An on-Island EscapeLike so many others, our travel plans were thwarted when Covid19 hit the world. My husband and I had been about to embark on our honeymoon in March, when lockdown struck. Finding the silver-lining to the cancelled-honeymoon-cloud, a friend of ours had the great idea of suggesting that we have a staycation, when lockdown eased sufficiently enough for us to do so.
The month of May arrived in a burst of sunshine and warmth and, before we knew it, restrictions relaxed somewhat and a staycation was suddenly possible. Having heard about the beautiful Manx cottage, ‘Yn Thie Thooit’, we booked ourselves in for the last weekend in May.
We arrived on a sun-drenched summer evening, with golden light sweeping across the hills and plains of the north. As we drove in to the grounds and saw the cottage with its neat thatch and white-washed walls I was hit with a wave of nostalgia for the years that I spent helping out as a child and teenager up in Harry Kelly’s Cottage in Cregneash. Thatched cottages are far and few between; there are only 23 left on the Island now, so to be able to actually stay in one is a rare treat. Entering the cottage we were greeted with a beautifully renovated interior, in keeping with the traditional style of the dwelling. Luckily we didn’t have to deal with visits to an outdoor privy, like those who would have lived in the cottage many decades ago: a bright, clean bathroom is housed in a small, sensitively-designed extension.
A welcome-pack was left for us on the counter of the well-equipped kitchen, containing Manx cheese, milk and butter; delicious Ross Bakery bread; and coffee. It turns out that this pack was indeed welcome, as I’d accidentally left our intended dinner in the fridge back home! When we explored the cottage further we found a selection of useful items to enhance a holiday: a picnic basket, DVDs and books about the Isle of Man, binoculars for bird-watching, and boardgames. With its quiet and beautiful surroundings, private and spacious garden, and addition of a summerhouse with table and chairs, Yn Thie Thooit is a picturesque and romantic place to spend the weekend, but I could also imagine recommending it to a writer friend for an inspiring place to create.
As the sun dipped behind the trees, we took a short stroll down to the shore to catch the sunset. We were the only souls around, bar a few oyster catchers scurrying across the sand. The evening light faded and a multitude of stars emerged. Though The Lhen isn’t an official designated dark skies site (the nearest official site is probably Smeale, which is just a couple of miles away), it is in a valley and there is little light pollution, meaning it’s a great place to star-gaze. Grab a couple of deck chairs from the cottage, sit in the garden and fill your boots!
The next morning, after an al fresco breakfast, we walked south along miles of golden sand and shingle to discover a shipwreck that can only be seen at low tide.
The Pasages was a steam trawler that ran aground on the Jurby shore in 1931 after fishing herring in the North of Ireland. Along with the wreck, there is much to see: an abundance of birdlife; geological and geographical features of the coastline; and other wildflife – I was delighted that a curious seal followed us for part of our journey. On our way back to the cottage, we popped into the nearby nature reserve ‘Cronk y Bing’ and sat by the tranquil Lhen Trench. In the summer months the dunes are packed with wildflowers like pyramidal orchids, and various species of butterflies and moths.
Over the rest of the weekend we alternated between reading in the peace of the garden, walking on the beach, cycling on the quiet roads of the North and swimming in the sea. We especially loved the proximity of the cottage to the beach and the knowledge that we could be there in solitude when everyone had gone home for the day, or to sit quietly in the sand dunes for a morning coffee, when no one else had yet arrived.
On the last night of our stay, we headed up a nearby hill to drink in the landscape. In the foreground were lush green fields stretching towards a backdrop of hills including North Barrule, Snaefell and Beinn y Phott. We were feeling a little melancholy at the thought of leaving; the weather had been amazing and the location just right for us. Wanting to see the beach one last time at sunset, we made our way down the hill and to the shore, and spied two bottle nose dolphins charging a shoal of fish as they made their way north through the glassy water.
My dad has always said to leave a good thing when you’re wanting more, and that was the only way we managed to tear ourselves away on that last morning at Yn Thie Thooit, the first day of June dawning bright and still. We look back on our time there with fondness, and look forward to returning again.
Article by Ruth Gell
Yn-Thie-Thooit: This unique 4* self-catering cottage is perfect if you’re looking for holiday accommodation that’s extra special. Full of charm and character, you can look forward to a cosy stay in this traditionally thatched Manx cottage. A registered historic building, Yn Thie Thooit offers guests an unforgettable luxury retreat. The property is owned by Manx National Heritage and operated by Island Escapes on their behalf.