Having returned to the UK from the beautiful shores of Ireland in late May we headed into France in early June for something of a road trip from the north of the country all the way through the centre to the Pyrenees and on into Spain for the last four days of our tour. The main destination in France was to the iconic Millau Bridge staying in the town for three nights giving us ample time to not only go to the Viaduct’s Visitor Centre but also to ride the surrounding roads through the valleys of The Lot River and The Tarn Gorge. If ever you find yourselves in this part of France we can highly recommend a tour of the Millau Suspension bridge which was designed by the English architect Lord Norman Foster and which touches the bottom of the Tarn Valley in only 9 places.
Our ride-out to the Bridge started off with a stunning route through the Tarn Gorge valley, the sheer scale of the rock faces dwarf you and your bike as the road carves its way through the limestone canyon making for not only a beautiful ride but also a technical one which is why we kept our mileage to just over 100 miles for the day. There are pretty villages to take some time out at over coffee and lunch and we met plenty of characters along the way with the owner of a local deli ramping up the volume of his music while encouraging our clients to sample local meats and cheeses 🙂
Having spent a total of six days touring and exploring France we crossed the border into Spain, taking the Bielsa Tunnel route over the Pyrenees into the Province of Aragon. The tunnel itself is only 3kms long and is at an altitude of nearly 6,000 ft. The ride both on the ascent from the french side to the descent on the spanish side offers a fun road to ride with spectacular mountain scenery to be enjoyed, given we were touring through here in mid June it was no surprise to find snow on the mountains at the summit but we were fortunate to have excellent weather for the ride giving us good views and warm temperatures as we rode to our hotel for the next two nights in the foothills of the Southern Spanish Pyrenees.
For the next 2 nights we stayed in a fully refurbished 17th century Monastery situated on the banks of the river Ara with a stunning ride-out the following day through some truly beautiful gorges and river valleys before heading into the Rioja wine region for the final two nights of the tour. Riding in Spain is always a joy, the roads are always super smooth, out in the open countryside there is very little in the way of traffic making for a very relaxing day of motorcycling and then the views simply take your breath away. We love it so much that when this tour finished with our clients taking the ferry from Santander back to the UK, we stayed in the port to greet our next tour group who were to join us on our Spanish Coast & Mountains tour over the following two weeks!
“Stayed tuned…..” we’ll update you on that soon 🙂
The title could suggest where have we been in so far as not blogged for a few months now and it can also read as “Where have we been” as far as touring this year….. To answer the first view, the answer is we have had a very busy season of touring and with two more ahead of us still lots of roads and (s)miles to cover resulting in not much time to blog 🙂 As for where as in locations, since our last update in May, we have visited Devon, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Wales with a few other countries on routes to and from our destinations. It has certainly been a busy time but a great deal of fun as can be seen from our website gallery / facebook albums.
We are often asked which location we like touring best, an impossible question to answer given the variety of roads and scenery we encounter on tour. Our tours in 2019 have ranged from short 4 – 6 day tours to ones stretching to nearly two weeks. Devon was one of our shorter tours of the year and we were fortunate to have some superb weather over the 5 days, we even had a fly-pass from the RAF! This was our second visit to the county in recent years and everyone joining us thoroughly enjoyed the roads and places we visited, varying from the sparse nature of Dartmoor and the Exmoor national parks to the quirky nature of the village of Clovelly where no motor vehicles are allowed – certainly got the heartrates pumping for those who visited when they had to walk back up the steep hill to the carpark!
Our next tour was to the counties of Donegal and Mayo in Ireland, both regions have much to offer a motorcyclist and whilst we were not lucky on this visit to see the Slieve League cliffs which were shrouded in sea fog….. we were blessed with some good weather for riding around Ireland’s only fjord into Connemara and for our visit to Malin Head. On every visit to Ireland we are given a warm welcome and this was certainly the case from William and his daughter at The Wild Strands Cafe near Malin Head, it was a first for most of us when we were treated to scones made from seaweed 🙂 Delicious and they went down well with a dollop of jam and cream! We have visited Malin Head on several occasions in all weathers (once we couldn’t see the sea for the fog which was a bit disconcerting!), but even if the weather is against you it is well worth a visit to Ireland’s most northerly point and on each visit there is something new – this time the parking area had been improved and for information there are now some brand new visitors toilets!!!!! Always welcome when you’ve had more than your fair share of coffee at The Wild Strands…..
We spent three nights in County Donegal before riding south to County Mayo and the coastal town of Westport. During our stay we had two ride-outs one taking us through Ballycroy National Park and onto Achill Island, the ride along the Atlantic coastline was spectacular, the Irish Tourist Board have certainly done their job when it comes to promoting The Wild Atlantic Way – it can be wild in nature as well as weather but when the sun shines and the sea is sky blue in colour you feel very at one with the sights and sounds around you. We’re not visiting this region in 2020 but will certainly have it on our 2021 calendar….. so watch out for that!
There is still much to catch up regarding our tours in Spain, France, Italy, Germany and Wales…. so as they say “stay tuned for the next instalment”….. 🙂