Some of you will be making the pilgrimage to the ‘jewel of the Irish Sea’ that is the Isle of Man to see the spectacular TT Races. And with more than 37 miles of road, the TT course is one of the longest circuits in motorsport, with hundreds of vantage points for spectators. Here’s a selection of the best, with some top tips thrown in.
Bray Hill is one of the most popular vantage points at the TT and it’s not hard to see why. This section runs down Glencrutchery Road - the Start / Finish straight - onto Bray Hill which is a fast, steep section. In Peter Hickman’s onboard TT video he describes this as being ‘flat out’ with ‘a bit of a wheelie over Ago’s Leap.’ That has to be something to see!
Access: Easy and very close to the Grandstand so possible to watch the start of a race and the last few laps at Bray.
Parking: Plentiful as there are many side roads but will need to walk to the ideal spot
Facilities: none, take a flask. And have a wee before you go.
Top tip: Try and get as close to the bottom as possible: that’s where the real white-knuckle stuff happens
This is a quick right-left kink section, which makes for interesting viewing. It’s also a really friendly spot and generally one for hardened TT fans. The best vantage point is in the church yard, not only for the long-view (looking back onto the course) but the facilities too. Volunteers bake cakes and make pies every race day during TT week at Union Mills church and for a small sum you can nibble on such delights while watching a superbike whizz by. It’s also next to the Post Office where the Begees were brought up (as explained in the blue plaque outside the store), so you can sample some pop history at the same time.
Access: via the TT course so best to set off well ahead of road closing times or access via the access road past Nobles Hospital. Again, an Ordnance Survey map maybe handy.
Facilities: toilets, tea and coffee, lemon drizzle cake
Top tip: Take lots of change for cake and pies! And get there early to get as close to the road as possible.
Until recently, this was one of the best kept secrets among race fans but now it’s a well frequented spot. Situated between the seventh and eight milestone, Gorse Lea is accessible even when the roads are closed - though some meandering around tiny country lanes is required. Peter Hickman said Gorse Lea is the place to go ‘if you want a scare’ and he’s right - watching here really is a mind-blowing experience.
Access: straight up the TT course until you reach the ‘Gorse Lea’ sign, at which point look for a narrow left hand turn. Take the turning and park wherever possible and walk down the lane and access the garden from the back. When the roads are closed Gorse Lea can be access via Strand, Douglas. Knowledge of local B roads is required, however, or an Ordnance Survey Map.
Parking: try and get to the garden early as it will be very difficult to park.
Facilities: toilets, scrumptious homemade cakes and tea on sale. You really cannot beat this place.
Top tip: Try and get on the wall
Cronk-y-Voddy is notoriously steep and undulating - the TT’s ‘helter skelter’, if you like. The section can catch a lot of riders out so it is a thrilling place to watch, and super fast too. There are also plenty of hedges along the sides of the road though many of the fields belong to farmers so it’s best to check it out first.
Access: On the A1 (TT Course) turn right at Ballacraine, through Glen Helen, through Sarah’s Cottage and then up to Cronk-y-Voddy. When the roads are closed Cronk-y-Voddy can be accessed via backroads off the Peel coast road.
Facilities: None, have a wee, take a flask or call at Davisons in Peel for an ice cream first.
Parking: difficult as the B roads leading to this section are very narrow.
Top tip: Try and get as near to the crest of the hill as possible, for the best vantage point.
Kirk Michael epitomises what the TT is all about: super fast road racing through insanely narrow village streets. The Mitre is a cracking spot (and it’s a pub!) but for the true ‘TT’ experience go the the grass platform in the middle of the village and rent a chair for the session off the Women’s Institute. It really is a delightful experience.
Access: Straight up the A1 (TT course), up to Kirk Michael before the roads close.
Facilities: Excellent. And delicious cake.
Parking: Plenty on the many side streets but do allow plenty of time.
Top tip: Join in with the crowd - there’s some great camaraderie among spectators sat on the front row (I once did a crossword with an entire row of bikers between races one year).
