You don’t have to travel far to find some of the best motorcycling roads in the world. With stunning scenery, interesting topography and plenty of interesting places to stop, Scotland truly does have some of the most majestic routes anywhere in the world – just don’t forget to pack the waterproofs!
Looking for inspiration for our next summer rides, the team at Insidebikes have banged our heads together to come up with our top five roads north of the border. It was tough (we could easily have come up with 55) and if you disagree, send us your favourites through our Facebook page.
A82 and beyond
The Green Welly Stop in Tyndrum is arguably the gathering spot for Scottish bikers, in part because it does a mean cooked breakfast but mainly because it marks the gateway to a stunning ride over Glen Coe and the Scottish Highlands.
The A82 actually starts in Glasgow and meanders around the picturesque (but rather congested) Loch Lomond. Turning the corner at Tyndrum opens up a picture perfect view of the mountains and a heavenly 46 mile ride through Rannoch Moor, over Glen Coe and into the busy town of Fort William.
The road itself can be busy at peak season, but time it right and you’ll have a ride that is as engaging as it is pretty. It doesn’t stop at Fort William either. Head north to Loch Ness, east to the Cairngorms on the barnstorming A86, or west to the Isle of Skye. The A87 over to Skye is undeniably pretty, but also a fast, flowing and well surfaced road that’s sparsely populated and a pleasure to ride on any kind of motorcycle.
North Coast 500
Starting and finishing in Inverness, the North Coast 500 was created by local tourist boards in 2015, with the idea of creating Britain’s own answer to Route 66.
While still nowhere near as iconic as the classic American road trip, the 516 mile Scottish route is undoubtedly one of the most stunning coastal routes in the world.
The route has something for everyone, with sections including the notorious Applecross pass, the glorious roads around Ullapool and mainland Britain’s most northerly point at John O’Groats. There are also more castles, distilleries, lochs and tourist hot spots than you can shake a stick at.
The NC500 has proved a popular route for motorcycle tourers since its inception and will no doubt continue to be on the bucket list for many riders for years to come.
North East 250
Seeing the success of the NC500, but also identifying that many tourists didn’t have the time to take in over 500 miles, or indeed even trek up to Inverness, the North East 250 officially became a thing in 2017.
Starting and ending in Aberdeen, the NE250 is another selection box of Scottish delights with a wide range of roads and terrains that sees it head off along the coast, before running through the Cairngorms National Park and up through the Spittal of Glen Shee, one of Scotland’s best ski resorts in the winter months.
It’s an exhilarating ride that can be completed in a day, or more leisurely with an overnight stop. The NE250 also takes in many great whisky distilleries – just remember not to drink and ride!
A7 – Carlisle to Edinburgh
The two main arteries from Scotland to England (and vice versa) are the A1 and the M6/M74, but there is a third way, one which is way more enjoyable to ride than the more conventional choices.
From the south, the A7 starts in Carlisle and heads over the border and north east up to Edinburgh, through the Borders and taking in plenty of interesting little towns like Galashiels, Selkirk and Hawick, where many motorcyclists stop off to pay tribute to Jimmie Guthrie and Steve Hislop, two of Scotland’s greatest motorcycle racers. The pair both hailed from Hawick and their memories are preserved in a permanent display in the town’s museum.
The A7 itself is a flowing road that’s well worth a ride, either as a standalone day trip or incorporated into a wider tour between the two nations.
The Duke’s Pass
Ask many a local rider where they go for a blast and the A821 Duke’s Pass is a road that regularly crops up.
Running from Aberfoyle to Loch Katrine, the Duke’s Pass runs through the stunning Great Trossachs Forest and is perfect for riders who love Alpine style switchbacks as well as long straights.
It’s a short run, at around 10 miles, but intense and demanding of respect. Slow tourist coaches can hog the road from time to time, but such is the popularity of the road with local bikers, many will simply get to the end, turn around, and do it over and over again.