[From Leech's Guide, 1861]



"I stood upon the hills, when heaven’s wide arch
as glorious with the sun’s returning march,
And woods were lightened, and soft gales
Wrist forth to kiss the sun-clad vales ;
— The clouds were few beneath me ; bathed in light
They gathered mid~way round the mountain height."

WE must now conduct our Tourists to the summit of Snaefield, for which purpose a fine clear day should be selected, as the mountainous parts of Mona are often enveloped in mist, while the lower parts afford no indication of it; and for this reason it would generally be expedient to be accompanied by a guide. For those who are unable to undertake so arduous a journey on foot, cars or ponies may be procured, and on these they may proceed to within a short distance of the top, but the last mile or so must be traversed on foot. The ordinary road is to proceed up Sulby glen, which opens on the Michael road, about four miles from Ramsey. Through this lovely and picturesque defile the tourists passing the Starch Mills, and crossing a bridge, gradually ascend the side of the hill to a turf bog, where their conveyances must be left for a time, while the rest of the ascent is performed. Another and shorter way is to ascend Skyhill by a mountain road that branches off the main road, a few hundred yards beyond Milntown bridge. The path leading through a fir plantation is rather steep at first, but becomes less so as you proceed, and at last opens on the free common, where the Lady of the Manor, her most gracious Majesty, permits sheep and cattle to be depastured and turf to be cut at a nominal rent of a halfpenny a year. Continuing on this road to its termination, the travellers will probably rest at a small rivulet which issues from the peat bog at the base of Snaefield, and forms the commencement of Laxey Glen. From this spot the top may be reached over dry ground in twenty minutes or half an hour, according to the activity of the pedestrians. Should the day be favourable all this fatigue and trouble will be amply compensated by the glorious and almost indescribable view from the summit. Snaefield, as our readers are probably aware, is the loftiest mountain on the Isle of Man, rising 2004 feet above the level of the sea. The name is derived from the Norsk word Sneifjeld, signifying "snow mountain." It is the most central point of the British Isles, and on a clear day the view from its summit comprises a space of not less than three thousand square miles. Thus the spectator obtains a bird’s-eye view of the whole fairy Isle itself, whose hills and glens, woods, waters, churches, mansions, towns, villages, and hamlets, form a panorama of unsurpassable splendour at his very feet; and beyond the Isle and the glittering waters that encircle it, " like a park in the sea empaled by rocks," as an old writer has it,—the mountains of Cumberland, Galloway, Morne, and Caernarvon are distinctly visible.

While partaking of refreshments, which our travellers will now doubtless require, we may converse a little about the view of the Island obtained from the summit, and while on the whole it is extremely grand and beautiful, it may strike them as peculiar that none of the principal towns are fully seen. At Castletown King William’s College and Castle Rushen stand out prominently, but the town is indistinctly visible ; of Douglas only the higher parts are discernible; of Ramsey that portion contiguous to the windmill; and of Peel the turrets of the castle only. About eight parish churches can be distinguished in different directions Laxey glen is an interesting part of the view, with its monster wheel in the distance, slowly revolving and glittering in the sun. The neighbouring mountains are conspicuous objects. North Baroole on the one hand, and Pen-y-Pot, Garahan, Greba, and South Baroole on the other, forming as they range from north to south a kind of backbone to the island. All the mountains are, like the greater part of the Island, of the clay-slate formation, intermixed with veins of quartz. Sandstone is found near Peel, granite at South Baroole and Dhoon, and limestone on thee south, but otherwise the slaty rocks universally prevail. We must now think of descending, and if conveyances are waiting there is no choice but to return by the road we came.

Should the visitors however be on foot, the route might be varied by taking the other of the two roads already mentioned, or what may be better still, go down by Glen Aldyn, which is accomplished by. striking off from Sky-hill road, and descending the whole of the glen by the left bank of the stream. Should it be desirable to reach other parts of the Island, a descent on the eastern slope will lead to Laxey; and on the southern a mountain road may be reached which conducts to Douglas. The time required for the whole journey from Ramsey and back, and allowing due time for rest and observations, is from six to eight hours, but a good pedestrian might accomplish it in five.

Lezayre Church & Vicarage
Lezayre Church and Vicarage

A day of rest intervenes. The Sabbath bell summonses each earthly pilgrim to direct his thoughts for a time from ‘sublunary things. To the credit of Mona, be it said, there is no country where thee Sabbath is more strictly observed. The very fishermen, often of a class the most careless of outward observances, do not leave port on a Saturday evening, thus avoiding the violation of the holy day; and among the country people breaches of the Sabbath are rare indeed. We presume that even the least scrupulous tourist would dislike to offend this praiseworthy characteristic of the Manx. We may venture however to point out a very pleasant, and perhaps profitable mode of spending part of the Sunday, which would in no degree infringe upon its sacred observance. A visit to Kirk Christ, Lezayre, situated among the trees at the base of a mountain about two miles from Ramsey, beyond the entrance of Glen Aldyn, would afford the devoutly disposed stranger a delightful Sabbath walk, and an opportunity of joining in public worship, which commences at half-past ten morning and three o’clock afternoon. This church is dedicated to the Holy Trinity, and contains 850 sittings. It was erected in 1834. The architecture is that of the early English style, and a handsome tower, surmounted by a spire points heavenward, among the surrounding verdure. Close by is the vicarage, a spacious modern residence, surrounded by a pretty tastefully planted lawn and shrubbery.

"Oh, what a glory doth this world put on
For hum who, with a fervent heart, goes forth
Under the bright and glorious sky, and looks
On duties well performed and days well spent !
For him the wind, ay, and the summer leaves
Shall have a voice, and give him eloquent teachings,"



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HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2001