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.
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.
Hessle to: Hessle
Starting at the Humber Bridge roundabout (Hessle) head east on the A63 (boring), at North Cave get onto the B1230 follow this to Howden and then get on the A614 through Goole. Go through the docks and take the A161 towards Swinefleet (I kid you not !). Now that's the boring bit over with, now comes the good bit. The A161 is a flat twisty road that runs along the bank of the river Ouse with only a few village's but plenty of visibility round the bends. Just after Crowle turn left onto the A18 towards Scunthorpe, just before Scunny turn left onto the A1077. Again this is an ace road with lots of twist'ies and sharp 90 degree bends. Watch out here as quite a few bikes end up in hedges due to being caught out. At South Ferriby there are some ace views over the Humber of the Bridge, at Barton turn on to the A15 and the bridge approach. Then once you have paid your toll (1) your home again.
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 ......
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