The Manx Wildlife Trust provides information on local wildlife and habitats at its two Visitor/ Interpretation Centres, Scarlett on the low rocky coast near Castletown and the Ayres in the far north, situated in an important area of coastal dunes and heath.
Turn down the coast road west of Castletown. There is a car park by the disused quarry.
Scarlett has spectacular geological formations with pavement-like limestone strata near the Visitor Centre contrasting with rugged volcanic rocks in the vicinity of the Stack. There is a disused limestone quarry and there are lime kilns. The MWT Visitor Centre is situated in the former office for the quarry. There are displays about the rocks and, fossils and lime kilns as well as the plant life and seashore life.
The nature trail starts by the quarry and leads the visitor to the lime kilns. Limestone was much valued as a building stone on the Island but it was also quarried to feed the kilns which produced lime for agricultural use by Manx farmers. The trail passes notable landmarks which include the Stack, a large mass of rock composed of columnar basalt which was formed during volcanic activity, about 300 to 360 million years ago, in a way similar to the Giant's Causeway in Ireland. Another large area of rock consists mainly of ash ejected from a volcano, and supports a variety of lichens.
The vegetation of Scarlett is generally that of a maritime heath with a range of plants including bulbous buttercup, sea campion, scurvy grass, birdsfoot trefoil, English stonecrop, and the beautiful blue spring squill. There is a freshwater pool, near the storm beach, where fennel pondweed grows. Rock samphire is found nearby in saltier pools.
A great variety of birds can be seen at Scarlett. The Stack provides perches for seabirds, notably shag, cormorant, gulls and auks. Waders and ducks in the area include oystercatcher, ringed plover, turnstone, mallard and shelduck. Herons are often seen standing in the shallow waters watching for fish. Along the nature trail the meadow pipit and wheatear frequent the grassy areas and the stonechat is often seen perching high on bushes.
On a clear day it is possible to see almost the entire mountain chain of the Island at the furthest point on the nature trail from the visitor centre.
On a lead
Visitor centre and Shop
Open for Easter Weekend 15th to 18th April
Then open for the season 13th May to 13th September 2022
Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday afternoons 2pm to 5pm
May to September