Groudle Glen Railway

The amount of wonderful things the Isle of Man has lost as our tourist industry dwindled through the decades is staggering.

Fortunately, there are still teams of dedicated volunteers who aren't content to let this valuable past fade. The Groudle Glen railway is a fantastic example of what can be achieved with passion, dedication and - undoubtedly - a little bit of stoic bloody-mindedness. Originally built at the end of the 19th century, this tiny line ran from Lhen Coan, at the top of the glen, to the small zoo situated at Sea Lion Rocks where visitors could see (unsurprisingly) sea lions, as well as polar and brown bears. Although this sounds amazing, there's little doubt that these unfortunate animals were held in thoroughly miserable conditions - especially the bears. The zoo closed for good after the Second World War, with a vague report that the animals had been "released". This gives us some hope that there's a hitherto undiscovered colony of wild polar bears living quietly on the outskirts of Onchan, somehow surviving on leftover chips, cheese and gravy.

The railway had been completely dismantled by the end of the 1970s, but in 1982 a group of volunteers began the fairly mammoth process of clearing the land and re-laying track. Over the next 30-odd years, they managed to create a marvellous little line - full of fun and exquisitely presented. One of the original steam engines - "Sea Lion", now fully restored - still runs from Lhen Coan station to the Sea Lion Rocks tea room, where there are informative displays and, most importantly, excellent cakes.

By GKA - Own work (Original text: I created this work entirely by myself.), CC BY-SA 3.0,


There is no wheelchair access to the site, and a combination of steps and uneven ground can make any access difficult for the less able.

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Published: 17 May 2022

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