Famed for its picturesque scenery and legendary roads, the Isle of Man is a haven for any motorist, whether they be on two wheels or four. To give you a little taste of what the island’s roads have to offer, here are our top five routes to drive or ride on the Isle of Man.
Probably one of the most technical routes on our list, the Druidale road has been a popular choice for many rallies held on the Isle of Man over the years. That being said, motorists should take precautions with this route as it is not for the faint-hearted. Starting at the Raven Pub in Ballaugh, the route heads up the Ballaugh Glen Road past the campsite towards Ravensdale. Once in Ravensdale, you’ll then need to take the signposted left-hand turn towards Druidale. It can quite easily be missed, so if you reach the car park for Ballaugh Plantation, you’ve gone too far. The next stage of the route climbs a single track lane nestled between hedgerows of gorse bush until you reach an open hillside overlooking the previously mentioned Ballaugh Plantation. It is highly recommended that you pull over for a moment when you get to the top of the hillside in order to fully appreciate the panoramic views of the island presented at this point.
Once you’ve had your fill of the impressive view, you’ll then head onto the trickiest part of the route. You’ll notice that the roads get narrower at this point yet ever more winding. Combine this with the occasional sheep roaming the road, and you’ve got your work cut out. After you’ve dodged the sheep, you’ll soon see a white building in the distance on the edge of a plantation, and this is the finishing point. If you take a left on the main road, this will take you to the mountain road. Take a right, and you’ll head towards the main road just outside of Kirk Michael.
Next up on our list is the picturesque route between two of the island’s most scenic seaside resorts. Starting in the south-westerly town of Port Erin, the route begins with a steep and windy climb through Ballakillowey onto the looming Sloc. Once on the Sloc, motorists are blessed with an outstanding view across the south of the island off the right of the road but don’t get distracted by it; there’s a long way down off the side. At the top of the Sloc, the road straightens out towards the Round Table crossroads, where you should then turn left.
The next section of the route is made up of narrow country lanes, passing the breathtakingly beautiful Niarbyl Bay, which we recommend a stop off, then through the outlying villages of Dalby and Glen Maye. Following Glen Maye, the road then heads through the village of Patrick that was once home to the largest internment camp during WW1 on Knockaloe Farm. Following Patrick, the route then heads into the coastal town of Peel, famed for its sunsets, beaches and Viking era fort. Why not finish off your trip by sampling one of the town’s renowned fish and chip shops or treat yourself to a Crab Bap, a delicacy for many locals.
The West Baldwin Road is another route on our list that is ideal for the more courageous of motorists. Made up of narrow winding roads, including a challenging hairpin turn that leads directly into a steep climb, the West Baldwin Road is perfect for motorists looking for a more challenging route. Starting from the Mount Rule Road between Crosby and Strang, the route first heads along the tree-lined road past several rustic country homes. The road then opens up onto an almost never-ending view of green fields before the distant hills come into view over the ridge. It then drops back under the trees, again enclosing the narrow roads, twisting and turning for a few more miles until opening up onto the spectacular Injebreck Reservoir. Following the road left, you should then see Injebreck Plantation. It is well worth stopping off in the plantation car park so that you can fully take in the beauty of the surrounding scenery in what is probably one of the most rural valleys on the island.
Once you’ve taken in the views, turn left out of the car park back onto the main road and follow until you reach the hairpin turn. As you come round the corner, the road goes into a steep climb, and you’ll see the plantation to your left falling below as you rise into a meandering country pass. Depending on the time of year, you may also see the odd ewe wandering the road or adjacent fields with her lambs. Once you’ve weaved up the hillside, the road then levels out and views of Snaefell, and the surrounding hills will come into sight. If you have previously taken the Druidale route, a familiar scene of the white building on the edge of Sartfell Plantation will come into view where the Baldwin Road ends. Like the Druidale route, you now have the option of going one way to Kirk Michael or the other to Mountain Road. Alternatively, you could head straight over and take the Druidale route in reverse.
One of the shortest yet most scenic routes on our list, this road is reminiscent of an alpine pass and is a firm favourite amongst locals. The road begins at the Sulby Glen Hotel located in the north of the Island, first heading past the church and through the quaint older part of Sulby village. Once through the village, the surroundings become increasingly wooded until the road narrows as it enters the valley. It then runs alongside the Sulby River, flowing in the opposite direction as the valley begins to tower above. Once you pass over the cattle grid, the valley opens up with a large grassland area becoming visible on the left-hand side of the river containing the traditional dry stone wall, adding to the remote impression of the route. The road continues for a further mile until the Tholt-Y-Will Plantation comes into view on the right.
You will then pass the plantation’s car park before the road bridges over the river, and the uphill section of the route comes into view. The road then climbs up the hillside zigzagging back on itself multiple times until it straightens out, continuing the climb past the Sulby Reservoir and Dam located to the right. The road then opens up as it slowly ascends toward Snaefell, looming over the route. As you close in on the endpoint of the Bungalow, you will see the tramlines of the Manx Electric Railway ascending up Snaefell. On a summer’s day, you may also see one of the Victorian-era trams making its journey to the top; it’s definitely worth a ride up for the outstanding views if you get the chance. Once at the finishing point of the Bungalow, you can head either left to Ramsey or right onto Douglas.
Making up 9.5 miles of the legendary TT Mountain Course, the mountain road is arguably one of the best roads in the British Isles. With several long sweeping corners combined with some of the best views on the island, any motorist would be forgiven to think that they’d died and gone to motoring heaven whilst driving across the mountain. Starting on the run-up to Ramsey Hairpin from Whitegates, the road then climbs up to the Bungalow heading through the Gooseneck, the Mountain Mile and the Verandah, to name but a few of the famously named corners. If you want a bite to eat, we highly recommend that you stop off at the Victory Cafe by the Bungalow, ensuring you take a minute to soak in the views of the surrounding hills and valleys.
Following the Bungalow, the road then heads into Hailwood Heights, the highest point on the road, and through the most nerve-wracking section made up of Duke’s Bend and Windy Corner. The route then heads on to Creg Ny Baa, passing through Keppel Gate and Kate’s Cottage on the way, where you’ll be welcomed with a view of the Douglas Bay area like no other. The road then continues down into Hillberry and onwards onto Onchan and Douglas.
Not many places in the world combine part of a race track with breathtaking views quite as the Mountain Road does. No motoring trip to the Isle of Man would be complete without it.
Motoring on the Isle of Man is an experience like no other. It combines legendary motorsport routes with picturesque surroundings. So if you’re looking to plan a motoring break on the island, two-wheeled or four, get in contact with us and one of our local experts would be happy to assist.
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Champion House, Tromode Business Park, Douglas, Isle of Man, IM99 1DD