While winter mightn’t be the best time to be riding a motorcycle, it is a great time to plan some trips for when the sun is shining again. The UK isn’t as famous as the States for coast to coast roads, but it does have some excellent tarmac. Below we’ve detailed what we think are the top 5 UK motorcycle rides. Once you’ve got your licence, taking some time on a new and beautiful piece or bitumen is a great way to improve your riding skill and enjoy the freedom of two wheels. You’ll find details of the route and exactly what it is that makes them so good we’ve included them on our list.
1. The Cat and Fiddle A537, Peak District
The natural beauty, wilderness and feeling of utter isolation in the Peak District attract around 13.25 million visitors each year. The A537 from Buxton to Macclesfield, aka the Cat and Fiddle, has been enticing keen motorcyclists for years. The 11.5 mile road twists and turns its way through the western side of the Peak District, each corner offering a heart-stopping thrill with unrivalled views of the national park. Noted as one of the most dangerous roads in the UK, we recommend sticking to the 50mph limit as you take this difficult yet rewarding stretch of tarmac.
2. Minehead to Barnstaple A39, North Devon
The A39 covers some beautiful scenery in the south-west, starting at Bath and finishing at Falmouth in Cornwall. The most spectacular stretch of the 197mile road has to be between Minehead and Barnstaple, taking in parts of the dynamic Somerset and North Devon coastline. Sweeping bends and good visibility introduce you to Exmoor, but it’s just past Porlock that things get interesting. You’ll be alerted to the 25% gradient hill climb with a red sign as you leave the village. This is almost equalled toward the other end near Lynmouth by a 15% gradient down to the village. However, you will be rewarded with stunning Exmoor scenery, dramatic cliff-top roads and some quaint Devon villages to stop in for a brew or classic Devonshire tea.
3. North Coast 500, Scotland
Given the beauty of Scotland, it’s difficult to choose just one ride here, but this circular route makes it onto almost every motorcycle website’s top rides list; nearly always in the top three. Affectionately known as Scotland’s answer to Route 66, the 500mile loop begins and ends in Inverness. Expect coastal scenery almost all the way.
Riders will reach the most northern tip of the UK – John O’Groats and have the chance to stop at some excellent tourist spots throughout. Castles, lighthouses and extreme coastal cliffs are sure to etch this trip deep into your memory. It’s no wonder this route is such a favourite with motorcyclists in the UK.
4. Brecon to Snowdonia A470 Cardiff to Glan Conwy Trunk Road
This ride is not to be taken in too much of a hurry. You’ll traverse two national parks, wind your way around beautiful mountains and through lush valleys, and take a steep hill climb up Abergwesyn Pass’ 25% gradient. It’s a 185mile trek and you’ll want to give yourself a few days to take it all in. Not only is the scenery gorgeously varied, the route is dotted with excellent restaurants (some Michelin starred), B&Bs, and places of note that you can stop and stretch your legs at.
5. Lydden Hill Track Day
Not all rides need to be lengthy journeys taking in the stunning scenery and difficult roads. Lydden Hill has made it to our list thanks to the well organised and physical track days. This little track in Kent is best known for the World Rallycross Championship and only holds a handful of track days over the year. They’re friendly, old school and staffed by approachable, knowledgeable people who clearly want you to enjoy your day. You can expect eight 20 minute sessions over the course of the day with instructor insight available. Riders can get some photographic evidence of a great day out too; £20 should cover around 35 good pictures. Days can be paid for in advance or paid per session. If you’ve never had a track day on your bike, check out our blog for the full low-down.