With so many glamorous destinations on offer in Europe and the Americas, it’s easy to lose sight of the delights we have sitting right on our doorsteps. With knife edged mountains separated by deep valleys in the north, rolling countryside in the south and the green expanse that is Ireland in the west, the UK has a surprising amount of beauty for such a compacted island. Within the boundaries of this lush land with almost 20,000 miles of beautiful indented coastline you will find canyons, mountains, river valleys, deep, serene lakes, gorgeous beaches, historical landmarks and quintessential little villages. With so many natural wonders on offer, why not make the UK the destination for your next motorcycle holiday.   

New for 2020, Magellan are making available guided versions of our self guided tours of the UK, taking in the best of England, Scotland and Ireland. With a 21 day tour you can ride the ultimate UK bike trip over 3,100 miles in England, Scotland and Ireland. If you want to focus more on one area, Ireland is available as a stand alone guided tour and can be done in 10 days. England and Scotland is also available which can be done over 11 days. 

Below we’ve picked some of the highlights you can look forwards to seeing across all three tours. For more information you can visit our website where you will find detailed itineraries, dates and mileages. 

Edinburgh

Edinburgh is hailed as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. The Scottish capital with its 12th century castle looming above it drapes itself across the hills overlooking the ocean with various wonders compacted into the city, ensuring a fun filled day for anyone who visits. With a whole day to explore in and around Edinburgh you’re not in short supply of historic and beautiful sights to take a peak at. So, let’s start with the castles. Edinburgh Castle was built at least as early as the 12th century and dominates the skyline from its lofty position on Castle rock, a visit here will surely capture your imagination with its long history as a royal residence, prison and fortress. We highly recommend doing a guided tour to hear of the exciting tales and walk in the footsteps of Kings, Queens, soldiers and a stray pirate or two. If castles are your thing it’s also worth traveling roughly 30 miles outside the city to visit Stirling Castle, having withstood multiple sieges it is one of Scotland’s largest and most important castles and even if you’re not a history buff the scenery alone is enough to make the journey worthwhile. If you fancy a more relaxed day just roaming around the city taking in the sights there’s plenty to do, you can stroll through the gorgeous medieval old town on the Royal Mile or wander through the new town with its elegant Georgian townhouses lining the open squares. The Royal Botanic Garden is described as one of the finest botanical gardens in the world which is high praise and makes it well worth a detour too, founded in 1670 the garden sits in an impressive 72 acres in the city centre. 

Whatever your plans are Edinburgh is a fabulous city to spend the day in! 

Isle of Skye

Connected to Scotland’s northwest coast by bridge the Isle of Skye is the largest and northernmost of the major islands in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. The dark brooding Cullin mountains dominate the entirety of the island, their rocky slopes providing some of the most dramatically beautiful scenery in the country. Known for rugged landscapes, picturesque fishing villages, castles, lochs and breathtaking coastline the island is perfect Magellan stomping ground, armed with fantastic rideout options and interesting, historical stops. After following the scenic west coast drive we arrive to spend two nights on the island where an epic rideout is planned taking the coastal circuit with a visit to Dunvegan Castle and gardens. Located at the heart of 42000 acres in the Macleod Estate it’s the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland. For any whisky aficionados a stop at the world famous Talisker distillery is also available, with a tour of the oldest working distillery on Skye lasting around 45 minutes and costing £10. If its a day off the bikes you’re wanting then we’ve got you covered as well with options including ferry rides to neighbouring islands and walks around the picturesque harbour. 

Loch Lomond 

In a tour full of beauty, Loch Lomond in the Trossachs National Park deserves a special mention as it’s one of the most beautiful and iconic places in Scotland, being the inspiration behind a well known traditional Scottish song published in 1841 called ‘The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond’. The lake is also one of Scotland’s premier watersport locations, with many visitors enjoying kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding and water skiing.  Surrounded by charming villages, rolling countryside and unparalleled beauty this mesmerising loch is the biggest in Great Britain and has more than 30 islands, including Inchmurrin, which is the largest freshwater island in the British Isles. We ride alongside the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond en route back to England and to your hotel just over the border with Scotland in the quiet and peaceful Lake District. 

Peak District, Yorkshire Dales, Cairngorms, Trossachs and Lake District National Parks

It’s national park fever on this tour as we go through not just one, or even two, but five parks in total over the course of the trip and three of them are in one day! In Scotland we ride through the beautiful Trossachs National Park, which was named Scotland’s first national park in 2002. As mentioned earlier this is where Loch Lomond is located, as well as 21 mountains, two forest parks, 22 lochs and over 50 special nature conservation sites that are home to a variety of wildlife species. Staying in Scotland we journey through the Cairngorms National Park in the heart of the Scottish Highlands with its stunning mountain ranges, castles, distilleries, gorges, forests, rivers and traditional villages. Cairngorms is the UK’s largest National Park, designated in 2003 and is home to reindeer, ospreys, eagles, wildcats and red squirrels.

