Snaefell, the (Norse) Snow Mountain, is the highest point on the Isle of Man at 610 metres above sea level. On a clear day it is possible to see all the coasts of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Unfortunately, today was not a clear day.
The afternoon trip to Snaefell started in Douglas on the Manx Electric Railway which is a light rail (tram) service using rolling stock and permanent way dating from 1893 and some of which are still in service.
The first part of the trip is a 30-minute ride from Douglas to Laxey. It was bumpy and noisy as the train rattled and even screeched its way around the windy hilly coastline at about 20 mph, blowing its whistle at the dozens of public and private road crossings along its route.
At Laxey we changed to another train for a further 30-minute ride, climbing to Snaefell. The grade to the top averages 1 in 12 and uses a centre third rail and calliper braking system for safety.
We had made a mistake with the scheduling of our Snaefell trip because the wonderfully fine sunny day of yesterday had been replaced by a cloudy afternoon today and further deterioration was in prospect. As we climbed the mountain from Laxey the clouds enveloped the summit and started to roll downwards.
Until we disappeared into the mist we had a great view of the famous Laxey (water) Wheel and the picturesque valley. By the time we passed the level crossing of the mountain road that is part of the TT course the visibility was limited and at the summit we could see at least 20 metres in any direction.
After a short stay and warming coffee, the trip down was punctuated by a brief stop at the TT course road which was shrouded in a real “pea souper”. A bank-up of traffic in both directions and police attending suggested there was an accident in the vicinity. I wondered how TT riders would handle such conditions if they occurred in a couple of weeks time.
The weather gradually improved as we returned down to Laxey and then Douglas but the mist was now all pervading and it was difficult to see where the sea finished and the mist started.
Maintaining our sense of humour, we still had an enjoyable afternoon.