Crianlarich to: Glencoe
This is one of many absolutely brilliant runs for those of us lucky enough to live about the middle of Scotland. It's a favourite circular run for locals, but can be done one way if you're touring or visiting. Best to avoid the main summer months, since it can get a bit busy with cars & coaches, and watch for Mr Plod (unmarked cars & bikes). Total distance as described below is about 120 miles I think. The route's all single carriageway A-roads, mainly good surfaces, with decent grip - not too many muckspreaders around, but watch for loose gravel at farm exits.
Starting at Crianlarich, the A85 to Tyndrum is a fairly quick, wide, road with some good open bends. Tyndrum has a couple of decent eateries, plus what's reputed to be the most expensive petrol in the universe. Take the A82 to go over Rannoch Moor and on through Glen Coe itself - if you don't have to stop and look at these hills, you're not human! Do watch out for hillwalkers wandering about on the road, though. Once through Glen Coe, there's food and fuel at Ballachulish. Take the A828, which is an interesting twisty road along the side of Loch Linnhe. Last time through (November 98), the surface was starting to break up in parts, so a bit of care was needed with cornering lines. At Connel, take the A85 along the side of Loch Etive and Loch Awe to return to Tyndrum & Crianlarich - again, a decent bit of road with a mix of tight corners in the first half or so, followed by more open straights and bends later.
Thatcham to: Theale
Not a great road but a useful alternative to the A4 when its busy (which is to say most of the time). Start from Harts Hill Road at the east end of Thatcham then follow road through Upper Bucklebury, Chapel Row and Southend. After about 8 miles you come to a T-junction. Turn right, then right again at the A340 to take you back on to the A4. Although unclassified, its fast and has many overtaking opportunities. But beware animals and hidden side turnings - take care.
Theale to: Christened Kneesliders
Head North East from Theale on the A4 and just before you get to Junction 12 of the M4 you'll come across a great, on-camber roundabout with a clear view of traffic from all directions. Warm up here but this one can be quite busy so take the right exit off and you'll find yourself at an Industrial Estate with two linked roundabouts which are perfect for first-time sliders. On a Sunday there is almost no traffic there, we saw three cars there in half an hour, one of which was a security patrol who seemed more than willing to turn a blind eye...
Inverness to: Ullapool
Now this just HAS to be the best biking road in GB, let alone Scotland. Take the A9 from Inverness to Tore (ordinary old main road). At Tore go onto A935 and start to enjoy yourself. If you're peckish, stop at the filling station just before Garve and have yourelf a wee snack. I can recomend the Breakfast Rolls. Once past Garve itself, the road starts to open out and the speed goes up. Just past the Aultguish Inn and the snow gates, the road climbs and widens along the side of Loch Glascarnoch. It is well surfaced and is one sweeping bend after another with good views of what's coming the other way (usually not a lot). This is ton plus country. Once past the Loch, it's sweeping bends and long straights all the way to Corrieshalloch Gorge (where there's a catering caravan - we Scots like our tea!!). From there, it's a gentle canter for the remaining miles to Ullapool. If you're into camping, the site is at the end of the village, past the ferry terminal. If not, there is a Youth Hostel on the main street or there are many B&B's. The pubs are all good, but very busy in the summer months. The pub beside the ferry terminal has a fish restaurant above, which is good and reasonably priced. Every thing seems to stay open until well after 10pm in season. Being in the wilds, there's not much sign of Law & Order, but BEWARE! the guy from the Caravan Site was clocked (and booked) somewhere between Glascarnoch and Corrieshalloch at something about 140! - You have been warned, just because you can't see the Polis, don't mean to say they aint there!! Yes, it's some piece of road. Even I, an upstanding officer of the Law, have been known to give it the berries on this fine piece of the road makers art. Keep the shiney side up and ENJOY!!!!
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