Ride Report: The Ultimate British Isles Motorcycle Tour

Welcome to the ultimate British Isles Motorcycle Ride Report. A staggering bike tour of Great Britain and Ireland covering nearly 6,000 miles in 31 days. If you want to circumnavigate the British Isles on two wheels, this packed guide explains everything you need to know. 

British Isles Motorcycle Tour:

Contents

Picture of By Ric McNally

By Ric McNally

Motorcycle tourer and traveller

The Ultimate British Isles Motorcycle Tour

The Big Tour has always been on my mind. Back in 2008 when I was new to riding, the idea was way too daunting to even comprehend. But fast forward nine years and with a little experience under my belt, I rode to France, Spain, Gibraltar and Portugal. I was hooked and made grand plans of zig-zagging across the European continent.

But before I could settle into riding beyond Britain, I thought it only fair to explore my own back garden first. Inspired by Nick Sanders’ Parallel Coast Journey, I planned to ride around the coastline of Britain and Ireland before heading to Europe. 

Two more years passed by, Covid hit and slowed everything down. Back in February 2022, my partner passed her motorcycle test and a new bike followed a few months later. It seemed the ride I’d been postponing year after year for five years was finally around the corner and I wouldn’t be riding solo. 

Britain and Ireland offer some of the best motorcycle routes in the world because for generation after generation people passionately explore, ride and write about what Britain has to offer bikers. From coast to coast, national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty all with their own unique turns and bends, Britain provides something for everyone.

If you’re reading this, then you’re thinking of taking on a motorcycle tour of Britain too. Do it, at least once – just go for it!

Great Britain and Ireland Motorcycle Route

Starting the tour in the South of England, this route takes us along the coast and leads counter-clockwise around Britain. Coming inland to enter Scotland through the region where Galloways and Borders meet, it continues north and returns to the coast once more to experience the NC500 in its entirety.

Heading south through Scotland and into Cumbria, you’ll find time to admire the beautiful Lake District before continuing to Merseyside for a crossing from Liverpool to Dublin.

Now in Ireland, travel counter-clockwise through Northern-Ireland and onto the Wild Atlantic Way, where you can cover roughly 64% of the longest coastal road in Europe. Completing Ireland via Cork, Waterford and the Wicklow National Park, grab a return ferry crossing back to Liverpool.

Then ride south into Wales following the coast to Anglesey and on to complete the Phwelli Loop before stopping near Machynlleth. Keep on south to re-enter England heading towards Land’s End and complete the tour.

The Great British Isles Motorcycle Tour Route Map

Trip Prep and Tour Planning

Riding gear

Living in the temperate climate that is Britain, you either need to spend money on good Gor-Tex gear to keep warm and dry or travel in the summer months and be lucky. We pulled off the tour doing the latter having only spent £40 on hiking waterproof coveralls from SportsDirect to protect us from the worst of summer.

For more info on choosing the right kit for your travels, check out the below guide:

READ MORE: Motorcycle Riding Gear Guides 

Camping gear

We carried a lightweight SOTA butterfly stove and 2x multi-fuel canisters, the epic 3-person Big Agnes compact cycling tent, a sleeping matt and a high-quality light weight sleeping bag for low temperatures of -2⁰C comfort rating advisable. Cold nights equate to poor sleep patterns and result in a bad ride the next day, so if you’re camping it’s worth spending the money here.

Pro-tip: If you’re textile kit does get wet and you’ve insulated your sleeping bag with an additional bivvy bag, you can stow your wet clothes inside the bottom of your sleeping bag, insulation combined with your body heat should be enough to somewhat dry out textile materials, although 8 hours will not make them totally dry, they’ll at least be more comfortable.

For more info on how to camp with your motorcycle and camping gear kit lists, check out this section:

READ MORE: Motorcycle Camping Guides

Accommodation

Wherever possible, we stayed with friends and family to keep the costs down. This kept us out of the tent for seven out of 31 days in total. But for the most part, camping is an inexpensive alternative to hotels and B&Bs. We almost exclusively used the camping website pitchup.com to pre-book our sites as this hassle-free resource allows you to select a price range and region to optimise your preferences.

Unfortunately, the host listings are exclusive to Britain and NI, so additional efforts will be needed to book campsites in EU Ireland.

Furthermore, while you’re able to wild camp in parts of England, Wales, Ireland and more liberally Scotland, it is often difficult to determine whether you’re camping wild or have unwittingly pitched on private land. For the sake of being moved on at 2am, it’s worth either doing your research in advance or opting for a basic campsite at a lower cost. You’ll be grateful in the morning when you’re well-rested.

The Mad or Nomad website has a Motorcycle Friendly UK Campsites page. It has a Google Map on there with over 100 recommended sites. It makes finding a campsite on your route easier as you don’t have to search for locations, just zoom in on where you’re heading and you’ll see what’s on offer. 

READ MORE: UK Motorcycle Campsites

Bike preparation

Prior the start of the tour, with my Sprint being older than the TRK and having already clocked some 34,000 miles, my bike needed work. Ever the optimist and cheapskate, I ignored as much as possible before setting off, which as it turned out, both made the trip a pleasure and a pain. The advice here is to make sure your bike is capable of completing the journey as far as is practicably possible before starting. Worn tyres and corroding parts are not good indicators of a problem-free tour.

Oh, and this should go without saying. Take a tool kit. You can’t plan for everything.

Have a read of the adventure bikes section for bike prep guides.

READ MORE: Adventure Motorcycle Guides

Route planning

Throughout this blog, I refer to recommended routes published in Bikers’ Britain, a guide featuring 44 routes and recommending several tours throughout Britain. Given to me as a gift, I used this useful resource to make sure I included as much as possible on the tour. Presently in its second edition you can find the book on Amazon

The author of Biker’s Britain, Simon Weir, has written multiple guides on Mad or Nomad including his top tips for planning tours and favourite destinations. You can find them, along with all of Mad or Nomad’s touring guides in the touring section below. And visit the UK Destination Guides section for more UK ride reports.  

READ MORE: Motorcycle Touring Guides

Ride Report: The British Isles Motorcycle Tour

Trip stats

  • Riders: Ric and Jess
  • Bikes: 2005 Triumph Sprint 1050 ST (Ric) and 2022 Bennili TRX 502X (Jess)
  • Distance: 5,955.9 miles
  • Where: England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Wales
  • Days: 31
  • Dates: 31 July 2022 – 31 August 2022
  • Fuel per bike: £958 averaging £1.82 per litre
  • Accommodation: Campsites £10-£27 per night
  • Ferry crossings: £111.16 per person with bike (P&O Ferries)
  • Total cost per person: £1,600 (including food and drink)

ENGLAND

2,571.9 miles

The South Downs and the South East

Route info

The ride starts at Loomies Moto Café in the heart of the South Downs on a warm Sunday morning. For those who know the area, Loomies is the perfect biker café. It’s nestled amidst long winding roads and green forests and sat next to a petrol station so both you and your bike can fuel up for a reasonable price. Jess and I mount our bikes and ride the A32 south, heading for the coast. In two days we’ll be in Lowestoft with the first 500 miles of the trip under our belts.

