Best Scottish Highland Roads for Motorcyclists
For worldwide motorcycle travelers, there are a few must-dos, such as the Stelvio Pass in the Alps, and Route 66 in America.
But how about traveling north to Scotland, particularly the Scottish Highlands, which is loaded with famous lochs, beaches, and ancient monuments?
But don’t go unprepared; following are the top six Scottish Highland roads for motorcyclists, and what each one offers:
• A835 Tore to Ullapool: It’s a long, long way north this road, but so worth the effort to get there, with its 50-mile heady mix of super-quick, long and traffic-free straights and fabulous blend of fast sweepers and tighter, slower turns (to catch your breath).
And the fishing port of Ullapool at the end of the mind-blowing burred coastal and loch-lined scenery is a joy, offering some excellent places to stay, eat and drink at the end of a good ride, not to mention interesting ferry routes to the islands and beyond from Caledonian MacBrayne, if you’re feeling like more adventure.
• A830 Skye and Mallaig to Fort William: The stunning isle of Skye is a superb starting point for this epic 40+ mile ride, starting at the Skye ferry terminal at Mallaig, and running deep through the picturesque deep Scottish glens and magical moorland to Fort William, deep in the highlands, on the shores of Loch Eil.
The road is superbly twisty and beautiful at first, heading for Loch Eilt (not to be confused with Loch Eil) and past the Glenfinnan Viaduct, straightening out as you reach the shores of Loch Eil and the bustling town of Fort William, the second largest in the Highlands. A truly epic ride, and well worth making a trip journal, using the latest apps.
• A84 Doune to Loch Earn: The furthest south of our top six, just north of Sterling, this 25-mile route is a gateway to the Highlands. And Doune offers a fabulous place to start, with its old motor museum and historic hill-climb course to visit before you ride north up the increasingly steep and dramatic A84.
The very fast, sweeping curves up beyond Callander to Loch Lubnaig following the River Voil are magical. But it is heavy on the speed cameras and traps, and the busiest of routes listed here, so be warned.
• B862/B852 Fort Augustus to Inverness: The only B-road in our Highlands adventure, and it’s single track in places, so caution is required on the (many) blind bends. But this secret little run to the south side of Loch Ness – known as General Wade’s military road – is a cracker, especially early morning, or at sunset, when the car-based tourists are all tucked up in their B&Bs.
It’s a different world from the awful A82 on the other side of Loch Ness, where you’d be stuck behind American and Japanese tour buses, and this cracking ride is marvellously hilly, twisty and extremely fast in places. A hidden moorland, forest and Highland gem…
• A83 Inveray to Campbeltown: The most Western of our routes offers one of the longest – and the best – almost 70 glorious miles from the Royal burgh of Argyll and Bute at Inveray on the Western shores of Loch Fyne (famed for its shellfish & seafood) through the forests to the old former Royal Burgh of Argyll and Bute on the southern tip of the famous Kintyre peninsula, Campbeltown.
This extremely fast and mountainous road – littered with brilliant bends to get your knee down on – runs along the sea inlet to Lochgilphead, over-looking the stunning Kyles of Bute, before carving its breath-taking way down the coast near the Isle of Gigha. Watch out for the numerous blind crests and speed traps near the aptly-named “rest and be thankful” viewpoint, which is beyond stunning. Magic riding territory, almost too epic to take in.
• A939: Ballater to Grantown-on-Spey: Cutting 40 marvellous mile through the Eastern edge of the wonderful Cairngorms National Park, deep in Speyside malt whisky country, the A939 in Aberdeenshire is pure class, most noticeably near the Lecht Ski resort, which, as you would imagine is majorly mountainous and spectacular.
Here’s a challenging, technical, high-speed thrill of a road that really is just about you, your bike, the moorland-spattered mountains and fresh Highland air: It’s remote, isolated and memorable. And some of the climbs and descents are truly insane, as are many of the tricky, tight turns… so be careful. This one is a real challenge. Oh, and it’s seriously windy up here too…so wrap up and watch for the cross winds.