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Five of the best motorcycle routes in the UK


The UK is blessed with some of the finest  motorcycle routes in the world, including stunning coastal roads, twisting mountain passes and sweeping moorland rides - enough to excite any motorcycle enthusiast.

Finding a good motorbike road in the UK shouldn’t be too tricky – simply look for a roadside diner filled with happy motorcyclists.

But if you’re looking for inspiration, check out five of our favourite riding roads. Whether you’re after a leisurely ride over a number of days or a quick Sunday morning blast to blow away the cobwebs, you’re sure to find something of interest here.

1. A2, Antrim Coast Road, Northern Ireland

A2, Antrim Coast Road, Northern Ireland

According to Geoff Hill of the Telegraph, the A2 Antrim Coast Road is “one of the world’s great drives, rides, walks or cycles”.

As its name suggests, the road hugs the Northern Ireland coastline, running from Larne and up to the world famous Giant’s Causeway, taking in picture-perfect seaside villages nestled between the sea and the sloping glens.

We’d suggest riding the route at least twice – once to take in the spectacular views over the North Channel and a second time to focus on what should be an epic ride, full of twists, turns and sections that are so close to the sea you might feel like you’re floating on water.

Spare a thought for those who completed the road back in 1842. The team – led by Scottish engineer William Bald – used nothing but manual labour as they blasted their way around the coast.

 

2. A537, Cat and Fiddle, Peak District

A537, Cat and Fiddle, Peak District

The A537 from Buxton to Macclesfield – more commonly known as the Cat and Fiddle road – is a mecca for keen motorcyclists.

It’s named after the inn – the second highest public house in England – which sits on the border between Cheshire and Derbyshire.

That the Cat and Fiddle is often referred to as one of the UK’s most dangerous roads doesn’t deter bikers who flock to the 11.5-mile ribbon of tarmac every high day and holiday.

For years, the Cat and Fiddle road was known as the best riding road in England, but a blanket 50mph speed limit and a succession of average speed cameras has put paid to antisocial riding.

Drastic measures needed to be taken, with statistics released a decade ago suggesting that motorcyclists accounted for 2% of traffic on the road, but 75% of deaths and serious injuries.

3. The North Coast 500, Scotland

The North Coast 500, Scotland

Why head out for an afternoon’s ride when you can make a week of it? The North Coast 500 was created in 2014 by the North Highland Initiative and consists of a 516-mile route around the Scottish coast.

The focus here is not on knee-grazing corners, but giving yourself time to enjoy the spectacular views over the Highlands.

The official route starts and ends at Inverness Castle, taking in the likes of Ullapool, Durness, John O’Groats, Dornoch and Inverness itself.

The official North Coast 500 website even has a ready-made ‘Motorcyclist’s Itinerary’ – a five-day adventure packed with sea views, castles, inns and even a possible glimpse of the Loch Ness Monster. Get your panniers packed!

4. A39, Minehead to Barnstaple, Somerset/Devon

A39, Minehead to Barnstaple, Somerset/Devon

The A39 is one of the longest and most important roads in the south west, connecting Bath with Falmouth.

But while we wouldn’t rule out breakfast in Bath and a fish and chip supper in Cornwall, we’re focusing on the glorious stretch of road that lies between Minehead and Barnstaple.

It starts off pleasant enough – a standard A-road with good visibility, sweeping bends and plenty of opportunities to pass slow moving caravans.

But things start to get really interesting as you exit the village of Porlock. A red sign warns of an impending 1 in 4 hill, advising caravans to use the toll road to Lynmouth.

Back in the day, Porlock Hill was the death of many vehicles, either through brake failure on the descent or the sheer struggle to make the climb. Of course, it will be no problem for motorcyclists, and the reward is a stunning ride over Exmoor, especially as you drop down Countisbury Hill and into Lynmouth.

 

5. A470, Cardiff to Llandudno, Wales

A470, Cardiff to Llandudno, Wales

The A470 – or Cardiff to Glan Conwy Trunk Road – takes in two National Parks and two separate coastlines.

Having left Cardiff, the road passes beneath the M4 and follows the Taff Valley to Merthyr Tydfil. Once beyond the former mining town, the road comes alive as it heads across the Brecon Beacons, passing the Storey Arms, the starting point for many walks to the top of Pen y Fan – the highest point in South Wales.

From Brecon, the A470 twists and turns its way to Builth Wells, where we’d suggest taking a detour to take in the splendour of the Abergwesyn Pass, complete with 1 in 4 hill.

Once back in Builth, continue on the A470 to Rhayader, where once again we’d recommend a diversion to ride the roads of the Elan Valley reservoirs and indeed the Aberystwyth Mountain Road to Devil’s Bridge and the coast.

Returning to the A470, it’s north to Snowdonia National Park and onwards to the coast at Llandudno to complete a 185-mile ride rich in variety and changing scenery.

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