Ride report

Reaching Portsmouth, we headed east along the coast traversing a series of open A-roads leading through built-up areas, grey and green colours swirl by with the blurred faces of people passing to accompany the kinetic view. Before long we slow to our first stop and take refreshments at Newhaven Fort. Moving on from here we disregard Hastings and Battle Abbey as having seen them on previous day trips. However, if you’re making your way around the southern coast for the first time then these two places of historical significance are musts if for no other reason than the picturesque buildings and photo opportunities. We headed north on the A21 towards Wadhurst to find our first pitch at the Rainbows End Campsite. A simple field with few amenities.

The next day we set off from the camp site at 5am and head south back down the A21. Returning to the coast we are now in Dungeness. A few points of interest along this historical coastline are better seen than read about. The Dungeness Sound Mirrors of pre-WWII construct designed as an early warning system for air raids; Prospect Cottage, the personal retreat of the late Derek Jarmin; and the Dover Patrol monument all kept us busy throughout most of the morning.

The remaining 260 miles of this leg allows us a moment to enjoy Kingsgate Arch near Margate before tackling the congested Dartford tunnel into East Anglia. With the sun baking our bodies all day we make it to Battlesbridge with the plan to visit a small and humble motorcycle collection posing as a museum in an antiques commune. Despite the museum being closed, Battlesbridge is well worth the visit for those who are interested in antiquing or retro gaming/’90s merchandise. There’s also a campsite based in this picker’s paradise and a reasonably priced pub. It’s not long before we endure the summer heat once again and continue alongside the A12 to our site near Lowestoft.

The East Midlands

Route info

The idea for the next couple of days is to cover as many miles as possible through Lincolnshire and the Humber area into Yorkshire so we can begin the much-anticipated NC500. With two days to cover 426 miles, we move at a leisurely pace leaving our campsite at 9am.

Ride report

On day three we leave Beccles and make a plan to return to the coast along the A143. However, courtesy of human error and poor prior planning, one wrong turn is followed by several more and despite the Sat-Nav working correctly, today’s version of myself was not.

To make up for lost time we make a U-turn and race past Beccles once again, heading towards Norwich on the A146. Bear in mind we’re riding towards a large city around 10am on an A-road, the traffic was light and the riding was good. Mostly covered by the shade of trees, it’s an easy ride to eventually get back on the right track and once beyond Norwich we head for the coast along the A140.

Heading north we ping-pong back and forth off the coast line and into the countryside passing through seaside towns and momentary twisty roads. We find time to pause from the road and make ourselves a little more comfortable under the heat of the sun. I spot signs for a military museum and we pull over to take a few photos of the exhibits available outside the building. If you’re interested in military history, the Muckleburgh Military Collection in Weybourne has a variety of vehicles, interactive exhibits and you can even drive a tank.

With more miles to go, we continue along a series of B-roads until returning to the A149 to shift a little faster towards our next destination.

Yorkshire and beyond

British Isles Motorcycle Tour: Yorkshire

Ride report

The next morning, we head towards Hull on the A15. We took this route to enjoy the panoramic views of the Humber estuary over the Humber Bridge, a 2.2km single span suspension bridge offering the most spectacular gateway into Humber and on to North Yorkshire. This is a toll bridge but it’s free for motorcycles and trikes.

We veered away from the coast to take in one of the recommended routes from Bikers’ Britain and set us down the A63 before eventually bringing us full circle to Hull. Not wanting to pass through Hull, we adapt the route.

We stop at a closed pub and a Hell’s Angel type of man shouts over to us. He’s of large build and intimidating with a thick beard and bald head. He walks to us with a serious expression on his face while pushing a dog in a pram with another on a lead. As he gets near, he starts to smile and says, “Go to the Seaway Café in Fridaythorpe, its open.”

This biker’s café off the B1251 offers bikers of York a welcome pitstop with good food and drink at fair prices. After a bite to eat we stick to the B-roads and continue to ride the rolling hills towards Scarborough. Its streets are heavy with foot traffic and the shops filled with brightly coloured souvenirs and novelties. If you commit to a coastal tour of the UK, spend an hour in Scarborough and enjoy a packet of crisps with a shandy, there’s something wholesome about the idea of the great British seaside holiday that is entirely captured in this minor exercise.

We leave ‘Scarbados’ via the A171 making good time as we ride through the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. These B-roads are populated by sheep and other grazing cattle in surprisingly large numbers. The area itself will dazzle you with natural beauty, rolling hills and a crisp green tree line. You could compose a route any direction through the North Moors and you’re sure to pass several other bikers along the way. We ride as the sun sets until we reach our field on Little Haven Farm. The only guests here, we pitch our tent and turn in for the night.

The North East

British Isles Motorcycle Tour: The North East

Ride report

Day 5 of 32 begins with a ride along the A66 past Darlington and into the North Pennines AONB. Just north of Teesdale, we stop at the High Force Waterfall Hotel, pay the small sum to park and take a 30-minute walk to enjoy the view of the same name. For another nominal fee, you can pay the hotel for access to its private foot path to get to the High Force Waterfall within 15 minutes, however you do miss out on a much more enjoyable walk and since you’ve already paid for parking anyway, why overspend? The River Tee’s does offer a lot if you spend time off the bike and it is worth the short hike to enjoy a moment overlooking the fall. We leave the hotel on schedule at 13:30 aiming for Scotland.

SCOTLAND

1,246.7 miles 

Scotland and its borders

Route info

The original plan entering Scotland was to end day five with a night of wild camping in St. Abbs, but (as covered in the accommodation section of this article), unless you do your research, you risk being moved on during the night. Instead, we opt for a night at a camp site in Coldstream.

British Isles Motorcycle Tour: Scotland

Ride report

Leaving the High Force Waterfall, we still had 100 miles to cover on winding B-roads. We head north on the B2677 before turning right towards St. John’s Chapel and continue zig-zagging north through village after village. Lanehead to Allenheads, Allenheads to Sinderhope up to Haydon Bridge where we find the A69 heading east to meet the A68. Entering the Northumberland National Park, we pass the self-proclaimed “Last Café in England”. Having burned through a full tank of fuel, Jess and I wonder when we had passed the last petrol station in England! Riding on fumes we arrive at the Scottish border.

