Raad ny Foillan (The Way of the Gull) rolls off the tongue as easily as the miles roll on underfoot. It’s the Isle of Man’s superb, signposted, long distance footpath. At almost 160 kilometres (100 miles), it offers an ideal opportunity to walk around a complete nation! It’s a wonderful opportunity for families to enjoy an active holiday outdoors together and a top location for a dog-friendly holiday.
Winding its way around the coastline, you travel through a wide variety of countryside. The Isle offers some of the best coastal walking in the British Isles – cliff footpaths, quiet sandy beaches, sweeping bays, wooded glens and farmland. From panoramic views to cosy coves, it’s the unfolding landscapes and seascapes that are so enchanting.
The small harbours, villages, castles, wildlife, birds, flowering plants and shrubs make it what is sometimes called ‘Britain in miniature’. Keep an eye out for seals at play and maybe basking sharks, dolphins and porpoises. There’s also plenty of Manx history to consider as the landscape features ancient monuments from Viking burial sites to early stone Celtic crosses and Neolithic tombs.
Walkers of all abilities can enjoy stretching their legs on The Way as the route can be split into as many stages as match preferences and style of walking – from a four-day, very strenuous challenge through to a gentler 12-day walk. Whatever your pace, keep your eyes peeled for four granite start-markers installed at key locations around the coastal footpath. Plus, there are some great place names to build stories around as you walk – or reflect afterwards! Point of Ayre, Castle Mona, the Calf and Laxey to name but a few.
For most of the walk, a variety of accommodation and refreshment is easily accessible, though it makes sense to carry some supplies. You may choose to walk it as a continuous route, stepping off to overnight and picking up the route the next day. Or, perhaps, walk it in sections to suit your interests, the weather or successive holidays. There are no rules and your time is your own. Clockwise? Anti-clockwise? You decide!
A breakdown of route sections with highlights can be found here.
Whether you prefer a fixed base for your visit or to move during your journey along the Raad ny Foillan, the Walkers Welcome Scheme is a great facility. Each hotel, guest house or self-catering property listed offers extra facilities and services to meet the needs of walkers from a place to dry clothes and park muddy boots to up-to-date local info.
To find out more about the wildlife, you could book a guided tour on foot or by boat and let the experts take you to the island’s hotspots. And, if you fancy a dose of adrenalin, activities range from coasteering to kayaking and diving to gorge walking to explore everything else the coast has to offer.
No visit to the Isle of Man would be complete without enjoying the most impressive network of heritage railways in the British Isles, powered by electricity, steam and horsepower. Travel the Steam Railway from Douglas south to the ancient capital of Castletown and on to Port Erin where you can visit the Railway Museum and the golden beach. Then take the train to Ballasalla for Rushen Abbey, where you can find out more about this significant religious building.
Or head north on the Manx Electric Railway from Douglas to Laxey to visit the largest working waterwheel in the world and find out more about Manx mining history. At Laxey, you can also transfer to the Snaefell Mountain Railway to power up the only mountain on the Isle of Man. At 621 metres above sea level, Snaefell offers magnificent views where you might catch a glimpse of the seven kingdoms on a fine day – England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, heaven and the sea.