ADV Tours by Region: Best Motorcycle Routes in the UK
You’d be forgiven if the UK never crossed your mind as a destination for great adventure motorcycle riding. As it turns out, the diverse landscapes on offer in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland provide a variety of terrain packed into a relatively small area.
Whether you’re looking to get out on a day trip to have some fun, or leave for a few days to clear the mind and get away from it all, the UK has a lot to offer for the adventure rider.
Outlining all the different routes one can take would be far beyond the scope of this post, but what follows are some highlights we recommend.
One thing to keep in mind before you go: double-check the route(s) you’re taking to make sure there are no closures. Some (most) routes require a road-legal motorcycle be used to traverse the path.
Ready? Here we go.
We start with a fairly easy trail for riders of all levels, including beginners, to enjoy. Located in Norfolk, you’ll follow the coastline in sections and soak in the glow of the water.
Flat trails follow, allowing you to enjoy the view. Further along the 50-mile trail you’ll come across a highlight near Castle Acre: a water crossing – and who doesn’t love a good water crossing?
There isn’t anything too technical here, so while beginners will appreciate the gentle entry into adventure riding, if you’re looking for something more challenging, you might be best served looking elsewhere. Also, be aware of travelers on foot, as there are sections of the path specifically for them.
MadorNomad.com is where you can find more information on this tour.
A Stroll Through Ireland
Guided Motorbike Tours offers a great ride along the west coast of Ireland. Suitable for all levels of riders, this 1500-mile tour will take you through Killarney National Park, Dingle Peninsula, Conor Pass, Glengarriff, Galway, Cliffs of Moher – and that’s just a start. And who can forget the post-ride drink – Guinness!
Starting in the south of Ireland and moving northward, the tour continually elevates in natural beauty, as the stunning roads lead you to postcard-worthy mountain views en route to the coast, where lovely towns await. Accommodations are hotels and B&Bs, and Irish pub food is the fare for most nights.
If you’re interested, visit GuidedMotorbikeTours.
To find something with a little more spice and variety for more experienced riders, Sarn Helen, located in the south of Wales, has something for you. This one area has so many different routes, if you like tarmac, dirt, or both, even experienced riders looking for a mighty challenge can find something near Sarn Helen sure to satisfy.
Seeing as how there are several different paths you can follow, navigation alone is part of the difficulty.
Even Sarn Helen itself offers a challenge straight away, as it starts with a steep climb with little traction in spots, but levels off and takes you through beautiful open landscapes. Along the way, you might not see another soul for a while as the route takes you through parts of the UK that have yet to be inhabited.
It’s worth stressing again the importance of navigation, as it’s easy to lose your way at Sarn Helen and find yourself on a much harder trail. If you’re considering Sarn Helen, note that it’s only open between June 1 - August 21.
MadorNomad is again the place for more information.
With a name like British Bike Tours, you expect them to know a thing or two about tours in the UK. The Scotland & Northern Coastal Road 500 is one of them.
The ride will take you along the NC500 coastal road, named one of the top coastal roads in the world. With a title like that, it’s hard not to get excited about it. You’ll average about 190 miles of riding over the course of the seven-day trip, and along the way you’ll visit the best that Scotland has to offer.
You can expect to see Kelpies, ski resorts, the Inverness Castle, and Bealach-na-ba – and that’s just by day two! Narrow roads through the countryside, on through the Scottish Highlands, the Glencoe Valley, the single-track narrows of Loch Ness, and finish the tour in the Kielder forest.
You’re sure to witness epic scenery and have lots of fun along the way. British Bike Tours is where you can find more info.
This one isn’t for the weak or faint of heart. If you want a challenge, the Grasshills Causeway in County Durham is it. It’s only four miles, but it’s an intense four miles full of rocks. Not just rocks, but also descents filled with rocks. Of course, descents mean getting up to the highest point first.
This is actually the easy part (relatively speaking), because the surface soon goes to hell at the top and all of your skill braking while going downhill will be put to good use.
If you want an added challenge, go after a rainstorm has made the trail nice and wet. Weight the rear wheel, be deft with both brake levers, and be sure to install crash protection on your motorcycle. You’ll need it!
Once again, Mad or Nomad can tell you more.
RoadTrip.uk does things a little differently. With them, You get to decide where to go and where to stay.
You ride to your accommodation, RoadTrip will offer guides of various lengths of excellent roads and itineraries – all using your pub or hotel as your base camp for the duration of the tour.
You choose where to stop, what to see, or even how long to be gone for. Tours range from three days to 12 days, and there’s an option to go on a grand tour and link all of RoadTrip’s routes together.
Sound interesting? Visit RoadTrip.uk for more info.
As you can see, the UK offers something for everyone when it comes to adventure riding. Clearly, we’ve only just scratched the tip of the iceberg, too.
If you’re open to including equal amounts of tarmac riding (or more), other options include the North Coast 500 in Scotland, the “Cat and Fiddle road”, and of course, the Isle of Man. If you do the latter, be sure to visit during the TT as that’s a sight every motorcycle fan must witness at least once in their lives.