How many times in the history of the TT have you found yourself in lockdown in a pub you didn’t intend to be in? You’d left the house with ample time, but a little delay on the Access Road turned what is usually a ten-minute journey into something more akin to the runtime of the director’s cut of Titanic.
As the countdown to road closure looms closer, panic starts to set in, and you have to make a split-second judgement call on whether you’re going to make it to your original destination (where all your mates are currently waiting for you, cold pint in hand) or whether you’re going to have a pull a handbrake turn into the nearest pub’s car park and drink by yourself, spending the rest of the day on the phone to your mates trying to ascertain if there’s some back garden hot footing you can do to get to where they are.
If you do manage to make it to your mates’ appointed meeting place, one of TT’s many magic moments occur: the lock-in sesh surrounded by your preferred squad. A sort of endurance drinking session, a long-distance marathon of a drinking session, the kind of drinking session that would have put the willies up George Best.
The Trackside Pub Circuit© is the Mecca of TT viewing, with each pub situated at an exciting milestone around the circuit. Plan wisely this TT and you might just make it to the beer garden before the roads close.
Below, Gef’ll walk you through a guide to each of the pubs on The Trackside Pub Circuit©. Ever the thrill-seeker, he’s rated each pub on a scale of 0-5, with 0 being a snooze fest and 5 being a total HD thrill-o-rama.
Quarterbridge, Douglas, IM2 1HB
Pretty thrill-o-riffic, hence a deserving four out five stars. Quarterbridge isn’t a viewing point for the faint of heart: heavy breaking as bikes hurtle straight towards you at 100 mph. Is it the nicest pub you could settle in to? Not at all, but it’s one of the Island’s most iconic pubs and its frayed edges only add to the charm. The surrounding area of street-side spectators adds to the atmosphere, and it’s got a great view of the course. It’s also conveniently located close to Douggie town centre so you can crawl back to Peggy’s to continue the party. Result.
The Crosby, 4/5
Main Road, Crosby, IM4 2DQ
Beer garden, cracking food, and an excellent view of the course. The Crosby is the perfect hot spot for food, drinks, and red-line racing. There’s a straight stretch of the TT course right outside the pub, which makes it one of the most exciting viewing points to experience some bikes reaching death defying speeds.
The Mitre, 5/5
Main Road, Kirk Michael, IM6 1AJ
Who said you had to slow down with old age? The oldest pub on the entire Island, The Mitre also gets only one of two full scores on Gef’s thrill-o-rama scale. It’s a proper cute pub with old-fashioned hospitality. But it’s 5/5 rating comes from its position on the TT course: bikes travelling at over 180 mph just feet away from the beer garden. Spare pair of knickers, anyone?
The Raven, 5/5
Ballaugh Bridge, Ballaugh, IM7 5EG
The Raven holds the only other full score (along with The Mitre) due to its location on perhaps the most famous section of the TT course: at no other point across the circuit will you see a bikes jump over the bridge. The Raven is also an excellent pub to spend the day in, and if you don’t manage to get a spot outside, there’s a webcam set up on the bridge, which is linked to a television inside. Only the bravest need grab a pint here.
The Swan, 3.8/5
Parliament Square, Ramsey, IM8 1AH
The Swan pub had a not-too-distant makeover and it’s looking wicked. It’s a family-friendly pub with a well-earned reputation for serving good home-cooked food. Turning into Parliament Square in a ninety-degree burning of rubber, the bikes tear past screaming. No grandstand at The Swan this year, folks, but the viewing point is still second to none.
The Central, 3.8/5
Bowring Road, Ramsey, IM8 1AH
A small and cosy pub with excellent views of the TT action, this part of the course sees the bikes begin their mountain road climb. Whilst not an overly thrilling section of the circuit, it’s directly opposite the The Swan, and with bikes tearing past at speed, you’re likely to need your ear plugs. Zoom zoom.