We take a moment to pause and look at the vast wide landscape opening up in front of us. And of course, there were bag pipes playing…

With daylight fading and our tanks near empty we ride cautiously north to Jedburgh, where we fuel our bikes and grab a coffee with two other bikers. Having swapped stories, we set off and continue up the A68 onto Kelso, Eccles and finally arrive at Coldstream.

If there was a gold standard for campsites on this tour, the Coldstream Caravan and Campsite Holiday Park would have set it, facilities are excellent and the staff are friendly and accommodating. We settle down, open the stove and cook ourselves a basic but satisfying meal.

Central Tayside and Grampian regions

Route info

Leaving the border region, the plan was to cover approximately 350 miles heading past Edinburgh, Central, Tayside and into the northern coast line of Grampian, pitch at ACE Hideaways Campsite and start fresh in the morning to circle Loch Ness and onto the NC500. That didn’t quite happen. Here’s what did.

British Isles Motorcycle Tour: Central Tayside

Ride report

Leaving Coldstream on day six, we head north on the A697 towards Edinburgh, cutting out much of what would have been our original coastal route from St. Abbs. The A720 guided us around Edinburgh until we joined a road running almost parallel to the M9. The A904/905 takes us past Stirling to the A84 and onto Doune. We reach Doune Castle at around 8am, it was here where Outlander was filmed and it was also used as Winterfell in Game of Thrones, but most notably, it featured in Monty Python’s search for the Holy Grail.

The tourists flocked in as it opened, so we jump back on the bikes and head towards the coast along the A820. Jess and I take a moment to pass through Dunblane, there isn’t anything here that references the 1996 massacre, but it seemed like a detour we ought to have taken. The sun is high and the air is warm along the A93 as the road takes us past Balmoral Castle. Bought by Prince Albert in 1856, it remains the Royal Family’s Highland residence.

We head further north and spying grey menacing clouds in the distance we alter our route slightly in an attempt to remain dry for as long as possible. This serendipitous choice brings us to two of the kindest people I’ve ever met, and although this experience won’t be your own should you tour Britain, I have to share it as a reminder of the good in people and those who may help you along the way.

Somewhere, on a road between Aberdeen and Inverness, the fractured surfaces and sharp turns lead me to get a puncture in my rear tyre and we pull over to fix it. In the dip of the next valley, we spot a house and pull into a lay- just before property’s drive. As soon as we stop, an elderly man and his young grandson come out to ask what the problem is and whether they could help. I make a few attempts to repair the puncture with a plug-n-go tyre kit. Unsuccessful, I call the RAC, “No patrol in your area available.”

With darkness comes cold and following on from six hours of phone calls we still hadn’t been recovered. But we have been taken in from the rain, given multiple cups of coffee, fed a hot meal and offered a bed for the night by a man who wanted nothing in exchange. He and his grandson took great pleasure in helping two people in need and due to their kindness, a moment of our tour that could have been very uncomfortable turned out to be one of the best we’ve shared. We’re still in touch and have since sent them a care package to say thank you.

The next day, we’re finally recovered. With the Sprint in a van and Jess following on her TRK 502X, we reach Buckie and Tred Rite Tyres for a replacement. By mid-afternoon on day seven, we’re heading for the NC500.

The NC500

Route info

Starting the NC500 from Inverness, it is possible to complete the route within 24 hours but we have allocated three days to ride the 500 miles. If you’re looking to ride the route yourself and would like to view the recommended points of interest, I suggest visiting northcoast500.com for inspiration as you might want to commit more time to the route if there’s more you’d like to see.

Ride report

We take the A9 up to John O’Groats and get caught in the rain for the first time on this trip. As we reach the most northern town in Britain, the campsite we’ve booked for the night calls and offers us a free upgrade from the field to an annex within the main house due to the rain. Grateful for the upgrade, we ride on through Thurso to a house built in 1904 by the RSPBA due to a local bird sanctuary.

Day eight and we’re in and out of our waterproofs as the weather offers momentary glances at the sun. Along the coast to Durness, we stop at Smoo Cave before continuing along the route to the B801 towards Badcall and find an old school turned restaurant. Known as “The Old School” you need to get there before they close at midday. We recommend a full cooked breakfast. We follow the route to the Ardmair Camping Park for a midge infested night by the sea.

Onto the third day of the NC500 (9 of 32 in total), we ride south on the A835 and make a beeline to the Applecross Pass. The weather is particularly bad today with a mixture of heavy rain and thick fog. Vehicles turn around to find alternative routes rather than face the pass, but it’s part of our route so we persevere.

This prehistoric pass tamed by a modern road is best enjoyed on a clear day and makes you feel like you’ve taken a journey through time, but with visibility down to only a couple of metres and wind speeds of around 40mph, it was a very different sort of ride for us. We take a moment to warm up with a coffee courtesy of our camp stove and continue past Lochcarron to complete the NC500 returning to Inverness.

Isle of Skye and onto Argyll and Bute

Route info

Day 10 begins at the Kessock Caravan Site in Inverness and concludes with a ride around the Isle of Skye and down to Glenshiel covering 250 miles. Following on from here we continue south completing another 250 miles to get as far as Clyde. With Scotland finally releasing its real beauty to us, it’s hard to leave. But we have a schedule to keep and many more miles to ride.

Ride report

First thing in the morning we set off from our campsite in North Kessock. Within an hour we’ve crossed the breadth of the Highlands along the A832 and find ourselves at the ironically named café in Achnasheen, The Midge Bite. Having previously been annoyed by these winged demons we failed to see the funny side, but without our morning coffee or food in our bellies we stop for breakfast. A very good call, they offer great service and delicious food.

Satisfied, we open up the revs and continue towards Skye. We booked a tour of the Talisker Distillery – a must for those committing to riding the Skye loop. The A87 is the only road into Skye. Crossing over from Kyle of Lochalsh, the views are spectacular rain or shine and we saw it in both.

The Skye loop is tour number 33 of Bikers’ Britain and every mile is breath-taking with each smaller coastline offering a different reason to return. Give yourself a day, but to really enjoy all Skye has to offer you’ll need to stay longer. We leave via the A87 Skye Bridge as the sun begins to set and illuminates the surrounding forests in a mesmerising amber glow. We continue south on the A87 until we reach Glenshiel Campsite.

Argyll and Bute offer up a crisp and clear morning and every turn on our first ride along the A87 is a pleasure to ride. This continues for the next hour as we head south on the A82 towards Spean Bridge where we pause at the Commando Memorial to pay our respects.

