Saturday 12th May 2012 saw 5 Wings and a VFR800 meeting up at Liverpool Ferry Port, to await boarding for the Steam Packet Co. Sea-Cat ferry ‘Manannan’ to Douglas.
Dave and Elaine (Organiser), Nigel and Joanna, Ed and Ann, Ian and Val, Derek and Babs, Jan and I.
After a suitable wait we were able to board the Fast Cat.
A word of warning to everyone who plans to go the IOM – be very careful when boarding as the ramps have a rather large bump on them which protrudes enough to smash the castings on the bottom of the engine block on an 1800 wing.
Pillions were not allowed to walk onto the Ferry but had to sit on the back of the Wings, and as a consequence the Wings grounded on the ramp.
We were joined by Malcolm Lunn (who was on a Wing also making 6 in total,) on the ferry, but he was without Val who was unwell and couldn’t make the trip.
The Sea-Cat is a very fast means of crossing to Douglas and we were in for a very smooth trip without any swell worth talking about.
I fell asleep on the crossing thus preventing travel sickness, to which I am prone, from causing me any embarrassment.
I know that a few others fell asleep as well so I don’t feel too upset about it.
Pretty quickly we were pulling into Douglas and moments after the ramp was lowered and secured, we were offloaded.
The trip to the Groudle Glen Cottages was a short ride along Douglas promenade and up around the headland then a sharp turn downhill and to the complex where the accommodation was awaiting us, and what accommodation it was. The complex consisted of numerous 1, 2 and 3 bedroom cottages. We were booked into three 2 bedroom cottages with Mal being booked separately into another cottage.
The cottages were very nicely furnished and were complete with all necessities for a comfortable stay.
After unpacking our bags we headed back into Douglas to call at a Tesco store to pick up essential shopping for self catered breakfasts and sandwiches etc.
Once that was sorted it was time to give the TT circuit a try.
Our first trip around the circuit had me wondering if the TT racers had any fear at all in them and my respect for their courage grew. The roads were narrow, twisty and uneven, leaving me to wonder how they managed to do average speed laps of over 100mph.
Following the circuit, we ended up at a nearby Chinese restaurant where we were treated to a very nice meal.
Sunday started off in brilliant sunshine and we set off for a trip via the Laxey Wheel to Laxey harbour then to the North East corner of the island where we saw the lighthouse at Point of Ayre.
Following this we went to Ramsey where we stopped at a harbour-side cafe for drinks while some ate and others had sandwiches.
We then headed South.
By this time we were ready to take part of the TT circuit to get back towards Douglas so we did the mountain section again.
This time the wind had built up and it was quite ‘interesting’ going over the hills.
We continued South to Castletown and then to the Sound Visitor Centre at the South West corner. This centre overlooks the small isle known as the Calf of Man.
By this time Derek, on the VFR, was running on fumes and we had to divert to Port Erin to obtain fuel. Most of the Wing riders took the opportunity to fill up as well. The fuel was about 7 pence per litre more expensive than back home. We then went back to the bungalows.
The evening meal this time was to visit a Fish and Chip Cafe , situated on the way back to Douglas.
It was not that far a journey but it was very eventful.
By this time the weather had deteriorated to heavy rain and strong winds.
This made the journey to the Cafe one of the worse experiences I have had with wind and rain hitting us each in turn as we rode along the headland.
Following the evening meal, we rode a different route back to Groudle Glen to avoid the strong winds on the headland.
Monday saw us try a trip to Peel and the West Coast.
We parked up by the side of the harbour and had a nice walk around the Promenade.
I wandered off and found the last proper smokery for making Manx Kippers, and a transport museum, where I saw one of those single seater Peel P50 cars built during the 1960s.
These are the world’s smallest cars and didn’t sell too well.
The skies started to cloud over so we all decided to head for Douglas for lunch and have a look around the shops.
Lunch was a damp affair with the predicted rains arriving just as we started to eat our sarnies, while others went to eat inside.
I managed to pick up a nice TT t-shirt from the official shop, and others even went to have their own shirt made up.
A visit was then made to M&S to pick up a meal for tea and back to the accommodation.
Tuesday started off as a dull grey day with rain clouds covering the sky. We had to leave the cottages by 10am so we decided to use the time between for a trip around the TT circuit – in reverse direction.
A good idea which was blown out of the water when we arrived at the Circuit to find the first and most impressive section, the mountain section, closed for TT preparations until 4pm.
A quick diversion was made to Ramsey where we called for drinks and for Ed to buy a toy Triumph Herald. (please don’t ask why!)
At this point we were able to rejoin the TT circuit so we did. The circuit was noticeably very wet though we had not seen any rain up to this point.
We continued around the circuit to see the roads very wet, but somehow we eluded the showers and on arrival back at Douglas we were still dry.
Lunch was had in Jac’s Pub on the front of the Promenade and shortly afterwards, we queued up to board the Fast Cat for a return trip to Liverpool.
Again, we were lucky with a very calm crossing back to Liverpool and were soon off the Ferry when the ramp was down.
I really enjoyed the Isle of Man and would love to go back again, with more time for a decent look around the Island. The minus point is the cost of the ferry for the bikes and us.
It becomes very expensive the closer to TT week that the visit is made.
I would also say that following my trip on the island’s roads, I have the greatest of respect for TT riders and I will now be able to follow the races with a slightly better knowledge of the circuit.
PS – I expect that Nigel will upload loads of photos to the gallery in due course so keep an eye on the photos pages