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Motorcycle routes in the UK

Getting out for a road trip on your motorcycle is one of the most liberating feelings of them all. And while we're sure you'll have regular local day and weekend rides on your doorstep, occasionally it's only natural to yearn a little for a change in scenery.

But if you do venture a little further, then you want to be sure that your journey is going to be worthwhile.

Luckily, some of the best motorcycle rides the UK has to offer are all within reach if you do a bit of planning ahead. In fact, if you're looking for some major road trip ideas, the UK is definitely the place to be.

Here's our top three.

Hardknott Pass, Lake District

Like your road riding fuelled by adrenaline? If so, Hardknott Pass in the heart of the Lake District is considered one of the whitest of white-knuckle rides. Recommended only for confident riders with nerves of steel, this is a fine weather ride... no really, it's one of the roads in the UK that's most commonly closed and officially declared 'impassable', such is its susceptibility to inclement weather.

When it's dry and sunny however, this is a glorious narrow, steep and twisting bit of tarmac that, although just a few miles in length, is one of the greatest road rides anywhere. With hairpins aplenty and oncoming traffic to negotiate, this isn't the time for pulling back and letting go, and several very steep drops occasionally disappear off to one side as if to provide regular reminders of why you should stay focused.

The surroundings are, of course, utterly stupendous. Rugged, rocky, and not a phone mast in sight, there's a real feeling of seclusion as you gradually wind your way upwards to the top of the world, and then sweep carefully downwards back to normality again with a growing well-earned sense of achievement.

The North Coast 500, Scotland

As the name suggests, The North Coast 500 is a 500-mile route that twists its way around the north coast of Scotland. Traditionally running in a large circular-ish circuit from Inverness, round the furthest edges of Scotland, and then back to Inverness again, this is quite an undertaking in the sense that doing the whole 500 miles in 'one go' might reasonably take up to two weeks if you wanted to pepper your trip with stop-offs and sightseeing (which, by the way, is highly recommended – don't forget the motorcycle route planner!).

If you catch the good summer weather then you can expect to see lush verdant scenery, white sands. turquoise sea, exquisite roads, testing corners, and picture-perfect local villages on a breathtakingly regular basis. When the weather turns, which it almost certainly will at some point, you'll see considerably less; travel without your waterproofs at your own wet peril! Thankfully, this is a popular route with plenty of accommodating pubs, inns, B&Bs and hotels, so if the dark clouds begin to gather you could always cut short the day's riding and take cover to enjoy some (sensible) sampling of the local tipple.

Scottish Tourism seem to continually position the North Coast 500 as Scotland's Route 66. As one of the best biking roads in the UK, we think it's good enough to be known in its own right.

Antrim Coast Road

Another one for you if you're looking for excellent road trip ideas in the UK can be found on Northern Ireland's A2 road, which is a 123-mile long road that navigates pretty much the entirety of the Northern Ireland coastline. Some will tell you that only about 25 miles of the A2, from Larne to Cushendell, is officially the Antrim Coast Road route, but don't restrict yourself so much. If you do the full A2 from Belfast to Derry (or vice versa, of course) then you'll also be fortunate to drive through the counties of Down and Londonderry as well, and frankly the whole route is every bit as spectacular.

The A2 is a winding route that is best enjoyed at leisure, and while it often drifts inland over stark hills and through emerald valleys, for much of the route it is literally a coast road with amazing geology to one side and blue sea at the other. Highlights include tourist hotspots like Giant's Causeway and Carrickfergus Castle, but there are plenty of lesser-spotted jewels along the way too; look out for the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, the village of Bushmills (location of the world's oldest distillery), and countless other world-class scenic photo opportunities along the way.

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