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Bradshaw’s Guide

A descriptive guide to Isle of Man

This island, in the midst of the Irish sea, may be easily reached from the three kingdoms by a few hours’ steam—as it is only 70 English miles from Liverpool, 50 from Fleetwood, 42 from Holyhead, 65 from Dublin, and 60 from Belfast. Length 32 miles average breadth, 10; coast line about 110, with a low sandy shore, round Point of Ayre, at the north end; but in other parts, especially near the Calf of Man, at the opposite end, the slaty or sandstone cliffs are 100 to 300 and 400 feet high. It contains above 150,000 acres, of which at least one-fifth is hill and bog.

Population 52,469, in 1861. A back-bone of ragged slaty hills runs through the island, the highest being Snafell or Snafield, which is 2,004 feet above the sea. It is easily ascended from Douglas or Ramsey, the rise being gradual all the way, with a broken rock here and there. The north and south Barrule are 1,840 feet and 1,545 feet respectively. Another point between is 1,745 feet; its Gaelic name is Bein-y-phoh, which carries a dignified sound with it, but it is commonly called Penny-pot. Dark masses of slate are patched over with brown heath, like a beggar’s tattered coat, resembling the Welsh hills in this respect, as well as in geographical construction. As Justice Shallow says, “it is all barren, barren, barren; marry, good air”—which blows on the hills all day long. These healthy breezes, with the short springy turf, reconcile the pedestrian to the wild desolate character of the scenery, only enlivened by a few small sheep, and occasionally the skulking sheepstealer. A visit to this Island will enable the tourist to fully appreciate the beautiful scenes so powerfully described by Sir Walter Scott in “Peveril of the Peak.” The view from the summit of the mountains embraces the island and the sea in which it is set, as far as the shores of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, if the air is sufficiently clear. The steps in front of the West Portico of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, are of black marble procured from this Island. Strangers before becoming residents should make themselves well acquainted with the Manx laws, they being totally unlike those of England, Ireland, Wales, or Scotland. Arrests for debt can be made even for a shilling claim on this Island, and execution follows instanter.

Douglas is the most lively place on the island, and by far the largest, having a population of 12,501, or nearly one-fifth of the whole; living is tolerably cheap here, and lodgings moderate, excellent board and lodging being had for £30 per annum. Ponies and jaunting cars may be hired for 8s. a day. The Island arms consists of three legs joined together, booted and spurred, with the motto—Quocunquejeceris, stabit, or “However you throw it it stands:” referring probably to its position with regard to the three kingdoms. Supposing Douglas to be your head quarters a trip round the island, and another across it, to Peel, will embrace almost everything worth seeing. Rare shells, cornelians, fish, and seaweed are picked up along the shore.

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