A2 (Isle of Man)
|Location Map ( geo)
|17.6 miles (28.3 km)
|A1, A47, A22, A46, A18, A38, A35, A39, A11, A15, A15, A18
|Route outline (key)
The A2 is the coastal road on the Isle of Man between the capital, Douglas and the second largest town, Ramsey, taking the lower route via Onchan and Laxey. It is not, however, the quickest route end to end, which is over the A18 Mountain Road.
Douglas - Laxey
The A2 begins at a mini roundabout on the A1 at Quarterbridge and heads east along the leafy suburban Quarter Bridge Road. Quarter Bridge Road becomes Bray Hill at a formerly five way signalised junction (Thorny Road is now stopped up) with Stoney Road and the A47 Tromode Road. Bray Hill is less leafy and house frontages are closer to the road than Quarter Bridge Road. At St Ninians Crossroads, the first junction to be signalised in the Isle of Man, the A2 meets the A22. Here the A2 changes name to Glencrutchery Road, and a couple of hundred yards further along it passes the grandstand and pit lane at the start/finish line of the TT Circuit. The TT Circuit follows the A2 throughout Douglas, with race traffic going from the start/finish line to Quarterbridge, round the rest of the course and then from Governor's Bridge back to the start/finish line.
Continuing along Glencrutchery, just after the start/finish line is a junction with the B67 to the Isle of Man College. A short distance further along there's a mini roundabout with the A46 Victoria Road and then, immediately after is another marking the start of the A18 at Governor's Bridge. No longer on the TT Course, the black and white kerbstones that are a feature of the circuit come to an end as the route heads north east along Governor's Road.
The A2 gets more and more built up as it reaches Onchan village centre, although these days Onchan is basically just a large suburb of Douglas. There is a roundabout with the A38 from Douglas, shortly followed by two signalised T-junctions; one with the A39 for 'The NORTH via Mountain Route' (oddly the A2 has 'Ramsey, Laxey' rather than 'The NORTH') and one with the A35 which heads towards the coast. The route then dips down Whitebridge Road to cross the Groudle River on a white-painted bridge, with large laybys for the paths through Molly Quirke's Glen. The tree lined glen marks the end of the urban area, and the road climbs back into fields.
A couple of short straights climb up, partly in shallow cuttings, to the junction with the B20 near the summit. Here a longer, wider straight drops back down, over a blind crest, into the next valley, where it meets the A11, the coastal route from Douglas. The Manx Electric Railway has run alongside the A11 from the town, and now run alongside the A2, crossing it at a level crossing not far from the the A11 junction. Soon after, the A2 goes through the village of Baldrine, and again has to drop downhill to cross the burn. This time, the stream is hidden in a band of trees between houses, with the road making a sharp right over the bridge before climbing out of the village
Another sharp left turn follows at the edge of the village, and the A2 keeps away from the sea, though is now rather close to the coast, giving stunning views. The railway is back alongside the road, having had to deviate away to avoid the roadside houses, and the two head north side by side. Houses continue to be scattered along the roadside, and the railway turns behind a couple before crossing the road at another level crossing. The small village of Ballacannell, is soon reached and passed through and, without a break in urban area, there is a sign welcoming you to Laksaa with tourist directions underneath.
Laxey/Laksaa is built around a steep valley, so the A2 has to head a long way inland to stay at roughly the same altitude. The B1 takes the more direct, but possibly slower route down Old Laxey Hill before climbing back up Minorca Hill on the far side. The wooded feel of the road belies the urban nature of its surrounds for a while, though the trees disappear and the speed limit drops as the road becomes more built up, and passes a parade of shops. After crossing the Glen Roy Bridge over Glen Roy the road is still heading inland, through the village centre, situated up here because so much of the old village lay further up the glen around the mines. There is a level crossing with three tracks - two for the Manx Electric Railway that has followed the A2 since the A11 junction, and remains alongside, and one, that just afterwards splits into two, for the Snaefell Mountain Railway. The two lines don't connect, as remarkably they use different gauges!
Just afterwards, the road and Electric Railway turn sharp right to cross the Laxey Bridge over the Laxey River. Stunning views up the valley can be seen, with glimpses of Laxey's famous Great Laxey Wheel but don't look too long as at the east end of the bridge, there is another ungated level crossing just before a sharp right turn that takes the road back towards the coast. With the railway on one side, and the steep valley side on the other, the road reverts briefly to not being built up. It climbs Douglas Road, and gets progressively more built up. The A2 meets the B1 and B11 at a crossroads at the top of Minorca Hill, and the urban nature of the road starts to decline again. The route is still climbing, however, and after some windy bends it passes the last house, heading out into the countryside once more.
Laxey - Ramsey
Heading through gorse-edged fields the A2 is still climbing towards the sea. A long left hand curve takes the road out of the Laxey valley, with some spectacular views along the coast. After a mile or so of gently climbing across the fields, passing scattered houses, the railway once more comes alongside the road. Soon after, the road and railway are perched on a cliff top, with a smaller cliff inland as the road is cut into the hillside. Road and rail wind along precariously before a tight turn to the left and the A2 heads back inland, running along the side of Dhoon Glen. The railway has to take a wider curve, but stays alongside, with the B11 slowly converging on the left as it drops down to meet the A2, having taken the shorter route over the hill.
Instead of heading back out to the coast, the road continues inland, contouring along the mountain side, and passing through a slight gap behind a hill. The railway remains close at hand until they start gradually descending down Glen Mona and into the village of the same name. Here the railway meanders off back towards the coast, while the road dips down into Ballaglass Glen. Climbing again, the road takes a hillier route to Ramsey, beginning with a gentle climb up to The Hibernian, where it meets the A15 at a crossroads, opposite a narrow, steep shortcut to the A18. After another brief ascent, the descent into Ramsey begins. Hugging the side of a hill, twisting and turning, it gets steeper, meeting the B19 and then flattening out again. Still hugging the curves of the hill, it meets the A15 again, both these junctions being sharp forks facing Ramsey, and once more begins to gradually descend down.
Entering a wooded valley, countdown markers warn of another level crossing which is found around a right angle right hand bend. On the other side of the railway, the town of Ramsey begins, with the suburb of Ballure, the A2 then forks left onto Waterloo Road, bypassing the town centre. This road, lined with multicoloured terrace town houses, is not wide enough for a centre-line, but double yellow lines prevent parked cars. At the end of this straight road, the A2 kinks left onto Albert Street, which is a little wider. This takes the A2 from the railway station to its end, at a T-junction on the A18 at the north western corner of the small triangle of green called Albert Square. The town centre, and harbour beyond, lie a short distance to the north.
The A2 was classified in the early 20s, when roads were first classified in the Isle of Man. Originally it reached Parliament Square in Ramsey, though it was truncated back by a short distance (150m) when the A18 was created. Of the original 10 A roads on the island, only the unchanged A1 and A9 have changed less. The original listing notes that the A2 included Hague Road. This would appear to refer to Summer Hill, which is now the A38, but appears to have been a spur of the A2 at the time. It has to be remembered that when the Isle of Man first classified their routes, no classified roads entered the Borough of Douglas, so two short forks in Onchan makes a little more sense.