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Douglas to Port Soderick

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Douglas to Port Soderick
Author: Vic, Published: 12 Aug 2017 Walk Rating:star1 Douglas to Port Soderick Walking Guide star1 Douglas to Port Soderick Walking Guide star1 Douglas to Port Soderick Walking Guide star1 Douglas to Port Soderick Walking Guide star1 Douglas to Port Soderick Walking Guide
Isle of Man, Douglas
Walk Type: Coastal
Douglas to Port Soderick
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot Douglas to Port Soderick Walking Guide boot Douglas to Port Soderick Walking Guide boot Douglas to Port Soderick Walking Guide
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A 5 mile linear walk from Douglas to Port Soderick on the Isle of Man, making use of a steam train for the return leg. This walk is one of a series of walks which encompasses the unique forms of transport on the Isle of Man as an integral part of the walk. These are: (1) The Manx Electric Railway (sometimes called Tramway), (2) The Snaefell Mountain Railway (sometimes called Tramway), (3) The Manx Steam Railway and (4) The Groudle Glen Railway. This walk focuses on Number (3), The Manx Steam Railway. This walk goes along the coast from the railway station in Douglas to the railway station in Port Soderick. On the way you will pass the cliff-side lighthouse at the south of the bay, the Camera Obscura, the Gentleman’s Bathing Beach, head along the Marine Drive that takes you along some sheer cliffs (on a road that barely holds on to the side of the cliff!), then down to a bay and a gurgling stream in a glen. As most of the walking surface is hard, it is a good walk to take if there has been some rain, when other local walks are too wet.

The Manx Steam Railway is used for the return leg, along the coast and inland back to Douglas. The train you will take back is most likely of the original rolling stock, with original interiors and even a Pullman class which serves lunches on particular journeys (booking required). It is the longest narrow gauge steam line in Britain that still uses its original locomotives and carriages. The three foot narrow gauge railway was opened in 1874 and is now 15.5 miles long. This train is in use in the summer season and travels a picturesque route across the south of the Island from Douglas to Castletown and Port Erin. This walk utilises the last stretch of the railway.

The paths are generally surfaced and there are a few moderate gradients and steps, but no stiles on route. Sheep are spread widely in the Island so it would be wise to ensure that if you bring your dog it is steady towards sheep, and is happy on the train ride. Allow 2.5 hours for the walk plus extra time for the train.

Getting there
The starting point for the walk is the rail station in the middle of Douglas at Banks Circus, Douglas, IM1 5PT. This is also where the train will come in on your return journey. There is adequate car parking there or you could get a bus to the central terminus and walk a short distance to the station. The return leg is via steam train which runs seasonally so check before you travel. The website with the timetable for the Manx Steam Railway is https://www.gov.im/categories/travel-traffic-and-motoring/bus-and-rail/heritage-railways.

Walk Sections

Start to Camera Obscura
Start to Camera Obscura

Start point: 54.1481 lat, -4.4846 long
End point: 54.1434 lat, -4.4676 long

Start the walk at Bank Hill, which is just outside the rail station in Douglas. Go down the hill to the road junction. Cross the road ahead and you will be on Bridge Road. Walk past the car park area and turn left to walk along the quay and admire the moored rows of pleasure boats. Keep the sea on your left as you walk along the quay. You will arrive at a large ocean-going ship’s jetty with an oil terminal. Follow the road as it turns left, then immediately turn right, head up over the jetty then down a set of steps set in the cliff side and down to a small bay. This is Port Skillion the Gentlemen’s Bathing Bay (well it was such a bay in the 19th century.)

From the bay, take the steps up and along the rocky headland towards the lighthouse. Just before you reach the lighthouse the path turns off right and up the hill to the Camera Obscura. Similar structures, were usually built for astronomical purposes, but the Isle of Man’s Camera Obscura, built in 1892, was an attraction totally for the flourishing tourist industry. It works by using a series of mirrors and lenses which are located around the roof line above a darkened room, and give magnified views of the area around Douglas. (The photo for this section is of Camera Obscura, set on the hill).

Camera Obscura to Port Walberry
Camera Obscura to Port Walberry

Start point: 54.1434 lat, -4.4676 long
End point: 54.1318 lat, -4.4942 long

Take the path past the Camera Obscura until you reach the main road, Fort Ann Road. Across the road as you reach it, you will see what was a large hotel, and the headquarters of the popular local radio station, Manx Radio.

Bear left to join Fort Ann Road (with the sea to your left) and it soon becomes Marine Drive. Continue along Marine Drive and, before the next waypoint, you will come to an arched gateway in the road with two arches and a small arch for the footpath. The two arches are because the steam tram used to run along this part of the cliff, before there was a road, and there was an up track and a down track, as well as a path for pedestrians.

Keep on Marine Drive and you will eventually see why the road no longer carries traffic along its length, as the road has crumbled into the sea in places. Port Walberry is the start of the pedestrian only section. Though it is called a port, there is no evidence that it has been so in the past. (The photograph in this section is of the double gate along Marine Drive).

Port Walberry to Turn off Road
Port Walberry to Turn off Road

Start point: 54.1318 lat, -4.4942 long
End point: 54.1251 lat, -4.5274 long

As you continue along the road you will be climbing steadily, before you reach the highest point of the walk and start to descend gradually. The cliffs are sheer to the sea and the views both ahead and back to Douglas are superb. After about a mile and a half you come to a road coming in from the right. Continue along the Marine Drive until you see a gap in the hedge at the left-hand side, and a blue Raad Ne Foillan sign pointing down to the beach. (The photograph for this section is taken between Port Walberry and the turn off).

Turn off Road to Port Soderick Glen
Turn off Road to Port Soderick Glen

Start point: 54.1251 lat, -4.5274 long
End point: 54.1226 lat, -4.5317 long

Take the side turn and go down the well-trodden, but sometimes overgrown, path to the beach. You will see Port Soderick, the once thriving holiday area which boasted cafes, restaurants, a swimming pool and children's amusements. Sadly it is all derelict now, but the views and the area are still as attractive as the early Victorians found them to be.

Continue along the beach until you reach a stream coming in to the sea. This stream runs through the Port Soderick Glen, which is still well-maintained, as is the footpath through it. (The photograph for this section is Port Soderick).

Port Sodderick Glen to End
Port Sodderick Glen to End

Start point: 54.1226 lat, -4.5317 long
End point: 54.1264 lat, -4.5386 long

Follow the footpath through the glen and along the path in the woods, which is fairly clear and marked in places by the blue Raad Ne Foillan waymarkers. Eventually you will come to a T-junction in the path where it meets another bigger path. Turn right on this and follow it through the wooded area and on to the road. Keep on this road as you pass beneath a railway arch. Immediately after, take a left turn up to the railway station, where you will see a very pretty station and house, which was the old railway station (shown in the photograph for this section). This marks the end of the walk and you can take the steam train from here back to Douglas rail station, and imagine what it was like enjoying such a form of transport a hundred years ago.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2017 by iFootpath and the author Hartley1947 and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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