Dromara, County Down to: Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland
Last of my favourite routes, though not the least! Challenging B roads with poor surfaces in places esp. nr. Slieve Croob Essential: * Ireland North Ordanance Survey Holiday Map 1:250,000 #1. (1 + 4 miles) (or better) Nice to have: **Mourne Country Outdoor Persuits Map 1:25,000 (2.5 = Mile) . Pillion or other biker(s) to argue about the route! Routefinding will be the problem until you've done this before, or unless you can get a reasonable map. -
Start off from Dromara village (* 328, 349) in County Down. To get there,from Belfast M1 West to Sprucefield, A1 South following Dublin signs until Dromore. At Dromore take the first exit left, down a hill to a petrol station and immediately left to go due East in the Ballynahinch direction. Continue down this road for roughly 4 miles until you come to some angled cross-roads, there is a grey-painted house at the junction, with a kind of green in front of it, railings and an old cottages on the right, and a stand of big old trees, the settlement is called Ballykeel on the map. Turn right for Dromara (South).
On a clear day you should see your first destination, the 523 meter hill, Slieve Croob. Carry on down this road,a wonderful pegscraper on the sharp righthand corner at the bottom (opposing traffic notwithstanding). Unless you enjoy your beef incredibly fresh, watch out for cows crossing in 1/2 mile. Ride through Dromara and straight out the other side (great Fish & Chips incidentally). (from the Ballynahinch direction, follow signs for Dromore and then Dromara. Turn left when you reach the T junction at the end, in Dromara.) Keep going. S-Bend over a humpback bridge is a signal to gas it for a few yards afterwards, followed by a sharp left, and sweepers that open up, toclose down again (left) as you come into the village of Minnis.
Easy , now turn first left over the obvious bridge by a telephone box well before you get to the church. This narrow road carries straight on, weaving a little as it passes some cottages, until heading straight up the side of Slieve Croob. It IS straight here, but I'll bet there's a sheep or goat with your name on it waiting for you to wear it alive or dead like a jumper here if you go totally radge . Further up, the road narrows and theres some challenging bends before you get to the car park for the footpath to Slieve Croob. If you need a break you can stop here, and on a good day have views all the way over Belfast with the Antrim hills in the far distance, and Lough Neah on your left. Loose asphalt demands care unless you enjoy picking your bike off the ground (he said knowingly). Further up the road you come to a T-junction, take the left, downhill.Pass a junction to your right and you come to a sharp 'S' with dodgy road surface.When the road straightens our head accross the moorland for the trees. Speed could cause you to leave the saddle or become mildly airborne. Sharp left bend under the trees. Carry on down the hill. Some way over the brow, with a line of trees on your left, slow down for a lefthander. You're taking an immediate right (past a newish house at the bottom of a slope) for the obvious gap in the hills on your right. The surface here is cack, andthe junction doubles back on itself and is steep.
Easy! Reversing this junction is nigh on impossible due to the surface and angle - a bike has been dropped here for that reason. This road is almost single track with a disconcerting strip of grass down the middle in parts. Gulp. Most of the surface is OK unless its covered in tractors, tourists from the nearby lodge, or cattle, though. Enjoy. Up anddown, quite a few narrow bends. Emerge grinning at the end of the road, a T-junction, over the other side of the hills, as the road broadens out noticably. Left, and down the hill, towards the Mournes on the far horizon. Keep going down hill and eventually over some crossroads - the road ahead seems to go straight through someone's farm! Follow the bends up the hill and through the woods. As you keep going up the hill you come to a junction with a steeper gradient to the right which is overhung with trees (is that like a hangover?). Again, someone has thoughtfully carpeted the centre line with grass, occasionally also with leaves and maybe some ice. Yum yum. This road eventually deposits you at a T-junction. Left, down the hill a few yards to another 'T', and then right down the hill. Horses use this stretch of road and may try and cut off your exit - watch for ka ka and novice riders who would love to dive onto your bike for a lift. Follow the road up to a T-junction. Right into Castlewellan. Up the hill and through the town. After much shops, a mini-roundabout is a signal to turn left, with a pub on your right and petrol station on your left. Out of the built-up area, the road is wide and mostly straight.This is the A50 to Newcastle.
