2.5 days 355 miles Fantastic roads and scenery


THIS TRIP IS one of the best three days you can spend on two wheels in the UK. Long the best-kept secret in biking destinatio­ns, over the last 15 years the Borders has built a reputation as a formidable motorcycli­ng magnet. It’s traditiona­lly seen as somewhere you pass through on your way north or south, framed on either side by the A68 and A74(M) which guides the heaviest traffic away from the region of high hills, lush valleys, bloody history and slinky tarmac.

Our recommende­d ride starts on Friday afternoon at Carter Bar on the English/scottish border on the A68. From there you’ve got a 60-mile, two-hour belter to kick the weekend off, peeling away from the A68 heading down to Bonchester Bridge on the A6088, then through a helter-skelter of bends into Hawick, birthplace of road racing legend Steve Hislop.

Just south out of the town, nip onto the B711 across broad fields of gently rolling farmland, fading to a moor-ish, scrubby landscape as the road crosses Alemoor reservoir. The road narrows to a thin, remote strip tracing through heaving green hillsides like a finger drawing in grey paint, skidding onto the B709 and round a right hander to be presented with a magnificen­t view along the length of Glen Altrieve. And we’re not even at our evening accommodat­ion yet.

A few more miles along the A708 runs us into the town of Moffat and its jewel, the Buccleuch Hotel run by Gs-riding Dave

Smith and his sons Polly and Clint. Over the 20-odd years at running the hotel, Dave has turned Moffat into a motorcycli­ng hub; bike sheds next to beer tables in the back garden and cleaning gear at the ready if you need it. An upstanding member of the Moffat community, there isn’t much Dave can’t arrange to be sorted out if you need help.

After breakfast, Saturday is the area’s greatest hits — a series of loops, starting with a short (but leisurely) spin around the eastern side of Moffat. Back up the A708, cut across the mountains hopping between reservoirs (some incredible views), then down the A701 through the Devil’s Beeftub. Here, the dramatic hollow allowed locals to hold off probing Roman raiding parties.

That’ll do for the morning — in the afternoon, dive over the other side of the A74(M) and into a 120-mile figure-of-eight route criss-crossing back and forth over passes and low hills between the motorway in the east and the A76 in the west, including crossing the Mennock Pass. You ride the same roads the other way round a few times, which is okay — they look different from the opposite direction!

After another evening at the Buccleuch, the last day is a 150-mile classic zig-zagging back south across the Borders, re-visting Hawick from another direction, before heading around Kielder reservoir for the final run back to Hexham.

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