This road is great on a weekday as it isn too busy and there seems to be minimal policing.On weekend there are always police cars/camera vans.Totally pointless 50 limit between Langwathby and A66 but Police H.Q. is actually on this road near Penrith so watch out.
I know it will have all been said before but this is a superb stretch of road. It features a good mix of corners from fast sweeping bends to tight uphill/downhill hairpins. Scenery and envinment changes in sections, the road surface varies wildly from very good to awful and the pheasants wait in the hedgerows for you to pass. Regular police presence - particularly at weekends but generally as long as you
e not going at stupid speeds on 1 wheel they treat the bikers here fairly well. The Hartside Cafe at the summit is a top haunt for the biker community and again it is heaving at the weekends in the summer. All in this is just about my favourite single road in England.
May 31, 2009 - 4.0
added hazard at this time of is the large number of Travelers going to Appleby, Horse drawn vans.
I have mixed memories of this route, Ive ridden it quite a few times and on the whole I think it is outstanding, my only reason for disliking it is cos I crashed on the A 686 near Hartside on one of the corners, (very low speed). but I would most definatley recomend this route to anyone.
ridden this route a few times this year always ride from penrith end for some reason just like the up hill hairpins i guess the cafe at the top is very good (bike friendly) after this it is quite a bit faster usually turn toward brough in alston then end up in hawes a very good ride
Did this route on our way home from a recent 3 day blast round southern Scotland. Weather was closing in on us a little and at its highest point we went deep into the clouds...which was cool...but also a little creepy. The surfaces were generally very good. All in all a crackin road with a great mix of fast sweeping corners and tight complex sections with some full on hairpins. Gonna do it again soon...hopefully with the sun on our backs. Did pass a police bike going the opposite direction and I was gunnin it round a corner at the time. Didnt bother us tho !
Best time to do this run is 6.00am on a sunday morning in july.
Waste of time later in the day, far to busy, well policed.....they like to hide in Melmerby on the west side with their radar guns.....and loads of Rossi wannabes trying to take you out on the wrong side of the road.
The west side is far tighter and steeper but both sides are awesome.
It can stay damp under the trees by Langley Castle for a while so take care if out a day after rainfall.
did the section from penrith to alston AWESOME will be back to do it again and again
June 10, 2006 - 5.0
Top top top road whichever way you ride it, Haydon Bridge to Penrith or the reverse, stop for a cuppa at Hartside to let the stragglers catch up........perfect.
It does get very busy in the summer months and is sometimes well policed but don't let it put you off, it's a fantastic ride.
Another fantastic route in this area. The scenery is beautifully dangerous, you want to look, but don't ! Loads of bends of every degree, uphill and down. Lots of bikes too, and as previously mentioned lots of sightseers at peak times, to be avoided if possible. It may be a cliche, but i can't imagine tiring of riding this road (on any bike).
June 23, 2005 - 5.0
I discovered this route 15 years ago whilst returning home from a delivery (despatching). To have such a good time on a Friday afternoon after a long week on the bike must mean it's good.
A brilliant ride, but not on a sunny summer Sunday! Too many cars enjoying the view - they can see it better at 40 than 70 mph! Also high police presence - looking for cans, tax, visors, number plates, speeders and they get many! Try a Saturday maybe, or midweek or early morning, going the right way (sun out of your eyes). Excellent cornering to be had, no boring straights and superb views - don't look and ride!
this was one of my first ever runs and when ever i travel from the north east to cumbria i try to use this road due to the buzz it gives me,n tight hair pins, and fast corners, cafe at the top for a quick pitstop and to take in the mega view, then down the fast part in to penrith, can be a little hair raising in the section of trees just before langwathby due to water running from the fells across the road, but with that in mind it is a awesome route!!!!
MCN rated this in their 5 page review of June 2001 described this as "one of the world's most stunning road", or "one hairpin turns immediately into another whipping the road back in its original direction", or "These days they would bulldoze a route right through the landscape, but the A686 was built by the ""bendier is better"" school" You need to ride to appreciate it!
A great road that offers everything. Great scenary, good selection of corners and some nice fast straights. Really a very good road, can be some police and occasionally busy, but otherwise highly recommended