Theale to: Christened Kneesliders
Head North East from Theale on the A4 and just before you get to Junction 12 of the M4 you'll come across a great, on-camber roundabout with a clear view of traffic from all directions. Warm up here but this one can be quite busy so take the right exit off and you'll find yourself at an Industrial Estate with two linked roundabouts which are perfect for first-time sliders. On a Sunday there is almost no traffic there, we saw three cars there in half an hour, one of which was a security patrol who seemed more than willing to turn a blind eye...
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.
Postcombe to: West Wycombe
Set off from the England's Rose pub in Postcombe, a popular bikers' gathering point at the weekend that does decent fry-ups. Head east along the A40 and do a quick dog-leg right-left across the B4009 (another good road). The next couple of miles is called Aston Hill and is fast, twisty, uphill and, in this direction, two lanes. Knee-down heaven, and with good views. Once through Stokenchurch, the road changes into fast sweepers where silly speeds are possible thanks to nearly all the traffic being on the adjacent M40.
After you get to West Wycombe, you can head back and do it again, although somehow it's less fun going this way. better to head back via Princes Risborough and Thame on the A4010, A4129, B4012. You'll need another fry-up by then.
Leicester to: Peterborough
Very very fast, big bike stuff. I'm surprised there's not more bikers on it. Not very twisty but lots of swooping bends, fast straights, very long, very very fast (110 - 120mph +) uphill & downhill sections, good visibility. Not much traffic if your an early riser but lots of space to overtake anyway. I've never timed myself on a bike but a few years ago, one very clear summer evening, I went from Bushby(Leicester) to Castor(Peterborough) in 24 minutes in my VW Corrado G60. A good rider should beat this easy on a decent bike. Email your time if you do. Distance, about 35 miles end to end.
Watch out for the FIVE O outside of Leicester and on the dual caridgeway into Peterborough.
The routes on this site are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License.