A11 (Isle of Man)
|Location Map ( geo)
|5.4 miles (8.7 km)
|A8, A22, A38, A35, A2
|Route outline (key)
The A11 runs from the port at Douglas, along the coast, via Onchan Head before heading inland to meet the A2 at Balladromma. Apart from the mountain roads, it is one of the best and most scenic routes on the island.
The route starts at the southern end of the Promenade, at a roundabout outside the Sea Terminal building, and heads north west, curving north along the sea front. Until recently, the horse tramway ran along the road from its terminus near the roundabout, but sea front improvement works seem to have substantially curtailed the route. This seems to be a compromise position with the tramway loss-making in recent years and under repeated threat of closure. The route curves along Loch Promenade to head north, long terraces of brightly coloured Guest houses and hotels standing on the left, looking out across the sea front gardens to Douglas Bay, and distant glimpses of the Lake District on the horizon. Some of these buildings are much newer than they look, or are new behind retained facades, but the overall effect retains the promenade's traditional appearance.
The first of two 'Roundel' Roundabouts, installed in 2021/2 is met at the junction with the B64, Church Road Marina, replacing a former 'longabout' which has largely been turned into a new 'cultural corner' in front of the Theatre and Winter Gardens. The long covered walkway across the gardens links the theatre to the Villa Maria, also now home to a theatre space amongst other facilities. Just past it is the Broadway Roundel Roundabout at the start of the A22, Broadway, beyond which is the current southern terminus for the tramway. This is located on the pedestrian part of the promenade, but the tramlines quickly cross through a chicane for southbound traffic to run up the middle of the road in the traditional manner.
Continuing North along the Central Promenade, a modern block of flats incorporates, and copies a beautiful old Art Deco frontage, beyond which lie some rather less considerate modern buildings, and the old Castle Mona set up above a parade of shops, and now a hotel. As the sea front turns to run north east along Queens Promenade, gardens resume on the shore side for a time, and then the A38 forks left, climbing up to the A2 and providing the main route to Laxey and Ramsey. A little further along is Derby Castle, the joint terminus of the tramway and the Manx Electric Railway, which runs tramcar vehicles rather than electric trains. Their tracks run along the inland side of the road as it starts to climb past the remains of the ill-fated Summerland development.
The climb leads off the end of the Promenade and up the hill at Port Jack into the suburbs of Onchan, with many luxurious apartment developments on the clifftops. At Port Jack, the A35 appears to stop just short of meeting the A11, B roads oddly providing the final connection, and then the route swings inland on King Edward Road, running through modern housing developments, every house vying for a glimpse of the sea. After the last house, the A11 finds itself perched at the top of the steep drop into the Irish Sea, the railway still snaking along to the left. The route then curves around the low hill topped by a golf course to enter the scenic Groudle Glen.
The A11 heads inland, staying high above the valley floor to cross to the northern slopes at the high Groudle Glen Viaduct. This carries both road and rail, and due to the tight bends, and required curvature of the tracks, the two bends on and off the viaduct are severe pinch points on what is otherwise a generally wide route. Hidden down below among the trees are a series of pleasant riverside walks, past the watermill and up to the Groudle Glen Railway, a short detached line which famously goes 'uphill to the sea'. The whole glen was developed as a Victorian tourist attraction, with a rather strange zoo on the cliffs at the far end of the railway. Back on the A11, it soon climbs out of the glen, following the shallow valley of the Lhen Coan River, a tributary of the Groudle.
The final stretch of the route climbs gently through trees and across fields, still with the railway alongside. Then, just before the end, the railway crosses at a level crossing, the road necessarily turning hard left, and coming to an end on the A2 barely a car length later. The railway continues north east alongside the A2, to Laxey crossing at a level crossing a short distance beyond the junction.