An explorer's guide to the islands of Britain

Distance: 144 km
Difficulty: Moderate
Method: Road cycling
Wow Factor: 9 out of 10

Key Facts

  • Location: Irish Sea
  • Size: 57,200 ha
  • Terrain: Road
  • Access: Ferry/flight
  • Height gain: 2568 metres
  • Map: OS Landranger 95
  • Starting point: Isle of Man Sea Terminal, Douglas
  • Accommodation/food:

    Full range of accommodation and food available throughout

  • Island Summary:

    The Isle of Man is a ‘crown dependency’, similar to Jersey and Guernsey, with an independent administration. Its inhabitants are British citizens and the locals are known as ‘Manx’, until relatively recently they had their own language whilst Tynwald claims to be the oldest continuing parliament in the world.

    With varied and colourful countryside, spectacular coastal views and pretty valleys it is an excellent destination for cyclists of all abilities. The Isle of Man’s winding roads and lanes might be best known for the famous TT Races but they also make  for great road cycling. No wonder the island has produced two great modern-day cyclists, Mark Cavendish and Peter Kennaugh.

    For inspiration on the best road and mountain bike routes, take a look at the graded trails detailed on the visit Isle of Man website.

    The route described on this page is the full circumnavigation of the island, using the quieter lanes where possible, on a road bike.

  • Look out for:
    • Basking shark and dolphin spotting
    • Above ocean ride along marine Drive
    • Discovering lost lanes
  • Route description:

    Starting from Douglas the route initially follows the rails of the Manx Electric Railway which connects Douglas, with Laxey in the east and Ramsey in the north. Acknowledged as the longest narrow gauge vintage electric railway system in the British Isles its original Victorian and Edwardian rolling stock are the oldest regularly operated tram cars in the world! Here, the route passes through the beautiful Manx countryside, glens and picturesque villages.

    From Ramsey the route explores the flat and remote Point of Ayre using the tranquil roads that meander through the gentle landscape of the northern plain. This is the spot for incredible seascapes. Turning south along the west coast the views are then dominated by the backdrop of the Manx hills.

    From historic Peel, with its impressive castle of Viking origin, the route climbs steeply towards the forests, moors and flanks of South Barrule. The optional descent to the Calf of Man is well worth it to observe the vibrant bird life and view the most southerly point of the island. Some lovely coastal cycling around the Bay ny Carrickey then follows before riding through the historic streets of Castletown.

    Then for our favourite stretch of the route, Marine Drive (between Soderick Glen and Douglas). This is a traffic-free bike way cut into the rocks above the waves and makes a fabulous vantage point to spot the marine life below with whales, dolphins and basking sharks often spotted. A fitting finale to an epic bike ride.

  • Getting there:

    By ship: The Steam Packet Company operates regular ferry services to the Island from Heysham, Liverpool, Birkenhead, Dublin and Belfast

    By air: the isle of man is well-connected to the mainland via a number of routes

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Welcome new readers

Take a look around the site. Learn about islands you may never have heard of. Take up the islandeering challenge and find a pioneering route, or simply see what each island has to offer for a more chilled out visit. Go to ‘islands’ and find something that inspires you.

Whales and dolphins

The Isle of Man is a hotspot for whale watching, dolphin watching and spotting basking sharks

Learn More