left, and the houses on the sides of Brada Head and the Carnanes present a pretty effect.
A mound in the fields on the right hand is called Cronk Mooar, and sometimes Fairy Hill, as being traditionally the favourite resort of those elfin peoplethe natives supposing that the interior of the hill was formerly the palace of the fairy king. It is 450 feet in circumference, and 40 feet high, and at the base are the remains of a wide ditch. On the summit there is an area upwards of 21 feet in diameter, surrounded by elevated edges, in the form of a parapet, 5 feet high.
Cumming says : " In so many instances it has been deter-mined by actual examination that the harrows, or elevated mounds of earth, as well as the cromlech and the so-called Druidical circle, are places of sepulture, that it seems useless to note the conjectures which have been hazarded by different persons as to the original intention of this carnedd.
" Reginald, son of Olave the Black, was slain here in 1249 by the knight Ivar. As we have, however, the record of his interment in the Church of St. Mary of Rushen, this is evidently not his mausoleum. Nor is it certain that any battle took place on that occasion between the followers of Reginald or Ivar : otherwise we might presume that it covers their remains. It is probably of a very much earlier date than the 13th century."
In the 5th volume of the Manx Societys publications, Dr. Oswald writes :" I am inclined to conclude that it was built for a far different purpose from that of a sepulchral monument. Its structure bears every evidence of its having been a fortified position for twelve or twenty men, and, excepting against missile weapons, it must have been a redoubt of no mean pretensions in ages when, even in England, a hundred men were considered an army of a formidable description. It somewhat resembles the fortified hills which occur in Ireland, and is not unlike the moat hills in England. It is situated so as to oppose the advance of men landing at Port Erin on the west, or at Port St. Mary on the east, which are the only landing-places at this part of the island. It is, however, by no means unlikely that, according to tradition, this barrow, or the small one adjacent, may have been used as a place of interment for the dead ; for it appears, from sections of the mounds which occupy the internal area of Peel Castle, where human bones have been frequently dug up, that it was one of the customs of the early ages to bury their dead in the defensive embankments of fortified places."
The flagstaffs on the two hotels at Port Erin have for some distance revealed the situation of those houses ; and now, at a sharp turn in the road, they come fully in view, and gradually is displayed the lovely Bay of Port Erin.
The Falcons Nest and the Villa Marina are excellent hotels, and there is also a refreshment house, called Bay View House.
A jaunting car holding fifteen persons leaves Port Erin, on week-days, at 9 A.M. and 3 P.M., for Castletown, and returns from Castletown at 12 noon and 6 P.M. Fare 6d. each way.
Whilst at Port Erin the visitor may agreeably diversify his time. He may stroll on the sands and to the breakwater, or fish in the bay, climb to the top of Milner Tower, walk, or drive, or take a boat round Brada Head to Fieshwick Bay; visit Craignaish, the Chasms, and the Sound ; or go by boat to the Calf Islet.
On the sands, close to a row of cottages, is St. Catharines Well, which is kept in excellent order. In former times it was much frequented, and like those at Douglas Nunnery, Maughold Head, Peel Hill, and other places, was held in much reverence, and considered to be endowed with many good properties. The sands present excellent bathing ground, and though there are no vans the stranger may find one or two pleasant secluded nooks.
* Port Erin (sometimes called Port Iron) in all probability derives its name from the circumstance that it is situated directly opposite Ireland, anciently called " Ierne," and by the Romans " Hibernia."
Almost all visitors stroll as far as the breakwater. It runs out from a rock on the south-west corner of the bay for a distance of 950 feet in the direction of Brada Head, and is founded in an average depth of water of 5 or 6 fathoms. It i s composed of over a million tons of large rubble stones, and about 2500 large concrete blocks, weighing from 14 to 17 tons each. The cost has been 71,0001. It will shelter the bay from the heavy south-west gales which frequent that part of the coast, and thus make Port Erin one of the best and most perfect harbours in Great Britain, and a shelter for vessels of all sizes, but especially useful for the Manx herring fleet. A low water landing-place is in course of construction, running from the breakwater parallel with the shore for a distance of 310 feet, which will be completed about the end of the present year.