We continue on our way past Fort William towards Oban and Stalker Castle. The Oban loop is another sensational tour and takes you down the A816 to Lochgiphead and onto the A83 heading north alongside Loch Fyne. The Oban loop veers left on the A819 towards Inveraray, yet our route continues to the other side of the Loch towards Strachur on the A815.

One of the best parts of this route is reaching Hunters Quay and taking a short ferry crossing across Clyde. With so many available crossings at multiple ports on the west coast, I suggest you make a crossing at least once. In good weather, the crossing is an absolute pleasure and an opportunity for tired bikers to make up good distance without so much as a twist of the wrist.

On the other side we make contact with the A78 and travel south towards Inverkip and towards our camp site at South Whittlieburn Farm.

Our last day in Scotland

Route info

Our last day in Scotland takes us 248 miles south along the coast and inland to Ecclefechan. Taking these miles at a leisurely pace, we admire the roads and enjoy every turn.

British Isles Motorcycle Tour: Scotland

Ride report

If we had a little more time to enjoy Scotland, rather than immediately following the A78 and heading south, we would have spent an hour or so in the picturesque Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park. Scotland’s largest regional park spans 108 square miles, and if you’re visiting in the summer, it’s a must-see attraction for the high-mile rider.

However, for us the next few hours keep us moving down the coast onto the A77 towards Loch Ryan, where we follow the road past Stranraer and partially around the peninsular before finding the road parallel to the A75 and riding towards Dumfries via Dalbeattie and Sweetheart Abbey.

The Abbey was built in the 13th century by Lady Dervorguilla to honour her late husband, Lord John Balliol (although accounts vary). Locally, the site is said to have been visited by King Edward I in 1300, who is thought to have said, “If this is Scotland, I want more of it”, an oddly relatable sentiment at this point in the tour.

If you do ride around Scotland counter clockwise, be sure to visit Sweetheart Abbey on your way to Gretna Green.

A further hour on the road and we arrive at the Ecclefechan Hotel, a local pub run by a mother and son team from Oldham, Manchester. In fairer weather they open up the grounds of their beer garden to campers looking for a budget night’s pitch. You don’t have to go far for beer and comfort food here!

Slate mountains and blue lakes

Route info

Leaving Scotland through Gretna Green, we ride into the Solway Coast AONB and onto the beautiful Lake District where day 13 offers up country lanes, narrow roads, sweeping mountain passes and long azure lakes before finally leaving the tourist filled hotspots to settle us down for the night in Kendal.

This is one of the hottest days so far and the roads are packed. But a benefit of being on a motorcycle is that we can filter through the long lines of parked traffic.

British Isles Motorcycle Tour: Slate Mountains

Ride report

We enter the Lake District National Park through Cockermouth via the A66 towards Keswick and head for the B5289. On previous visits to the Lake District, the main attraction has always been Lake Windermere, whilst that is a worthwhile sight, the B5289 is a spectacular piece of asphalt that guides you towards the Honister Pass.

We stop at the Honister Slate Mines, a popular site to appreciate the natural resources of the region’s steep hills and purchase decorative slate with various house numbers adorned upon them. The road beyond is just as good and there are plenty of photo opportunities along the way including several small lakes as you pass by Buttermere and Loweswater.

We take the A5086 towards Egremont. Continuing on the A595, this route follows tour number 18 of Bikers’ Britain allowing, at a somewhat seasonally slow speed, a full gallery of scenes should you wish to stop.

The A595 rolls through Ravenglass up to the Duddon Bridge. Proper planning would have allowed us to loop around Coniston Water before riding alongside Lake Windermere. A few wrong turns and recalculations on the Sat-Nav and we eventually arrive at the Lakeland Motor Museum in Riverside. It’s £10 to get in and you can easily spend two hours wandering around the exhibits.

As the long day draws late into the afternoon, we ride onto Kendal to another ad-hoc campsite courtesy of Kendal Rugby Club. When out of the rugby season, the club maintains its regular work staff by hosting a number of functions and community projects. And luckily for us, they were also hosting several groups of campers. The club facilities were immaculate and the grounds secure. Though they may advertise that campers should keep their vehicles in the designated car park, they understand bikers like to be close to their bikes. They very kindly accommodate this by allowing bikes to be ridden onto the camping area. If you visit the Lake District with a tent and want a low-cost site of convenience, Kendal Rugby Club is worth considering.

My Liverpool home

Route info

From Kendal to Liverpool the ride is mostly coastal through Blackpool to Southport and along the A565 to Liverpool. We’ll spend a few days resting up in Liverpool before catching the ferry to Ireland. The wonderful thing about being a biker in Merseyside is that within an hour you can enjoy a ride that takes you through the city and countryside to beaches and piers before looping back around again for a view of the skyline overlooking the entire city.

British Isles Motorcycle Tour: Liverpool

Ride report

We begin riding parallel along the M6 through Lancaster and onto Poulton-le-Fylde before finally re-joining the coastline to two of my favourite seaside towns.

I often think that Blackpool can only really be appreciated through the ideal of a seaside town as the reality is not glitz, glamor or bright lights. Instead, it’s worn-out sights, tired accommodation, tack and broken bulbs amongst a walkway of illuminations. Despite that, I’ve always loved visiting Blackpool. The absolute best time to ride through is during the colder winter months when Blackpool is lit-up right along the waterfront accompanied by fireworks and exciting sounds. But on day 14, cramped with tourists for the RAF air show, traffic hardly moved and with no narrow gaps to filter through, Jess and I found it very difficult to enjoy what Blackpool had to offer.

We were able to pick up our speed again once past Lytham St Annes. Riding through Preston we follow the A59 with a detour towards Hesketh Bank as riding along Marine Drive NCN62 opens up a view of the RSPB Marshside, which at the right speed with light traffic makes a very enjoyable entry into Southport.

Riding right down Marine Drive will bring you to Southport Pier. If you’re visiting on a weekend, as we were, Silcock’s Carousel will usually have a small crowd of bikers and is well worth a stop to enjoy chips or an ice cream.

We stay long enough to appreciate the atmosphere and continue south on the A565 towards Liverpool, but with only 15 miles to go we get another mechanical fault. The rosebud screw for the gear change pedal had snapped requiring a temporary fix until a part could be ordered to an address we’d stay at later on the tour. Make sure your bike is properly prepared for the journey and that all the components are checked over for visible signs of wear and damage.

