Escape to the Isle of Man this spring

For an island escape that's about as close to home as you can get, the Isle of Man promises unspoilt trails and a surprising diversity of wildlife, all set against a rich and fascinating cultural backdrop

Walking up North Barrule

In the middle of the Irish Sea, between the Lake District and Belfast, the Isle of Man is a hop and a skip by ferry or plane. In fact, you could get there in as little as 30 minutes from the UK or Ireland.

As the world's only entire nation to be recognised as a UNESCO Biosphere, you're guaranteed awe-inspiring nature, plus there's the island's 10,000-year history to discover, as well as a vibrant cultural scene.

The Isle of Man's story comes to life in a landscape rich in ancient monuments, medieval castles and vintage railways. And Manx culture is just as diverse as the views, with a long history built on a foundation of fascinating tales, legends and folklore.

For walkers, the island's stunning coastline brings exhilarating coastal adventures and some of the best walking routes in the British Isles. Trails are as diverse as they are numerous, with guided or self-guided options. And with 40% of the island uninhabited, going off the beaten track will leave you spoilt for choice.

Whether you're an ambler, a rambler or a serious hiker, you'll be walking some of the most beautiful trails in the British Isles.

Couple reading a map

Exploring the Isle

NEW FOR 2023: The Island's summits Walking Routes

Head to the uplands to conquer 25 summits of more than 300m/1,000ft in a series of eight routes. You'll marvel at the island's exceptional natural beauty, with 360° views as you ascend, and discover surprises with each climb - from dramatic valleys and charming villages to fern-filled glens and hilltops rich in Celtic heritage.

Walk these summits as single routes or complete them all over seven to eight days. All eight routes are available on OS maps.

North East Manx summits

Summits on this route:

North Barrule 565m/1,854ft

Park Lewellyn 545m/1,794ft

Beinn Rein 550m/1,804ft

Claugh Ouyr 551m/1,808ft

Snaefell 620m/2,036ft

Distance llkm/7 miles

Ascent 769m/2,523ft

Time 4 hours 30 mins

Difficulty Strenuous

Terrain Mostly clear footpaths with some open moorland that's marshy in places. The North East Manx Summit, or Northern 'wow' walk, covers five peaks. The distinct ridge of North Barrule is a wonder to walk, with magnificent views of the Corrany Valley, the village of Maughold and the northern plain. Following the ridge, the walk ends at the island's highest summit, Snaefell. On a clear day, you'll have views of the island's seven kingdoms: England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Heaven, the Sea and the Isle of Man itself.

South West Manx summits and Niarbyl coast

Summits on this route:

South Barrule 483m/1,585ft

Cronk ny Arrey Laa 437m/1,434ft

Distance 20km/12.5 miles

Ascent 892m/2,927ft

Time 7hours

Difficulty Difficult

Terrain Moorland, loose stone and narrow coastal paths.

This spectacular walk includes a valley, moorland, coastal footpath, ancient woodland and waterfalls, with spectacular views, especially from the two summits. It begins and ends at Niarbyl, a paradise for photographers and nature lovers, with the chance to spot wildlife and stand on a major geological fault line. From Niarbyl you ascend to South Barrule, believed to be the seat of Manannan, the ancient sea god. Then back down South Barrule before heading up Cronk ny Arrey Laa, the highest point on the island's iconic Raad Ny Foillan coastal footpath. From here, enjoy dazzling views of the south-west coast towards the Calf of Man.

The views to Peel castle as you descend the Raad ny Foillan

The views to Peel Castle as you descend the Raad ny Foillan

The Raad ny Foillan

The iconic Raad ny Foillan coastal footpath, Manx Gaelic for 'The Way of the Gull', runs for 100 miles around the island. It's an intrepid route, where you'll explore cliffs, wooded glens, open farmland and spectacular coastline, with castles, wildlife and beaches en route. Split it into sections to walk over a number of days, or tackle the best of the route, from Castletown to Peel, over two to four days. It's exhilarating all year round, but spring sees the hills dazzle in vibrant gorse-clad colours.

Castletown to Port St Mary

(IOkm/6 miles)

Start from the ancient capital with its characterful buildings, cobbled streets and imposing Castle Rushen. Hug the coast to beautiful Scarlett before reaching the bays at Gansey and Port St Mary's Chapel Beach. Negotiate a bridged 'catwalk', then a walled walkway to Kallow Point and the Ledges, a shelf of prehistoric marine rocks containing coral fossils and home to eider ducks, oystercatchers and shags.

Port St Mary to Port Erin

(13km/8 miles)

Footpaths give way to open moorland and clifftops - prime spots to see porpoises and dolphins. Then the islet of the Calf of Man comes into view. Glimpse the Burroo, a prominent rock nicknamed the 'Drinking Dragon', and spot grey seals on the rocks at The Sound. Finally, follow the island's undulating west coast to the seaside resort of Port Erin, known for its craft winery.

Port Erin to Peel

(21km/13 miles)

This up-and-down stretch has panoramic views and hidden bays. It also climbs to Cronk ny Arrey Laa, the coastal path's highest point. Stop at Niarbyl Cafe, then tackle the last miles to Peel, past fern-filled Glen Maye. The final descent brings beautiful views of ancient Peel Castle before a coastal sunset at Fenella Beach.

Nature and wildlife

The Isle of Man is home to a huge variety of wildlife. Bird species include guillemots, hen harriers and shearwaters. You might also see one of the 100-plus wild wallabies that call the island their home. Or maybe a basking shark, which come to feed in the plankton-rich waters in spring and summer. There are discovery centres, glens and nature reserves across the island, as well as organised wildlife tours to join.

Find out more

Plan your spring escape at Visit Isle of Man

On behalf of Visit Isle of Man.

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walking group on sunny day on a downhill path

Britain’s Best Walks

The best walks in Britain, as shown on ITV’s Britain’s Favourite Walks, voted for by the British public.

Four walkers on a coastal path

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A group of people walking along a path among trees

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Choosing the location and distance are just two important aspects of planning a walking route. Here is our guide to a well-planned walk.