Visitors wishing to beguile time cannot do better than fish in the bay, for which purpose they can hire a boat and tackle at a charge of 2s. per hour.
Others, who may be more actively inclined, will enjoy a walk to Milner Tower, which is one mile distant, forming a prominent object on Brada Head. To gain the top of the tower a key must be obtained at the hotel, or at the house of Mr. Henry Kermode, in Brada village. The tourist will have a delightful walk round the bay, and when he reaches the tower he finds it is a large and elegant building, with the following inscription on a stone slab over the door
" To William Milner, in grateful acknowledgment of his many charities to the poor of Port Erin, and of his never tiring efforts for the benefit of the Manx fishermen ; this tower was erected by public subscription, A.D. 1871."
Mr. Milner resides in Liverpool, and is the head of the firm which manufactures the " Milner Safes." He owns property around Port Erin,, and has taken a very active interest in the prosperity of the place. The tower commands an extensive and excellent prospect. Immediately below is the bay of Port Erin, presenting a lovely little picture, beyond which is a large stretch of level land, with the promontories and bays in the direction of Castletown. A wide extent of sea is visible, with the Irish coast and the Mourne mountains in the far distance. On the right are some of the Brada Head cliffs and mines, over which peer the Peel hill and Corrins tower, whilst on the left is the Calf Islet, looking like a fairy-land, with the Stack Bock at one end, and Kitterland and the Sound on the other. The rock-bound coast at the base of the Mull Hills is also a grand object. The whole scene is very pleasing, and will well repay those who take the trouble to visit the spot ; still more will they be delighted if they stroll for some distance along the edge of the cliff, for the rock-scenery in two or three places is almost unequalled for grandeur by any other in the island, the cliffs rising perpendicularly from the ocean to a great height, and being in some parts beautifully varied in colour by strips of quartz and other rocks. At their base, close to the sea, are some mines now worked, and others closed ; and near where the spectator is standing are other old workings, and offices con-nected therewith. The veins yield copper and lead, and are the property of the Brada Mining Company.
At the north end of Brada Head is Fleshwick Bay, an extremely wild and solitary sea-side nook. It may be visited by taking a boat round Brada Head, where sublime rock-scenery will be presented during the whole of the journey of 4 miles. The charge for boat and man is 2s. per hour. It may also be visited with carriage from Port Erin by driving through Brada village, and along the base of the hill, the distance being 1½ miles. The pedestrian may save ½ mile by going through the first gate on the right after leaving the hotel, and then entering a cart-road which runs to Rowaney house, and there bends to left. As soon as the fields are entered, the sea in the direction of Port St. Mary appears, and directly afterwards another strip of the ocean is also seen through the gap in which nestles Fleshwick Bay. At a thatched cottage after leaving Rowaney house turn to left, and a footpath conducts through the fields to the road at the base of the Brada hill.
Craignaish, the most southern and romantic little village on the island, is situated on the top of the Mull Hills, 2½ miles from Port Erin, and may be reached by walking along a rugged track which ascends direct from the bay. A few hundred yards before arriving at Craignaish, a perfect stone circle will be passed, and half a mile beyond the village are " The Chasms" (see page 149). Craignaish may also be reached with carriage by following the Port St. Mary road for some distance, and then turning to the right, the journey being thus increased to 4 miles.
The Calf Islet is also often visited by boat from Port Erin, the distance being 3 miles. The charge for boat and men is 10s. Those who take this excursion might get the boat-men to land them at the Sound, and thence walk ½ mile to Craignaish, and, after visiting the Chasms, return to Port Erin, or descend direct to Port St. Mary.