We secure the bolt in place of the OEM screw and meet up with a friend to enjoy an old favourite route around Merseyside. Starting in Pimbo on the A577, head north away from the M58. Following the A577, take the fourth exit at the second roundabout and continue straight on each sequential roundabout until you see signs for Newburgh and Parbold. Take a right onto the A5209 and continue up Parbold Hill until you reach the Miller and Carter Pub at the top of Parbold bottle. On a clear day you can view the entire skyline of Liverpool from a distance.

Heading back towards Newburgh and continuing onto Burscough, you can either turn right on the A59, which will take you towards Southport via Marine Drive, or go straight until you meet the A570 Southport Road.

Along the A570, turn left onto Gorsuch Lane towards Lydiate. This long and sweeping road will take you past farmlands and fields to a thatched roof pub called the Scotch Piper. It’s one of the oldest in the area and was a very popular bike haunt. Unfortunately, it’s lost a lot of its raw charm, but the road remains as enjoyable as ever. Heading north from here, back the way you came, take a left at the New Scarisbrick Arms and follow the B5195 until you reach the A565. Turning left towards Crosby, you can follow the road entirely towards Liverpool and its Dock Roads or veer towards Crosby and Anthony Gormley’s permanent exhibit “Another Place” on Crosby Beach. This spectacular exhibit consists of 100 life-size cast-iron figures spread across 3kms of beach. Whichever route you take, there will be plenty of pubs, cafes or shops to grab a coffee or snack along the way.

Having stayed in Liverpool for a couple of nights, it was time to re-join the road and board a ferry to Ireland.

IRELAND

1,433.4 miles

The Emerald Isle

Route info

We camp overnight on day 17 on the outskirts of Dublin at the Carmac Valley Tourist Caravan and Camping site. The plan is to cover 280 miles heading into Northern Ireland and passing through Londonderry. We’ll retreat to another farmer’s field before taking on the wild Atlantic Way fresh the next morning.         

British Isles Motorcycle Tour: The Emerald Isle

Ride report

Having done just enough research to know there wasn’t anything of much significance riding along the coast north from Dublin, we decide to make time and cover the first 70 miles on the M1 motorway. Following the road through Belfast and joining the A8 we reach the coastal road by Drains Bay, just past Larne. From here heading north to Ballycastle we ride alongside the waterline with some spectacular cliffside roads and sea views bringing the first great pleasure in riding Ireland.

Every sweeping corner of the A2 offers a new photo opportunity. The B15 detour keeps us hugging the coast before re-joining the A2 where traffic becomes thick with tourists as we approach the Giants Causeway. It’s heavy with tourists queuing for a parking space at extortionate rates. We pull up to the Causeway Hotel, spin our bikes around and promptly leave.

However, if you do wish to stay, pass through the queue, park at the hotel and buy a drink at the bar, inside you can validate parking and stay in this private car park for the day if you wish. We pass through the nearby town of Portballintrae, a tranquil spot with a view. Visit this town and head for the bay.

The A37 takes us across the rest of Northern Ireland and into Londonderry. Severely affected by the troubles, the city of Derry still offers shades of its past to the casual tourist. With IRA murals decorating inner city buildings and areas in disrepair, you can’t help but wonder if a city and its people have healed from the conflict. I should think the troubles will always be a part of Derry’s foundation. We leave Northern Ireland and head to a farm just the other side of Letterkenny to pitch up for the night.

The Wild Atlantic Way

Route info

The Wild Atlantic Way is 1,600 miles from start to finish and is the longest coastal route in Europe. Ideally, you should commit to completing it in seven days as the condition of some of the roads doesn’t allow a quick passage. However, Jess and I only gave ourselves four days to do the route (including one day in Kerry visiting friends).

We completely underestimated how long it would take to complete the Wild Atlantic Way and had to trim a couple of hundred miles from our original route to make up the time. Which meant we could complete around 67% of the overall route. You may only ride the Wild Atlantic Way once so try to do it all as it lives up to its name.

British Isles Motorcycle Tour: Wild Atlantic Way

Ride report

We rise early on day 19 at Finn Farm on the outskirts of Letterkenny. Instead of finding the WAW by going through the Glenveagh National Park towards Gortahork on the R256, we head straight across to Donegal via the N15. By the time we sport the first “Slí an AtlantaighFhiáin” sign by Donegal, daylight has broken through the clouds and reveals the scenic backdrop that will follow us for the next four days.

One reason you should commit to a seven-day tour of the WAW is that the route offers scenic viewpoints every 20-30 miles. Even if you don’t want to stop and admire all of vistas, it’s worth finding the time to enjoy at least a few.

From Donegal we keep to the route as best we can while following N and R-roads sporadically. Passing through Sligo moving west along the N59, you’re able to follow signage to stay on the coastal route. We pass Ballycroy Wild Nephin National Park, which perfectly illustrates the beauty and untamed landscapes of the WAW and plan to stop on Achill Island. But because we didn’t allow enough time to ride this route, we can’t stop.

Underestimating the time it would take for us to get through the countryside, we eventually reach our campsite late in the evening at Renvyle Beach Caravan and Camping Park. With excellent facilities and a beautiful beach facing pitch, I would highly recommend making this part of your itinerary. Rain or shine, it is a beautiful location.

The next day we set a target of 385 miles to reach a friend’s homestead in Dingle. We set off from Renvyle Beach at 6am and head back towards Tully on the road that took us to the beach. Before long we pass Letterfrack and head west on the N59. Beyond Letterfrack, with so many miles to cover, we can’t afford the time to traverse each peninsular and despite this, the roads near the WAW also have much to offer.

We stay on the N59 until Clifden then continue south on the R341 where the roads change to narrower less well-maintained routes but continue to offer stunning views as we ride parallel along the shore of Salt Lake.

On the other side of the lake, we make a beeline through the Roundstone Bog. This impressive peat preserve covers several square kilometres and expresses the true secluded wilderness of Ireland. And though the road isn’t complex, it is well worth riding.

Returning to the R341 on the other side of the bog, we continue onto the R342 going east towards Castle Demesne and reconnect with the WAW on the R336 and follow the coastline into Galway.This city has been described as wild and bohemian, full of culture, music, artisan restaurants and bars with a phenomenal nightlife.

The N67 onto the R477 takes us further south to one of Ireland’s most beautiful natural splendours – and another tourist trap in peak season. The Cliffs of Moher are 14km long and soar 241m high, the invigorating view will take your breath away. Unfortunately, you’ll be forced to share this moment with many, many others and more unfortunately still, there are no alternative routes to a vista untouched by tourists. No matter how many back roads you take, the closest you’ll get to a cliffside picnic without playing tourist is about 25m by a farm track. Good luck. If, like ourselves, you’re looking for a less crowded point of interest, power on the revs along the coast to Ennis.

