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We Brits are so lucky to have contrasting landscapes that are just calling out to be explored and what better way to enjoy them than on a UK road trip? So continue reading as we reveal 10 of the best road trips in the UK that you need to take.
Here in Britain, we are a nation of motorists. Our roads are some of the busiest in Europe, and overall, there is almost a quarter of a million miles of roadway in the UK. Impressive though this is, it does not change the fact that for many, driving in Britain is a tiresome task, reminiscent of long delays, pesky speed cameras and dull scenery.
If you are heading on a UK holiday this year, I’d wager that you’re dreading the drive. However, fear not fellow motorist, for all is not lost. Should you choose to bypass the motorway and opt for a minor A or B road, you’ll often be met with charming views, sweeping bends and an endless supply of fascinating villages, hamlets and towns that you wouldn’t know existed from the comfort of the fast lane.
In need of some road trip ideas to escape the tedium of the motorway? Take a look at 10 of the best UK road trips below…
Considered the UK’s answer to America’s iconic Route 66 is this scenic road trip around the north coast of Scotland. The 500-mile-long road trip begins and ends in the northern city of Inverness and weaves across to the west coast to Applecross, then towards Ullapool. From here, be sure to make a stop off at the stunning Achmelvich Beach, boasting pure white sands and crystal blue waters. It is little wonder that it made our list of the UK’s most exotic beaches.
Afterwards, the North Coast 500 takes you to some of the most northerly coastal points in mainland Britain, with highlights including the Cape Wrath and the village of John o’ Groats. From here, venture south to catch a glimpse of Dunrobin Castle and to explore the beautiful Rogie Falls, before returning to Inverness.
A perfect road trip for enjoying some of Scotland’s finest mountain scenery, fairytale castles and sublime beaches.
Distance: 516 miles
Trip length: At least 5 – 7 days is recommended
The first of our England road trip recommendations, the A591 is one of England’s favourite scenic routes. It can be a pretty busy route at times; after all, it does link Keswick and Kendal, two of the Lake District’s most popular towns. Do not let that put you off though, because this is not a drive you will want to rush.
It’s not a surprise that this less than 30-mile scenic drive came out on top of the best UK road trips, with its roads running along award-winning scenery. Must see spots along the road trip include Lake Windermere, the village of Grasmere, home to the famous Sarah Nelson’s Gingerbread Shop and the reservoir of Thirlmere.
A nice road trip to discover some of the best sights within the Lake District National Park.
Distance: 29.8 miles
Trip length: Just over an hour
Begin the scenic drive from the tiny fishing village situated on the western tip of the Llŷn Peninsula, boasting a wide sandy beach before travelling across “Snowdon’s Arm” to visit Portmeirion. This enchanting Italianate village is home to a cluster of quaint cottages, stylish shops and award-winning restaurants, making a great pit stop on your road trip.
Catch the final glimpses of the Llŷn Peninsula as you journey south, heading past the bustling beach in Barmouth and stopping off at New Quay for a dolphin spotting adventure. Continue along the Pembrokeshire coast, where you will find a handful of hidden beaches before reaching your final destination, the city of St David’s.
With rolling mountains to one side and the breath-taking coastline on the other, this is a great road trip to enjoy the best of both worlds in Wales.
Distance: 180 miles
Trip length: Up to 7 days
The Cat and Fiddle, aka, Buxton to Macclesfield, is one of the best scenic drives in the UK, taking its name from a rustic country pub that just happens to be the second highest public house in the UK. This famously bendy route is hotspot for motorcyclists, but drivers will be in their element too thanks to the route’s stunning views over Greater Manchester, the Cheshire Plain and the Peak District National Park.
Other highlights of the road trip include Poole’s Cavern, a two-million-year-old natural limestone cave on the edge of Buxton and Tegg’s Nose Country Park, an area rich in wildlife.
Therefore, if you are seeking an exciting journey to complete in less than a day, with lunch at the Cat and Fiddle pub, then this is perfect for you.
Distance: 11.1 miles
Trip length: Up to 30 minutes
Thanks to its undulating terrain, North Yorkshire is a dream for motorists. Consequently, all that rolling countryside caused a real headache for Victorian railway builders, who were forced to tunnel and bridge their way across the county. Their most iconic construction is easily the Ribblehead Viaduct, a 400m bridge featuring no less than 24 stone arches; have your passenger snap a shot or two as you speed along this scenic UK road.
