When you think of the best motorcycle routes, your mind probably wanders to far-off places with epic mountain passes and sun-soaked coastal roads.
However, you don’t need to travel beyond these shores for unforgettable riding, and we believe the UK is home to some of the best motorcycle routes in the world. Plus, as the cost of living increases and energy bills rise, you may be more likely to stay in the UK for your adventures.
Need a little more convincing? Here’s our selection of the best motorcycle roads in the UK that you need to visit.
Spelga Dam & the Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland
For our first route, we’re heading to County Down, Northern Ireland. On the edge of the Mourne Mountains, the winding roads surrounding Spelga Dam are a rider’s dream, offering peaceful solitude, stunning views, and some fresh mountain air.
As you climb, you’ll encounter a few hairpin bends with steep inclines to keep things exciting before reaching a long straight in the run-up to the dam. You can park up here to fully appreciate the view before heading back towards Kilkeel on another stunning ride.
Behind the dam lies the Magic Hill, where a bike or car left in neutral will appear to run uphill a very entertaining optical allusion caused by the lay of the land – give it a try before you set off!
Barnstaple to Newquay, England
Taking you right along the western coastline of Cornwall, this ride is a real treat. Starting in Barnstaple, this two-hour ride follows the A39 for the whole journey, giving you a front-row seat for the south coast’s sandy beaches and sea views.
As you pass through historic towns like Bideford and Bude, you’ll pass beauty spots like Constantine Bay – you’ll even catch a glimpse of Tintagel Castle, the supposed birthplace of King Arthur!
Once you reach Newquay, why not relax by the shore on Fistral Beach, or perhaps pay a visit to Newquay Zoo.
Dickie Bow Ride, Scotland
This route gets its playful name from its bowtie shape when seen from above, and the journey itself promises just as much fun.
The route officially starts at Balloch, at the southern tip of Loch Lomond, but since it forms a loop, you could start at any point you fancy. If you do begin your ride at Balloch, you’ll follow the route clockwise, along the west shore of the Loch and across to Scotland’s majestic west coast, passing the historic Kilmartin Glen on your way.
The port town of Oban falls pretty much halfway along the journey, so it’s a good place to spend the night if you fancy making this a two-day trip. From here, you’ll carry on along the A85 past miles of stunning Scottish highland and the iconic Green Welly Stop, before looping back down into the Trossachs and riding along Duke’s Pass, widely considered one of Britain’s most scenic roads. The route ends where you started, at the base of Loch Lomond, where you can easily drop down into Glasgow.
Machynlleth to Barmouth, Wales
Hugging the coastline of mid-Wales, the journey from Machynlleth to Barmouth is anything but boring, with long stretches of coastline and plenty of opportunities to pull up and admire the views.
Starting in Machynlleth, you’ll follow the River Dyfi down to the harbour village of Aberdyfi where the river meets Cardigan Bay, along a route full of exciting twists and turns. From there, the A493 will take you right up the Welsh coastline, passing through Tywyn and Llwyngwril before crossing the Penmaenpool Bridge and looping down to Barmouth.
When you reach your destination, you can end the day with some fish and chips as you overlook Barmouth beach, or perhaps take a stroll along Barmouth Bridge, one of the oldest single-track wooden railway viaducts in the UK.
Glen Etive, Scotland
Any eagle-eyed movie fans might recognise the last entry on our list – while Glen Etive is a beautiful route in its own right, it has gained notoriety in more recent years as the location featured in the James Bond film Skyfall, and it’s clear to see why this area was chosen.
The beginning of the route is marked by the Buachaille Etive Mor and Buachaille Etive Beag, two mountains that overlook the Glen Etive Road. For exactly this reason, they’re known as the ‘Herdsmen of Etive’. The road follows the flow of the River Etive to the Etive Mor Waterfall, before continuing on through picturesque moorland to reach Loch Etive, where the road ends.
At just over 12 miles long, this route is only a short one-way ride, but beautiful natural landscapes and the reward of the stunning Loch at the end make the excursion worthwhile.
Preparing for your trip
Whichever routes you add to your must-ride list, make sure you’re prepared for your epic adventure with all the must-have accessories and technology.
First on any rider’s list is the right protection. If you need a new helmet, then you can’t beat the Shark Ridill Motorcycle Helmet. Not only does the multi-density EPS lining keep you well protected, but the design is built around user-friendliness, with an anti-scratch visor and an “EasyFit” system to fit snugly and comfortably around glasses. Gloves are just as important, and the Richa WSS Glove combines style and safety, comprised of a plastic knuckle protector with a leather overlay.
With your safety sorted, it’s time to look after your bike’s! To ward off opportunistic thieves and keep your motorcycle safe, a quality bike lock is an invaluable investment. The MagnumPlus Atlas Alarm Disc Lock offers outstanding security in a convenient size, so you can easily fit it into a pocket or tank bag for peace of mind on your adventures.
And, finally, don’t let a maintenance issue ruin your ride (although there are certainly worse places to break down than on these routes). This Cordless Handheld Rechargeable Tyre Inflator from Ring is ideal for inflating on the go, thanks to its robust design and convenient size. This small-but-mighty tool can inflate a bike tyre from flat in under 2 minutes, so you’ll be back exploring the views in no time.
Don’t forget, you can find all the motorcycling accessories, clothing and technology you need in preparation over at Halfords.com.
With the uncertainty of the energy price cap and cost of living crisis, we know that you’ll be keen to save money as and when you can. Here at Halfords, we’re committed to driving down prices and offering you the best value possible to keep you safe, happy, and secure. We’ve pledged to never be beaten on price on 1000s of motoring essentials – read more here.