Going north through a series of small roads will lead you to the Burren National Park, where your Sat-Nav will have its work cut out for itself because the route can get complicated. You’ll want to head towards Cloon continuing up on a narrow path that can easily be mistaken for someone’s private drive. About half-way round this path, you’ll see a nondescript house at the top of a nondescript drive. You’ll know it when you see it. The Glanquin Farmhouse was used as Craggy Island’s Parochial House (Father Ted’s house) between 1995 and 1998, and if you follow the road to Gurrane Upper and onto Lemonfield, you’ll pass through another classic set scene of the Old Grey Whistle Theft picnic site. The roads here are tricky so ride carefully, but fans of the Channel 4 sitcom would be foolish to have come this far without passing by for a photo.

Returning to Ennis as the sun sets and the rain begins to fall, we move quickly through Limerick and head for County Kerry on the N69 while passing through Tralee and Inch West.

A day’s respite allows for a tour of Dingle, some time on a beach and an afternoon actually absorbing the culture of traditional Irish pubs where folk gather with instruments and no plans other than drinking ale and singing a trad. It would be all too easy to imagine every Irish pub the same, but having visited a few, this was a rare novelty.

The Ring of Kerry

Route info

We conclude the Wild Atlantic Way on some of the best roads with the most spectacular views Southern Ireland has to offer, starting with the stunning Ring of Kerry. If I returned to this part of Ireland, I’d spend a day in this area alone. However, we have miles to cover before reaching Granfeen, South of Cork, so we can only enjoy the ride once.

Ride report

The roads on the ring run alongside the coastal cliffs and they offer some amazing views and photo opportunities in good weather – no filter needed. The N70 will show you much of this, however, there are alternative routes you must take if you’re doing one ride.

From the N70, take the road by Caragh Lake and follow the road inland and upstream towards Blackstones Bridge. Continue south towards Dromstabla, Glencar and Kings Road into Keas. A little further on you’ll come to the Ballaghbeamer Gap.

We didn’t know much about this road until it was recommended by a local. It turned out to be a welcome detour as the landscape and rolling hills open up to a stunning view. The rural route of twists and turns inside a valley covered in rock and lush green grass precedes that stunning view.

If you spend the day in Kerry, ride the Ring in a loop and take the Ballaghbeamer Gap north to south. At the bottom of the loop, we return to the WAW on the N70 and cross Our Lady’s Bridge (Kenmare) and the R571 following the coast to another legendary road – The Healy Pass. As Kerry becomes Cork, the Healy Pass gives way to its most scenic twists. With beauty distracting from the speed, you may have to complete this road a few times to appreciate this mecca of motoring.

Touching the southern coast of Cork along the R572 and the day’s twisties are over. But for rolling hills and opening views there are still many hours of daylight remaining. The scenery stays lush with green fields and the air crisp beneath blue sky as we ride along the N71 from Glengariff to Clonakitty.

We turn off the N71 on the R600 towards Sextons Caravan and Camping Park and what should have been our 22nd night’s accommodation, until our friends from Dingle put us in touch with family further up the road and offered us a bed for the night. Always taking the opportunity to avoid pitching a tent, we ride past Sextons as the sun sinks lower into the evening. We continue through Timoleague and Maryborough while taking some striking sunset photos before eventually reaching our accommodation for the night, courtesy of a group of young musicians, who resembled the ‘70s band T-Rex.

Wicklow National Park

Route info

The last couple of days take the remaining 300 miles to bring us full circle around Ireland and return us to the outskirts of Dublin. For the most part, the ride is much of the same with no notable roads or scenery until we enter the Wicklow National Park on day 24. With Ireland’s WAW complete by our standards, the next step is to make it back to Dublin for the return ferry to England.

British Isles Motorcycle Tour: Wicklow National Park

Ride report

We set off to a grey sky with some drizzle. It seems Ireland has given us all the good weather it had on the West Coast and we have to get wet again for the ride north. We keep to the R600 until the Duggan Bridge in Kinsale. The L3215 takes us towards Nohoval and the L3218 north to Ballyfeard.

We meander our way on L-roads until we pass Cork on the N40, joining the N25 on the other side of Lough Mahon. From Little Island to Dungarvan, for speed more than story, we stay on the N25. At Dungarvan we stay on the R675 past Stradbally, through Boatstrand and onto Tramore before heading north and crossing the River Barrow on the N25 leaving County Kilkenny and entering County Wexford.

The R733 takes us south once again to revisit the coast along the Hook Peninsular. We ride into the harbour of Slade, a quiet little village with a crumbling castle hosting an ancient port. Tired and hungry from the day’s ride, Jess and I both agree that this location would greatly benefit from a pub or a café. Unfortunately, such businesses don’t last long where people are few, so we enjoy a handful of trail mix to take the edge off our fatigue and return to the road.

Wellington Bridge takes us to the R736 past Bridgetown, Tomhaggard and back up to the N25 before finding our pitch at the IOAC Camping and Outdoor Adventure Centre. This activity centre is the biggest campsite we’ve pitched at and is loud and busy right up to and beyond the supposedly strict lights out time of 11pm. However, we still managed a few good hours sleep for the last day’s ride.

The last day in Ireland and a lazy hundred miles to go means we can afford to leave at 10am. The N25 through Wexford leads us to another series of R-roads heading north. The R741/2 takes us up through Blackwater, Killencooley Courtown and Castletown before crossing into County Wicklow. The R750 beyond Arklow takes us along the coast to the town of Wicklow. From here we travel across the R763 to Annamoe taking the R755 south.

The R115 takes us through some of the most beautiful hills in Ireland awash with purple and orange wildflowers and twisting roads across forest and open plains. The landscape changes from one natural masterpiece to another and really can’t be understated. The Wicklow National Park is a definite highlight and absolutely must be visited. If you can finish your Irish tour with this gem, you’ll be glad you waited as it pays homage to the miles before and invites you to come back with a reminder of why you should visit sooner rather than later. The R115 takes us through to the M50 and returns us to our first pitch in Ireland just on the outskirts of Dublin. Tomorrow, we’ll be back in England.

WALES

694.5 miles

North Wales

Route info

Day 25, we’re back in England, heading into Wales and onto a farmstead in Machynlleth for two days at a bespoke Adventure Gathering event.

Ride report

From Liverpool through the Queensway Tunnel, we follow the A41 to Eastham. We pull up to a popular bike haunt called the Tap Pub. Overlooking the River Mersey as the sun sets in a blend of orange and purple, I take one last look at a city with everlasting character and vibrancy. The Liverpool city skyline across the water is admired by both locals and those passing by. Everyone takes a moment with their thoughts over a cold beer on a warm evening. Bliss. With the moment captured in a photo, we get on our bikes and head into Wales and a little village near Mold.