Distance: 0.8 miles
Trip length: Less than 10 minutes
Hugging the Atlantic coast is our next UK road trip, found in Northern Ireland. This 120-mile-long scenic drive begins in the bustling city of Belfast and journeys along the dramatic coastline to Londonderry. So strap in your seatbelts, because you are promised some incredible sights that will astound you.
Day one of the journey can be spent exploring the iconic attractions within the city centre, including Titanic Belfast, the World’s largest Titanic visitor experience before leaving the bright city lights and cruising towards the Glens of Antrim on the coast.
Walk on water at The Gobbins, visit the fairy-tale Glenarm Castle and soak up the striking views at Cushendun, which Game of Thrones fans will recognise immediately. Journey along the coast further and sway above the waves as you cross Carrick-a-Rede before visiting Giant’s Causeway, a geological wonder with mind-blogging beauty.
Finally, soak up the sunshine at the beaches of Portstewart and Portrush before catching your rest within the histrionic city of Londonderry.
Distance: 120 miles
Trip length: 3-5 days
Featured in the Grand Depárt of the Tour De France 2014, Buttertubs Pass is a very popular scenic road winding through the beloved Yorkshire Dales. This picturesque carriageway takes its name from the neighbouring potholes where dairy farmers would rest on their way to market, and features some superb sweeping bends.
A testing drive, with long and steep climbs, rewarding you with breath-taking views of the two Yorkshire dales of Wensleydale and Swaledale.
Browse through our Yorkshire Dales Travel Guide for further inspiration on how to spend your time in this part of Yorkshire.
Distance: 6.8 miles
Trip length: Up 20 minutes
Start the zigzag journey west through North Devon, stopping off at picturesque spots such as Bude and immersing yourself in the mythical history of Tintagel Castle, linked with the legend of King Arthur.
Afterwards, the carriageway takes you into Cornwall, where you can look forward to making a pit stop at the attractive fishing village of Port Isaac, which doubles up as Portwenn in the television series Doc Martin.
Continue on the journey to discover the stretch of coastline that is Bedruthan Steps before completing the journey in the ever-popular seaside town of Newquay, where a range of attractions are awaiting.
Ultimately, those who choose this scenic drive will be treated to rugged greenery on one side and a glimpse of Britain’s most loved coastline on the other.
Distance: 77 miles
Trip length: 3-4 days
Meandering through the Brecon Beacons, the Black Mountain Road has long been popular amongst motorists, and featured on an episode of the popular motoring show, Top Gear. Here, amid the timeless beauty of the Beacons, this glorious 27-mile road offers exhilarating bends, fast straights and plenty of scenic eye candy for both driver and passenger.
This Top Gear favourite road trip starts off in Llandovery before tackling the challenging road across the Brecon Beacons, sitting at 1,624ft above the sea level. Be sure to take advantage of the number of laybys to snap a shot of the surrounding National Park before taking off again, avoiding the sheep that meander aimlessly on the roads.
Since filming back in 2011, the popularity of this route has erupted, so best to avoid on weekends and plan your Welsh road trip during the weekday.
Distance: 14.8 miles
Trip length: Up to 30 minuets
Chiselling through the Mendip Hills, Cheddar Gorge is widely considered to be one of the Britain’s greatest natural wonders. By far the best way to see this majestic limestone pass is via the meandering stretch of tarmac that runs through its centre; just watch out for slow lorries when you’re heading uphill.
Begin the road trip at the village of Cheddar, boasting superb scenery with magnificent cliff faces on either side of the route. Sweep through the gorge and keep your camera close to catch a great shot before exiting the natural wonder. The next section of the scenic drive sees the rocks replaced with trees and the gradient becomes gentler, concluding this short road trip.
Spend a moment or two within the village of Ashwick, where you will find a choice of four pubs for refreshments before discovering the rest of Somerset.
Distance: 14 miles
Trip length: Up to 30 minutes
For more travel inspiration or to plan your next holiday route, take a look at our very own Travel Guide or if you are seeking a place to stay, take a look through thousands of holiday cottages available across the UK. Be sure to take a break on your UK road trip and visit one of these service stations in the UK!
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