Isle of Man Staycation: Ballaugh
Tynwald weekend was fast approaching and we decided it was the opportunity for another island staycation. Having spent our first isle of man holiday down south. We ventured North to ballaugh and booked to stay in the popular and family friendly ballamoar campsite.
Ballaugh itself doesn’t dazzle, it’s a small village situated on the famous TT course. And although there’s not a huge amount of activities within the vicinity, with transport you can explore more. For us, we decided against taking bikes – although I’d say they are a welcome edition if you are coming here. Not least because there are a few bike ramps for the kids to play on at the campsite.
That’s not to say there’s nothing to do, there certainly is, but it’s more outdoors and sedate. However, a great day out has to include the wildlife park. A fantastic facility which has lots of animals and a couple of decent play areas too. Great for the whole family.
We thoroughly enjoyed spending our weekend with friends and family, walking around the area. I’ll share what we did in the ‘things to do’ section.
As the weekend approached I was watching the weather daily – it was not looking good. I mean I wasn’t too bothered, but our friends were joining us for 1 night and then my sister and her family for the next. Whilst I was in the cozy confines of the motorhome, they would have to brave it in our tent. I really didn’t know what to expect and whether it would cope with 80kph winds!
To be fair our friends are quite gung-ho and for 1 night, we all thought – let’s just do it!!
We arrived at the site and were guided to our pitch. A bit of serious calculations were had (throwing grass into the air) to determine wrong direction and the motorhome was positioned.
Next task was trying to remember how to erect the tent!?! Luckily we arrived early enough that the process wasn’t too painful. Albeit the boys ‘help’ hindered us slightly!
There are plenty of toilet and shower facilities. It’s a large site so they are needed and never felt overly busy. This, along with a well equipped kitchen, with small ‘store’ on site and free wi-fi makes for a pretty comfortable setting.
Our friends soon arrived and surveyed their home for the evening. Everyone was quite excited. There’s something about camping that gets you quite giddy!
Once we had unpacked their stuff (like a car full!.. for one night 😂). We could get out and enjoy the area.
Things to do
Even with the wind and rain we experienced over our staycation we still had the opportunity to get out and about. And luckily the sun did appear at times. But if looking for something to do around the area, then there’s only one place to start…
The wildlife park
Our own little animal sanctuary on the Isle of Man. A place with plenty of open space and some animals roaming freely. You’d be surprised at the types of animals here.
Prices are £11 per adult and £8 for children.
We’re not fans of caged animals. But this wildlife park promotes breeding programmes for endangered animals. We’ve recently seen the introduction of baby penguins, a baby silver gibbon and there’s rumours we could see a baby red panda 🤞.
The kids have a great time whenever they go and love seeing the wallaby’s, but inside and outside the park (escapees!!). Although my favourite has to be the tapir!
But it’s not all about the animals, there’s a fabulous play park and a huge jumping pillow that the kids can go a bit crazy on. In case of wet weather there’s a small indoor area for younger ones.
It’s a big day out for us as we mooch around the area and stay for the feeding programmes. And maybe spend a little too long enjoying the cafe delights!
About a 25 minute walk, or a quick cycle from the campsite you can reach ballaugh plantation.
It’s not the first that springs to mind when you first consider visiting a plantation on the Isle of Man. But it’s got a lovely little loop in the lower part of the forest which has boardwalks and 2 hidden ponds. Look out for the raven.
You can venture further if you feel, as it’s the start of one of the fabulous wardens walks. It involves a steady climb through Ballaugh Plantation, crossing the Druidale Road onto Ballaugh Mountain. Great if you are feeling adventurous.
Park at ballaugh plantation as the starting location and head towards Glen Dhoo. It’s a lovely walk along the valley floor as you search out the, mainly in tact, tholtan (old house). The area is absolutely beautiful and this lovely little Manx Tholtan, better known as “The Port” or “Phurt” has a small stream running past the front of it.
Head out from the campsite towards the spar shop in the village. Continue past a few yards and you see a large grass area. This is part of the heritage trail, which is in fact the old railway line which ran from peel to Ramsey. Such a shame it’s no longer in action as the coastal views would have been immense.
However, as the name suggests it’s a railway line, so nice and flat. Easy for a walk or bike ride. If you turn right, you arrive at the wildlife park (around 35 minutes). Much nice than walking along the fast stretch of the TT course.
Or if you turn left, you can head towards the next village (Kirk Michael). If you’re feeling particularly adventurous and have bikes there is a fabulous and flat route to Peel – 50 minutes (15km).
Unfortunately, I can’t seem to locate a route to Ramsey without going on very fast roads, so you may be restricted to sulby if you head north. But if you do there are 2 great pubs in the area, Sulby Glen hotel and Ginger hall. And for a play, the Sulby claddaghs is a great campsite to visit and play in.
Another short walk along the heritage trail, about 3km and only 15 minutes. Bishopscourt itself is a large, and rather impressive mansion with beautiful landed gardens. While you are walking along the railway lines, you can take a left alongside the site and arrive at across the road from bishopscourt glen.
It’s a long, thin glen reaching back from the road. Inside you’ll find easy manageable paths, with lots of fauna. There’s a lake and a mound for the kids, and adults alike, to climb. Nothing too strenuous and makes a nice outing for the family.
A slightly further distance from the campsite and easier to reach via bike or car, you can find the wallaby walk. It’s one of the top family walks on the island. Not least because it’s the best place to spot wallabies! Check out the route here.
Or you could just walk to the wildlife park and spot one right outside the fence! I think she wanted back in 😂
Places to eat
The only place to eat in Ballaugh is the Raven. Head back along the road to get ready for our night out in Ballaugh…
The Raven pub!
If staying at ballamoar campsite I highly recommend you book a table in advance. It’s the only place to eat in the area and so gets very busy with locals and campers. The food was delicious and they cater for families very well.
If you are just wanting a light but then the local spar shop is very well stocked. You can grab all your favourite treats and just hang out at the campsite.
As there isn’t a huge amount of eateries in the area, it would appear that the pantry, a local catering van, have come to the rescue. They serve up some delicious smelling pizzas! I actually want aware that they visited in a Friday evening. We’d already booked to go to the raven, but it’s worth noting if you are staying in a Friday night and don’t fancy venturing out.
We’ve always loved our visits to ballamoar. It’s got a very laid back feel to it, but at the same time being very well organised. It’s a very large site but you don’t feel on top of each other.
The overall feel definitely sways towards families with lots of kids racing around on their bikes. Very safe, as you’d expect.
And we loved exploring the area. If you love the outdoors, you’ll enjoy your stay in Ballaugh.