Isle of Man
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The Isle of Man is an island country in the Irish Sea. It's about 50km long, 10km wide, and has a population of 80000. It's got a green, mountainous landscape. The island has independence from the EU, as well as from any other country. The island has a grand Celtic and Viking history, and a unique cultural heritage. It calls itself the "motorbike capital of the world", with 61km-circuit road races and several large festivals (eg. TT festival, Manx Grand Prix) held in the summer.
Hitchhiking is easy on the Isle of Man and you will never wait long for a ride. There is also a good bus service, and a small train service (very slow, as the trains are over a hundred years old). Douglas has a horse-drawn tram line. If all else fails, walk - wherever you're going, it's not far. The island's length can be walked in a day, and the width in 3 hours.
Anyone granted right of passage in the UK or Ireland has the same right of passage on the Isle of Man. You will not need a passport to board any of the ferries, although a passport is needed for entry and exit by air.
The currency is the Manx pound, fixed at 1:1 with UK currency (pound sterling). Both Manx and sterling are accepted on the island, but Manx pounds are not accepted in the UK. You will receive a mixture of currency when on the island. If you need to withdraw only sterling, use the ATM at the Douglas Sea Terminal.
People living on the island are typically well-travelled (much more than their British relatives) and as a result they are friendly and helpful towards foreign strangers, mostly without fear. The population is mostly British (50%) or Manx (45%), with sizeable South African, Irish, Polish and Filipino minorities.
It's almost impossible to hitchhike to/from the Isle of Man - the only ways are to crew a private boat, or hitch a plane or helicopter. Swallow your pride and buy a ticket.
Ferries dock at the Sea Terminal in the centre of Douglas.
In the winter, there are two weekly sailings to/from Liverpool (Birkenhead), on Saturday and Sunday. Heysham is served 12 times per week. Belfast and Dublin are served during holiday periods. NB!
- in winter, the journey is 4 hours from Liverpool
- during bad weather (60km/h winds or stronger) ferries can be delayed or even cancelled. This happens often in December or January
- if you are on a ferry in December or January, then say hi to your last meal
One-way foot passenger tickets (to/from any destination) cost £17.50, if booked in advance. The price rises a few days before travel, and the price is automatically high during the TT festival (first two weeks of June), the Manx Grand Prix (last week of August), and on holidays such as December 24th-26th, Easter Day etc. The Manx Steam Packet Company operates all ferry routes - use their website for all bookings, timetables and travel advice. Don't try hitchhiking onto a ferry - only passengers with tickets (on foot or in vehicles) are permitted on board. But the ferries are great places to meet people and arrange onward rides to many destinations.
Planes land at Ronaldsway Airport, and from there it's a few kilometres to Douglas by hitchhike or by bus (£2). Do NOT take a taxi (£20).
Several airlines operate flights to/from the Island from airports across the UK and Ireland, as well as the Channel Islands, and Geneva. Plane tickets start at £20 (including taxes) for the close destinations such as Liverpool or Manchester. Although they are more expensive, planes are sometimes a better option when travelling longer distances, and they are usually the best option during winter.
See the airport's website for a list of all flights to/from the Isle of Man, and links to the airline websites.
Hitching on the Island
Hitchhiking on the Isle of Man is quick and simple. Hitchhikers are very rare but not completely unknown, but drivers have no fear in picking you up. The only real crime on the island is money laundering; if there is street crime, it's related to alcohol and other drugs. Show that you are clean, and you will get rides out of towns/villages within a couple of minutes.
There are no motorways, and there is less than 1km of dual carriageway (next to the airport). Most roads are narrow country roads, and mountain passes. Stand anywhere on a quiet road out of a town/village with good visibility and a hitchhiking sign, and you'll get fantastic, usually immediate results. The average waiting time seems to be about two or three minutes in the country, and five or ten minutes out of towns/villages.
If a driver isn't going as far as your destination, ask nicely if s/he can make a detour for you. They usually agree. Don't worry if they choose to leave you in the middle of nowhere - the next car will most likely save you. And if that car doesn't pick you up, then the next car will.
Bear in mind the island's critically high road accident rate. This is for four reasons:
- motorbikes rule the roads,
- Manx residents can legally drive cars and ride bikes at the age of 16,
- the island's roads are narrow with many hills and blind corners, and
- out of towns/villages, there is no speed limit.
When you're picked up, your driver may well want to show you the power of the vehicle by hurling it down straights, or by slinging it around corners while straddling the middle of the road. All types of drivers will stop for you, so make sure you find a driver with good eyesight.
- Douglas/Onchan (east, ferry port and the capital)
- Laxey (northeast)
- Ramsey (northeast)
- Kirk Michael (northwest)
- Peel (west)
- Dalby (southwest)
- St. John's (central)
- Port Erin/Port St. Mary (southwest)
- Castletown/Ballasalla (south, airport)
Also, try hitchhiking the TT course!