Unknown wilderness – Adventure Country Track UK 2022
On the new Adventure Country Track ACT UK, travel adventurers can discover a Britain they never knew existed: authentic, wild and lonely. You should plan around five days for this adventurous tour.
The ACT UK film will be released on 25/12/2022 at 8pm on the ACT YouTube Channel
The development of the latest adventure country track, ACT UK, presented the creators with challenges unlike any they had met on other routes. As in many central European countries, there is only a limited network of unpaved tracks in the UK, and of these, even fewer are suitable for heavy adventure bikes. Added to this is the necessity of offering a real wilderness adventure – and this in a country with almost 70 million inhabitants that is almost 50 per cent smaller than Germany.
But the resourceful planners have mastered all challenges. The route not only passes through some of the most sparsely populated and remote areas of the UK, but also through four national parks and a region designated as an "Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty".
On the Isle of Man: starting from the Millennium Way through the Sky Hill Plantation above Ramsey.
On paper, ACT UK offers a ratio of about 20 per cent offroad to 80 per cent road, making it the least adventure-bike-oriented track to date. But these values refer to the distance and not to the travel time. ACT riders will find that the time they spend offroad is much greater than they thought, and that the dirt tracks are very impressive in terms of technical demand. In addition, the road section is characterised by neglected, narrow paths with grass, gravel and potholes.
How difficult are the routes?
Day 1 – Mountain and valley
The starting point is Llanthony Priory, a 12th century monastery set deep in the valley of the almost forgotten Black Mountains at the eastern end of the Brecon Beacons National Park. The road into the valley is so narrow, so insignificant, that very few visitors find their way to this place. The route begins with a tiny road winding northwards, crossing Lord Hereford's Knob (690 metres) to reveal sweeping views over central Wales.
The cry of two peacocks inhabiting an adjacent farm literally announces the beginning of the first set of offroad sections, immediately challenging the adventurer with a climb. A short rocky section followed by two variations of earthy rutted climbs, about a third of a mile long in total, offer a taste of the challenges to come in the days ahead.
The first three offroad sections follow each other closely, almost without a gap and lead travellers into the agricultural highlands of Mid Wales. The market town of Rhayader is the half-way mark of the day's stage and a good place for a midday rest.
A series of stony climbs (with good grip in wet or dry conditions) take you to the crest of the hill between the Wye and Elan valleys, offering wide views over the countryside. Three valleys must then be crossed before the stage ends in Machynlleth - Mach' for short.
On the first day, the trails lead across the high pastures of Wales.
Day 2 – Snowdonia and the Cambrian Mountains
After a ride through Snowdonia National Park, with its impressive, rugged gorges and lakes, the route reaches the coastline overlooking Cardigan Bay before turning around to set off on the most beautiful and longest stage of the day, Bomber Lane: a rocky trail that follows the northern slopes of Cadair Idris and offers beautiful views of Barmouth Bay and the entire National Park.
Crossing Snowdonia National Park on day 2, most of the ACT roads are very narrow and little used
Shortly after Dolgellau, a small town dating back to the 12th century, the route winds down through the high moorland and forests of Snowdonia to Lake Bala – an ideal place for lunch or a snack.
The second half of the day brings a series of small paths through the northernmost foothills of the Cambrian Mountains, running between hedgerows and country lanes. The end point is Liverpool, where the ferry to the Isle of Man is waiting for us.
Washed-out sections create tricky situations time and again
Day 3 – Isle of Man
The Isle of Man Loop starts at the TT start line, but instead of running down Bray Hill, it heads off in the opposite direction, to Ramsey, where it finds its first offroad section shortly after the famous Creg-ny-baa bend.
The lighthouse at the Point of Ayre on the Isle of Man
This stretch is a mixture of road and offroad sections. The route leads to the northernmost and southernmost points of the island – both dramatic landscapes – passing over barren mountain slopes and through deep green "glens" (forested valleys) in between. The Isle of Man is a beautiful island, with often gentle terrain, whose character combines Irish landscapes with British Victorian coastlines and, in the remotest parts, Scottish cottages with low crofter-style roofs.
