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!!!!
Braco to: Comrie
This is a fine little stretch of high level(ie up in the moors) twisty stuff. It can be got to from the A9 just N of Dunblane. It climbs quickly up the side of a pleasant strath before hitting a series of bends and straights. Watch out for a couple of narrow bridges on near 90 degree bends, and also the carriage way is pretty narrow and sometimes no road markings, most of the way. There is a terrific open view much of the time, so easy to spot traffic despite the twisties. A great set of switchbacks drops you down into the lower ground outside Comrie. Gas up there if you need to. For an alternative return route, head along the A85 thru St Fillans and a lochside blast past Loch Earn to join the always entertaining A 84 at Lochearnhead. Snoot presence is minimal, if present at all, except perhaps in the 2 main villages.
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.
Stamford Bridge (Yorks) to: Helmsley
From A166 York to Bridlington road head east towards Stamford Bridge. Either 1/2 mile before S/B or 1.5 miles afterwards, take the unclassified road off left to Buttercrambe. Quaint village.. Head North out of Buttercrambe following signs for Malton. You now embark on a cracking 9 mile run up t'hill and down t'dale as the road repeatedly climbs to a crest and then you see it drop away for 2 miles in front of you. Lovely bends and visibility miles ahead.. Watch out for the odd blind crest with a mini crossroads just over the brow.. It may be only 9 miles but you can do what I do and turn around at Malton and do it all again...luurvely. Once into Malton / Norton, follow signs for B1257 Helmsley and have fun on this seldom monitored 'blatter'. Stop off in Helmsley for 'tea & stickies' before heading home or going onward.
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