The Whole Way Round
“The Antrim Coastal Route is a scenic marvel and a biker’s dream”
300 plus miles of A-roads in the region that has less motorcycle crime than anywhere else in the UK. Take in modern towns and historic cities, tiny villages and heart stopping vistas. There are twisties by sea, cliffs, lakes and turfstacks.
Some roads are comfortable for touring and will enchant rider and pillion; others keep riders focused totally on the road and take a high level of biking skill to keep pillions relaxed and feeling safe. The legal maximum is safely achievable on most of these miles although there are places where serious skill is needed to maintain steady slower speeds without having to grab brakes or tolerate a chugging engine.
You can do it all in a day, but you will enjoy the ride a lot more if you break it up with stops to enjoy the view, take a walk or even repeat a part of the road that you liked but know you could do better. And there are many places to camp, hostel, hotel or B&B.
Stage 1 – Coleraine to L’Derry (40 miles)
Don’t forget to check your brakes as you set out towards Articlave. Before dropping steeply into Downhill, the road crests to a breathtaking view over waves, sand and the North Atlantic. Be prepared to pull in here. It’s one to savour. The road from here on is a favourite target of local bikers with lots of curves, generally good visibility and satisfactory tarmac.
On the outskirts of L’Derry turn right and cross the Foyle bridge. A left on the other side will bring you into the city centre. Local bikers tend to park in the Diamond, a crossroads and square in the middle of the 17th city. The walls take half an hour to walk. (for more great riding roads in this area see Stay-a-While, Ride the Sperrins).
Stage 2 – L’Derry to Enniskillen (60 miles)
The 30 or so miles to Omagh are on open fast roads with some sweeping corners and twisties. A few, between Strabane and Sion Mills and between Newtonstewart and Omagh, need careful handling if you are travelling at or near the legal maximum.
Stage 3 – Enniskillen to Newry (70 miles)
There is not much water to be seen on this largely rural route through lush farmlands. (Look for specific bike related references when riding this in Jan)(for more great riding roads in this area see Stay-a-While, Ride the Lakelands)
Stage 4 – Newry to Belfast (62)
Lots of curves to begin with then straightish to Downpatrick known for its association with a famous Welshman, one Patrick. On to Belfast via Comber, Killyleagh and Dundonald. This route passes to the north and west of the Mournes (see Stay-a-While, Ride the Mournes).
Stage 5 – Belfast to Coleraine (95 miles)
Doing this ride on two wheels adds immeasurably to the joy of the journey. To do it in darkness would be a terrible waste. From Belfast it begins with the motorway along Belfast Lough , becomes the A2 to Carrickfergus, runs past the famous castle and on to Larne and the coast road to Ballycastle. Signposted as the Antrim Coastal Route, this is a scenic marvel and a biker’s dream – pillion riders can feast their eyes while riders savour the twists and turns of a road which is often right on the sea’s edge, skipping in and out of picturesque fishing villages staring across the sea to Scotland. You can get the most out of this road and enjoy the view – but you’ll have to do it at least twice(for more see Stay-a-While Ride the Glens).