Best UK roads to explore on your motorbike this summer

Best UK roads to explore on your motorbike this summer

It’s been a long time coming but as the UK’s roadmap out of lockdown takes effect, it’s getting more and more tempting to get the actual roadmap out and plan a big ride.

It looks as though our trips will be limited to the UK for the time being at least, but that’s no bad thing as there are some spectacular roads to be found right on our doorstep. From 50-mile sportsbike blasts on a Sunday afternoon to epic scenery taken in across several days on your adventure bike, there’s something for all riders to be found without needing a passport.

Before you set off on your adventure, make sure all your paperwork is up-to-date and that includes your insurance. Make sure you’ve got the best coverage you can afford; check what extras you have (for example breakdown cover) and make sure your big trip isn’t going to take you past your estimated annual mileage. If in doubt, give your insurer a call.

Once you’ve checked all that, make sure you’ve got a current MoT certificate, your tax (VED) is paid and maybe think about getting a service, especially if your bike hasn’t seen much action for a while.

Now it’s time to hit the open road, but only once you’ve picked somewhere to go.

North Coast 500

Location: Scotland
Distance: 500 miles

The North Coast 500 (or NC500) is a well-known route around the top of the Scottish Highlands. It also takes in possibly the most famous road in the UK, the Bealach na Ba.

Beginning and ending in Inverness, you can do it in either direction, but the most important thing is that you don’t rush it.

Bear in mind that the route will be very busy in the height of summer, probably more so than ever in 2021, so it will require patience to navigate the cars, caravans and cyclists who had the same idea as you.

Edale to Ladybower via Winnats Pass

Location: Peak District
Distance: 12 miles

The Peak District is absolutely brimming with great riding routes and is home to both the Snake Pass and the Cat and Fiddle, which are both worth checking out (although be careful of the average speed cameras and police presence).

Starting in Edale, head south west towards Barber Booth. The road is very narrow with high hedges so be careful of oncoming traffic. Just south of Barber Booth you begin the climb past Mam Tor with spectacular views of the Hope Valley.

Eventually you take a sharp left signposted Sheffield and the road opens up into sweeping bends and occasional hairpins. Follow your nose to Bamford and turn left at the Texaco garage to get to the reservoir. If you keep going, you reach a junction with the Snake Pass.

Black Mountain Road – Brecon Beacons

Location: South Wales
Distance: 12 miles

This mountain pass has been a favourite of bikers and drivers for years and became even more famous when it featured in an episode of the BBC’s Top Gear. Starting from Upper Brynamman just head north on the A4069 as it snakes its way through some of the most jaw-dropping scenery in the world. Keep an eye out for sheep and cattle grids.

Newlands Pass – Braithwaite to Buttermere

Location: Lake District
Distance: 7 miles

This one’s not for the faint-hearted; a narrow, singletrack with some iffy patches of tarmac and a sheer drop to one side. But if you fancy giving it a go, the views are genuinely exceptional.

It may only be a short stretch, but it’s easy to build a visit into a bigger road trip to the Lakes, which is home to some of the best roads in the United Kingdom. At the end of the Newlands, turn right for spectacular views of Crummock Water or turn left for Buttermere.

Hawes loop

Location: Yorkshire Dales
Distance: 50 miles

Starting and ending in picturesque Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales , this route takes in sections of the famous Buttertub Pass with stunning national park scenery and challenging roads.

Ease into the route by heading east on the A684 towards Aysgarth. Take a left just after the Aysgarth Falls Hotel and take in the beautiful stone bridge river crossing. Follow your nose onward and through the town of Redmire, after which your climb begins in earnest.

Hang a left to join on the A6108 (signposted Richmond) and then left onto the B6270. This turns into little more than a track (although it’s all tarmac) with cattle crossings and stray sheep but leads through beautiful rolling countryside all the way to Britain’s highest pub, the Tan Hill Inn.

Rhigos Valley

Location: South Wales
Distance: 28 miles

This scenic route takes you in and out of some beautiful Welsh valleys almost always climbing or descending. Don’t let the epic views take your concentration off the road as there are some challenging twists and turns to enjoy, too.

Start by heading south on the A4061 Rhigos Road and stop off almost immediately at the breathtaking Rhigos viewpoint. Once you’ve composed yourself, continue south until you hit Ynyswen.

Now pick up the A4058 to cut across to the A4233 to head north. Eventually you leave the terraced housing behind and start climbing back up out of the valley with views just as good as the way in.

Bardney – Mablethorpe

Location: Lincolnshire Wolds
Distance: 50 miles

North Lincolnshire may be better known for long straight roads and sleepy market towns than great riding routes, but the Wolds are a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and contain some great motorcycling roads, too.

This route looks complicated on paper but you can mostly follow your nose until you hit Market Rasen and as long as you remember to turn right there you should be ok. This route passes very close to Cadwell Park too so maybe drop in to watch some action there if it’s a race weekend.

Bourne – Colsterworth

Location: Lincolnshire
Distance: 12 miles

This is a well-known road to many bikers and drivers in the area and takes in some beautiful villages and challenging 90-degree bends as it twists through the Lincolnshire hills (yes, there are some).

You can also take the right turn after Corby Glen signposted Bitchfield for a rollercoaster section of road that comes out at the A52 but beware the quality of the road surface in places and a couple of adjoining roads in tricky places.

Dolgellau loop

Location: Mid-Wales
Distance: 50 miles

If you love exploring on two wheels, you can’t go far wrong in Wales. This short loop begins and ends in Dolgellau and takes in challenging twisty roads, coastal views and quaint villages along the way.

Head west from Dolgellau on the A470 and then take the A493. The views of the sea along this stretch are incredible so make sure you keep an eye on the road! The A493 eventually cuts inland with views of the mountains in the distance and sweeping bends to keep you busy.

The stretch after Aberdyfi has some slightly dodgy road surfaces in patches but you get beautiful views of the river estuary so take your time and enjoy it. The A487 is a smoother sweeping stretch and then it’s a short ride on the A470 back to Dolgellau.

Newquay – Padstow

Location: Cornwall
Distance: 12 miles

Cornwall is brimming with picturesque roads and great routes, you really can just stick a pin in the map and go exploring.

This stretch of the B3276 snakes its way along the coast through a few cool surf spots and past the famous Bedruthan Steps. A particular highlight is the drop into Mawgan Porth, just don’t get too distracted by the view to make the hairpin at the bottom of the hill!