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.
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.
Lincoln to: Skegness
Nice and flat, very open in places, watch for tractors now and again but all in all, a good blast (even from manchester!
Kendal to: Carlisle
My favourite road in the whole country - I go to Scotland a lot from Burnley in Lancashire, but it never really feels like I'm on my way until I start climbing the A6 out of Kendal towards Shap summit. The rest of the run from Shap to Penrtih and then to Carlisle is mainly flat, but the road is in good repair with lots of sweeping bends to get your knee down on. No police presence (never seen any, yet) but a few villages along the way. It's pretty easy to average about 90mph from Kendal to Carlisle though!
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