Just over a mile, and you come to an obvious staggered junction with white line boxes, and a filter to turn right. Take the right turn to Bryansford ( **346 333) the B180, also signposted (I think) to Hilltown. Carry on up through Byansford and past Tollymore Forest Park with views between the trees of the Mournes on your left. Roadsigns moot the possibility of wildlife encounters, but not Volvos reversing from farms into your path. Ignore any such provocation. Keep going out of the trees, (past a turn to Kilcoo on your right) thence second on your left, maybe signposted Spelga / Kilkeel. Or maybe not. Take this lefthand turn and head for the heart of the Mournes.The map says this is the C132. Yeah, right. You're following the banks of the Shimna river into the mountains. Keep on past the pine trees before Fafanny Dam / reservoir (Ger-Granville!) under the shadow of Butter Mountain. (is this like the EEC Butter Mountain ? Hmm ?).
Crack throttle as necessary. Geddup that hill, avoiding Sunday motorists looking at scenery and trying to smear you into it.The road levels out, and starts to descend Crocknafeola Woods and ultimately Kilkeel to the South. But I've a better idea for you! And this is the real point of the trip. Turn right (B27) (towards Hilltown), almost back on yorrself, towards the woods and Spelga dam / reservoir. In good weather a van provides icecream, tea, coffee snacks ?.So if you're itchin' for a break best take it now. Bikers with custom bikes and horns glued to open-faced helments might like to stop off at the Slievenamuck woods by the Reservoir, for a quick pagan ritual or maybe sandwiches. Next is not for pussies, the inexperienced or severely myopic without rectifying opthalmic attention. Head down the Selga Pass. If you crash here, you will sculpt your own tombstone from the surrounding landscape before you stop. There are some severe changes of direction, and a steep S-Bend half way down , most bends suffering from an alarmingly tightening radius which can leave the unwary stranded in the wrong gutter. As the severtiy of the pass lessens, so the bends open up before on more tightening line on a lefthander. By the time you get to the bottom your eyes will be extruded on stalks out of your helmet like a couple of cartoon boiled eggs. Great. When you start leaving the hills with Hen Mountain on your left, I take itas a good opportunity to stop, and clean the old soiled leathers. Crackin' Grommet-cheese. Because its time to turn around and go back UP the pass. The extra weight over the driving wheel here means that one could if one were inclined (ha!ha!) lean off the bike for extra traction with much more impunity. Those with aforesaid Viking-Biking helmets will recognise the return journey as Valhalla. Now, Clive, you're just going to have to do this all over again....
When you get back to the T-junction act the top past Selga dam, you haveseveral choices. Turn right is commendable if you want to take a left after a 3.1/4 miles downhill run, singposted Silent Valley, and ultimately on to Newcastle. Returning (left) in the direction you have come (north) offers other tasty morsels. Run down past Fafanny Dam (no, I can't believe it either) past an obvious left turn brings you almost unexpectedly to a X-roads. Take the narrow road to your right under the foot of Slieve Meelmore, along the other side of the Shimna river this time. Some low-speed peg scrapers. Watch for armchair hikers in cars who will probably scowl at you. There are several public car parks on this road, and people do just pull out. Eventually come to a wild and narrow switchback over a bridge. At the T-junction turn right and back to Bryansford. When you get to Tollymore Forest Park, and Bryansford (avoiding aforesaid Volvo driver again), you can if you want turn right towards Newcastle. There's a Caf' on your left if you're with your well-behave girlfriend. If not you can huff and puff about the exhorbitant cost of entry into Tollymore Forest Park (on your right) for motorcyclists, the take advantage of dirt-cheap but basic cooking in the Caf' there. Bargain. As for the rest of it, well, Write to the Site and suggest a route home! Butyou may well be caught by the lure of the Dromara Hills from the other direction, and the prospect of those bends coming DOWN from Slieve Croob!!! Arooobah!