When the tourist has returned home from his visit to the Isle of Man, perhaps the one spot above all others to which his mind will revert with the greatest pleasure, and which he will most desire to visit again, will be the quiet, sweet, homely bay of Port Erin ; and therefore, before commencing the return journey, we will give a few extracts from Edwin Waughs description of the place : " All around the shores of the Fairy Isle there is not a more charming sea-side spot than Port Erin, a little crag-defined bay at the southern end of the Island. It is a pleasant seclusion, sweetly retired from bustle of any kind, except such as the sea makes when a strong west wind brings Neptunes white-maned horses into the bay in full career. Then, indeed, Port Erin wears an aspect of a nobler and more spirit-stirring kind. But even then, when the spray is flying over the roofs of the fishermens cottages, low down, near to the beach, the briny tumult is mere childs play in a nursery nook compared to the roaring majesty with which the billows rage among the creeks and chasms and craggy headlands outside. At such a time, the thunders of the sea in the Sound which divides the Calf Island from the mainland, and amongst the storm-worn headlands that overfrown the ocean immediately beyond the entrance to Port Erin, come upon the ear of the listener in his pleasant shelter at the head of the bay like the boom of distant war, But, when the wind is still, the tide fondles on the beach at the foot of the village as if it was glad to see that quiet nook of Monas Isle once more. Full of beautiful sounds and hues and motions, it comes with tender caresses croodling its dreamy old sea-song ; and as it rises in gentle sweeps nearer and nearer to the cottages where fishermen dwell, at the foot of the village slope, it flings fresh shells upon the sand with every surge, like a fond traveller returning home laden with memorials of his journey, which show that he has been thinking of those he loved whilst far away.
" But let us sit down upon some pleasant coign of vantage at the head of the bay, and look about at the quaint little village there. The hotel, called The Falcons Nest, looks right out to sea from the head of the bay. It crowns a green slope of grass-bound sand, which rises from behind an irregular line of old cottages upon the beach, not far from the head of the tide. There is a green terrace in front of the hotel at the head of the slope, where I have many a time sat and looked about me with delight upon a summers day. Great piles of fantastic sea-worn rock, partly overgrown with greenery, stand here and there upon the terrace ; and ornamental seats are placed there for the use of the visitors, when the weather is fine. The dreamy witchery of peace being on all around, it is very pleasant to saunter about that green terrace on a fine summers dayor any other day, to one who loves Nature in all her moods. It is, perhaps, better still to sit down there and look lovingly upon the scene. . . .
" And now mild evening begins to draw her delicate curtains over the drowsy world. All things below the sky are softening into shade, and the pensive spell of twilight deepens the charm that pervades this sleepy nook of Mona the lone, where the silver mist gathers. The quiet life of the village is sinking to repose. Lovers are stealing off to quiet nooks outside the village, where they can whisper unseen. Boats are coming in from the Sound, and from the blue sea beyond. The fishermen haul them ashore in a sheltered, shingly nook, under the craggy southern cliffs ; and then they saunter homeward along the smooth beach, laden with fish and fishing-tackle ; some of them singing drowsily as they saunter along. The murmurs of the sea become more distinct, filling the air with a slumbrous influence . . .
" The broad glare of day is gone ; the air is clearer ; the green fields look greener ; and all the hills of the landscape are richer and more distinct than before. The sun has steeped his glowing axle in the sea. The gorgeous hues which linger about his track still glow upon the wide waters, but the line oflight that plays along the smooth wave toward the burning west is slowly retiring in the wake of the sunken sun. Let me look round while there is yet light, for the eye has glorious scope to roam in from the place where I am sitting . . . . At the head of the bay, the quaint, scattered village, and the green land,green all along the slopes of the hills, and all over the fertile undulant plain between, stretching away inland towards Castletown. lt is a pleasant nook of sea-side life at the head of the bay. But as I look seaward, the flanking headlands grow wilder as they recede, ending in scenes of savage grandeur among the storm-worn crags which front the open sea.
