UK Motorcycle holidays 2021
Europe Motorcycle trips are looking increasingly unlikely for summer of 2021, this article looks at the options closer to home. Are UK Motorcycle holidays a poor second best or actually a hidden gem?
As I wrote in my previous article on European tours [see here] I am a big fan of the European Motorcycle trip. My trip for 2020 was cancelled due to Covid and 2021 looks little better – even if we can travel, the cost of ferry tickets are almost double what they were for my cancelled 2020 trip. This got me thinking about the benefits of staying closer to home.
Back in 2001-2006 I was covering around 12,000 miles per year around England for work by motorcycle. Add on personal miles and I had a new GSXR (one 600, a couple of 750’s and a 1000) every 18 months or so. Whilst these trips were frequently pretty boring roads (Ipswich to Hemel Hempstead is not a route to celebrate!!) there were several opportunities to include better route options (visiting a customer in Knutsford involved Cat & Fiddle for example).
Longer leisure trips included Newquay for “Run to the Sun” (a friend was well into his VW’s) on my NC30, Wales for a track day at Pembrey on my CCM (trailer until Abergavenny then enjoy!!) and East side of England, Edinburgh and Loch Lomond on a GSXR1000K6.
The combination of all these miles is a good appreciation of the compromises a UK Motorcycle holiday bring but also some of the great roads and places to be found without leaving the UK.
- The traffic. There is no getting away from the fact that in general the UK’s roads are busier that most of those on mainland Europe. But there are quieter roads and quieter times to visit….so do a bit of planning and accept that it is a long road trip not a short track experience, take your time and enjoy.
- The roads. Not just the condition (plenty of pot holes) but the length of the good bits. We have great roads (be that twisties or fantastic views) but they are relatively short lived….you just don’t get the mile after mile of twists and views….and of course the altitude is lower.
- Police/Enforcement. To be fair, the policing and enforcing has increased considerably in Europe in recent years, but until there is a single license endorsement scheme, the risks are still monetary rather than risks to your license that are found in the UK.
- Love of motorcycles. France, Spain, Italy, etc all love motorcycles and everyone that rides one. The same is not as true for the majority of UK people.
Cheaper. Saving several hundred pounds on ferry/channel tunnel tickets goes a long way, especially given the £-€ exchange rate once you land in Europe. Fuel and hotels are cheaper in Andorra, Spain and Portugal but almost on par with the UK in France, Germany, etc.
Language. An obvious one, and for some is part of the appeal of Europe, but if you are in the middle of nowhere with a puncture, speaking the same language definitely makes life easier.
History and Culture. The UK has a fantastic spectrum of historical places and cultural differences. Taking those in one a trip can make a trip very memorable.
Smaller. The distances required are considerably smaller. My 1st day in France was nearly always a 500 mile day. Physically and mentally exhausting but necessary to get “to the fun bits”. No need for such big miles in the UK.
Where to go:
Firstly a few general viewpoints:
- Scotland, especially the west and north, is full of great roads and many surprises. The weather can of course be an issue, as can the mosquitos, but I’ve equally had terrible weather in the mountains of France and Germany.
- Northern Ireland. We all know they love their Motorcycles. A trip I have yet to make on 2 wheels….and one I plan to do very soon.
- Wales. Can be busy and there are stories of heavy-handed policing…but if you approach it with a touring/visiting mentality then it really is a fantastic place to ride.
- England. Most of the south is too busy. Cornwall and Devon have some great locations but probably not enough to make them a destination on their own…unless you live that side of the country perhaps. East is a bit flat and featureless but benefits from less traffic. Most of the good stuff is the Peak district, Lake District, Yorkshire, etc but it can be busy.
For specific routes, this article would run to dozens of pages and just be repeating what is already very well documented on the Internet. However, here’s a couple of links to a few routes/roads, along with my “ideal Motorcycle for each trip” – of course any Motorcycle is better than no Motorcycle … so enjoy:
As I write this, restrictions in England are just about to be lifted a notch to allow us to travel and the rule of 6 applies again. I’m longing to get a few longer rides with friends…even if for now there is no overnight trips. Writing this article makes me even more determined to get those UK trips in and appreciate what I have been missing. If you need help on the choosing of a Motorcycle, the luggage, the clothing or the navigation devices for your Motorcycle holiday then give the team at Via Moto a shout.