Northallerton to: Northallerton
The beauty of this route is that it can be started / finished anywhere round it. Its about 70 miles long (or round !). Leave Northallerton on the A168 heading south toward Thirsk. Once you're out of Northallerton, loads of long straights with some great sweeping corners. Follow the road signs into Thirsk, turning left at the r/about, signposted A170 toward Scarborough. Great approach road to 1 in 4 Sutton Bank climb. Watch out for the sharp right hander at the top. Very easy to get carried away blasting to the top ! Cafe & parking at the top. Great smooth roads accross the top, BUT watch out for Plod. Very easy to go very fast on this section (as if !). Great long downhill section with a sharp left hander at the bottom.
Into Helmsley. Loads of Cafe's & Pubs to take your pick from. Then the best bit. From Helmsley, head along the B1257 toward Stokesley. Absolutely brilliant stretch of road. Watch out for the off camber right hander at the bottom of Bilsdale Bank, near to the old red telephone box. But BEWARE, this section of road is regularly quite heavily Policed (especially at weekends) with Plod in all manner of disguises, carrying all sorts of unfriendly Biker 'weaponary'! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED !
Stop off at the Bay Horse at Great Broughton. Great Biker friendly country pub. Carry on thro' Great Broughton down to the r/about. Take the 2nd turn off into Stokesley. Left at the next r/about. Great Fish & Chip shop on the right as you enter Stokesley. Thro' Stokesley following the road signs for Hutton Rudby. Just out of Stokesley, look for the 1st right turn opposite a Farm & head towards Seamer. Great 'B' road which is usually quite quiet. Thro' Seamer & another village, Hilton, until you reach the A1044. You'll know you're in the right place cos' the Fox Covert Pub is directly in front of you (another excuse to stop ?). Turn left onto the A1044 heading towards Yarm. Down & up Leven Bank until you reach a r/about. Straight on heading west on the B1264. Lots of straights, twists & turns. Another excellent section. Turn left at the 'T' junction at the end, heading back towards Northallerton on the A167. Enjoy ......
Glencoe to: Glencoe
Throughout its length from Glasgow to Inverness the A82 is a joy. An A-road metelled for bikers - it doesn't so much change direction as gracefully sweep with a confident camber and no road furniture. It's almost as if you'd laid the tarmac yourself.
The bonnie bonnie banks of loch Lomond set the tone for the whole route as the road clings to the magnificent landscape. On through the splendour of Glencoe and past loch Ness (an opportunity to spot some of the more elusive wildlife such as Nessiteras rhombopterix) on to Forts William & Augustus - no boring straight Roman road here. Here you can see so far ahead it's unreal. There's nothing, absolutely nothing coming. Just breeze by and smile. During the summer the A82 is littered with Germans and the Scot's old ally the French. They come here in droves - well, cars and bikes. Perhaps they are overawed by the Alps and come here for scenery that's a bit less severe. Even with holiday traffic there's that sense of freedom, a feeling that simply glides you along this ride to remember.
The highpoint of the A82 is the stretch Bridge of Orchy, over Rannoch Moor through Glencoe to Ballachulish. Reverse the trip to double your pleasure. From the Bridge of Orchy the snaking black ribbon climbs rapidly as the Moor opens out before you. 1000 metre peaks fence in the vast, intimidating bog. Don't hang about as it could be Scotland's own Area 51. Lean and flow quicksilver across the elevated expanse of peat and rock. The Three Sisters wait to swallow you into fast approaching valley. As the sides begin to loom now you ease off. The roadside crash barriers give away the vital sign. Find your religon and pray to the great god Michelin as the clear opening bends invite you and your bike to shine. You're bathed in stunning landscape with heather, bracken and conifers partially clothing the huge great lumps of towering rock. Fresh mountain air and that immense feeling that the bike is part of the road. That big grin creeps over your face and sets hard.
