From 23 to 268 miles: Britain’s best road trips
If your work holiday allowance runs from January to December, you might be wondering what to do with those last few days of freedom. While it’s tempting to snuggle up and enjoy a duvet day as the cold sets in, there are better ways to spend one or two days off work this Autumn – and they won’t break the bank before Christmas.
To help you make the most of your remaining holidays, we’ve found a range of road trips that take you to some of the UK’s most beautiful spots. From the Brecon Beacons to the Scottish Borders, and from 23 to 268 miles, you’ll find stunning scenery and captivating landmarks that are sure to relax and refresh you before the New Year.
Just pack a bag, hop in the car (or on your bike) and explore the best of the UK with these scenic road trips.
Half a day – The Black Mountain Pass (Brecon Beacons) – 23 miles
If you have half a day to spare, why not tackle The Black Mountain Pass? The A4069 became very well known thanks to a certain Top Gear presenter, and is a demanding stretch of road which dips and twists its way through the breathtaking Brecon Beacons National Park.
Once you’ve completed the challenging 23 miles you can enjoy strolling round the Carreg Cennen castle and the boutiques of Llandeilo, or spend the rest of the afternoon spotting the local wildlife and birdwatching.
If you are thinking of taking on the legendary Black Mountain Pass you’re best booking your time off early in the week, as the route gets particularly busy as the weekend approaches.
A day – The Cat and Fiddle and The Snake Pass (Buxton) – 34.5 miles
Named after the popular biker pubs en route, these testing roads are often tackled together. Taking you from Sheffield and Glossop to Buxton and Macclesfield, hairpin bends and high winds mean this route is best suited to experienced drivers.
The road has superb views, particularly at the start of the descent into Glossop, where you can see to Manchester and beyond on a clear day. If you think you are up for the challenge, be sure to go before the winter weather hits, as wet weather can make the road tricky.
While you are there, make sure you stop at the pubs that the routes are named after, as well as taking time to explore Treak Cliff Cavern, Stanage Edge, Peveril Castle and Jacob’s Ladder.
Two days – Scotland Borders Historic Route (Carlisle to the Scottish Borders) – 89 miles
The Borders Historic Route starts on the outskirts of Scotland near Carlisle, before passing into the lush countryside of the Scottish Borders. Follow the route to Edinburgh and explore the charming villages that you pass en route, before reaching Scotland’s historic capital city.
This two day road trip is 89 miles in total, but you can stop at attractions such as Gretna Green and the National Mining Museum on the way, not forgetting Stewart Brewing’s, Brewery Tour. Just on the outskirts of Edinburgh this is the perfect place to retire for the night, with The Edinbothy proving a popular choice, with parking for the car and several local pubs and restaurants in the surrounding area.
For the second part of your trip, continue to Edinburgh and see all the sights it has to offer – from the castle and Arthur’s Seat to the National Museum.
Three days – A circuit through Yorkshire’s finest – 134 miles
If you have three days to spare, why not take a trip to see why they call Yorkshire ‘God’s own Country’? Start your road trip in picturesque spa town Harrogate, taking a morning to sample tea at the famous Betty’s cafe and browse the local shops. Afterwards, take the A61 towards Ripon, making sure you stop off at Fountains Abbey – one of the largest and best preserved ruined Cistercian monasteries in Britain. Adjacent to the abbey, take a drive around the magnificent National Trust landscape gardens of Studley Royal, before following the A61 northeast to the market town of Thirsk for your overnight stay.
For your second day, head towards the top of the North Yorkshire Moors. Follow the A19, then the A171 for a rewarding drive to the Yorkshire coast and the fishing port of Whitby.
Plenty of inns, pubs and of course, fish and chips, make it the perfect place for your overnight stay.
From Whitby, follow the coastline south past Robin Hood’s Bay as far as Scarborough, Yorkshire’s premier seaside resort, which has plenty of seaside fun and entertainment to keep you busy. From Scarborough, head towards York through farming country on the A64.
Consider a stop on the way back at Eden Camp in Malton, an intact former German POW camp, before finishing your trip in Yorkshire’s county town, York.
A week – Southwest England’s Atlantic Highway (Bath to Land’s End) – 268 miles
Begin your road trip adventure in Bath, taking some time to enjoy the superb Roman remains, glorious Georgian architecture and natural hot spas the town is famous for, before heading towards the World Heritage Site Stonehenge for your first stop. After taking the obligatory tourist shots, take the Bristol Suspension Bridge on the A30 towards Devon.
With friendly locals and grand Downton Abbey-style country hotels, Dartmoor is the perfect overnight stay. In the morning take in the scenery at Dartmoor National Park for stunning views and rare wildlife, before continuing the rest of your trip.
From there, discover a scenic route which takes you into the very heart of the far west through North Devon and North Cornwall along the A39 Atlantic Highway. This 170 mile road boasts the stunning views that have become the hallmark of southwest England. This fantastic drive has everything, from Exmoor National Park for hikes across the hilly moors, to Bude for surfing and Newquay if you fancy a night of partying.
End your trip at Land’s End, one of the country’s most famous landmarks. From the 200 foot high granite cliffs that rise out of the Atlantic Ocean you can gaze across to the Longships Lighthouse, the Isles of Scilly and, beyond that, towards North America.
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