Back in the UK we travel through the quintessential Lake District, the famous home of English literature with it’s glacial ribbon lakes, rugged mountains and scenic market towns. It’s the second largest park in the UK after the Cairngorms and remains the largest and most visited national park in England. On the day of the big three we then enter the Yorkshire dales with its rolling green hills before coming into central England and the Peak District. The Peak District became the first national park in the UK in 1951 and remains very popular with its steep limestone valleys and famed stepping stones. It is also home to the UK’s highest opera house and is a popular site for potholers exploring the spectacular local caverns. 

‘Cat and Fiddle’ road

Located in the Peak District and named after the pub which lays at the summit the ‘Cat and Fiddle’ road is easily the most famous road in the area, especially with bikers. The road itself is only 7.5 miles long which may not sound like a lot but don’t let that fool you, the cat and fiddle is notoriously dangerous due to its severe bends, steep falls from the carriageway and its lining of dry-stone walls for almost the entirety of the road. Running over the heart of the Peak District the road sweeps high into the national park affording you with amazing views across the wide spread of Greater Manchester and Cheshire Plains. The route has a blanket speed limit of 50mph and is almost entirely covered by speed cameras, this may not sound fast but it is plenty challenging enough on this very short, windy, narrow section of road. 

North Coast 500

Hailed as Scotland’s Route 66, the NC500 road is one of the top coastal road trips in the world, blessed with some of the most beautiful and dramatic scenery in the Scottish Highlands. It is simply stunning. Starting in Inverness it winds its way along the west coast taking in the best of Scotland’s coastal scenery, castles, historical ruins, distilleries, picturesque lochs, white sand beaches and narrow causeways to arrive at John o’Groats, just 11 miles from Dunnet Head, the mostly northerly point of mainland Britain. While it is beautiful, you do need to keep your wits about you! Narrow, single track country roads, blind corners, blind summits, tight hairpins bends and steep edges that bring on the dreaded vertigo are commonplace. Chuck in the sheep, lambs and deer chilling out by the side of the road and/or flying out in front of you and you’ve got yourself somewhat of a thrilling ride. 

Giants Causeway

The result of a volcanic eruption some 60 million years ago, the Giants Causeway spreads 4 miles along the coastline of northern Ireland. 40,000 stone pillars, each with five to seven irregular sides protrude out from the cliff faces thought to have been formed by flows of lava inching towards the coast and cooling down when it met the sea. Layers of basalt formed the columns and the pressure between them then turned them into the shapes we see today that vary from 15 to 20 inches in width and measure up to 25 metres in height. The Causeway was named as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1986, and in 2005 was hailed as the fourth greatest natural wonder in the UK by radio times readers. According to legend the Causeway was formed when the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner, with Fionn building the causeway across the north channel so the two could meet. There are several versions as to how this story ends but in one it is said that Benandonner destroys the causeway and across the sea there are identical basalt columns on the Scottish Isle of Staffa. Either way, they are beautiful and Magellan visit them on a very scenic coastal day where we also visit a haunted house and the oldest whiskey distillery in Ireland. 

Crag cave system

Formed from limestone rock, Crag cave system extending 3.8 km is thought to be over a million years old. The ancient fossil cave, within which the natural forces that created the stunning passages can clearly be seen was discovered by divers in 1983 and is the 10th longest system in the whole of Ireland. The cave was once filled with water, which eroded away at the limestone rock turning it into the beautiful maze of carved tunnels and chambers. The water dried up or found an alternative route leaving gravel and deposits of sediment and with small drops of water entering the cave it left crystals behind, which formed many of the stunning features we can see today. We visit the renowned caves before riding the internationally famous world heritage route ‘The Ring of Kerry.’  

The Ring of Kerry 

The Ring of Kerry is an incredibly scenic 179km ride around the Iveragh Peninsula taking in the best of Ireland’s rugged, coastal landscape, dramatic mountain passes, white sand beaches, medieval ruins and picturesque seaside villages. The road goes through the stunning Killarney National Park where you ride up and over mountain passes with unparalleled views over the various lakes and mountains that dot the landscape. Further down as you arrive on the western edge of the Iveragh Peninsula, the road opens out and gifts you with jaw dropping views over the Atlantic Ocean and Skellig Islands. On a road that’s littered with must stop photo opportunities, this part is particularly beautiful. The Ring of Kerry is one of Ireland’s most iconic and popular drives, Magellan ride it after visiting the city of Limerick. 

Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone

Blarney Castle, a medieval stronghold near Cork, now a partial ruin is a very popular tourist attraction. At the top sits the famous Blarney Stone, which according to legend bestows great eloquence or ‘the gift of the gab’ to those who kiss it. The stone was set into a tower of the castle in 1446, despite the castle itself dating back as early as the 12th century. The ritual of kissing the stone isn’t as easy as it may appear, although millions of people including literary giants, world statesmen and legends of the silver screen have given it a go. To kiss the stone you must first make your way up to the castle’s peak, which in itself is a tall order in bike kit! Once at the top participants then have to lean backwards over the edge in order to reach the stone. Before safeguards were put in place, the ritual was performed with real risk to life, as people would be grasped by their ankles and dangled over the edge. Today, there are iron gates and guards to stop anyone from falling, but be aware even with the protective barriers it can still trigger extreme vertigo! 

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