Larne (Northern Ireland) to: Ballintoy, Co. Antrim.
If you're headed for the Northwest 2000 at Portrush this road's on your way from GB, particularly if you take the ferry across from Stranraer (Cairnrayan, nerby, actually sales into Larne). but if you're coming to Northern Ireland for any Roadraces, iuncluding the Sunflower, do this anyway - stay a little longer and you won't be disappointed with the roads! The route: the legendary A2 from Larne to Ballycastle via the Antrim Coast Road icluding the breathtaking scenic route over Torr Head from Cushenden. Smell the sea and seaweed! Best undertaken on a fine day wihtout a gale blowing in yer face! Head North from Larne,towards Glenarm. Watchout for suicidal Sunday drivers along the whole route! Narrow bridges in the cliffs best taken slowly. By Carlough hopefully the traffic thins out a bit - there aren't hugoe overtaking opportunities on this road but there are some good long straights if you're patient. Carry on North to Glenariff and then Cushendall, going inland slightly before turning East again to get to Cushenden. From here the roads amazinf up downs and switchbacks, but don't ride over the cliffs - the seas cold st this time of year. This is the full-on concentration bit, with no opportunities to go mad unless you're already certified - the surface is not quite up to it and a full-face Range Rover is waiting over the next brow to facilitate an unscheduled conference with sheep in ajoining fields. You can detour off the A2 if time and curiosity allow. Personally I like to press on (some very sudden bends as you cross Torr Head) through Ballycastle to pause at Ballintoy for very cheap food and cakes at the harbour - highly recommended but don't park your bike in the sea! And the route back. Well, the way you came, of course. If anything, its even more exciting coming back downhill. this was the first day's outing I had when I passed my test and bought a bike. I must've been totally barmy. But the views (if you get a chance!) on the way back more than make up for repeating the route. And then, you're just going to have to do it all over again, Clive....
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.
Bridgnorth to: Craven Arms
Take the A458 from Bridgnorth towards Shrewsbury. Turn left at MORVILLE towards Craven Arms. The twisty road is sure to give grins from ear to ear as you wind out through the high hedge lines and farm country. CAUTION 1. There are quite a few farms along this road - there may be tractors!!!! CAUTION 2. As you approach SHIPTON (two consecutive right bends, followed by a long(ish) downhill run) the bend at the bottom is reasonably sharp and often is showered with gravel. This road is used by the Honda MAC instructor in our area - I don't know a much better recommendation than that!! Happy riding
Southampton to: Newbury and Back
Approx 110 Miles. Some good coutry A Road twisties, steep hills and some good fast stuff. From Millbrook Roundabout, Southampton, take the M271 (worst road in Britain?) it's typical ripply concrete but its fast and fairly straight so makes a good warm up, but thankfully its short, it crosses the M27 at a large traffic light controlled r/about, at the end of the second bit bear left onto the A27. A nice stretch into Romsey, (can get busy). At Romsey head onto the A3057, a good twisty road but with a couple of 30 mph villages but good scenery and some great bends, (surface is OK).
Through Stockbridge and on towards Andover, again some villages but good fun and some fast sweepers. At Andover go through the ring road and out onto the A343 through some nice Urban national speedlimit dual cariageway. (HIGHWAY CODE ANYONE?) Good fast road, twisty and some very steep hills, eventually after Highclere you hit the infamous Newbury bypass section of the A34 head north 1 junction, its all u need (or want) anyway its the best bit of the new road, fast and steep/twisty (mind the wobble boxes). Join the A4, towards Hungerford, this is the old London to Bristol Road and it shows, its usually very quiet (M4 is much faster direct). The great thing about this section is the width, its genuinely 3 proper lanes wide, but as a single carriageway A road its just sweet for bikes you just ride the middle lane if theres anyone to overtake. Super Fast.
At Hungerford take the A338 towards Salisbury, its pretty twisty to start with but speeds up when u hit the upgraded section at Burbage. Mind the speed cameras in some of the 40 mph villages but its mostly well signed, seen plod here too. Loads of sweepers and good elevation changes for Hampshire.
At the A303 go under and at the r/about turn left then first right (B3084) towards Grately 30 mph village, at the railway station bear left signed Romsey Avoiding Low bridge, unclassified road but fast if unsighted, TT stylee, shortcut to A343 at Middle Wallop, at A343 turn right then quickly left (historic signs for Danebury Hillfort) this is A SUPERB STRETCH of road, 2 esses, both faster than u think, so so so fast along here and very good viz, very quiet, but at the end BEWARE, a very dirty farm both sides of the road, followed by a sharp off camber right/left and then a sharp stop at at give way (nice one this) give way sign, 75 Metres ! steep down hill stop at a very fast, dual carriageway, downhill bend on the A30, cheers Highways agency! take it easy here. Turn left, steep downhill, pootle through Stockbridge, plod, CHOICE here:
1= straight over up the stockbridge downs (B3049) to Winchester (traffic in the city centre) back to Southampton on the M3 throught the new by pass (Twyford down) which is a fun stretch when its not rammed, includes the tightest angle of bend allowed on a motorway. (alledgedly). or
2 =Turn right retrace your route on the A3057 to Romsey & Southampton. Just out of Stockbridge is a sweet bend on a hill combo, after Kings Somborne u WILL get stuck behind a slow car/van/bus I always do and you can't see anything due to the twisties and hedges, but if you wait there is a mile long straight when you drop out of the hill at Lower Brook, the record so far is 11 cars despatched along here . Easy though cos theres a long left sweeper at the end into a 40 with a pub on one side with cagers pulling in and out. Our local run this is and I've seen rideouts leaving from the Texaco station at Hungerford on a Sunday all the way through to Romsey, nice one lads, safe and tidy from what I saw. Enjoy and respect the villagers.
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