There are eighteen mountain and coastal glens spread around the island. These havens of natural beauty and tranquillity are characterised by tumbling waterfalls, deep river pools and lush vegetation. Glen Maye, noted for its picturesque waterfall and fern-filled woodland, is one of the most beautiful. Located in the village of the same name about five kilometres south of Peel it can also be reached via the Raad ny Foillan. One of the island’s most popular natural wonders is Spooyt Vane, a waterfall at the end of a gently babbling stream through Glen Mooar. Surrounded by ferns, moss and tall, old trees creating a leafy canopy above with ruins of an ancient chapel to explore, it can be found just south of Kirk Michael. Glen Helen, one of the island’s best-known glens, is on the western side of the Island, north of Ballacraine on the famous TT Course. It is a long, wooded valley with two waterfalls, the most dramatic is the Rhenass Waterfall, surrounded by sequoia, spruce, fir, oak, sycamore and beech trees. There are plenty of paths and footbridges around the glen, making it an easy one to explore. One of the largest waterfalls on the island, Dhoon Glen’s ‘Big Girl’, is forty metres high and set over two levels in a secluded cove at the end of a steep valley. It is popular for its amazing rugged beauty, which also makes it one of the tougher glens to explore as some of the paths are rough or involve steep climbs. There is only one glen in the mountainous centre of the island, Tholt-e-Will Glen, nestled between Snaefell and Sulby Reservoir; its steep-sided valley follows the meanders of a mountain stream. On the east coast Ballaglass Glen, just to the north of Laxey, is a good one for children. A sculpture depicting a wise old man, who is known as the Wizard of Mann, as well as the miniature fairy house and access to the glen on the Manx Electric Railway, makes for a fun visit. In the same vein, just north of Douglas and the first stop on the Manx Electric Railway, Groudle Glen is charming and the miniature Groudle Glen Railway is fun to ride. For something completely different, The Chasms are a striking series of huge fissures cut deep into the cliffs along the island’s south-east coast near the village of Cregneash (parking) or can be reached via a coast walk along the Raad ny Foillan from nearby Port St Mary. For the adventurous, local companies offer gorge scrambling to get more of an adrenaline fix from these natural wonders. Further information here
Best walks to waterfalls and glens
Spooyt Vane – a wonderful gentle 8km walk in the west of the island with beach, woodland, great views, and the popular waterfall of Spooyt Vane through the beautiful Glen Mooar. The walks starts from Glen Wyllin car park (Grid ref. SC 30957 90575) near Kirk Michael. Walk to the beach and follow it south to the next beach access, where the valley of Glen Mooar meets the sea. Leave the beach here, follow the small road through a ford, and cross the A4 to enter Glen Mooar – a wooded glen with a small river. Follow a path up through the valley past the remains of a chapel, to the steep steps that descend to the foot of the Spoot Vayne. To return, walk back up the path and continue around the glen, then follow the larger track back towards the dismantled railway track. Return to Glen Wyllin by crossing the A4 and walking down the lane to the start.
Tholt-y-Will – a walk through possibly the prettiest glen on the Isle of Man, along the wild Sulby River and Sulby Reservoir, in the shadow of Snaefell. Start at the Sulby Reservoir car park (Grid ref. SC 37386 88966) and cross the dam into Tholt-y-Will Plantation. Descend towards the Sulby River which, then gradually ascend up the glen alongside the stream and falls. Near the top of the glen a boardwalk passes over the stream and rocks. The main route descends through a farm back to Sulby Reservoir.