Garwick Glen must be one of the prettiest and most romantic little glens on the Isle of Man and is situated in the valley at Baldrine. The River Gawne winds through the natural setting of the landscaped grounds, passing through a delightful pool at the rear of the house before dropping down into the pretty little wooded glen and emerging at the sea.
The old packhorse road, from Douglas to the north of the Island, sweeps down (via Lower Packhorse Lane), from the main Baldrine road, past Garwick House and up to the opposite side of Baldrine before heading off to Laxey.
Opposite the main entrance to the glen, on the main road, can be seen a fine example of an old water-driven corn mill, now part of a private dwelling.
The name Garwick means "pleasant bay." This is derived from the Celtic word "coar" meaning Pleasant and the Norse word "wick" which means, "bay", "Coarwick" then became "Garwick."
The glen is steeped in history with its romantic wishing stone and the "Chibbyr Crauee" or Well of Wisdom. There are also the remains of an ancient Celtic fortress. Legend has it that this glen was a centre for smuggling in the 18th century and a cave stretching from the beach up into the glen is known as Dirk Haiterick's Cave.
Hatteraick or Haiterick's Cave is reputed to be the cave which Sir Walter Scott had in mind whilst writing his novel "Guy Mannering". Dirk Haiterick was described as a notorious smuggler who, apart from being a free trader between the Manx and Galloway coasts, was also suspected of being a pirate. He was depicted by Scott as half Manx, half Dutch and half devil. He may have been treated in the Island as a hero but in Galloway the mere mention of his name was enough to frighten the children. The cave is blocked, but the entrance within Garwick Glen is an imposing 10 feet high. It may be that this was the site of a mine as in so many of the glens, but the author and present owners prefer to stick with the more romantic notion of Haiterick's smuggling.
Legend has it that another cave had been a hideaway for the Duchess of Gloucester whom stories say, had escaped from the dungeons of Peel Castle. How the Duchess of Gloucester came to be imprisoned on the Isle of Man is told in William Shakespeares play "King Henry VI". It is said that after her escape she found a friend in an old hermit who took her to Garwick and helped her to remain hidden for almost a year. She was eventually recaptured whilst trying to return to England, and spent the rest of her life in Peel Castle dungeons. The truth of this story is that the Duchess never left the castle at all but it was a good tale to tell the visitors.
The Hermit's archway is a narrow passage cut through the rock. Beyond this the path ends at a high cliff, but one can pass through a water worn passage to a further cave with fine rock scenery. These caves were at one time illuminated.
The wishing stone has a charming verse carved into it.
Let not ambition shape your wish,
Or you will surley rue it.
Nor avaroce prompt some wild desire,
For you will not come to it.
The fairies aid no sordid thought,
But firmly would subdue it.
Brave youth, if maiden's heart you seek,
And would aspire to win it,
Then tarry not to lay your siege,
But eagerly begin it;
The wish that springs from honest love,
Is granted in a minute!
Fair maid your case is in our care
Your wish is every tender;
No selfish maiden ever yet
Found fairy to befriend her.
Wish on, and give his name to us -
We'll reach him to surrender
And ye of middle age who seek,
The fairies intercession,
Let no vain thought of idle wealth
Have place in your confessions -
For happiness and length of years
Are far more fair possessions.
The house, which stands in the glen, has deeds going back to 1885, although it was not actually completed until 1894. It was designed and built by Mr Craine of Douglas. The main Douglas to Laxey road which we all know, was originally just a little coaching road which went down into the glen before emerging at the top of the hill on the other side. This was probably the reason that the house became open to the public. It had a good number of years as a coaching inn and then the tourist boom turned it into a licensed public house.
Its exterior appearance was of a mock Tudor style before later owners, with the help and advice of architects Brown & Associates gave it a more Georgian appearance.
At the height of the tourist years, visitors would catch the electric tram from Douglas at a cost of sixpence per adult, and alight at Garwick Station, (out of this fare, 1d per adult and 1/2d per child was payable to the owner of the glen). The picturesque waiting room at Garwick station had pretty rustic seats and there was also a kiosk with a thatched roof from which to buy postcards and gifts. After paying their entrance fee, they would pass through a turnstile and walk down into the glen where they could stop at the inn or tea gardens for refreshments before enjoying all the amenities such as a game of tennis by the boating lake or even going down to the beach where rowing boats could be hired. The glen also had a unique attraction to the Island in the form of a maze, which was modelled on the famous one at Hampton Court.
The front of the house was originally just boggy land, but for the enjoyment of visitors it was completely reconstructed and landscaped to create a boating lake surrounded by rose gardens. This lake is now home to a fine selection of ducks, geese, black swans and trout complete with a lovely romantic bridge stretching over to an island in the centre.
The river was, and still is, home to some fine salmon trout. A report in the Manx Mercury newspaper of 1793, states that 206 salmon were caught in Garwick.
The Development of the Grounds
An orchard, looking down upon the lake, has been created out of a rubbish tip. The present owners have been giving a new lease of life to the maze after it was sadly neglected when the tourists stopped visiting. All the handrails along the little paths have been replaced with new ones and a new ten-year planting scheme is underway within the glen. The glen has once again been given a new lease of life.
[Source: Manx Glens - A stroll through history]
[Acknowledgement: Suzanne Cubbon]