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A3 (Isle of Man)

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Location Map ( geo)
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From:  Castletown (SC263679)
To:  Ramsey (SC448944)
Via:  Glenmooar, Kirk Michael
Distance:  24.9 miles (40.1 km)
Meets:  A5, A7, A34, A36, A24, A40, A1, A20, A4, A10, A14, A17, A18, A9
Former Number(s):  A3, A4
Primary Destinations
Highway Authorities

Isle of Man

Traditional Counties

Isle of Man

Route outline (key)
A3 Castletown - Ramsey

The A3 forms the main N-S route down the middle of the Isle of Man, and is the longest classified road on the island. The northern section of the route forms part of the TT Circuit, which runs clockwise, ie south to north along the A3.


Castletown - Foxdale

Church Bends, part of the Southern 100 Course

The route starts on the A5 Castletown bypass and heads north, immediately crossing the Isle of Man Steam Railway on a bridge. There are a few houses along the left hand side of the road, facing out over fields, but most of the town lies to the south of the bypass. A couple of long straights lead up to the sharp double bend between the graveyards at Malew Church. Indeed, these bends appear to be such a problem that flashing signs, like those for school crossings, have been installed warning when a funeral is taking place! At the end of the next straight, the A3 crosses the A7 at Cross Four Ways, and has to give way to it. This is the only time that the route cedes priority.

Continuing north, the route becomes windier as it passes a quarry and a scattering of roadside houses. The B41 turns left and soon after the B50 turns right through the picturesque Silverdale Glen to Ballasalla, and then the A3 dips a little into the upper reaches of the valley, before crossing the Silver Burn at a double bend in trees. A couple more slight bends lift the road up onto the Balamodha Straight, which at a mile and a half is one of the longest straights on the island. This climbs steadily, although a couple of bumps and some changes in gradient limit forward visibility. Half way along the quiet A34 turns right, and towards the northern end lies the small village of Ballamodha itself, where the B30 also turns right.

Beyond the village, the straight finally ends, with a slight kink to the left. The route remains remarkably straight, however, as it continues to climb northwards, past the B39 and into the South Barrule Forest. This is the summit, at just over 220m, and at the end of the next straight the route starts the steep descent into the Foxdale Valley. The A36 from Port Erin comes in from the left, and then the A3 reaches Foxdale Village. The village grew up on the back of extensive mining in the hills to the west, but the enterprise seems to have been less successful than that at Laxey on the east coast. Despite this, the village is now growing again, with large new housing estates being built.

Foxdale - St Johns

Approaching the A1 at St Johns

In the middle of Foxdale, the A24 turns right and heads east to Douglas, but the A3 continues north through the village, which is built on the hill, the road dropping steadily all the way. The houses come to an end and the road winds down through trees close to the river, with the old railway branch line initially between them. The road then crosses the old trackbed, and after a couple more bends reaches Lower Foxdale. The gradient here is even steeper, the houses stepped down the hill even when terraced. The road does eventually level out, but the landscape is still that of a steep valley, with modern housing sitting up the slope to the right, while the houses to the left are below road level.

The easing of the gradient is partly because the A3 crosses the Foxdale River in Lower Foxdale, and is then able to cut around the hillside a little while the river continues to cut down into the steep valley below. Fields line the roadside once more, and a scattering of houses and farms are passed. There is even a slight climb before the road starts to descend into the central valley which cuts across the island. After the first few houses of St Johns are passed, the A40 forks left at a skewed crossroads, providing a short cut to Peel. Kinking right, the A3 takes a straight route along Curragh Road, apparently leaving the village behind as it heads back out into the fields, crossing both the river and old railway line. Before long, however, it kinks left and re-enters the village, soon meeting the A1 at a signalised crossroads.