This is perfect for that long get-away-from-it-all weekend. A chance to clear the lungs and recharge the head. Whether you're a bumbag or tank bag or full panier kit biker there's no problem finding a place to kip & scoff as the area is dotted with B&Bs, guest houses, hotels and hostels and of course - campsites. Grab petrol at any one of a number of modern or quaint stations. This is where they make Scotch Mist so check with Bill Giles first. The Ballachulish Hotel and The Kingshouse Hotel afford more comfort than most around here - and the Youth Hostel in Glencoe is spot on. The Clachaig Inn serves good food and decent ales - but won't serve Campbells!
In Glencoe stands a stone cross to commemorate the MacDonald's massacre by the Campbells. Down the road in South Ballachulish is a monument to James Stewart who was wrongly hanged for his alleged part in the massacre. If the tales of blood, guts and betrayal in the Visitor Centre don't put you off your food then head for the Fish & Chip caravan or local Spar. The Thunderace's brakes are tested just once as a deer bounded into the road - at least the flat cap in the Volvo is half predictable. After all this is sheep and deer country. It's also skiing country - either the dry or the snowy variety - we could try anything once. Whisky distilleries are scattered here and there to tempt you once the bike is tucked up safely.
Once you head has cleared the A82 has tributaries that each in turn lead to something special. And for my next trip... Wonder up to Ben Nevis or nip over the Corran Ferry to Strontian & Ardnamuchan? Twist down the A828 to Oban and perhaps a ferry to Ireland? Whistle up the A87 over the sea to Skye or catch the A830 to Mallaig? The strange roundabout at Ballachulish could prompt a few circles whilst you decide which way to go. Sod it! Let's go back up the glen just one more time.
Hamilton to: Lanark
from Hamilton leave the town and head for Chatelherault Country park, go past the park, and at the garden centre turn left, signposted lanark, M74. by now you are thinking, what is this guy trying to pull? this road is crap!. Just wind open the throttle my friend! the next stretch is amazing, and well worth building up some speed for. the road sweeps down the side of the valley, just gently banking to the right then, POW. the road follows the exact course of the river for about 6 miles, it turns, rises, drops, banks like a bugger. it's amazing at 80+ you eventually come to the Garrion bridge over the river clyde. keep going straight ahead, and you get more of the same for >another 10 miles!!!< by the time you reach lanark (which is at the top of a 5:1 gradient with two 90 degree bends on it) you will be screaming your head off !! and the best bit? well after a visit to the (brilliant) chip shop beside the station, you get to do it in reverse. or of course, you could go out through lanark towards symington, which brings you to the A707 Edinburgh to Moffat road that someone else has put in.... It's great to live in Scotland!!!
Denbigh to: Cerrigydrudion
For the best mix of biking roads, incredible scenery and cack your pants laughs you really can't beat North Wales. Just go anywhere, and if your making the trip aim for Betws-y-Coed town centre and stop off at Dill's Diner to meet a like minded crowd. This road is not the fastest, but is almost guaranteed to be quiet even on bank holiday weekends and Sundays. It cuts across Denbigh Moor, past the Clocaenog forest and comes out on the A5 (which is ferkin amazing start to finish). The B4501 has some great bends, some well scary drops with sharp corners appearing from nowhere and, for the most part, excellent visibility. When you reach the A5, turn right towards Betws-y-Coed for a few miles until you see the left turn to Ysbyty Ifan. This is a lane for about 3-4 miles which goes through a small village then goes for 13 miles over more Moor's. You will find half a dozen points to get airborne on this road - it is spot on. You will come out near Trawsfynydd - if you go straight through and up the hill past the Slate Mine you will go over the Crimea Pass - another heart stopper. Yes, I binned my brand new CBR600 up here after only 2 weeks! This road brings you nicely into Betws-y-Coed, and you can head out in any direction for a good crack. The best thing about these roads(not the A5) is the lack of the boys in blue, so get out here and do it!!
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