The Cat and Fiddle, Cheshire to: Junction of the A523
So, you think the Cat and Fiddle is hard work? OK, not so many twisties, and a variety of surfaces, this is best done the wrong way round, tho for the first timer, best tackled from the Cat and Fiddle end of things near Macc. Go past the Cat', look out for the hidden dip as you drop left, turn right onto the road that comes back on yourself (the A54 to Congleton)...dead straight but bumpy, then it goes a bit mental, with large drops on the left and blind right handers. This is THE raod to get airborne on, and often coming the other way you can get the front wheel well in the air as the road turn L/R beneath you...heheheh!
There is one particular section just past the turning for Macc forest, coming toward the Cat, looks like a table-top and can almost be taken as such whilst legal, tho for most danger, exceeding by 30% will help air-time...
There are a couple of sections of really crappy surface toward the end of the road, so watch out. Also, if you decide to carry on over the traffic lights (watch out for red-light runners, this junction has seen a lot of fatalities from red light repmobile runners) watch out for the speed cam as you start to come into Congleton - it's on the start of a steep downhill section about 100 yards after the 40 signs, so you should (of course) be sticking the speed down anyway...most fun is to be had by turning round and riding the rollercoaster sections of this road anyway...
Nuneaton to: M42
A good summer Sunday run this one (We go from Nuneaton) Out of Nuneation past the Graziers Pub, the first couple of miles to the A5 are a good warm up, and decides who's leading and chasing. Across the A5 and its brain out time! Past Fenny Drayton village watch out for the cross roads, then nail it into the Drayton bends. Get 'um right and you'll go over the rise to Sibson like rocket! Fast downhill sweepers now till the village (Slow it through the vallage as theres a turning on the left - 2 bike deaths in as many years) Once past, knock it down and go, the lazy 's' bends out of the village are sweet but be on your guard for the junction at the top of the hill. It's downhill again then with a really fast right, left, right sweep onto the Twycross straight (Top speed duel time). Through the village and there is a straight, bend, straight section till you get to a 90deg right by the zoo entrance thats a bit of a pig (I always go in too fast). Then its on the gas again (note junction on right hand side), careful for sidewinds as this bit is pretty exposed, and down into the right hand sweeper that takes you into Appleby Parva. It's a sprint then to the M42 island. Knee down round it and back the way you came, turning left at the junction just before the zoo. down to the Moore's arms in Norton Juxta Twycross, for a drink, and a chat with the others doing the same run! Then its back to Nuneaton to the Graziers for stories of heroics and soiled skids!! - See you in the summer
Hertford to: Hertford
Combines a couple of the great routes already on this site. Out of Hertford west on A414 // Right at Hertingfordbury up onto Thieves Lane // left onto B1000 towards Welwyn Garden City // Nice twisty road with a downhill corkscrew mid way // right hander after corkscrew is deceiving (oncoming cars tend to run wide and has claimed to two bike fatalities // past Tewin and Welwyn turnoffs // follow though Digswell (speed bumps and lane narrowing // Over roundabout onto A1000 DualCW // Go under A1 // Straight over roundabout still on A1000 // At Clock Hotel take Left to Welwyn village//Take B656 Codicote Road (Ed note: A reader advises me that this road has been attracting some accidents, so take care, particularly on the corner by Vanstones Garden Centre // Follow through to Hitchin
twisties and quick but watch for Garden Centre Volvos and scrap yard on RHS (lorries/parking/oil)// At Hitchin take A602 East towards Stevenage // Under A1 (Stevenage North Junction) and take B197 through Graveley // at T left towards Letchworth and loop back round and take the A6141 into Baldock // At Tesco go straight over roundabout// right at next roundabout onto A507 to Buntingford // top road but plenty of speed traps (never got this road right !) // At Buntingford roundabout go South onto A10 // Do a couple of laps of the Puckeridge Indy Circuit (dualcw between the N and S Puckeridge roundabouts // back South on A10 // At Thundridge Go right onto B158 by Anchor Beefeater (twisty) // Follow B158 to Bengeo and into Hertford // Check tires are now feathered to shit...// Early Sunday evening is good and you get to do the A507 with the sun on your back. // Police generally in Gravelly area and on A507
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