Dream drives: Isle of Man

| 13 Apr 2022
Classic & Sports Car – Dream drives: Isle of Man

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The 33-mile long, 13-mile wide Isle of Man in the Irish Sea is part of the British Isles but not the United Kingdom.

It’s a Crown Dependency and has its own parliament, Tynwald, which is the oldest continuous parliament in Europe.

But you’ll likely best know the island thanks to the world-famous TT motorbike race and, because it’s run on public roads, that iconic 37.73-mile clockwise mountain route that starts and finishes at the TT Grandstand on the A2 Glencrutchery Road, in Douglas, is one you can follow yourself in your classic.

But probably not at the astonishing 135.452mph average speed of Peter Hickman when he set a new outright lap record of 16 mins 42.778 secs in 2018.

Classic & Sports Car – Dream drives: Isle of Man
A bronze tribute by sculptor Amanda Burton to ‘king of the mountain’ Joey Dunlop who died in 2000

Once free of the more urban sections that produce some of the race’s most heart-in-your-mouth moments, the route turns right at Ballacraine on to the A3 for its first really scenic break into the countryside, and after Ramsay joins the spectacular A18 Snaefell mountain road that winds you back to Douglas.

The mountain road also, famously, has no speed limit, derestricted zones meaning exactly that in Manx law, unlike the 60 or 70mph of the UK. But, of course, you should always drive within your limits and to the conditions.

It’s a route of ever-changing scenery, from towns and villages to fields and stunning vistas across the Irish Sea, with many opportunities to pause for a moment to just drink in the views.

Hailwood Rise, between the 31st and 32nd roadside mile-markers, is the route’s highest point at 422m above sea level. And while you’re up there, visit the statue to 26-time TT winner Joey Dunlop by the Bungalow.

Classic & Sports Car – Dream drives: Isle of Man
From towns and villages to open countryside, the Isle of Man TT route has it all

Along the route you might also like to stop off at the private ARE Classic Motorcycle Collection on the A3 in Kirk Michael, while a few miles further along the course near Quarry Bends is Curraghs Wildlife Park, which also has a miniature railway and is the reason why the island has wild wallabies after a pair escaped in the ’70s.

Enjoy a wander through the streets of Ramsey before continuing to enjoy the views from Mountain Box and Windy Corner (it is).

It’s said that from the summit on a clear day you can see six kingdoms: the Isle of Man, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and heaven.

Jumping on a ferry for a dream drive makes it even more of an adventure, but be sure you know how long your classic is – they pack them in. And while the island’s currency is sterling and all British money is viable, the island produces its own notes and coins, which aren’t accepted in the UK.

Images: Will Broadhead, HERO-ERA

Local knowledge

  • Where to stay Edelweiss guest house: one of many B&Bs in the heart of Douglas
  • Where to eat Conrod’s Coffee Stop: Ramsey café owned by TT rider Conor Cummins 
  • What to see Isle of Man Motor Museum: worth a diversion to Jurby
  • Hidden gem Douglas seafront: at low tide you can walk out to the Tower of Refuge
  • Pitstop You’re spoilt for choice with 17 filling stations, one on the TT route in Kirk Michael

All information correct at date of original publication


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