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Best Motorcyle Rides To Check Out This Summer
Tony W · June 16, 2021
Nothing beats exploring new locations on your motorcycle, but with European travel still very problematic this summer, most of us are going to have to concentrate on riding in the UK.
The British Isles has some incredible scenery to take in, and what better way of doing it than on two wheels? So we at RideTo have pulled together 5 of our Best Motorcycle Routes to hopefully inspire you to get out and see a part of the UK that you’ve been missing out on. We’ve included routes all across the UK, with options from short blasts to all-day rides and a cracking multi-day tour as well.
Credit - Rob Bendall
Winnats Pass, Derbyshire
Let’s start in the Peak District with a stretch of road which should be on every motorcyclists ‘Bucket List’. Winnats Pass Road is a six-mile piece of tarmac running between the towns of Hope Valley and Sparrow Pit. There are narrow and often very steep sections, particularly near the summit. Care is required as the road gets busy, but thankfully it's closed to buses, HGV’s and vehicles exceeding 7.5 tonnes. Attentive riding is rewarded with spectacular views as the road winds through the steep-sided limestone valley. It may be a short ride, but it’s a sweet one. If you want to make Winnats Pass part of an extended route, then the Peak District offers a huge variety of beautiful roads for motorcyclists.
Black Mountain Road, Brecon Beacons
Wales is a country with countless fantastic motorcycling roads, which makes it very hard to pick just one. But for us, the Black Mountain Road stands out. Start your ride along the A4069 at Llandovery and follow the rollercoaster of climbs, dips and twists for 15 miles until you reach Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen where you can reward yourself with lunch and some refreshments. It's a truly beautiful stretch of road, with plenty of viewpoints along the way to stop off and take it all in. It is a challenging route and since being featured on Top Gear in 2011 it has become incredibly popular. A quick tip, keep an eye out for the sheep who regularly stray onto the road!
Whilst the A39 runs all the way from Bath almost to Newquay, the most scenic and enjoyable stretch is arguably the 36 miles from Minehead to Barnstaple. What starts as an ordinary looking A-road soon gets interesting as you approach Porlock and the road starts twisting through the Exmoor countryside. It gets even more interesting as you leave the town and head down Porlock Hill. This 25% gradient hill used to be a graveyard for cars in the ’60s and ’70s but now acts as a gateway to a world of sweeping bends and eventually sea views as you reach Countisbury and Lynmouth. There's still miles of beautiful scenery, twisty blacktop and quaint villages until you reach your finish point in Barnstaple.
Rhinefield Ornamental Drive, The New Forest
If you want something a little more zen and you love riding through dense forest, then this 6-mile section of road is for you. It's a popular spot for walkers and cyclists which makes it a section of road that you’re not going to blast along (the speed limit varies from 30 to 40mph anyway). Visit it in late May early June when the Rhododendrons and Azaleas are in full bloom and it's a riot of colour or if come in autumn and the colours of the trees will amaze you. The road starts in the lovely town of Brockenhurst and winds its way to where it joins the A35 which takes you into Lyndhurst. If you want to make a day of it you could start your trip in Southampton and wind your way down to the millionaire’s playground of Sandbanks
North Coast 500, Scotland
We’ve left this until last as it’s a biggie that’s going to need some planning and pre-booking, but it is arguably the most beautiful motorcycle route in the UK. It is as the name would suggest a 500-mile route around the North Coast of Scotland.
Starting and ending in Inverness the route can be tackled in either direction, but generally going anti-clockwise is a good choice. There are a lot of narrow single track roads along the west coast section, so travelling anti-clockwise eases you into the route before you tackle some of the tricky passes.
Ideally, you’ll take, at the very least, 3-4 days to complete the trip, but often 5 days to a full week is better as there is so much to see and experience. The rugged East Coast leg up to John O’Groats offers some truly beautiful views, but it's as you head along the top of the Highlands that things start to get breathtaking.
The run down along the West Coast is absolutely stunning as you skirt the huge lochs and hug the coastline. One of the most famous sections is the Bealach Na Ba pass on the Applecross peninsula. Historically it was a pass to enable farmers to drive cattle across to other areas of the highlands, and at its highest point, the road reaches 2053ft. Bealach Na Ba is only 11.5 miles long, but its narrow roads, 20% inclines and hairpins will leave you weary but elated.
To complete the entire North Coast 500 route you will need to plan and book your accommodation well in advance. The best time to travel is between May and September, outside of that you may find a lot of the accommodation closed, and poor weather will do the same to many of the passes. If you can make the time to complete the NC500, it’s a trip you’ll never forget.