ARBROATH to: MONTROSE
12 MILES OF SMOOOOTH TARMAC WITH LONG FAST SWEEPING CORNERS, UPHILL AND DOWNHILL OPEN BENDS AND A NICE CHICANE AND BEST OF ALL NO SPEED CAMERAS, ENJOY
Sheffield to: Sheffield
Starting from Owler Bar roundabout on the A621/B6054 follow the 621 through the first few twisties (newly resurfaced!!),down Baslow hill to the roundabout.Turn right,through Baslow to the second roundabout and turn left (now on the A619).Take the first right (still the A619) and go for it! through the fabulous Thirteen Bends and take the first right onto the A6020.The first half mile is dead straight,slightly downhill with a hidden dip to get airborn and then stand on the brakes for the roundabout!! Straight across and follow A6020 through some nice twisties to the T junction with the A6 at Ashford-in-the-Water.Turn right and follow the A6 up Taddington Dale where the road eventually opens up into dual carraigeway (Taddington bypass) and drop down the other side for the run into Buxton through the the nice twisties alongside the river Wye.At the first roundabout you come to,turn left,upto and straight on at the lights to a second set and bear left onto the A53.AS you climb out of Buxton turn right just past Rock Bay Garage onto the A54.Take the left fork after approx 1.5 miles (still the A54)and follow the road all the way to the lights at Bosley but be prepared to get airborn and watch out for suicidal sheep!!Right at the lights along the A523 into Macclesfield and follow the signs for Buxton on the infamous A523 Cat and Fiddle,eventually rejoining the A54 for the drop into Buxton.Turn right at the first set of lights re-tracing your earlier route back to the roundabout on the A6 but this time turn left,on to a second roundabout and turn right (still the A6)out past the golf course(watch out for low flying balls!!) and drop down through Dove Holes to the roudabout at Barmoor Clough.Turn right and follow the A623 past Sparrowpit,down through Peak Forest(be careful here...watch out for radar trap!)up over Tideswell Moor,though Wardlow Mires and drop down through Middleton Dale to Stoney Middleton and Calver.Go straight on at Calver lights,back through Baslow village and up the fabulous Baslow hill to the Owler Bar roundabout starting point.Stop here for a fag/leak and do it all again!!
Spalding to: Melton Mowbray
Almost worth moving to East Anglia so you can blast to Donington. From the A16/A1073 crossroads turn towards Spalding, then left over a bridge and right at the petrol station (easy to miss this turn). 30 limit for a mile or so, then left at the t-junction. This soon becomes a 50 limit, then you're out over the fens. Watch out for the sharp r/h bend at Pode Hole, then fast and staight to Pinchbeck, over the humpback bridge and sharp left. Some beautiful twisties and straight-line stuff, another 90 right at Twenty then flat, fast and bumpy all the way into Bourne. Watch out for some VERY deep dykes both sides of the road. Straight across the lights at Bourne and watch out for speed traps on the slight rise out of the village. Out of the limit and sharp right and up hill through some woods then a long downhill striaght, followed by some lovely twists before the 90 right into Edenham. The speed limit here has been altered so watch it, another popular spot for 'hairdryers'. A short blast of twists with a slight rise and fall then the two rights and 90 left into Grimthorpe, 40 limit. The 90 right as you leave the village is VERY steep uphill, and you can power on early as the speed limit ends there. A set of glorious twists and striaghts past Grimthorpe Castle, then a 90 right and GO FOR IT all the way to Corby Glen. Fast, wide sweeps and few juctions to worry about. Corby Glen is now 30 limit so beware. Up the hill out of Corby Glen, out of the limit past the Grantham turn (another great road), then right, downhill and left under the railway bridge. Then it's fast and twisty all the way to Colsterworth and the A1, just a couple of rights to watch out for. Cross the A1, 30 through Colsterworth then flat to Stainby (30). Long straight out of Stainby with a tricky right kink then striaght to Buckminster. 30 through here then it's pure Joey Dunlop all the way to Melton, with just three very short 30 limits through villages, all with very sharp entries and exits. For a change, coming back from Melton use the A606 to Oakham, past Rutland Water and on to Stamford. Much wider and smoother, therefor faster, but not so much fun in my opinion. And if you're not knackered after that, you weren't trying hard enough! Cheers and be safe.
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!
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