A14 (Isle of Man)
|Location Map ( geo)
|9.5 miles (15.3 km)
|A10, A13, A3, A18
|Route outline (key)
The A14 is a route which few people will ever need to drive end to end. It starts on the Isle of Mans northern coast, and ends up high in the mountains below Snaefell.
Sartfield - Sulby
The route starts at a rather unassuming T junction on the A10 at Jurby, and heads south east between the airfield and industrial estate. Jurby airfield was built during World War Two, and subsequently became a busy RAF station, with a large settlement built alongside. Since the RAF closed the base, a variety of businesses have moved in, and the old military housing sold off, creating a busy village. The A14 therefore passes through a strange mixture of wartime buildings, which were perhaps only designed for short lives, and modern buildings for both the village and industrial estate. At the end of a long straight, the route curves to the right and crosses the end of the old runway, although as the rest is largely use as a race track, it seems unlikely that many planes will trouble motorists.
The excitement of the A14 is temporarily over, and a series of long straights lead it across fields to meet the A13 at Sanydgate Crossroads. The A13 has priority, and the junction is lined as a slight dogleg to the left. A windier section follows, passing several large detached houses set amongst the fields. After crossing The Lhen Trench, the route becomes more wooded, and then straightens up as it emerges from the trees, heading south on another long straight. A scattering of houses sit on the roadside as it curves gently away from the straight, and a slightly sinuous route then leads it to meet the A3 at a crossroads next to the Sulby Hotel on the famous Sulby Straight, part of the TT Circuit.
Sulby - Snaefell
Across the junction, the A14 soon changes character. A short straight leads past the houses behind the church, and then the B8 comes in from the left at a crossroads. More houses sit tight against the roadside as it winds round a double bend, getting narrower as it does so. Beyond the last house, the trees close in overhead, and the road starts to climb, snaking around bends, and often narrower than the intermittent centre line suggests. Signs warn of weight limits ahead, traffic can be busy around rush hour, as this is the quickest way from Douglas to the north west part of the island, and then the centre line disappears completely as the road squeezes between some more properties.
As the route continues to climb, it is often too narrow for two cars to pass, and there are no marked passing places. The road is hemmed in between grassy banks, often with trees overhanging, but despite all of this, it is a beautiful drive through Sulby Glen. An improbably steep bracken covered slope rises up to the right, while the river sits down to the left as the road snakes around blind bends and onto a longer straight. The glen is one of the Isle of Man's more remarkable landscapes, a steep V-shaped valley cut deep into the hills, and the road snakes up past a couple of small parking areas where the views can be enjoyed. After a long, wider stretch, the route crosses a cattle grid and becomes narrower once more, winding along the narrow ledge just above the river.
Eventually, the road lifts up the slope, climbing a little away from the valley floor, and runs through some trees to reach the handful of buildings at Tholt-y-will. The river has meandered a little, and is once more just below road level when the A14 crosses it on Tholt-y-Will Bridge. A large car park offers the opportunity to explore the glen, and one of the buildings is home to a cafe. The A14, however, has no time to explore, and after crossing the bridge (3T weight limit) there are warnings of a 2T weight limit ahead. A steep climb leads up around two sharp hairpins, and it seems to be the retaining wall supporting the upper bend that is the problem. Still climbing, the road curves around the hillside as it lifts out of the glen, which is dammed ahead by a grassed earthen dam holding back the Sulby Reservoir.
A sharp left hand bend leads to the entrance to the reservoir car park, where the weight limit ends and the route becomes wider once more. It is still climbing, however, and while another pair of near-hairpin bends have been removed, the gradient is unrelenting. After the scenic splendour of the Sulby Glen, the road is now crossing open moorland, the rounded top of Snaefell ahead, and lower hills stretching away to the south. A series of straights, connected by sweeping bends, bring the road around the steeper slopes above the headwaters of the Sulby River, and ultimately to journeys end, a wide T junction with the A18 at Bungalow. The junction is wide enough to allow cars to do a U turn and head back down the glen to enjoy it all over again.
As originally numbered in the 1920's, the route was given the B10 number from Sandygate Crossroads south through Sulby Glen to Bungalow. It had been renumbered as the A14 by 1963, although it is not known if the B10 was ever extended north to Jurby prior to being renumbered.
|A14 (Isle of Man)