A18 (Isle of Man)
|Location Map ( geo)
|13.4 miles (21.6 km)
|A3, A9, A2, A14, A6, A39, A2
|Route outline (key)
The A18 is the Mountain Road from Douglas to Ramsey, and forms part of the TT Circuit, which runs in the opposite direction. It is not just the finest road on the Isle of Man, it must rank as one of the best in the British Isles.
Ramsey - Bungalow
The route starts in Parliament Square in Ramsey, where the TT riders arrive on the A3 and turn right through the square onto Albert Road. A little further along, the A2 forks left, taking the coast road to Douglas, but the A18 continues ahead, curving round to the south west on Hughenden Terrace, lined with grand Victorian villas and terraces. A left hand bend then leads between modern housing estates which back onto the main road, and soon the route is climbing into the trees. Right on the edge of town, the A18 has to navigate the sharp Ramsey Hairpin, doubling back on itself with a large woodland parking area on the outside of the bend.
A steep climb through the trees leads out on to the open hillside as the road doubles back on itself once more, this time through a series of bends, with downhill traffic enjoying a spectacular view of the sea looking to be a lot closer than it is. The waterworks bends wind up across the fields above the Ballure Reservoir to Gooseneck, another tight right hand bend, but not quite a hairpin. The road soon crosses the 200m contour, but the climb doesn't ease, with traffic powering up past the fields and onto the moorland above. A couple of very small parking areas offer some spectacular viewpoints, and then the road has to navigate a couple of very tight old stone bridges on a sharp bend, both painted with white black and yellow stripes to make them more visible during races.
The Mountain Mile above Glen Auldyn is as straight as the route gets, winding up the hill to the 400m contour. There are a series of permanent marshalls huts along the roadside, that at Mountain Box standing on the outside of a long sweeping bend. The views are outstanding, and as the road turns the corner, the summit of Snaefell comes into view ahead. Having crossed one hill, the route is now curving around the headwaters of the Sulby River, the climb almost finished. Below Snaefell the road crosses the watershed to the head of the Laxey Glen, and curves along the contours of the islands highest summit, rising and falling as it finds its way around the hillside to Bungalow. This is that start of the main path up to the summit, which leads up from next to the Bungalow Station on the Snaefell Mountain Railway. On the other side of the station, the A14 arrives, having climbed up through the beautiful Sulby Glen.
Bungalow - Douglas
The junction is a wide bellmouth T junction, presumably allowing room for the requirements of the races. The road climbs a little beyond to reach its summit of 422m just south of the footbridge, and then the descent begins. Perhaps not as spectacular as the climb, it is still an epic road. Having re-crossed the watershed, the route curves around another headwater of the Sulby River to Brandywell, where the B10, the highest road on the island, turns right for it own epic journey across the hills. Now above the Baldwin Valley, the road curves around the hillside to Windy Corner, a wide, sweeping right hander which leads onto a straighter descent, although by no means actually straight. A left hand bend at Keppels Gate leads onto the short straight down to Creg-ny-Baa, a sharp right turn in front of the hotel.
Already below 250m, the route continues to lose height as it follows a long straight just off the crest of a ridge down to a left hand kink at Brandish, from where it is just a short run down to Hillberry and the outer edge of Douglas. After the long descent, there is a slight climb up from the bridge over the burn to reach the junction with the A6 at Cronk-ny-Mona. Now in Douglas proper, the A18 runs between housing estates, again with the houses backing onto the main road, to the mini roundabout at Signpost Corner, where the A39 continues ahead into Onchan. The final stretch lies ahead, as the route becomes very suburban, winding down hill between modern housing estates to reach its end at Governors Bridge. Here the TT Circuit turns right onto the A2 for the final short run to the finish line.
As originally numbered in the 1920's, the route was given the B11 number. It had been renumbered as the A18 by 1963.