A simples guide

Exploring the UK’s most breathtaking road trips

You don't need to leave the UK to experience some wonderful road trips. We have some breath-taking routes just on our doorstep, with no flying or sailing required... Just take to the open road.


Choose from meandering country lanes, stunning mountain ranges or invigorating coastal routes, taking in majestic castles, historic homes and charming tea rooms along the way. So get out your picnic hamper, set up the sat nav and let's go...


Try a winding Scottish pass

Bealach na Ba (pass of the cattle) in Wester Ross, Scotland is a spectacular mountain drive over to the coastal village of Applecross. It's not for the faint-hearted: you'll come across hairpin bends, steep drops, red deer and perhaps even a golden eagle. You’ll want to pull over to take in the amazing scenery so remember to take a camera.

Although the route starts at sea level in Kishorn (which has a great fish bar, by the way), at the summit you'll find yourself driving at a lofty 2,053 feet – with a view like a postcard from Switzerland.

Take a break to enjoy the view of the Isle of Skye, Rum and other Outer Hebridian islands. The descent is slightly more sedate, with a gentle run into woodland belonging to Applecross House, with a garden open to visitors.

Not far beyond is the village of Applecross with an inn, shop and access to the pebble beach. You can either enjoy a return journey over the pass or alternatively continue along the coastal road to Shieldaig, 25 miles away.

If you’re visiting in winter though, just bear in mind that the route can be impassable in the winter, so make sure you check before you set off.


A Top Gear favourite

If you like your scenic drives with a celebrity edge, you’re in luck. The A4069 Black Mountain pass, as featured in Top Gear, is a 27 mile stretch that is dramatic and beautiful for the passenger and challenging and exciting for the driver.

Starting at Llandovery (which has a lovely castle to look round before you set off) the road passes over the Brecon Beacons into Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen. Wandering sheep and hairpin bends make this the kind of road that demands attention.

There are plenty of places to stop for a picnic, go for a stroll or just park up with a flask and binoculars to watch the red kites soaring in the sky. If you want to get away from it all then this isolated mountain pass might be just the one for you. 

Meander your way around the Cornish Coast

If you'd rather swap mountains for sea views then you'll love a day or two driving the Cornish coast from St Ives to Land’s End.

It's peppered with dramatic coves, sandy beaches and so many clifftops you'll be spoilt for views. And there’s more than the seascape to enjoy; the gorseland that follows the coastline is beautiful too.

There are hundreds of places to visit on the way, from mines to pagan worship spots, ancient burial grounds to museums. This is definitely a route worth researching before you leave, as your day trip could turn into a two-week holiday if you stop at every tourist spot. www.cornwall-online.co.uk gives plenty of ideas.

And don’t miss the chance of a picnic on one of the many beaches, dipping your toes in the sea, seal or dolphin watching and of course a proper Cornish cream tea en route.

Land's End

A gorgeous experience

A visit to the beautiful town of Cheddar wouldn’t be complete without a journey up the B3135. This road runs through Cheddar Gorge and rises a mighty 450ft in places.

You don't need to be a geologist to enjoy the dramatic cliffs and stunning rock formations that line much of the route.  The gorge itself looms over Cheddar which adds to the excitement.

There are places to stop to head off for a walk and perhaps a picnic, but it can get quite busy so go online for the best visitor tips. The Cheddar Gorge visitor centre is great for a cave walk, rock climbing or just a good look at all the ancient artefacts they have on view.

Preparing for your road trip.

Being prepared makes any trip more enjoyable. Here's what we suggest:

  • Plan your route – years gone by a trip to the library or WHSmith would be required to search through guide books and plot your route. These days, it's just a matter of typing an idea into Google and hey presto! A plentiful supply of endless routes await.

Get top tips and suggestions from fellow travellers, suggesting where to stop (or not), where to eat and where to stay via forums like Tripadvisor.

You can even download an app from the National Trust or English Heritage to show you all its sites, with opening times and prices. Don’t worry if you’re not too tech savvy though, they still send you updates via their newsletter and magazine.

  • Use a sat nav or mobile phone app – Garmin and TomTom have models to suit most budgets.
  • If you don't want to fork out a lot of money you can also download a free app onto your mobile. The Telegraph outlines their favourite 25 best travel apps here. You can use something simple like Google maps or if you plan to park up and walk, try the Ordnance Survey app, which is both a road atlas and ramblers’ companion.
  • Make sure you also have an up to date road atlas – just in case. Remote locations often mean no phone signal.
  • Bring a means to charge your phone/sat nav.
  • Check your car safety kit to make sure you have everything you might need.
  • Do the necessary safety checks to your car.

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