Food and Travel (UK) - - Scotlandisland Isle Of Islay, -

Most peo­ple know two things about the Isle of Man. The first is that it is home to a species of tail­less cat, the re­sult of a ge­netic mu­ta­tion. The sec­ond is that in May and June the Tourist Tro­phy mo­tor­bike race draws 50,000 petrol­heads to its emer­ald shores.

It’s ironic that the Isle of Man has a rep­u­ta­tion for speed be­cause for 50 weeks a year, it’s a slow-mov­ing place. Half­way be­tween Eng­land and Ire­land, it is home to the world’s old­est con­tin­u­ous par­lia­ment, the Tyn­wald, es­tab­lished by the Vik­ings in 979AD. Un­til the 20th cen­tury, Manx Gaelic was the chief lan­guage, with the last na­tive speaker only pass­ing in 1974.

Last year, Unesco de­clared the is­land a Bio­sphere Re­serve (one of six in the UK), mark­ing it out as one of the most beau­ti­ful spots in Bri­tain to im­merse your­self in na­ture. Of its 572sq km, 40 per cent is un­in­hab­ited. Ex­pect de­serted glens, rugged coast­lines pounded by the Ir­ish Sea and misty val­leys.

This epic land­scape lends it­self to ad­ven­ture. Pad­dle around the oddly shaped Su­gar­loaf Rock on a sea kayak with Ad­ven­tur­ous Ex­pe­ri­ences, take to the lonely moors for a les­son with Manx Paraglid­ing or fol­low a dis­used rail­way deep into Glenn Mooar.

For all that it is a pas­toral idyll, the Isle of Man is also a tax haven, and its wealth is ev­i­dent in the amount of ar­ti­san foods avail­able. Moore’s smoke­house cures creamy tex­tured kip­pers, a flurry of mi­cro­brew­eries have opened in re­cent years, while farm­ers’ mar­kets such as Castle­town and Ramsey over­flow with or­ganic pro­duce. 14North on Dou­glas’s har­bour treats lo­cal in­gre­di­ents with the re­spect they de­serve. Its menu reg­u­larly fea­tures cray­fish, quee­nie scal­lops and na­tive Loagh­tan mut­ton. This meat is highly prized on the is­land but it’s also dif­fi­cult to track down as Har­rods does its best to snaf­fle the lot.

Aca­cia Bou­tique en­joys a prime lo­ca­tion on Dou­glas’s Queens Promenade. Its 12 bed­rooms are spa­cious, while the Aca­cia Suite boasts a roof ter­race that’s idea for soak­ing up the view. Dou­bles from £95. aca­cia­bou­

easyJet has flights from var­i­ous Lon­don air­ports to Isle of Man Air­port from £48 re­turn.

From top: Maugh­old Head; Dou­glas; cured kip­pers; craw­fish; Dou­glas Head

Op­po­site page, from top: Point Ly­nas Light­house; the surf’s up at Rhos­neigr; Lland­dwyn Is­land Light­house and cobalt blue wa­ters; Beau­maris Cas­tle

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