Scotland is not the first place that comes to mind when you consider destinations for great winter rides. But if you know where to go, have the right kit and the right attitude, you could find some spectacular riding there. So, when our friends at Keis Heated Clothing asked us to test their kit, and fashion a Great Winter Ride to do just that, the first thing we did was look north.
Our route is a circular one, covering some nice, easy A roads that take you past towns and villages, fields of cows, and then lead you to higher ground where the corners get tighter, roads narrower, and smiles even bigger.
The route covers the highest village in Scotland, eagle spotting opportunities, and even a Buddhist temple – all that on top of some of the best roads you can ride in the UK.
Enjoy everything MSL by reading the monthly magazine, Subscribe here.
There are a number of reasons why the Scottish Borders make a great destination for winter riding: The scenery varies from pleasant to breathtaking; The roads seem to be fairly quiet any time of the year, but when the mercury falls, there’s even less traffic; Services are geared towards tourists, so you will find petrol, food, drink and things to do off the bike; And wildlife is about in abundance, we spotted half a dozen eagles on our ride.
The only question mark is the weather. Snow and ice are not strangers to this area, but on a good clear day you can just add a layer of clothing, or switch on your heated kit, pick the well-maintained main roads, and have an absolute blast on two wheels.
Time it right, and this is one of the best places for great winter riding.
Where to stay?
There are plenty of good places to stay in the Borders region, but our first choice is always the Buccleuch Arms in Moffat.
The place gets busy with fellow motorcyclists because the Smiths who run the place are bikers themselves, and provide garages for bikes, routes of the area, and all manner of bike-related services you might need on your trip.
The rooms, food and drink are good, too, but the best thing about the Buccleuch is the world-class service from the whole team.
For further information, visit www.buccleucharmshotel.com
Keis kindly provided heated kit for the Great Winter Rides, and one of the key items in fighting the cold is the Keis Heated jacket. We had the Premium Extreme J505RP jacket (£225, www.keisapparel.com), which heats up quickly, and keeps you warm and comfortable. All you need to do is to connect it to your bike’s battery, and winter riding is suddenly much more pleasant.
What’s the route like?
Where: Scottish Borders.
Description: Circular route with two optional extensions. The extensions are smaller roads, so in winter the weather may force you to stick to the main route. The roads on this route range from fast A-roads to thrilling and twisty B-roads, and even single tracks if you include the extensions to the route. Scenery is great all the way, but the sections where you have the option of sticking to the main route or taking the extension are particularly good, regardless of which one you pick.
Distance: 150 miles without the two optional extensions
Time: Allow a full day so you can have plenty of stops for photos, coffees and lunch
Curiosities: The top trump in unexpected discoveries is the Samye Ling Buddist Monastery near Eskdalemuir on the B709 (that’s on the second optional extension to the route).
How do I get all the details?
For a full route description with a map, details of where to start, stop, and what to see on route, pick up the December 2022 issue of Motorcycle Sport & Leisure magazine.