We set off mid-morning for Bangor. The A55 opens up in front of us and provides spectacular views of the coastline as we pass alongside Colwyn Bay and through Llandudno junction. We enter Bangor via the A5, undoubtedly the best way to see the small studious city and take a whistle stop tour featuring the pier and university.

The original plan from here was to do a full circuit of Anglesey, while ironically not visiting the Anglesey circuit. Unfortunately, we can’t afford the time, so we cross the Menai Bridge because I had to show Jess the quaint and beautiful nearby town of Beaumaris and stop for fish and chips by the pier.

We take the same route back into Bangor and on the A487 towards Bikers’ Britain tour 25 – the Phwelli loop. Frankly, any series of roads, drawn circular on a map for a route plan will create a stunning ride in North Wales and you can vary all the intricate side roads as often as you like to tailor the journey. In our case, we committed to about 60% of the recommended route as it complimented our day’s ride.

Part way towards Phwelli on the A487, we turn off at the Goat Roundabout to join the A499. We follow this road until the town of Llanaelhaearn then divert to the B4417, staying on this road until we reach Pengroeslon. It’s next onto the B4413 riding towards Aberdaron to the coast, before leaving this little village following the road left and on to Phwelli.

As we near the end of the loop, the good riding just keeps getting better. We ride through Portmadog and arrive at the Britannia Terrace. It’s a land mass bridge crossing Afon Glaslyn, a small estuary on Snowdonia’s doorstep where the riding becomes particularly stunning.

The A496 will take you to Barmouth with fleeting glimpses of water to your right as you head south. As you continue towards Pen-y-brynwhere there are rolling cliff sides to your left accompanying you on your journey. About halfway along this road is a very easy to miss side road, it looks like the entrance to a private estate and is advertised as such, however this road is passable to the public and grants access to a toll bridge. This bridge does have opening times but I can’t report what it’s like because it’s closed as we arrive.

The scenic route onto the A470 and A493 takes no time at all. We follow the A493 for 30 miles until we came to Dyfi Bridge, with thankfully no toll. It’s along this road that I notice another problem with my bike and am suddenly without a rear brake as the rear pad has completely burnt out. Taking corners as the sun falls and without a rear brake isn’t the best way to enjoy the Welsh roads, but it does allow you the opportunity to slow down and appreciate the scenery under the setting sun.

We continue to a farmstead near Machynlleth for a two-day intimate gathering of about 70 people under the banner of the Adventure Gathering. My bike is the only Sprint, and Jess’s TRK certainly isn’t a Triumph Tiger or BMW GS.

The next few days involve exchanges of ideas, opinions and stories all sufficiently lubricated with local alcohol and accompanied by a carefully selected sound track courtesy of local musicians. We get ourselves off the farm on day 27 to repair my bike at Ace Road & Race motorcycle garage in Llanidloes. This unfortunately means less time on the road recreationally.

We had planned to visit several locations near Machynlleth, but with much of the day now taken up with repairs, we only manage to reach a few spots. Whichever route you choose to reach them, I would highly recommend visiting the following places in North Wales: Betws-y-coed, Bala Lake, Pen-y-pass and the Horse shoe pass to visit the famous Ponderosa Café.

South Wales

Route info

The Adventure Gathering was a “Readers Digest” of what I imagine the ABR Festival to be like. Its intimate number of bikers were supportive and friendly and really made the last three nights an enjoyable rest. But with our remaining days counting down, it’s time to keep moving.

We follow the coastline south for the next day and a half through Wales and towards Pembroke, then across to Porthcrawl and Cardiff before crossing the Prince of Wales Bridge and return to England.

We take a quick stop in the Mendip Hills AONB to appreciate the famous Cheddar Gorge before finding one of the most stunning views of Wales from a distance I’ve ever seen.

British Isles Motorcycle Tour: South Wales

Ride report

We follow the coast 195 miles towards Swansea. Leaving Machynlleth, we begin by following the A487 directly to Aberystwyth and continuing onto Cardigan. Riding on through Dogmaels and following the Pen-Y-Rhiw road we edge closer towards the coast before returning to the A487 and passing Newport. The A487 continues to St. Davids becoming a smaller B-road along the way. The riding is pleasant, as is much of South Wales, but there’s nothing on our route that matches the natural beauty of North Wales despite surrounding areas being lush with green fields and trees.

The A487 continues and runs alongside the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. After Newgale, we continue down Welsh Road taking us through the National Park. This road runs parallel along the coast and dune hills, which on a clear day with empty roads offers mile after mile of pleasurable cruising.

The road continues into Harlston West and follows a series of other B-roads along the coast into St. Annes Head. We stop here to see St. Anne’s Head Lighthouse. While the old lighthouse doesn’t offer much, the surrounding vistas grant an overview of the upcoming coastal hills and industrial areas in the distance.

Offering nothing more than a chance to stretch our legs and talk to other likeminded holiday makers travelling by camper-van, we continue our journey back up the B4327 towards Burton Ferry to cross the Cleddau Bridge into Pembroke.

Another combination of B-roads takes us away from our day’s destination as we keep as close to the coastline as possible. We pass by the Valero Energy power plant site which we had seen from St. Anne’s Head. More B-roads through Newton, Axton hill and Freshwater East.

The A4139 through Jameston leads us to Tenby, where we head north on the A478 to join the A477. The next right takes us away from the A40 as we follow a series of winding roads to the small town of LLansteffa. It’s a quaint little seaside village with few shops, a pub and unspoilt beach. By the time we arrive, the sun is starting to set and we’re ready to call it a day. We meet our host, pitch up, eat, sleep on our first flat surface in three nights and find a new appreciation for basic fields.

It’s now day 30 and our sights are set on England. We’re on the road at 6am and heading for Porthcawl. To make time we go straight for the M4 passing Swansea and Port Talbot leaving at junction 37. The A4229 takes us to the popular surf attraction of Coney Beach in Porthcawl and we arrive at around 10am. The sun is bright, there’s not a cloud in the sky and this surf beach is packed with locals and tourists ready to ride the waves.

We had planned on stopping for breakfast, but the sheer mass of people quickly changes our minds and we get back onto the M4 towards Cardiff and the Prince of Wales Bridge.

