In the middle of the Irish Sea lives a little island 32 miles long and 14 miles wide. For such a small area of land, it certainly makes a hell of a lot of noise!
The Isle of Man is a unique place. It’s unspoilt coastline and stunning mountain views truly take your breath away. Did I mention there’s views on a sunny day across to England, Ireland and Scotland too?
Things to Do on the Isle of Man
The IoM also has a rich history 10,000 years old. With a past heavily influenced by Viking’s and the Celtics, there are museums a plenty to tell the story. The most popular attractions of the IoM is the Laxey Wheel, it’s an amazing construction and standing on top of it is a must do.
Another place everyone needs to visit is when on the Isle of Man is Peel. There are two reasons for this, the first relates to the islands extensive history. Peel Castle close to the harbour is a breathtaking sight from the outside, and whilst we have never been in, reports are good from those who have.
The other reason for visiting Peel is ice cream, yes it is a must that all visitors head to Davisons Ice Cream Parlour on the seafront. And on that note, there is a fantastic old school sweet shop in Castletown that should be visited too.
Memory Lane Sweet Shop opposite The Union pub isn’t the only reason to head to Castletown, but a good one. There is of course the Billown Circuit, home of the Southern 100, the castle and some of the most beautiful coastal walks you’ll ever wander.
And of course because it’s the IoM, there are also many motor museums scattered around, and what collections they are. It’s a personal choice as to which is the best but the most popular has to be the IoM Motor Museum in Jurby.
Our Favourite Food Finds
The IoM has many places to eat and we have tried plenty. Our favorites, because of the food and the friendly service, are Isola restaurant a few roads back from the harbour in Douglas and Leonardo’s in Castletown.
If it’s breakfast you are after, there isn’t anywhere better than Noa Bakehouse. Now in its new premises and renamed Noa at Market Hall Cafe, it also overlooks the Quay. As for lunch or just a coffee, The Guards House Coffeehouse is great.
Isle of Man TT and Classic TT
And of course the reason the IoM is so well known is the road racing. Whether it’s the world famous Isle of Man TT on the 37.73 mile mountain course or the 4 mile Billown Circuit in Castletown, this little island see the world’s best road racers coming to play.
The bucket list trip is the TT for the majority but the best time to go and watch world classing road racing on the IoM is at the Classic TT.
Using the same course as the TT, the Classic attracts the famous riders who thunder around the 37.73 miles. Averaging 135 mph on a Superbike, at the Classic, they just do it on older rides!
Okay, so the speeds aren’t the same, but 124 mph average is still massively fast. Not to mention, when you can view without the massive crowds associated with the TT, it’s such a pleasure.
The other major benefit of attending the Classic TT as opposed to the TT is the paddock. Unlike other world-class race events where so much is off-limits unless you have paid a fortune for VIP or paddock/pit passes, the IoM paddock area for both the TT and the Classic are open to everyone.
Although the bigger teams will close themselves away for a while pre-race, for the majority of the time the bikes, mechanics, team owners and racers are all available. At the TT there is pressure upon the teams to succeed, as there is at the Classic, but they are far more relaxed and approachable for much more of the time.
Walking around the pit and paddock area by Nobles Park you will regularly bump into many of the superstar road racers who are more than happy to talk bikes, now where else would you see that!?
The racing happens every second-day weather permitting, allowing plenty of time to take in the sights the island has to offer. But on race days, you need to get yourself in position and enjoy some of the very best road racing you’ll see.
Best Viewing Points
Around the 37.73 mile course there are plenty of places to view that cost nothing and when the bikes come past, make your hair stand on end. Nestled in a hedge or hanging on a fence, it’s the best view you’ll get of these incredible machines and their talented riders.
After 7 years of visiting the IoM, we have visited many famous spots and we think the following are the best.
The first place we ever saw the bikes come past at warp speed was here. We were sat on a wall we’d just climbed, 7 feet up from the field behind us and 3 feet off the road.
As the bikes sped past at 150 mph just feet from where we sat, before banking it over, right knee centimetres from the curb, we decided to stay put and enjoy this amazing spectacle.
Gorse Lea is nothing more than the back garden of a family who open up their home to the visiting motorcycle enthusiasts visiting the IoM. Not only do they allow you to use their garden for free, they also provide drinks, snacks and homemade sandwiches at very reasonable rates.
Barregarrow Crossroads and Bottom of Barregarrow
This is one of the many iconic places to watch. If you don’t know it by it’s name, it’s where you see the bikes bottom out and the riders brush the wall of a house with their left shoulder.
It is an incredibly violent sight at the Bottom of Barregarrow as you watch the bike twisting as the rider lifts out of the seat with the throttle still fully pinned, apparently in 5th gear!
Each time we have taken a new visitor to the IoM to watch at the bottom, their face is a picture. The shock and awe, confusion at what they just saw, how the rider stays on the bike and by all accounts, looked absolutely unfazed, is to the average rider, incomprehensible.
Again viewers are feet from the flying bikes, leaning over a wood fence, cameras posed as they snap thin air at the first times of trying, the bike already further up the road as the shutter responds to the fingers click.
At the top of Barregarrow, or the Crossroads, opposite the church, you sit a few feet of the tarmac and with little distance between you and the racers. There is nothing but your balance preventing you from being in the road as riders hurtle past at 150mhp, banking to the left before rushing down the hill. This is where to start, heading down the hill to the bottom, a ¼ of a mile walk once you had had time to take in the top.
Once again the locals have opened up their fields/gardens to all us bike enthusiasts to watch the fast lot. Again at Barregarrow there is the option to buy homemade sandwiches and other snacks and drinks.
Brandywell and Bungalow
If the sun is shining then there is no better place to watch than on the famous mountain road. Sitting underneath Snaefell, the high point of the Isle of Man, and watching these flying machines hurtle past at ridiculous speeds with the sun on your back is what being at the TT is all about.
Whether at Brandywell or the Bungalow, there are many different options and places to watch. With the bridge at Bungalow, you also have the option of being on different sides. The walk from Brandywell to the Bungalow is a good 20 minutes, but then we have all day!
You can see the bikes braking, accelerating, tracking through the twists, it’s all on top of the mountain. There’s even Hailwoods Height, not that sitting on the bench is allowed when the racing is on.
Another part of the course famous to every TT enthusiast and a fantastic place to watch. Whether they have just left the start line from a standstill or on a flying lap, the speed is breathtaking. With houses either side of them and the road dipping on the racing line, the opportunity for disaster is ever-present.
It’s another place that makes newcomers gasp as they watch these two-wheeled geniuses scream by. At the bottom of Bray Hill there are a few different roads you can view from. The best viewing is where Stoney Road joins Bray Hill and Quarter Bridge, there’s a burger van and portaloos too.
The thing that gets us every time we visit the IoM is the residents. Their welcome to us visitors makes the Isle of Man. The way they put up with thousands upon thousands of motorcyclists racing past their homes believing they are John McGuiness or Michael Dunlop is admirable.
Even the police are the friendliest you will ever meet, many of them come in from England and Wales to help out!
The IoM is a special place, one that thrives when the visiting bike enthusiasts flock to its shores. It’s a beautiful place, the locals are incredibly friendly and then there are these races they hold throughout the year. Quite frankly if you have only ever seen the races on YouTube or TV, you need to see them on the Isle of Man for yourself!
If you like the idea of heading up to the Isle of Man for the TT and would like to hire a bike, get in touch or click here to find out more.