As a proud Yorkshireman, I’m a little biased, but I simply love the north of England. Yes, obviously you have the delights of Yorkshire, from its stunning coast to the Yorkshire Moors, but not let’s forget the delights of the Lake District, the west coast and the almost unexplored Pennine region. You’re spoilt for choice, just a four hour ride from the north of London and even less from Birmingham, you can be surrounding by beauty and some sensational roads upon which to ride your motorbike. The scenery of the Lake District can match anywhere in Europe, and the Yorkshire coastline is a secret gem. Now load up your panniers, take a few days off work, and head north (or indeed south, as many Scottish riders can be found daytripping over the border too). And if you’re lucky enough to already live in t’north check out some of our recommend routes, some of these you might never heard of, but all are certainly worth a visit.
Skelwith Bridge to Gosforth – 20 miles – one hour, five minutes
This wild and remote route takes in some of the best scenery in the Lake District and is essentially made up of two famous passes – Wrynose and Hardknott. There are no filling stations along the way, so if in doubt top off your tank at the BP in Ambleside then follow the A593 towards Coniston until you see the right turn for Wrynose. Once clear of the last farm boundary, the tarmac single track disappears among the crags and peaks, clinging to the rugged contours as it climbs to the first summit. A swooping descent to Cockley Beck follows, before a steep ascent via tight Alpine-esque hairpins to the incredible panorama to be found atop Hardknott Pass. The Hardknott pass is legendary, dramatic and challenging to ride especially in the wet. The run down to Eskdale is no less dramatic and if you’re looking for refreshment keep an eye out for the Woolpack on your right.
A684 Bedale to Sedbergh – 43 miles – one hour, 20 minutes
I’ve forgotten how many times I’ve ridden this route, especially picturesque in autumn. This sensational east-west route ducks and dives through long sweeping curves and tight, stone flanked turns, flicking over bridges and becks to flow with the rivers Ure and Clough through the picturesque Yorkshire Dales. There are a couple of filling stations en route, but if approaching from the A1(M) it’s probably easiest to fill up at either Leeming Bar or Exelby services before the start. Hawes makes an ideal spot for a pit stop, where the Penny Garth Cafe is particularly biker friendly, and also acts as a crossroads for more great routes – to the north is the legendary Buttertubs Pass, while the superb B6255 sweeps south and west to the Ribblehead Viaduct. Keeping pushing west though, and the A684 continues to rise with the hills until it reaches Garsdale Head, from where it follows the meandering course of the Clough down to Sedbergh. Busy in summer with the occasional speed trap, so enjoy the route and watch your speed.
A686 Haydon Bridge to Penrith – 37 miles – one hour, 10 minutes
If you need a top up before commencing this windswept ride across Alston Moor, fuel can be found in either direction along the A69, however there’s a filling station at the halfway point too so a full tank isn’t a dealbreaker. The first stretch features some tricky switchbacks down to Cupola Bridge before it climbs to the exposed strip of tarmac that runs across the top of the moor itself. The road surface up there is usually pretty good and it flows with some nice twists for the run into Alston town. There are plenty of places to grab a bite and a brew in Alston, as well as the aforementioned fuel stop. Further along a splendid view can be had from the site of old Hartside Cafe, that was destroyed by fire in March 2018. The views are certainly worth taking in before the sensational descent to Penrith – a section of road that is pure motorcycling nirvana.
A169 Pickering to Whitby – 21 miles – 35 minutes
I must have done this route hundreds of times and it never gets boring. Top off your tank in Pickering then follow the A169 for a cracking run across the North Yorkshire Moors. This two lane blacktop stretches north through the gorse, climbing steadily upwards to skirt around the rim of a vast hollow known as the Hole of Horcum before diving through the infamous Devil’s Elbow, a tight right hand hairpin on a 12% gradient. With vast swathes of heather stretching towards the horizon, the views are incredible, interrupted only by the serpentine ribbon of tarmac running on ahead and the all hearing ears of the radar station at RAF Fylingdales. There’s nothing to stop for en route save for the glorious vistas, but when the road reaches the A171 turn right towards Whitby, journey’s end can be celebrated with proper fish and chips on the Quayside under the gaze of the town’s famous abbey where according to legend Dracula landed…..
A57 Glossop to Sheffield (Snake Pass) – 21 miles – 35 minutes
The Peak District is zigzagged by a host of magnificent roads and the A57/Snake Pass is arguably the best of them. Fill up in Glossop at the western end of the route and you’ll have more than enough juice to enjoy this glorious ribbon of tarmac as it sinuates like its namesake through the most dramatic section of this breathtaking region. The road is actually named after the Snake Inn, a long-standing local hostelry which changed its moniker to the Snake Pass Inn following the route’s recreational popularity. At its zenith this wonderful road crosses the Pennine Way, then makes a dizzying dive through dense forest followed by a sensational skim along the Ladybower reservoir. The Ladybower pub makes for an ideal refreshment break, before tackling the long, lazy turns of the final stretch towards Sheffield.