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Carole Nash has been scouring the UK, Europe and the world in search of the greatest stretches of tarmac on which you can open the throttle this summer.

With the season very much in full swing, the team at Insidebikes has picked narrowed down their selections and come up with forty roads and routes to experience. In future posts we’ll look at roads in Europe, North America and the rest of the world but we’ll start closer to home. Here is the Insidebikes top ten for biking roads in the British Isles.

The Cat & Fiddle, Macclesfield – Buxton

 

Our run-down of Britain’s greatest driving roads, unsurprisingly, starts with one of the biking communities most popular trails. Stretching across the western section of the peak district from Burton into Macclesfield, the Cat & Fiddle pass is firmly established as a leading route for bikers across the North, thanks to its challenging bends and stunning scenery. The Cat & Fiddle Inn at the road’s summit also plays a part in attracting bikers to the region.

That popularity has earned the road a notorious reputation however. In June 2010, the road was branded the UK’s most dangerous after 34 deaths on the road between 2006 and 2008. As a result, the local police speed patrols maintain a strong presence on the route.
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Snake Pass, Glossop – Sheffield

 

If you are sampling the Cat & Fiddle road, it’s also possible to enjoy double the thrill by taking in another great road across the Peak District; the A57 Snake Pass.

After taking in the Cat & Fiddle, head north to Glossop on the outskirts of Manchester and head eastwards to take in the stunning scenery of the National Trust’s High Peak Estate. The name Snake Pass refers mainly to the section between Glossop and the Ladybower reservoir, although many riders continue their journey into Sheffield. The Snake Pass is a popular calling point along the route.

Again, as with the Cat & Fiddle, the road has earned notoriety for accidents in recent years and is particularly treacherous in wet weather.
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The Lang Whang, Edinburgh – Ayr

 

Translated as “Long Way” in Scottish, the Lang Whang runs more than 74 miles across the breadth of Scotland from Edinburgh to Ayr via Lanark. Much of the road takes you over desolate moorland, ascending to more than 1000 feet above sea level several times over its length.

The tricky, intricate parts of the road tend to come in groups on the Lang Whang, with the road mainly known for its stunning scenery and hill climbs along the straights.
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Cheddar Gorge, B3135 Chewton Mendip – Cheddar

 

If you are hitting the road in search of some fantastic natural beauty as well as a great driving road, then head out to Cheddar Gorge in Somerset.

Starting from the village of Axbridge, nestled between junctions 21 and 22 of the M5, head east on the A371 before bearing left at the Cross Road services, onto the B3135 towards Cheddar. After passing through the village, you’ll head out towards a series of challenging bends and turns that take you down into the gorge, voted in a 2005 poll by Radio Times as second greatest natural wonder in Britain. The road continues to take various twists and turns well after you have left the gorge, all the way into the tiny village of Green Ore.

Morning runs are recommended on this, meaning that you’ll avoid the tourist traffic.
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Keswick – Cockermouth, B5289

 

There are few places in the world than can beat the Lake District for natural beauty and outstanding roads. Some 14million tourists visit the lakes every year, many of whom take to two wheels for their trip.

The road that we’re focusing on in Cumbria is the route from Keswick to Cockermouth but instead of taking the direct route across the A66, we’re heading along the edge of Derwent Water, through the village of Seatoller, around the southern tip of Dale Head and along the banks of Lake Buttermere and Crummock Water before heading north to Cockermouth.

As you head into the ridge between the rolling hillsides of the Lake District, you’ll really get a sense of what a motorcycle can really do on a genuinely rewarding road. The backdrop simply adds to the thrill of this extremely enjoyable route.
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Wicklow Mountains National Park, Wicklow, Ireland

 

This route has been part of our “Routes to Ride” section for a while and we’re going to revisit it as Ireland’s representative in our latest run-down of the best driving roads in the British Isles.

One of the more varied routes in our top ten, this is a circuit of the area around the Wicklow National Park takes in main roads and some of Ireland’s more challenging and more scenic country roads.

Starting in Roundwood, we head south on the R755 before joining the R756 as it twists and turns through the heart of the national park. After leaving the park, we bear right at Lockstown Upper onto the R758 before a short burst on the N81 northbound towards Dublin. Around 9km later, take a right onto the R759 and you’re back onto the twisting roads of the Irish countryside.
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B1257, Stokesley – Helmsley

 

The B1257 cuts straight through the heart of the North Yorks Moors and is another road that has long been a favourite with local riders, earning it the unofficial name of the ‘North Yorks TT’ amongst locals.

Some challenging bends take you through the Moors between two picturesque villages but like many popular country roads, the route is known as something of an accident black spot. As a result, locals have reported an increased police presence on the route in recent years, particularly in the summer months.

For those looking to extend the route, the A170 into Thirsk is a popular option.
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B1057, Finchingfield – Great Dumlow

 

The B1057 runs largely parallel to the M11 in Essex, around 14 miles North East of Stansted Airport, but has much more to offer than the three-lane car park that brings people in and out of East London.

The route out of Haverhill doesn’t have the intricate hairpins that you might find elsewhere but it is equally challenging, with a series of short fast stretches with very sharp right-angle turns and elevation changes. Pass Finchingfield however and a handful of tricky turns around Duck End certainly make up for it.
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Sherborne – Shaftesbury

 

There is an easy way from Sherborne to Shatesbury in Dorset; simply take the A30 eastbound and less than half an hour later, you’ll be finished. There is however, a much more inspiring way of doing things and simply by taking a detour along the meandering A357, via Lydlinch Common, towards Blandford Forum, you can enjoy some immensely enjoyable bends along the A350, some fast flowing and some slow and technical.

The route does cut through a number of villages so expect speed restrictions but nevertheless, this is certainly a route to enjoy.
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Pass of Cross, Dinas Mawddwy – Llanuwchllyn

 

The Bwch-y-Groes (Pass of the Cross) has long been popular with motorcycle enthusiasts, with the highest public road in North Wales frequently being used as a test route by a number of manufacturers, including Triumph, as a test route for their hillclimbing machines.

Taking you 1,788 feet above sea level, the road from Dinas Mawddwy, via Llanymawddwy, through to Llanuwchllyn and Lake Vyrnwy gets its name from the cross, just below the summit at the junction of the roads from Vyrnwy and from Dinas Mawddwy, commemorating the place of the pass on a pilgrim route from north Wales.

Today, the climb is well within the capabilities of modern motorcycles, with the mostly single track road featuring a double hairpin at the foot of the hill.
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