Morpeth to: Lowick
I was heading up from London, on a break in Northumberland, heard it was a lovely place and I had been recommended an Inn, in a place called Lowick nr Berwick upon Tweed. Just North of Newcastle upon Tyne, I took the A697 off the drudgery and speed cameras of the A1, still heading North, it was a beautiful day and the dramatic Northumberland landscape opened up in front of me. (This section to the Wooler B6525 junction is approx. 50-60 miles) There are some wonderful long straight sections on this road mixed up with swooping bends and tight hairpins. The landscape is breathtaking and rugged, but beware, although a good surface, at fast speeds the road demands all your concentration. I did only notice one camera and that was a 30mph through one of the small villages, Long Horseley. North of this village is probably the most exciting and fastest (if you're so inclined) sections. Eventually, I came into Wooler and, took the B6525 East back towards the A1 and my destination. Again this road was outstanding, with even less traffic, apart from the odd car and tractor. Approximately 8 miles to Lowick now and after negotiating and absorbing, possibly the most outstanding ride I've ever had, I turned off at Lowick (B6353) and was ready for the wonderful hospitality I received at The Black Bull, Lowick. The entire trip is very much recommended.
milnrow to: milnrow
Mills and Moorland (and a Castle) This is a route I have constructed from several of the short runs I regularly use to blow away the cobwebs following a sh*tty day at work. I have never yet travelled it in its entirety.
Start at J21 on the M62. Aim for Rochdale centre, but at the first set of traffic lights bear right onto the road for Littleborough (via Hollingworth Lake). At Littleborough take the A58 over Soyland Moor. As you drop down the other side you will pass reservoirs on your right. Follow the road down to Ripponden. As you enter the village centre, turn right at the traffic light onto the A672 . This road climbs back up over the moors, under the M62, eventually dropping down into Denshaw. At Denshaw there is a 5 road junction, take the first left (A640-Huddersfield). Back up over the moors again. After about 6 miles you will pass over the M62 (again!), about 1 mile after that look out for a road on your right (Round Ings), which is opposite a pub called the Highlander (there can be only one!!!) Round Ings takes you over the M62. Follow this road up over the hill, keeping right at the top. Then merge right into the road coming out of the village, and follow this road all the way downhill into a village called Slaithwaite. This is a nice spot for a ciggie break. If anyone can eat a full portion of fish and chips from the chippie, then you are a better man than me!
Follow the road out of the village, over the canal and river, turning right at the village exit onto the A62. Follow this road through Marsden and back up over the Pennines. When dropping down the other side look out for a road forking off left to Uppermill. Go through Uppermill. On the exit of the village look out for the A635 Greenfield to Holmfirth road (this road is currently -may 2003- undergoing roadworks). Enjoy the road all the way to Holmfirth. When entering Holmfirth, turn immediately right onto the A6024, the road to Holme. This road climbs quickly to the TV transmitter mast. There is a car park to rest up and enjoy the view (and usually an ice cream van). After resting drop down the other side and at your first junction turn left onto the A628. Take care at this junction as you are turning back on yourself, and it is a blind juction for approaching traffic.
After about 6 miles, at the Langsett roundabout, turn left onto the A616 - Huddersfield. Travel down through New Mill, Brockholes (beware-speed tax cameras). Just before Honley, look out for a sign for the Railway Station to your right. Turn right up this road. At the T junction at the top of the road, turn left and follow the road round the hillside. After about 1 mile turn right in front of Castle Hill. Just around the corner you can access the road to climb up to the car park at the top of the hill. After having your ciggie, beer, coke (delete as appropriate) the only final complication is to find your way back into Huddersfield and the way home. Retrace your tracks back down the hill to the junction where you turned right (ie turn right to continue the road that you originally approached Castle Hill on) Stay on this road, through Almondbury, all the way until you eventually merge into the A629, heading into Huddersfield. You can take the ring road either way around the town centre. Turn off on the A640 -Rochdale- take this road out of the town centre and you will soon find yourself on familiar territory.
Points to consider on moorland crossings : I would not advise this route during windy weather, as it severely spoils the enjoyment of the roads. Beware of the many sheep, they are not the brightest of animals. You may find gravel and chippings on the racing line, that have been washed off the road sides during heavy rain. According to my map and a piece of cotton the mileage comes out at about 80 miles !!
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!
Hamilton to: Lanark
from Hamilton leave the town and head for Chatelherault Country park, go past the park, and at the garden centre turn left, signposted lanark, M74. by now you are thinking, what is this guy trying to pull? this road is crap!. Just wind open the throttle my friend! the next stretch is amazing, and well worth building up some speed for. the road sweeps down the side of the valley, just gently banking to the right then, POW. the road follows the exact course of the river for about 6 miles, it turns, rises, drops, banks like a bugger. it's amazing at 80+ you eventually come to the Garrion bridge over the river clyde. keep going straight ahead, and you get more of the same for >another 10 miles!!!< by the time you reach lanark (which is at the top of a 5:1 gradient with two 90 degree bends on it) you will be screaming your head off !! and the best bit? well after a visit to the (brilliant) chip shop beside the station, you get to do it in reverse. or of course, you could go out through lanark towards symington, which brings you to the A707 Edinburgh to Moffat road that someone else has put in.... It's great to live in Scotland!!!
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