STAYCATION (The New Normal?)

The Covid pandemic has limited us all over the past 18 months or so. Overseas motorbiking trips are not viable (at the time of writing). We can only live in hope for years to come. Tour operators and hotels have been squeezed hard with the likelihood several could disappear altogether. Staycations have been bandied about in the media as the solution to a getaway under Covid restrictions. From 19 July in England Stage Four of the Roadmap promises freedom from restrictions backed by legislation. At the same time the number of daily new infections announced has risen dramatically. Where will it all end, I wonder? Will Staycations become the new normal?

So – if we are planning a trip in Great Britain rather than abroad, where would be good to go? Rosemary and David Hicks have come up with a never-ending array of potential hotel weekend destinations. They usually do their own recce to check them out the year before the Club event. In contrast, our overseas trips largely rely on recommendations but are rarely backed by advance visits.

Rosemary and David had stayed at a hotel on the Lizard peninsular but considered that this was probably too far for a weekend. They were keen to try a hub and spoke approach to a Cornish holiday, since most of their other holiday plans had been cancelled. Combining this with the Paignton hotel weekend seemed too good an opportunity to miss. After much discussion, online searching, and head scratching, the Bowood Hotel and Golf Club near Camelford was selected as the “Hub”.

The Bowood Hotel

“The Edge of The Lakes” Hotel Weekend in October 2022, is the latest suggestion from Rosemary and David. It promises easy access to both the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales National Park. There are many and varied places to visit, routes to ride. I for one can’t wait!

Another excellent source is Bikers’ Britain The Tours written by Simon Weir and published by the AA in 2016.

Biker’s Britain, The Tours

Simon’s introduction describes Bikers’ Britain The Tours as an a la carte menu serving up the best riding Great Britain has to offer as carefully planned touring routes. About half the routes were developed for RIDE Magazine (Simon is a former Editor) and half were created specifically for this book. There are one-day tours, three-day regional tours, five-day trips and more challenging seven-day tours. Like the best recipes, everything has been thoroughly tested to make sure there’s nothing half baked – and to ensure that there are tours to suit every taste.

This invaluable guide gives you a route map together with detailed directions, with recommendations for places to stop and eat and to stay overnight. A true biker’s companion. Simon now runs a blog and as a freelance writer covers biking issues with emphasis on touring. More details can be found here.

The West Country Tour in Bikers’ Britain The Tours was the inspiration for the Southwest 500 Tour kindly arranged by James O’Shea as a Meetup® trip and prequel to the Paignton Hotel Weekend 2021. Three days of joyful riding are in prospect. Average daily mileage will be 170 miles, overall 510 miles. Riding days will be punctuated with vista, comfort, coffee, lunch and afternoon tea breaks. Spread over three days with overnight stops at Minehead and Hayle, this event is eagerly awaited.

The North Coast 500 in Scotland has become very popular. Our Three Amigos recently product tested an organised tour which included a good part of the NC500. The organisation and leadership they received was not great, so they won’t be recommending this particular tour operator. Midges apart, it sounded like they enjoyed a good trip.

SW300 tour

An upcoming Scottish route is the Southwest 300 around the coastline of Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway. This is not as well-known as the NC500 and so the roads are likely to be less crowded, possibly less midge infested, with delightful scenery and only just over the border from England! The Buccleuch Arms Hotel in Moffat is a great base being run by biker friendly folk. They offer secure covered parking facilities and a plethora of routes to explore using Moffat as a base. Biker Heaven! The SW300 takes about 9 hours, so why not have an overnight stop perhaps in Portpatrick on the way round? Why not turn this into a longer trip?

The Buccleuch Arms

I was brought up in West Yorkshire so the Yorkshire Dales would have been my biking playground had I not been riding an unreliable (my fault) Vespa 125 at the time. The Pennines running up from the Derbyshire Peak District to the Scottish Borders are full of good motorbiking routes, many of which can be found either in Simon Weir’s books or in monthly magazines such as Motorcycle Sport & Leisure, RIDE and so on.

A number of Weekend Breaks have previously been run to areas such as the Brecon Beacons, The Lake District and even a Midsummer Chasing the Sun Weekend. We have just held a Ludlow Weekend for example.

All trips require substantial planning, if not by you then by someone else. Whether run by the BMW Club Oxford, or by a small group of like-minded colleagues, the enjoyment is much greater if you are part of a group than travelling solo. Even on a group trip, the party will often split into smaller more manageable numbers before enjoying the “Craic” together in the evenings.

Whether or not Staycation becomes the new normal, Great Britain has a lot to offer us without the need for passports, green cards, ferries or tunnel.


Author: geoffbmwox