British Isles Motorcycle Tour: South Wales

Back on English soil, we join the M5 southbound until junction 20 and make our way to Cheddar Gorge. The B3133 leads to the A38 and into the Mendip Hills AONB. We follow the road east to enter Cheddar Gorge from the non-pedestrianised twisty side of the route. Having inadvertently taken the scenic route, we eventually enter the Gorge from the B3771. Everything about the Gorge lives up to expectations. Starting slowly with mild curves and leading into full throttle twists alongside steep cliffs, the Gorge offers multiple photo opportunities and plenty of safe parking areas and lay-bys to stop for the perfect picture. If you have more time than us, I would recommend riding this road two or three times and make the special effort to take that picture. Your future self will appreciate it.

Riding courteously through the pedestrian side of the Gorge, there are souvenir shops, restaurants and bars well worth exploring on foot if you have the time, but riding through slowly grants you a passing moment to absorb the atmosphere.

The A38 to A39 takes us through the Quantocks, whilst leaving and re-joining the A39 towards our campsite takes us through several seaside towns. The most noteworthy point at this stage in the journey is just how steep and technical the roads are in this part of Britain. Each tight bend is accompanied by up to 40-degree inclines and declines that make us grateful we started the tour anti-clockwise. The difficulty of these roads for a new rider, such as Jess, would have set an intimidating tone to the start of the journey had we gone the other way around.

However, the roads were clear of traffic and by the time we reach Porlock Hill along the A39, it has all been worth it. We spy a car park from a distance and make a stop, which turns out to hold the most spectacular view of South Wales. We can see where we started our journey earlier in the morning in the distance.

We leave the A39 in Lynmouth and follow a series of roads along the coast of the Exmoor National Park until we eventually reach Watermouth Valley Camping Park. This popular and pleasant little site offers everything from heated shower blocks, laundry facilities and food trucks right through to a small petting zoo. Despite it being popular with families and young children, the camping is ideal. But the thought of only spending one more night in a tent is even better!

Land’s End and the chequered flag

Route info

The final miles fast approach. There are only a few points of interest between us and our return to the Portsmouth view point at Route 66 Burger and we’re excited! The plan is to leisurely ride to Land’s End over the next two days and take the obligatory “End to Enders” photo. From there we’ll ride the coast to Feock, catch the King Harry Ferry crossing before chasing more miles through the dark to find our last campsite near Exmouth. The next morning is day 32 and marks our completed loop of Britain.

British Isles Motorcycle Tour: Land's End

Ride report

Another early start. We ride out of Watermouth Valley at around 6:30am and, inspired by the Biker’s Britain tour guide, we take a series of B-roads through the North Devon Coast before passing through Barnstaple and onto the A39. We follow the A39 down to Whitecross past Wadebridge. The A389 takes us towards St Issey where we ride as close as we can to the Trevose Head Heritage Coast.

Leaving the Heritage coast, the B3276 lead us to Newquay where we can once again pick up speed and cover more miles by taking the A3075 south until it joins the A30. The A30 will take you directly to Land’s End, however, I’ve ridden the A30 on previous visits to Land’s End and we had spent time enough away from the coast.

So, we take a left at the St Erth Roundabout and head towards St. Ives. The B3306 takes us on a scenic detour along the coast before returning us to the A30 just past Land’s End Airport (yes, Land’s End has an airport – I was surprised too).

We pull up to the Land’s End parking barrier, a short exchange and a smile allows us to enter for free on the grounds of concluding our End to End journey and just wishing to take a photo in front of the archway. We stay for about 40 minutes despite it being packed with tourists. A quick coffee and a Cornish pasty later and we’re back on the A30 towards Plymouth. The A30 turns to the A394 then onto the A39 where we divert towards the Thuro River to cross at King Harry on the B3289.

This particular detour is worth doing as riding through this lush green and quaint countryside is a delight. And with ferries crossing every 20 minutes at £2 per motorcycle, there’s no reason to remain on the A39. Now on the B3289, we meander towards the A390 until it turns into the A38 taking us around Plymouth. From the Devon Expy, we ride towards Brixton on the A379, around the outskirts of the south Devon AONB and towards Bantham Cross and Kingsbridge.

Typical of all Southern National Parks and AONB, the riding is immensely enjoyable and made even better by the stunning scenery. With the day’s ride starting to wear on us, we discuss the option of riding through the night to avoid the final pitch. However, after a number of road closures and diversions heading towards Exeter and stopping for fuel while both hungry and frustrated, we realise that I had already paid for that evening’s pitch at South Farm. Plus, stopping for the night would make the end of our tour much more enjoyable.

We’ve still got 20 miles of back roads before we make it to the farm and we’ve just lost the last of the sun. Now riding in the dark, I understand the benefits of an adventure bike fitted with additional fog lights as my Sprint’s high beam offers no additional light, especially under a canvas of trees. Arriving much later than scheduled and in total darkness, we find our pitch on South Farm overlooking Budleigh Salterton Beach. Cold cuts, crisps and a couple of beers later and we’re fast asleep in our tent.

Day 32 brings another morning of bright sunshine and a view we had missed the previous night. Overlooking the start of the Jurassic coast, which spans 96 miles from East Devon to East Dorset, we have a room with a view and an inspiring way to start the final day.

We begin on the A3052 and follow it onto the A35 riding almost parallel beside Chisel Beach into Weymouth. The A353 takes us to the A352 eastbound where we continue until we’re north of Poole. The A31 provides a straight road to Southampton, but instead we take a detour through the New Forest National Park to appreciate yet another area of British countryside. We had planned to visit the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, but as the day wears on, we’re making slow progress over the last hundred miles and continue on our route.

For the last 50 miles we snake our way round the M27 on B-roads that looked like a much more scenic route during the final stages of planning. It doesn’t disappoint and by the time we realise how close we are to completing our loop of Britain, the finish line is in sight. Three, two and just one more corner and we pull up off the B2177 Mill Lane, home of Route 66 Burger for a great view and a final photo to mark the tour’s end.

There hasn’t been a specific highlight on this tour. We could easily argue in favour of any of the routes, places we stayed, people we met, beautiful views and incredible roads that made it so enjoyable. But it’s the simple pleasure of spending time and doing something with passion that has made it so special. There is so much more of Britain and Ireland to see and so many more miles to ride, revisit, and enjoy. There’s a whole world of incredible riding to be explored in the British Isles and you are going to love it!

About the author

Ric McNally
Ric is an all season, all weather rider with 13 years experience riding throughout Britain and Europe. He’s an avid motorcycle tourer and regularly camps on his bike tours. He’s always up for a few miles, a tour and a coffee with those as equally passionate about the ride. 

Jessica Sykes
Having acquired her motorcycle licence in February 2022 and her first bike only one month later, Jess followed Ric in this trial-by-fire first big tour. A commendable effort and reminder that touring is open to everybody, regardless of experience.
 

You can follow Ric and Jess’s adventures here: 

British Isles Motorcycle Tour: Land's End

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