TAKING ON THE NORTHUMBERLAND 250 WITH A V-STROM 1050XT
The UK boasts some fantastic riding roads, including the beautiful Northumberland 250 which is described as ‘A 250-mile adventure across the land of dark skies, rolling hills and remarkable coastline’ and what better accompaniment than the V-Strom 1050XT.
The route features a great mix of A, B, and C roads and is topped off with the Kielder Forest Drive trail, which is the ideal test of an adventure tourer's credentials. While the roads are familiar to Gordon Stuart, this was his first time following the actual route and he began his journey in the coastal town of Craster.
“From Craster, I followed the coast north past the 14th century ruin of Dunstanburgh Castle and onto Bambrugh Castle, built some 300 years earlier,” Gordon recalled. “Riding along past these ancient castles and the distinctive coastline, one can see why this area of the Northumberland coast was designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty in 1958.”
Heading up towards Berwick and the Scottish border you need to cross to the stunning Holy Island as it is well worth a look. Although you need to be careful when you head across the causeway at Lindisfarne as it is tidal, meaning that you should check crossing times ahead of your visit. There can be periods of between five and six hours where you are not able to cross. Although, it is absolutely worth it to be able to visit.
“The next stretch of road along the B6401 crosses into Scotland before heading back into England at Carter Bar. This slice of road is a dream to ride with lots of twisty and sharp bends with very little traffic, and views of the Cheviot Hills to the south. Due to some heavy rainfall the night before, the roads were greasy in stretches so I used the V-Strom’s adjustable traction-control and the Suzuki Drive Mode Selector (SDMS) to adjust the bike for the conditions. Limiting the power output and tightening up control of the back wheel was confidence-inspiring and allowed me to enjoy the roads a bit more.”
Once back in England I turned off the tarmac and got to my favourite part of the route, the Kielder Forest Drive. A spectacular 12-mile drive on unsealed forest road, from Blakehopeburnhaugh near the A68 in the east, where I started, to Kielder Castle in the west. The forest drive is one of England's highest roads, peaking at over 1500 feet with some breathtaking views over Northumberland and a perfect route to test the off-road capabilities of the 1050XT.”
After some off-road fun it was time to head back on to the road. This meant riding through the pine forest of Kielder with stunning views of the 10 kilometer long reservoir, which boasted empty long straights and sweeping bends, perfect for trying the V-Strom’s cruise control. A feature which came into its own particularly with the various speed restrictions in the area.
“The route south through Northumberland via Bellingham and Once Brewed are well trodden biking roads that don’t disappoint. The hidden Lamberly viaduct, a 250m long former railway bridge from the 1800s, is a delight to see although it requires parking up the bike at a nearby car park.”
The route bottoms out in the south of Northumberland within the hills at Weardale, hosting another spectacular set of biking roads and views of the sprawling countryside. These roads are busier as you wind back North up to Otterburn, via Corbridge along the A68 with its hairpin turns, undulating roads, and plenty of overtaking spots, there is much to enjoy on this part of the Northumberland 250.
“A full day’s riding was nothing short of wonderful on the 1050XT. Comfortable, powerful, and adjustable for the varying road conditions make this the perfect bike to tackle this spectacular route and others like it across the UK and Europe.”