Markus "flies" over Ballaugh Bridge on the TT route
It's worth staying a second day, as we did, to ride the famous Mountain Course and make the most of the island's unique attractions such as the Victorian Mountain Railway.
Markus and Teresa enjoy the mountain roads on the Isle of Man
Day 4 – Yorkshire Dales
Having arrived on the mainland, a 40-minute ride takes us to the first offroad section called Salter Fell, a stunning route over the hills of the Forest of Bowland. There's no forest here, however, but moorland and a rocky landscape.
Centuries-old dry stone walls along paths in the Yorkshire Dales
Via Settle we head into the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It's important to be aware that this is a national park and the trails are shared with walkers, farmers and sometimes horse riders.
Mirko as a bartender in a traditional English pub in Yorkshire
The ride on this day will generally finish late in most cases, but in good weather the evening sun over the Wensleydale Valley and Wether Fell is stunning. The Dales are a beautiful and much travelled part of England, and the end point, Hawes, only has limited accommodation. So it's worth booking accommodation in advance.
Since the Tour de France came to Yorkshire, cycling has become very popular here
Day 5 – Lonely moors
The final day begins in the Dales and, after a ride through the Yorkshire Moors, it ends in the coastal fishing port of Whitby – once home to the explorer James Cook and an important setting in the plot of Bram Stoker's Dracula!
The first offroad section is the Roman road known as Cam High Road, which runs through the Wensleydale Valley. After stages on footpaths in the Coverdale and Swaledale valleys and past the partly derelict 14th century Bolton Castle (where Mary, Queen of Scots, was once imprisoned), the route allows a final glimpse of the Dales before heading east into the Yorkshire Moors.
There's no easy way to negotiate the approximately 19 miles of no-man's land between the Dales and the Moors, but the route does its best by following small roads and winding its way through pretty little villages in level country before finding its way to the north-western edge of the Yorkshire Moors. From there it's a gentle country road that passes through the pretty limestone village of Hawnby.
Rain, puddles and river crossings are simply part of it
It's worth leaving the route for a few minutes to see the impressive ruins of the cistercian monastery of Rievaulx before reaching Helmsley, where there is plenty of food and fuel.
After Helmsley comes Rudland Rigg, a 12 mile offroad section that stretches south-north across almost the entire moor, ending at an altitude of around 400 metres with sweeping views of the northern industrial towns of Middlesborough and Stockton – precisely the urban scenery that the ACT has cleverly avoided over the past five days.
The route ends in Whitby, where the whalebone arch above the harbour is the most likely subject for a final photo on this great tour.
Nick Sanders' Expedition Centre in Wales
20% offroad – is that enough?
Offroad and adventure training
The ACT UK route passes several facilities offering rider training and offroad tours on private land. All these facilities are in Wales and can be reached by a short detour on the first or second day of the ACT route.
Yamaha Off Road Experience
With a 300 acre farm and 10,000 acres of forest, YORE can offer everything from one- to four-day offroad experiences. You can ride your own motorcycle (regardless of brand) or a rented Ténéré 700. There is also a fleet of WR Sport adventure bikes.
Harley-Davidson Adventure Centre
Guided onroad and offroad Harley-Davidson Pan America test rides are offered in this spectacular part of North Wales.
Sweetlamb KTM Adventure Experience
Two-day guided rides are offered on the 6500 acre grounds of Sweetlamb, as well as training in specific skills such as roadbook navigation. There are KTM 890 Adventure (R)s for hire and options such as 1-to-1 training.
Off Road Skills
With extensive gravel roads and single-track routes around a 4000 acre former quarry, Simon Pavey shows how GS riders can really get to grips with their machine. Pavey offers beginner and advanced courses and a two-day ride.
Triumph Adventure Riding Experience
Newly built centre in a huge forest and quarry area. Riding training and rides are offered. Latest Tiger and Bonneville models are available for hire.
Final photo under the whalebone arch above Whitby harbour
Info ACT UK
Difficulty level: advanced
Length: not yet fixed
Track type: asphalt, gravel, rocks, ruts
Offroad part: 20%
Season: all year round (more difficult in winter)
Duration: five days (plus additional "rest day" at the IoM)
Accommodation: camping and small, hotels, B&Bs and pubs
Language: English (and Welsh)