Top 10 most iconic UK rides (to get done once lockdown ends!)!

With it looking increasingly like foreign motorcycle tours might be on hold for the foreseeable, here are some UK rides to get done once restrictions ease 

Best UK Roads

THERE may be no end in sight for the Lockdown just yet and, after all, it’s still the middle of winter, but that’s no reason why you can’t start planning your next great bike ride now – so you can hit the road running when summer and freedom finally arrives.

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But which are the best, where are they and what do they entail?

To help you choose we’ve rounded up our Top 10 most iconic UK rides, in no particular order and varying in length from 50 to 500 miles which also cover all four corners of the UK. Make sure you tick them all off before you get too old!

North Coast 500 (NC500) – northern Scotland
Let’s start off with the biggie – the 500-mile route encompassing all the best bits of the coastline of northern Scotland of Scotland and, by general consensus not only including some of the most spectacular scenery in Britain but also some of its best biking roads, making it a ‘must do’ for any biker. The distances and terrain involved means it can be a week-long loop, usually starting and ending in Inverness. Most do clockwise but many recommend the reverse. There’s a dedicated website (www.northcoast500.com) including detailed routes, tips, cafes etc you just need to pick a week and do it – you won’t regret it.

Antrim Coast Road – Northern Ireland
After 500 miles in the north, how about 60 miles in the North West?
Home to the NW200 race, the Antrim coast road refers to the section of the A2 which follows the scenic coastline of County Antrim from Larne to Portrush (or vice-versa). The route has a fabulous surface, is packed with twists and turns, passes through the NW200 circuit, is littered with excellent pubs and cafes and virtually all the way delivers fabulous coastal views including that of the Mull of Kintyre. And if you want to extend your trip and do a bit of sightseeing, the famous Giant’s Causeway is just a little further on along the A2.

Black Mountain Road – South Wales
Also referred to as the Top Gear road for being a favourite route used in the TV show, the BMR specifically is the A4069 which twists, dips and climbs in the western part of the Brecon Beacons National Park, in Wales. Although this specific section is only around 15 miles long, don’t be put off. Use it as an excuse to visit the fabulous Brecon Becons and from there go exploring. Alternatively, it’s just up the road from Simon Pavey’s adventure riding centre, so it you’re planning a visit there, make sure you do the BMR at the same time.

‘Bedfordshire dream’ – the B660

Blink and you’d easily miss it, simply because the B660, which has been elevated to almost celebrity status due to its popularity with motorcycling magazines in nearby Peterborough, is very easily by-passed or missed by nearby A-roads. If you’re in the area, though, it’s more than worth a diversion. We most commonly do it south-to-north, picking up the B660 north out of Bedford, before blasting off towards Keysoe. Around 12 miles of challenging sweeper later you’re in the pretty historic town of Kimbolton which is perfect for a breather. Resume and head to Catworth, Old Weston and Winwick before Glatton and the A1. Then go do it all again.

Hardknott Pass – Lake District
More adventure and exploration than sports riding/scratching, this narrow, single track Roman road holds the joint record for being the steepest in England, the other being Rosedale Chimney Bank in North Yorkshire – so it’s definitely worth ticking off, especially if you have an adventure bike. Not recommended for novices or solo riders, the Hardknott may only be around two miles long but it’s challenging and sinuous with the reward at the top of the 1,291-foot ascent (on a fine day – so choose your days carefully) being simply spectacular views across the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man.

https://www.visitcumbria.com/wc/hardknott-pass/

From Skyfall with love – Glen Etive

If you can’t spare a full week for Scottish scenic riding on the NC500, why not try Glen Etive instead, in the heart of the Scottish Highlands between Glasgow and Inverness and just 12 miles – but still packed with Scottish scenery. It was also the road famously used as a location in the James Bond film Skyfall, so you’re in good company. To find it, follow the A82 between Glencoe and Bridgy of Orchy and takes the signposted turn off near the Kingshouse Hotel, on your left if coming from the south. There are no facilities and it’s a dead end so you have to double back but it’s definitely one of the most striking roads in Scotland.

North Devon coast road

Between Woolacombe and Bridgewater in North Devon is 63 miles of one of the least interrupted coastal roads in the UK ranging from cliff top moorland in the Exmoor National Park and mixing it up with steep climbs and descents and quaint villages promising cream teas. For most of the route you’re on the A39 passing through the likes of Porlock with its famous steep hill. While in Bridgewater itself, bike shop Riders is worth a stop and has a great café. If you want a bigger adventure, include it on a run to Land’s End.

The Cat & Fiddle – The Peak District

An oldie but still a goodie – and definitely one that must be crossed off on any best British rides Bucket List. Also known as the A537 between Macclesfield and Buxton in the heart of England it’s so named for the Inn which sits at its peak, so being the second highest public house in the country, which is on the border between Cheshire and Derbyshire. The 11.5-mile stretch is now heavily policed and has a reputation for being one of the most dangerous roads in Britain due to its twists and turns, while a blanket 50mph speed limit has also now limited its appeal, but it remains a mecca for motorcyclists and is a ‘must do’ on any UK biking bucketlist.

Snake Pass loop – Yorkshire/Peak District

This 65-mile loop is also in the heart of England so is reasonably accessible to all and starts in Barnsley before heading west then north west towards Holmfirth, Holme, Glossop, then the famous Snake Pass before the Rivelin Valley and back to Barnsley. There’s a bit of town work but it’s mostly rural and the view and roads are amazing. You can also have a breather at the famous Snake Pass and, being the best part of an afternoon’s ride means most of us can fit it in in a long day out.

Wootton Bassett/Stonehenge loop – South

This 65-mile route is one of the best rides in southern England and has the added bonus of taking in both historic Wootton Bassett and spectacular Stonehenge, both of which are worth stop-offs. You can start the route anywhere on the loop but from Wootton you head to Avebury then the excellent open road to Devizes. From there you pass over the fast expanse of Salisbury Plain passing Stonehenge before turning north through spectacular Savernake Forest and into the historic town of Marlborough then finally complete the loop over twisty Hackpen Hill. You won’t regret it!

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