St Johns - Kirk Michael

Cronk y Voddy

The TT Circuit runs along the A1 from Douglas, and then turns right onto the A3 at St Johns, heading north along the west coast. From the crossroads, therefore, the TT signage, black and white kerbs, and other features of the course are easy to spot along the roadside. The route climbs a little to cross a low hill, and then drops down to cross the River Neb at Ballig Bridge, with the A20 turning left along the north bank. For the next mile or so, the road winds along the tree lined banks of the river, the TT signage naming Doran's Bend, Black Dub and Sarah's Cottage amongst others. This last is as the route climbs out of the main valley, following a tributary upstream, to emerge on the hillside above.

As it straightens up, the A3 crosses the 180m contour at Cronk y Voddy, and then starts a long undulating descent through the rolling hills. Although never straight for long, most of the bends are fast and flowing. The road is often narrow, hemmed in by hedges and banks along the verges, with houses dotted along the roadside, although rarely forming anything like a village. At Barregarrow, the B10 turns right and climbs steeply up into the mountains, it's further end being the highest road on the island. The A3 then dips down to cross the river in Glen Wyllin, before following the valley downstream, running along just above the treeline of the steeper sections of the valley bottom. A couple more bends lead the route down to a junction with the A4 on the edge of Kirk Michael.

Kirk Michael - Ramsey

Ballaugh Bridge

The northern section of the A3 crosses from west to east coast, curving around the northern foothills of the mountains. Kirk Michael is a small village which seems to somehow thrive on the TT more than most settlements along the course. A multitude of businesses line the Main Road as it passes through, with modern housing estates spreading out behind. Beyond the village, the route stretches out along a sinuous route through Rhencullen, with pretty old stone houses half hidden in the trees, and then on across fields. The sea can be glimpsed in a couple of places out to the west, but it is the hills rising up to the south east that draw the eye. The road is now much wider than it has been, and with easy curves and short straights, there are long fast sections through the trees and across fields to Ballaugh. The village appears quite suddenly at the end of a straight, the houses hidden by a tunnel of trees until the last moment. The road then kinks left right across Ballaugh Bridge into the centre of the village.

Just over the bridge, the A10 turns left in the village square on its long run around the north coast, while the C37 turns right on its spectacular climb into the hills. The next couple of miles are a really pleasant run along a wide, well aligned tree-lined road. There are, however, a lot of roadside properties and turnings, meaning that speed limits have been imposed, even on the Sulby Straight, although this does pass through the scattered village, coming to an end with a sharp right hand bend over Sulby Bridge. Before that, however, the A3 has crossed the A14 next to the Sulby Hotel about half way along the straight, and then the A17 turns left just before the bridge.

After a brief run south to the Ginger Hall Hotel, where the B8 turns right, the A3 resumes its easterly course, winding along through a nearly continuous line of scattered settlements. The B14 turns left, and the loop of the B17 runs through Churchtown on the right. At length, however, Ramsey comes into view ahead. After crossing the Glen Auldyn River, the B16 turns right into this pretty glen, while the A3 continues ahead on Lezayre Road. Two short straights run past the towns schools, connected by School House Corner, and then after passing between a couple of fine Georgian style terraces, the A3 finally reaches its end in Parliament Square, a signalised crossroads at the further end of the A10, with the A18 turning south and taking the TT Circuit up into the mountains.


The A3 originally ran from Peel to Ramsey, with the A4 running from Castletown to Kirk Michael. At some point prior to 1987, the A4 was possibly extended to Ramsey, curtailing the A3 to just Peel - Kirk Michael, although this may be a mapping error. In 1987 the numbers then swapped, putting the A3 and A4 on their current routes.

The Manx Government Circular 1131 of 25/02/1926 defines this route as: Peel to Ramsey


A3 (Isle of Man)
Related Pictures
View gallery (41)
Ballaugh Bridge - Geograph - 1883688.jpgKirk Michael (C) Andy Stephenson - Geograph - 26155.jpgMines Road -A3 Junction (C) Anne and Jeff Rolfe - Geograph - 1968151.jpgA3-ballaugh-br.jpgKirk Michael Collins87.jpg
Other nearby roads
St Johns
Kirk Michael
Manx A Roads
A40·A41·A42·A43·A44·A45·A46·A47·A232 · Former uses of numbers: A4·A7·A8·A33

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