" The cliffs and promontories there,
Front to front, and broad and bare,
Each beyond each, with giant feet,
Advancing as in haste to meet
The shatterd fortress, whence the Dane
Blew his loud blast, nor rushd in vain,
Tyrant of the drear domain.
" Those grim sentinel crags have seen strange scenes of storm and battle and shipwreck during their long watch over the entrance to Port Erin. Oft has the ancient Dane steered his nailed barque, laden with sea-robbers, into that little bay, and he has oft been wrecked upon that craggy coast As twilight deepens down the breeze freshens, and the blue waves begin to heave with life. Great white-winged ships glide majestically bysome near, some far off, and some almost lost to sight in the distance. Far away in the west the dim outlines of the Irish mountains of Mourue and Wicklow are fading away from view. It is a bewitching hour ! It is a bewitching scene ! But now the Irish mountains have disappeared in the deepening shade, and the distant sea grows dim on the eye. The village about me is sinking down to rest ; and candle-lights begin to glimmer dimly through cottage windows. The wind is rising still, and the air grows cold. I, too, will retire until the world has donned its night-dress ; and so good-by to this fhiry scene for awhile ! [he moon rises at ten ! Perhaps I may come forth to look around me once more when the world lies sleeping beneath her quiet smile. But if not, then farewell to thee, Port Erin!"
If the return journey be by Port St. Mary and Castletown, the wide straight road must be followed for ½ mile to the village appropriately called Four Roads. On the left are observed the Fairy Hill and Rushen parish church, with the heights of Brada Head and the Carnanes rising on each side of the gap in which rests Fleshwick Bay ; whilst on the right hand are the Mull Hills. At the village, enter the road which diverges to the rightthe direct road goes to Castletown, and the left-hand one passes Rushen church, and then enters the way leading past Colby and Ballasalla to Douglas. In a farm-yard in the village, close to where the four roads meet, is a slate slab, 10 feet long, leaning against the wall. Cumming says, " It is the tallest Runic monument on the Island, and has been much defaced, but still bears some traces of knot-work about the base, and has four holes piercing the head." Probably it is the cross which Train, in his History of the Isle of Man, says was standing on the roadside in like manner to the one at Port-y-Vullin, not far from Maughold Head.
Half a mile farther, at the Ballacreggan farm, a road on the left conducts to Castletown, and one on the right ascends to Craignaish, and near to the " Chasms." Irs a field in front of the farmhouse will be observed erected a large slab, 10 feet high, and another is perched on the breast of the adjoining hill, called Cronk Skibbylt. They are known as the Giants Quoiting-stones, the tradition being that two giants tossed them thither in their games from the top of the Mull Hills. They may, however, have marked the situation of graves, as many ancient burial-places have been discovered in the neighbourhood.
Port St. Mary now comes in view in front, and on the left a wide tract of country, with Castletown and South Barrule. The bay is bounded by the Stack of Scarlet, and in the middle, visible at low water, is a small rocky cluster, called " The Carrick." Presently Port St. Mary is entered, anciently called in Manx Purt-noo-Moirey, and thence corrupted into Port-le-Murray. It contains a large comfortable inn, called Millers Hotel, and other smaller ones. It derives its importance principally from the harbour being frequented by the herring fleet. There is nothing of special interest in the village, but it is well situated, and is the best point whence to visit the Chasms and the Calf Islet, the coast scenery about Spanish Head being more magnificent than in any other part of the island. (See pages 148, 153.)
A coach leaves every week-day at 9 A.M. and 3 P.M. for Castletown, fare 4d.
Quitting the village, the Chapel Bay is skirted, and at Ballacreggan, where are the Quoiting-stones, the road diverging to the right is entered. Presently the shore is gained, and the waves wash close to the road. The drive is very pleasant, allowing a view on one side of the sea, and on the other of a wide extent of country dotted all over with houses, and stretching to the heights of South Barrule, Cronk-na-Irey-Lhaa, the Carnanes, and Brada Head. At Strandhall the shore is left, and on gaining the brow of the hill Castletown appears in front, its castle, church, and mill being prominent objects, also King Williams College. On passing the Town Hall, the Market Place is entered, and here, before proceeding on the journey, the traveller will probably rest awhile at the George Hotel or Union Hotel. He will then inspect the Castle and other objects, and have a stroll to the shore, and, if time allow, he cannot do better than walk to Scarlet Point and Poolvash Bay. (See page 138.)