Ballaugh is one of the most iconic spots on the TT Course, mainly because of its humped bridge, over which riders leap through the air. It’s not the fastest section, by any means, but it is hugely technical and great for photographs.
Access: Along the TT Course / A1 before roads close or take an Ordnance Survey map and access the section via the outside of the circuit.
Facilities: The Raven pub (on the inside of the circuit) is a popular place, otherwise, on the outside (left-hand-side) of the course there is a shop selling food and drink.
Parking: Plenty of parking down the many side roads at Ballaugh
Top Tip: If you’re planning on watching from the Raven, be sure to arrive with ample time before the race n order to get a good spot.
For white-knuckle spectating, Ballacrye takes some beating. It’s fast, it has a jump and a subtle right-hander. There are some cracking videos of fans’ heads sticking out of the hedges which adorn the road. Indeed, this is perhaps a spot for the hardened spectator.
Access: straight up the TT course (A1) to Ballaugh (milestone 17) and follow the road until you get to the section.
Parking: You should find a spot on a side road but allow plenty of time.
Facilities: none, be prepared.
Top Tip: It’s a trek through the hedgerows so take some hardy clothing.
Sulby Straight is the fastest section on the TT course, where top riders exceed 200 mph. The bumps and undulations in the road only add to this excitement and make for thrilling viewing. The best bet for spectating here is to base yourself at the Sulby Glen Hotel, enjoy the facilities and the racing.
Access: Straight up the TT course until you reach the Sulby Hotel and then turn left at the crossroads. As the pub is on the outside of the course it is possible to access it in an higgledy-piggledy when the roads are closed but allow a lot of time!
Facilities: toilets, drinks, food
Parking: excellent, car park
Top Tip: get there super early before the roads close or buy an Ordnance Survey map and access via the B roads.
Parliament Square is in stark contrast to the majority of other spots in this article because it is one of the slowest sections on the TT course. And as such it gives spectators a chance to see the riders close-up and in detail, rather than a ‘whoooosh’. This section also has the advantage of being slap-bang in the middle of Ramsey and thus there are lots of facilities.
Facilities: toilets, pubs, shops, supermarket and a fantastic chippy off the Square.
Parking: Excellent though may need to walk for a few minutes into town
Top Tip: Take your camera as its an opportunity to capture riders as they pass through the square.
Hillberry is a super fast, open section and as such it makes for excellent viewing. And since 2007 the section was made even faster following the widening of preceding corner Brandish. At Hillberry spectators can see riders taking the sweeping right-hander at phenomenal speed.
Parking: Yes, on a side road
Access: Yes, via Onchan when the roads are closed or on the TT course.
Facilities: Burger van, possibility of portable toilets on race days.
To fully experience the TT, you have to make a visit to the Grandstand / Start / Finish, especially at the start of end of a race. Here you can experience the gritty tension of a race among the teams and professionals in the sport. Racing can by viewed from the Grandstand itself or, a little further down, St Ninian’s Church, though there are better vantage points. However, nowhere on the planet has the atmosphere as the Grandstand during the TT so this is a must-see on the list.
Parking: Plentiful as there is a huge car park
Access: Via Douglas - not affected by road closures
Facilities: Lots of catering but poor facilities considering it is a world-class event with thousands of people on site. Could do better!
Alternatively, if you aren’t able to sail to the Isle of Man and have a wrestling contest with a hedgerow you can enjoy the TT from the comfort of your own home.
Radio: It seems a tad old school in this day and age, but Manx Radio is as much a part of the TT as the tarmacadam on the course itself. The fact the course is so long and thus, for the most point, out of sight, makes the radio coverage all the more crucial. Everybody at the TT tunes into Manx Radio TT.
The service will be available on island wide via AM1368 as well as 87.9 in Douglas and Ramsey and on 100.6 in the Northwest of the island via the FM service and worldwide via the Official TT Races website – iomttraces.com.
TV: All of the racing highlights will be captured on the ITV4 programme every night at 9pm from Saturday 1st June to Saturday 8th June inclusive.