Port Erin and Port St Mary lie on the south-west tip of the Isle Of Man, on opposite sides of the peninsula where the land narrows at this point. Port Erin is the southern terminus of the Steam Railway from Douglas. In fact, it was here that the first steam railway on the Isle Of Man was built. Known as the Port Erin Breakwater Railway, it was intended as a construction line. There is a museum next to the Port Erin railway station dedicated to railway travel in a bygone age. Port Erin's seafront consists of a sandy beach backed by a promenade, flanked by two headlands. On one of them, Bradda Head, there is a tower called Milner's Tower made in the shape of a key and lock, the reason being that the man it is dedicated to, William Milner, owned a company which made fire-resistant safes. Port St Mary, the first stop on the railway after it leaves Port Erin, is a similar, but quieter small resort with a sizeable harbour, a reminder of the time when it was an important fishing and trading port. The name of the town derives from the Chapel of St Mary which is thought to have overlooked Chapel Bay. Less mobile visitors should be aware that the town and harbour are a bit of a walk from the station.
|Port Erin, looking towards Bradda Head|
However, charming though the two resorts are, the most interesting part of this area is to the south-west. Wildlife enthusiasts should head for the headland overlooking the islet of Kitterland, and just beyond, the larger Calf Of Man, where there is a bird observatory with wardens living on the island between March and November, keeping records of migrations, numbers and so on. The island's feathered inhabitants include the ever-popular Puffin, Guilemots, Razorbills, and a real local bird, the Manx Shearwater. Boat trips come here from various locations on the island, giving the opportunity to view not only the birds, but seals, dolphins, basking sharks and the occasional Minke Whale. Near Port St Mary on the headland overlooking Calf Sound there is a visitor centre with a cafe offering panoramic views of the surrounding area (ignore the fact that the website says the visitor centre is in Port St Mary, it is not, as we found out to our cost). Just inland from here is Cregneash, where there is an open-air folk museum, the first museum of its type to be opened in the British Isles. Just outside of Cregneash is Meayll Circle, a chambered cairn with twelve burial chambers.
|Calf Sound. Photo by David Long, via Wikimedia Commons|
Webcam view of the bay.
Map of the area.