The road between Castletown and Douglas has already been fully described.
Port Soderick, 2½ miles ; Santon, 5 miles ; Ballasalla, 8 miles; Castletown, 9½ miles ; Colby, l2½ miles ; Port St. Mary, 13½ miles; Port Erin, 14 miles.
As it is intended to have the Castletown and Port Erin railway ready for public traffic by the summer of 1874, we have thought it well to point out a few of the objects of interest to be seen when journeying along it.
Half a mile out of Douglas, opposite the Nunnery, this line diverges to the left, and crosses the river Dhoo. It then runs through a cutting in the slate rock, and presently over the New Castletown road, and along the pleasant district called Kewaigue, with the Carnane Hill on the left ; and on the right, in the distance, are seen the mountains Colden, Carraghan, Pen-y-Pot, Snaefell, and the Cairn.
At Oakhill it runs through a deep cutting in the Pleistocene or recent strata, composed of sand and gravel, deposited in the bed of the sea when it last covered this part of the land. A few yards farther the slate rock again appears.
On emerging from the cutting a glimpse is caught of the sea, the shore being only a few yards distant, and gradually a wide expanse of ocean is spread to view in the direction of Port Soderick, which nestles out of sight close under the adjacent cliffs.
After passing the Ballashamrock farm, a sharp curve is made, and the station for Port Soderick is entered, the bay being less than 4 mile distant. Here again is one of the numerous cuttings in the recent strata formed of fine sand, gravel, and rounded pebbles.
The line now runs through the Crogga glen, a narrow and prettily-wooded glen, in which, on the right hand, about 20 yards distant, is the Fairy Well, much frequented by the natives in former times. This was a favourite haunt of the fairies, but as they love quiet and seclusion we suppose they will have been disturbed by the late desecration, and have bad to remove to some more favoured nook :
" Where folks believe in witches, witches are
And where they dont, the deil a witch is there."
Emerging from this deep recess, the sea again appears with the Langness promontory in the distance ; and on the right are South Barrule and Cronk-na-Irey-Lhaa. Overlooking the Greenwick glen, on the left is observed the Kirk Santon parish church and parsonage.
After leaving Santon station, the line winds and passes the Santon Burn stream, a short distance above Ballalona or Fairy Bridge ; then a fine view is had of King Williams College and Castletown, with the sea and Langness ; whilst on the opposite side are the heights of South Barrule, Cronkna-Irey-Lhaa, the Carnanes, Brada Head, and the Mull Hills.
Leaving Ballasalla, where the tourist will alight if he wishes to visit Rushen Abbey, the line follows the course of the Silver Burn river. Kirk Malew parish church, and the distant mountains, are the principal objects of interest on the right ; and on the left, the old square building called Quayles Tower : near to it King Williams College presents a noble appearance. The houses at Castletown are observed clustering round the fine old Castle. The railway skirts, without entering, the town, and the station is five minutes walk from the Market Place.
From Castletown the rail runs direct inland to Colby, with Malew Church on the right ; and in front, South Barrule, Cronk-na-Irey-Lhaa, and the Carnanes. Presently also the Mull Hills and Brada Head appear, Milner Tower being on the latter, and Port Erin in the hollow between the two hills.
Passing Arbory parish church on right, the line winds to left to Colby Station. The sea in the direction of Poolvash Bay is in sight, and then Port St. Mary appears.
During the next mile the Rushen parish church, and a small mound called Cronk Mooar, and sometimes Fairy Hill, are seen on the right, and then Port Erin is entered.
Fuller particulars of many of the objects mentioned are given in other parts of this book.