Whether it’s for a week, a weekend or a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon; there’s nothing like a road trip to blow away the cobwebs, see new places and enjoy some uninterrupted driving time. One of our resolutions for 2019 is to make more car journeys just for pleasure, so we’re sharing our favourite UK road trips with you.
No matter where you live in the UK, there are always opportunities to escape the monotony of the motorway, find some minor roads and make the family road trip more fun. The car journeys we’ve picked in this guide make the most of these winding country roads.
Join us as we take a look at 10 road trips we want to make in 2019, including short routes that are perfect for day trips and longer journeys to take over multiple days.
Short Road Trips for Weekend Day Trips:
1. Cat and Fiddle – Peak District, England
If you’re tired of taking the M62, the famous Cat and Fiddle Road has all the bends you need to get some real driving done. Beloved by bikers for its twisting turns, this 42-mile route is for confident drivers who aren’t put off by bad weather or tough conditions. Those up to the challenge will be rewarded with brilliant views over the Peak District, while the Cat and Fiddle Inn is the perfect place to stop off for some lunch and make a day of it.
2. Helmsley to Staithes – North York Moors, England
The North York Moors are crisscrossed by dozens of excellent driving roads, but two of our favourites are the A170 and A169 connecting Helmsley to the coastal village of Staithes. Over this 50-mile route, you’ll pass through forests, moorlands and quaint villages, and there are loads of opportunities to stop off, have a picnic and admire the view. If you’ve got time, we’d recommend making this a weekend-long trip, as there are loads of cosy inns and B&Bs in the area.
3. Penrith to Haydon Bridge – Cumbria and Northumberland
The Lake District and Northumberland in a single road trip? Yes please. The A686 links Penrith, Cumbria with Haydon Bridge, Northumberland, giving you the ultimate cross-county drive. The AA describes the A686 as one of ‘the greatest drives in Britain’ while Top Gear ranked it the 9th best road in the UK – so there’s no arguing with that. At 36.5 miles, it’s not overly long, but the bends are challenging and there are lots of gradients, so check your tyres before you set off.
4. Black Mountain Pass – Brecon Beacons, Wales
If you fancy driving for the fun of it, there’s no better place than the Black Mountain Pass in Wales’ beautiful Brecon Beacons. As challenging as the Cat and Fiddle, you can expect twisting turns and an ever-changing gradient, so prepare to change gears often. This is where lots of car reviewers come to test the latest models, and is the place where Top Gear filmed their iconic review of the Aston Martin Vantage V12.
5. Fort William to Mallaig – Northwest Scotland
The A830 connecting Fort William to Mallaig on Scotland’s northwest coast is one of those driving routes you’ll want to take again and again. Expect the very best in Scottish scenery as you drive deeper into the Western Highlands, with its deep lochs and forests. There are a couple of great pubs along the way where you can stop for some local Scottish food, and we’d definitely recommend making it part of a longer road trip around Scotland’s northern Highlands and isles.
Long Road Trips for a Weekend or Weeklong Driving Holiday:
6. The North Coast 500
Speaking of longer road trips in Scotland; the North Coast 500 is a designated scenic drive that’s regularly voted one of Britain’s best longer car routes. This round-trip route is about as far-flung as you can get on the mainland, taking in Scotland’s northernmost coastline as well as its Western Isles. The great thing about the North Coast 500 is that, as an official driving route, it’s got its own website, helping you plan your trip down to the smallest detail.
7. Cardiff to Conwy – Wales
Some of Wales’ greatest assets are showcased on the A470 between Cardiff and Conwy. Starting out from Cardiff, you’ll drive through the Brecon Beacons, the Welsh heartland and the Snowdonia National park on your way north. This coast-to-coast route is around 186 miles long, so you’re looking at a 4-5-day trip with regular stop-offs to admire the views and enjoy some local Welsh delicacies.
8. Belfast to Derry/Londonderry – Northern Ireland
Whether you rent a car when you get there or take yours on the ferry; a road trip around Northern Ireland’s bracing north coast won’t disappoint. If you take the coastal route between Belfast and Derry/Londonderry, following the coast rather than taking the direct route, the scenery is seriously impressive. The drive should take around 3-5 days to complete depending on whether you want a more leisurely drive. Make sure to stop off at iconic spots like Dark Hedges and the Giant’s Causeway, and consider carrying on into Ireland to visit Sligo, Enniskillen and Donegal.
9. A82 – Scotland
We’ve been around Scotland, now let’s go through it; the A82 is a famous scenic driving route that connects Glasgow in the south with Inverness in the north, taking in some of the country’s most iconic scenery along the way – including Loch Lomond, Rannoch Moor, Glen Coe, Ben Nevis, Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle. The 167-mile route has its fair share of twists and turns, so it’s great fun as well as attractive.
10. Atlantic Highway – Southwest England
Whether you live in Southwest England or are visiting the area on holiday, don’t miss the chance to complete the Atlantic Highway – easily one of England’s best driving routes. Commonly known as the A39, this scenic road connects Bath, Somerset to Falmouth, Cornwall, taking in some pretty spectacular scenery along the way. The route is only 79 miles in total, but there are plenty of distractions along the way to make it a viable weekend road trip. We’d definitely recommend the stretch between Barnstaple, Devon and Newquay, Cornwall for the very best coastal views.
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