High summer in the UK and it’s all about finding peace and quiet. Majestic mountain scenery, bracing seas and a fresh breeze don’t go amiss, either. A Scotland road trip refreshes the parts other road trips can’t. Go for the long evenings where the sun doesn’t set until after 10; the stunning displays of purple heather, and the hectic festivals and events scene. Here are five Scottish road trips that should be on every biker’s bucket list.
Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms motorbike road trip
The countryside here is enchanting and lush - and the smooth, quiet roads wind between trees past lochs, streams and stags, with just the odd tractor to waylay you. Ballater, a picturesque Victorian village with pubs and rooms and Highland Games is a good base or stop. The Cairngorms National Park has first-class touring. Here, the Grantown on Spey to Blairgowrie route, incorporating the A939 and A93 and taking in the Spittal of Glenshee on the way, is particularly scenic and challenging, especially as you helter-skelter into the historic market town of Blairgowrie (another good base, especially if you like salmon- and trout-fishing).
North Coast 500 motorcycle road trip
The NC500 is an absolute stonker of a coastal loop that takes you more than 500 miles around the North Highlands, from Inverness Castle on the east coast to Applecross on the west coast, up to Ullapool to Durness and over to John O’Groats before swerving south. It traverses six regions in around 12 hours of motorbike bliss, though we recommend you take your time - and not just at one of the numerous viewing points. Five days would not be too many. Climb a mountain, take out a kayak, watch the whales, sample the whisky at a distillery. The NC500 has become very popular in its short existence, so you may well be sharing the at-times narrow and twisty roads with cyclists, campervans and locals, too. It’s not necessarily fast, but the madly epic coastal scenery more than makes up for it.
The Dickie Bow
This loop takes its name from the dickie bow shape the route makes on the map. It begins at Balloch, at the southern tip of Loch Lomond, and encompasses one of the most scenic chunks of the west coast, including the bustling port town of Oban (a good overnight stop and ‘Seafood capital of Scotland’), the stunning Scottish highlands as seen from the A85, the Trossachs and a personal favourite, the Duke’s Pass. Small but mighty, this breathtaking stretch of the A821 runs from Aberfoyle to Loch Katrine, climbing to 240 metres above sea level. Built by the Duke of Montrose in 1885 to improve access to his estate, it’s an exhilarating mix of straights and switchbacks. There are many small laybys where you can stop to drink in the views.
Borders motorcycle road trip
The Scottish Borders are full of history and charm, and much quieter than the tourist honeypots up country. The A roads here are swift and not busy, especially during the week, so you can ride at a nice leisurely pace and take in the scenery. The old spa town and coaching stop of Moffat, in the middle of a triangle between Carlisle, Glasgow and Edinburgh, is a great place to stay. Hunker down at one of the many cosy pubs and restaurants to plan your routes. We rate the Selkirk - Hawick - Langholm - Lockerbie - Moffat loop. The Glen Café along the A708, once named by the AA as one of Britain’s most scenic roads, is a biker favourite, with gorgeous views and rave reviews. There is wonderful hill walking, too, in this location. Brave hearts can swim in St Mary’s loch -apparently the coldest in Scotland. If you have time, also check out the the A701 from Moffat to Edinburgh - a glorious route - AND you get to go to Edinburgh!
The ‘Skyfall’ motorcycle trip - Loch Etive
The winding, single-track road that leads to James Bond’s ancestral home, Skyfall, in the eponymous 2012 movie, is reached via the A82 not far from Glencoe, which is itself pretty special. The beginning of the route is marked by two mountains: the Buachaille Etive Mor and Buachaille Etive Beag. Rather atmospherically they are known as the ‘Herdsmen of Etive’. If you don’t have an Aston Martin to hand, a motorbike is ideal for navigating this narrow road (with passing places) that cuts through a valley of forest and fern as it tracks the River Etive. Check out the Etive Mor waterfall as you pass through picturesque moorland, forest and fern to reach Loch Etive, where the road ends. You’ll recognise this as the spot where Bond and M pause. The 30km-long loch stretches out to sea. There’s nothing for it but to turn around.
Preparing for your Scotland motorcycle tour
Scotland really does do ‘four seasons in one day’. Cross your fingers for glorious sunshine but be prepared for all kinds of weather and conditions. Pack wet-weather gear and breathable base layers, plus versatile clothing that’s comfortable, stylish and practical enough to take you from the bike to the pub. Roadskin has a selection of award-winning, high quality motorcycle denim that can keep you as safe as possible on the road, while looking good off the road. Armour comes as standard with all our jeans. Our AAA-rated Taranis motorcycle jeans (soft, stretchy, AAA-rated, good in all weathers except extreme cold) and Easyrider motorcycle jeans (lightweight, straight-leg, AA-rated, ideal for warmer days) are perfect for summer and autumn UK touring on your motorbike.
If you would like any advice on what jeans to buy, please contact our customer team.