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.
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!!
Niton to: The Needles or vice versa
Longish, 15 miles with nice staight bits and fun bendy bits. It starts at a fine pub in Niton and runs along the south west coast of the Isle of Wight. Fine sea views all the way along and the chance to stop off in many small villages on the way! You may know it already as it passes the site of the I.o.W motorcycle club's May bank holiday bash. definately worth doing if you are over here. Both ways are fun, it depends if you want to start at the pub or finish at it.
Dunoon to: Dunoon via Strachur -circular route
The Dunoon circular route is 68.2 miles, offering an excellent challenge of diverse driving conditions, gradients and cambers. Try this out, you won't be disappointed.
The Strachur to Dunoon stretch is a particularly fast section of road. Catch the Western Ferry from Gourock ( 0141 332 9766 ) to Dunoon. On arrival, drive north west across the B836 as if heading for Otter Ferry but take the south route A8003 to Tighnabruaich. Continue south, then follow the road north to Otter Ferry, with its lovely pebble beach and little harbour. Continue north on the B8000 to Strachur.
Finally, to complete the circle, head south from Strachur back to Dunoon on the A815. The Strachur to Dunoon section is pretty fast going and a fantastic stretch of road. Unsurpassed scenery with plenty of restaurants, hotels and a few camping sites dotted here and there. A particularly good one is situated on the banks of Loch Eck which runs parallel with the A815 for several miles. Interestingly, if arriving at Strachur this way (from Dunoon) you can head on north up to the Highlands via via Oban for Fort William, or turn east to visit the Trossachs as both routes comprise excellent roads and world class scenery.
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