If someone uttered the words ‘road trip’, you could be forgiven for automatically thinking of America’s Route 66, or Australia’s East coast. However, we shouldn’t forget the amazing offerings on UK’s own shores.
So, with the music on and windows down — or the roof if you can and the weather permits — here are some of the best road trips the UK has to offer:
The Northern Scottish Coast
Let’s begin right at the top. While the Proclaimers may believe in walking 500 miles, this route of the same distance is more suited to the car. The circular route takes in some of Scotland’s finest countryside, offering up an array of ruins, rugged fairways, castles and beaches for your viewing pleasure along the way.
This peaceful route is an ideal way to escape busy urban life and traffic jams, skirting the coast from Inverness towards Bealach na Bà. With the trip recommended to take between four and seven days, a wise word of warning is it only offers sparse accommodation options, so be sure to plan your pit stops accordingly.
If you are planning on visiting the UK then consider reading our Essential Travel Guide to UK Holidays for the Over 40s?
Northern Ireland’s Scenic Shoreline
Venture across the Irish Sea and, though not as lengthy as its Scottish counterpart, Northern Ireland’s coastal trail is a must for scenery lovers. Offering bustling towns, peaceful lakelands, forests and cliffs, it’s no wonder Lonely Planet labelled the ‘wee country’ a must-visit destination.
Making up a major part of a five-day adventure, be sure to take the Causeway coastal route for exquisite views over the Mull of Kintyre, before taking a break to venture across the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge which hangs tentatively over an 80ft chasm. Bushmills, home to the world’s oldest licensed distillery, is also along the route, before you head towards one of nature’s wonders — the Giant’s Causeway. Make sure you ask the locals about the mythological Finn McCool.
Further places of interest well-worth a visit include the Ulster American Folk Park just outside of Omagh, which details why two million people left Ulster for America in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the ruins of medieval Dunluce Caste which teeters on the edge of the ocean. Northern Ireland really is a green dream.
Wales’ Black Mountain Pass
Just 22 miles in length, it’s simple to complete the Welsh route and head home after a day, but it’s certainly worth spending more time here. The epic mountain road takes in the amazing scenery of the Brecon Beacons and unrivalled views of the Tywi Valley.
BBC’s Top Gear fans have labelled this the ‘Top Gear road’, thanks to Jeremy Clarkson’s journeys on the route, and you’ll be likely to spot rustic farmhouses, farmers and the odd sheep. Its windy roads allow you to test your driving skills as you sweep through the twists and turns down in the valleys. It’s recommended you tackle the route from north to south.
The Cornish Coastal Route
Situated along the Northern coast of Cornwall, this 76-mile stretch begins in Barnstaple and finishes up in Newquay. It takes in some of the most breath-taking coastlines that the UK has to offer. Constantine Bay and Bedruthan Steps are both visible along the route, giving any budding photographers an opportunity to capture the perfect snap.
A stone’s throw from some of the county’s prettiest little fishing villages, as well as being the setting for Doc Martin, the route also known as the A39 leads to a mass of impressive beaches and the picturesque clifftop castle at Tintagel.
Finally, how could we possibly talk about the best UK road trip destinations without including the Lake District? Arguably the most scenic location in Britain, there are as many as 15 wonderful driving routes to take in all it has to offer and bask in its awesomeness. Home of Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth, the North West’s idyllic location offers up an array of stunning landscapes, mountains and pretty towns in which to have a pit stop.
Must-see highlights include the quintessential scenery on show around Keswick, Borrowdale and Buttermere — you’ll be sure to fall in love with the area come rain or shine. Try to take in Lake Windermere for a play about on the water and Coniston Water, where Donald Campbell set many of his water speed records.