Five scenic motorcycle routes in the UK for an Autumn road trip
You don't have to travel far and wide for great biking routes.
You don't have to travel the world to find really good scenic motorcycle routes, there are great routes in the UK. I know a couple of these routes well, if you haven't visited them travelling by bike is one of the best ways to experience these roads, so get out and take a road trip this autumn before the weather turns bad.
1. The Honister Pass - Keswick to Cockermouth (B5289 )
I have put this one first as I know it well and love it. I recently revisited this route after several years, the scenery is breathtaking. I had Australian friends with me and we went up by car this time. They were literally gasping at the view as we went over the Honister Pass. T here are few places in the world than can beat the Lake District for natural beauty and outstanding roads. Around 14 million tourists visit the Lakes every year, many of whom take to two wheels for their trip.
Honister Pass - My own photo
Avoiding the less interesting direct A66 Keswick to Cockermouth, this route heads along the edge of Derwent Water, through the village of Seatoller, around the southern tip of Dale Head and along the banks of Buttermere and Crummock Water before heading north to Cockermouth.
The video shows the route in reverse to the way I always do it, I think my way means the dramatic bits lie in wait for you rather than coming at the beginning, but either way it is a stunning route.
2. The 'N500' route around the coast of Northern Scotland
Some of the most picturesque scenery in Europe can be found in the Scottish Highlands and you will see it laid out as you travel the winding roads from Inverness to John O'Groats and round the coast. The Australian friends I mentioned above travelled it in May this year, and pronounced it better than New Zealand for scenery.
Recently called 'Scotland’s answer to America's Route 66' it is very popular although it was only launched as route in 2015. Interest and tourist numbers are bound to increase after it won Travel magazine’s Value For Money Award 2018.
I've done Inverness to John O'Groats and there are some wild stretches just along that bit. According to the press the route, or part of it will feature in Series Three of the Grand Tour and they must know a thing or two about scenic road trips.
3. The 'Cat and Fiddle' route Macclesfield to Buxton (A537)
This road is well know among bikers and is one of the most popular roads for them to travel to try it out. Stretching across the western section of the peak district from Buxton into Macclesfield, the Cat & Fiddle pass is popular thanks to its challenging bends and stunning scenery.
Across the moors up to the Cat and Fiddle
The Cat & Fiddle Inn at the road’s summit also plays a part in attracting bikers to the region, though hopefully they're having a strong cuppa to steady their nerves or staying the night.
This beautiful route comes with a health warning, having been called the most dangerous road in Britain after 34 deaths on the road between 2006 and 2008. As a result, the local police maintain a strong presence along what the press describe as a notorious accident black spot.
4. Bwlch y Groes (Pass of the Cross) DInas Mawddwy to Llanuwchllyn, North Wales
The Bwlch-y-Groes (Pass of the Cross) route has long been popular with motorcycle enthusiasts. It's the highest public road in North Wales and was often used as a test route by a number of manufacturers, including Triumph, for their hill climbing bikes.
Photo: Bryn Davies
The climb is well within the capabilities of modern motorcycles, with the mostly single track road having a double hairpin at the foot of the hill. It can be very hard going on an older or smaller bike as you'll see from the video below, but challenge is a good thing, isn't it?
Travelling up to 1,788 feet above sea level, the road gets its name from the cross just below the summit at the junction of the roads from Vyrnwy and Dinas Mawddwy, commemorating the place of the pass on a pilgrim route from North Wales.
5. Cheddar Gorge - B3135
I have been visiting Cheddar Gorge almost all my life. It is a limestone gorge in the Mendip Hills and is an amazing sight, but it also has a great driving road. People question this statement as it's only 14 miles, they say surely you'll just get going then it'll stop, and that it's very touristy so full of sightseers pootling along. Well it is short and there are tourists, but it's worth it.
An aerial view of a different type of bike tackling the Gorge (Photo via @BritishCycling on Twitter)
Morning runs are recommended on this according to those in the know, meaning that you’ll avoid the worst of the tourist traffic, some of which you get the idea of in the video below. Starting from Axbridge then turning towards Cheddar, after passing through the village you meet some challenging bends and turns that take you down into the Gorge.
The Gorge was voted in a 2005 poll by Radio Times as second greatest natural wonder in Britain and it is well worth stopping along the route to admire it. The road continues to take various twists and turns well after you have left the gorge, all the way into Green Ore.
Got any suggestions? Ridden on or driven any of these routes? Let me know what your experiences of these routes are in the comments below, or if you have any suggestions for routes. While the weather holds it's not too late for a last road trip of this year!