On our third and last day on the island we were determined to get up bright and early and fit in as much as possible to our day, and that we did! We started off by driving to the North of the island to Curraghs Wildlife Park, with over 350 animals in over 40 acres of natural scenery.
Curraghs Wildlife Park
The first thing which struck me about Curraghs Wildlife Park was just how quiet it was, completely silent but for the sound of the birds tweeting and the ostrich squawking, and it was just the most peaceful place to wander around. For those who have been to large British zoos, this is in no way on the same scale, but it feels far more natural, more like you’re walking around a really beautiful park, albeit with 350 animals, and I loved that feeling!
We couldn’t have timed our arrival more perfectly as the penguin feeding talk was just about to begin. The penguins are always the children’s favourite part of any zoo and so they were so excited to see them leaping out of the water about to be fed.
Some of the enclosures appeared to be a little empty but the fun part was trying to spot the animals, something which the children really enjoyed as anything which becomes a competition is a real hit with them!
It was also lovely to see some of the birds wandering around out of the pens which the children thought was amazing! This just adds to the natural feel of the park and it was clear that each of the animals and birds appeared healthy which is really important.
There are various trails at the park where you can walk around the directed routes into the Enchanted Wood, the Nature trail, Butterfly trail, as well as the Orchard line miniature railway which wasn’t open on the morning of our visit but looks like a lot of fun!
Our favourite animals at the park were the lemurs and we were lucky enough to see two tiny babies which, as you can imagine, Eva and Megan went crazy over! At one point Eva whispered to me, “Do you think we could sneak one in our bag?”.
We saw all different varieties of owl, gibbons and primates, and a fishing cat which we have never seen before! Again it was so quiet at the park and, without the usual crowds of people we are used to at the zoo, we were able to get up close and really take our time enjoying the animals.
There is also a large adventure playground for the children which they took full advantage of and in the meantime Lewis and I went into the cafe for a hot chocolate and some lunch, although these three chose to eat theirs outdoors so as not to miss out on the fun!
We had such a lovely morning at Curraghs Wildlife Park and would love to have stayed longer but, with it being our last day, we needed to get everything done before our plane back home! You can visit the website here.
From the North to the South, our next stop was Cregneash, a living illustration of a farming and crofting community in the 19th and early 20th century. Free to visit (although tickets are needed for entry to some of the houses), it is like stepping back in time to see how the traditional crofters lived and if you’re lucky you can see Manx cats four-horned sheep, and traditional farming practices in action.
From the outside many of the houses are exactly as they were left, with the inside now home to information about their owners. We loved visiting Ned Beg’s cottage, learning a little more about his poetry and his fame within the Island, and imagining what his life would have been like living in his tiny little cottage.
Ned Beg’s cottage has the most stunning views of the countryside, now home to two beautiful horses, both of which were eager to come and greet us to say hello. I think it made the children’s day!
In the large farm house we were surprised to be greeted by a lady who was dressed in traditional crofting clothing who told us all about life there in the village and showed us around the house. She was so lovely with the children, answering all of their questions, making them laugh, and even showed them how to make little baby bootees from knitted squares.
It was so interesting to learn more about farming on the Island and the crofters rugged self-sufficient lifestyles. With views out to the Calf of Man it really is a beautiful location and I can see why those who inhabited the village were in no rush to leave.
Some of the houses were left exactly as they would have been with old fashioned spinning wheels, crockery, Grandfather clocks, and items I’m not sure the children have ever seen before. Harry was so excited to discover Harry Kellys cottage, “That says my name!” he shouted.
In one of the houses they were excited to find a table laid out ready for dinner and traditional toys and games left ready to be played. “It’s like Goldilocks and the three bears!” Harry told me as he sat down at the table and pretended to have a drink from the glass, “Ooh this is beer!”.
As well as the houses the traditional out buildings still remain intact, with thatched roofs and a work shop inside, plus a milking station too! With every house we came across the children rushed inside with such curiosity, and I loved how excited they were to embrace the Manx history.
After exploring Cregneash it was time to leave although had we had more time I’m sure we would have gone into the cafe for some cake. For those visiting Cregneash at night, it is one of 26 registered Dark Sky Discovery Sites on the Isle of Man so a great spot for star-gazers to visit!
** We were invited to the Isle of Man for a complimentary stay. We were gifted admission in exchange for honest reviews. All words and opinions are my own unless otherwise stated **