The world is overflowing with directories of motorcycling routes and trips. It’s all very useful as a resource, but which are the best ones? What the most challenging, exciting and breath-taking routes in Britain? Here are six terrific journeys to try…
The Isle of Man is a small island in the Irish Sea, and every year hundreds of bikers test their skills on the motorcycle Mecca that is the Tourist Trophy (TT). The 38-mile circuit is fast, challenging and exhilarating, with speeds averaging 130 mph. It’s a historic location, with beautiful scenery, tight corners and more than a century of motor sport tradition.
The circuit is also dangerous, and sadly people do die every year pushing themselves to the limit. But the difficulty and risk of the circuit is clearly one of the factors that makes this such an iconic event, and many of the world’s top riders will not be satisfied until they’ve proven themselves in the Isle of Man TT. It’s not a ride for beginners, but something to build up to. Equal to hiking Everest.
This beautiful route in Denbighshire is more suitable for the newbies. The Horseshoe Pass is actually the A542, and was named for its winding shape. Curving around the north-east Welsh valley at 1,368 ft above sea level, it’s spectacular and scenic, with amazing views of the surrounding countryside.
It’s hard to pick out top rides in Wales, because there are so many fantastic options, but this is right up there. The incline is slow and steady, meaning less experienced riders will find it simple but still enjoyable. It can be done on a variety of vehicles, and for smaller bikes you can get moped insurance from broker Bikesure. It’s also a lot safer than other routes on this list, but be aware that the road is often closed in winter due to landslides and snowfall.
The A2 in Northern Ireland is a frontrunner for the best motorcycling road in the world. It’s like Star Wars on ‘best ever film’ lists; always near the top. The 60-mile road is probably the most biker-friendly location in the world. There’s a culture and prestige about the area that just keeps going.
The road starts along the coast and finishes at the Giant’s Causeway and the Bushmills distillery. If that isn’t motivating enough to reach the end, nothing will be! It’s a twisty, curvy route, passing through picturesque fishing villages and offering great views of the sea – you can even see Mull of Kintyre. Thankfully, though, Paul McCartney is nowhere to be found.
4. The Hardknott Pass, England
The old Roman road in northern England’s Lake District is known as the Hardknott Pass, and is one of Britain’s most challenging motorcycle routes. But if it was worth the Romans taking it on, you should too; they knew a thing or two about roads.
The Hardknott Pass’s narrow track winds between the Duddon Valley and Eskdale, before the Wrynose Pass continues on to Ambleside. It’s the joint-top steepest road in the whole of the UK, so it’s certainly not a ride for the inexperienced – or for anyone without the taste for adrenaline! The tight, twisty road can seem overwhelming, but anyone who decides to take on this epic adventure will reach the 1,289 ft summit. And it will be worth it.
5. The Glasgow to Inverness Trip, Scotland
On paper this is a pretty straightforward 167-mile trip between a city and the gateway to the Highlands. But paper can be misleading, and this route is anything but boring. The A82 is a brilliant motorcycle experience, sweeping between Glasgow and Inverness with fantastic surface seemingly laid for bikers.
The road hugs the awesome Scottish landscape, and you get to see Loch Lomond and Loch Ness! Be careful about announcing Nessy sightings, though; you might get a breathalyzer test. If you fancy breaking up the journey there are lots of places to sleep, too – B&Bs, guesthouses, hotels and campsites can all be found along the way.
6. The Cat and Fiddle Run, England
A biking rite of passage. The 6.8-mile A537 road from Buxton to Macclesfield in the Peak District is an absolute cracker. Peaking at more than 1,600 ft on the Derbyshire moors, the bends are made of low stone walls giving great views and good visibility for hazards ahead. The road hugs the hillside and finishes at the Cat and Fiddle Inn.
In previous years this route has been dubbed ‘Britain’s Most Dangerous Road’, but a 50 mph speed limit has helped with the accidents. The restriction hasn’t stopped bikers keep coming back, though; this is a challenging ride, with tight corners coming thick and fast. It’s is an incredible experience, and something to chalk up on the bucket list.