When most people think of road trips, it’s considered a representation of all things Americana: convertible tops down, hair flying in the wind between desert scenery and mountain backdrops. But you don’t have to fly to America to go on a vehicular adventure – there is plenty to see right here at home. From charming villages to awe-inspiring landscapes and small country roads, you’ll find that getting to your destination is half the fun.
Black Mountain Pass, Wales
The Black Mountains are on the west side of the Brecon Beacons National Park. The A4069 is a challenging drive with hairpin turns made famous by Jeremy Clarkson testing the AMG SLK along this route on Top Gear. It’s the perfect road trip for people who love to drive or who want to have spectacular views over the mountains and Swansea Bay.
Outer Hebrides, Scotland
A journey up to Barra means you can drive the whole Outer Hebrides – over 100 miles and two ferries to make the journey down this island chain. While it can be done in a day, you’ll want to take your time appreciating the windswept cliffs, beautiful beaches, and prominent Hebridian hospitality. Every island has its own feeling and scenery: the Uists are great for bird watching, Lewis and Harris are hilly, while Benebecula you’ll find long beaches the unfortunately named Stinky Bay.
Dartmoor Circular, England
Driving through Dartmoor offers some of England’s best views – and the place is dotted with pubs, campsites, and country walks. Start in Mill End where the town is a designated Conservation Area through the High Moorlands in Princetown, stop for a picnic in Tavistock and go for a dip at Lydford Gorge.
Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
The coastal roads around Northern Ireland seem to have been made for exploring by car. From Belfast head up the Antrim Coast Road to see the nine glens of Antrim – named one of the most scenic drives in the world by National Geographic. The Giant’s Causeway trip allows to stop at the Glenariff Forest Park, see the rugged cliffs or Torr Head, and stay in cottages or campsites along the way. Explore the ancient seat of the kings of Ulster before heading east to the Mountains of Mourne and back to Belfast to head home.
Cheddar Gorge, England
A trip to Cheddar Gorge is a great way to see the West Country without heading too far into the countryside. This is a road trip that will allow you to see a few qualities of the country that are distinctively English: Cheddar Gorge has unique local cider and limestone cliffs, it’s close to Bristol, one of England’s most vibrant cities, and it’s not too far from the coast either. You can go from city life to farm vehicles in just one road – just one thing that makes this journey so interesting.
Invergarry to Isle of Skye, Scotland
This driving route takes you up to the Scottish highlands down the A87 to the Isle of Skye. Sweeping mountains lined with lambs, homely bed and breakfasts, and maybe even a little summer snow will take your breath away. You can taste whiskey at Scotland’s best distilleries like Glenfiddich and Danwhinnie along the way, just schedule it for the end of your driving day.
Planning Your Road Trip
Hitting the open road can be a challenging (but rewarding!) experience. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you plan.
- Ensure you have good breakdown cover. If you’ll be spending a few days or more on the road, you don’t want to get stuck on the side of the road – especially if you’re doing a more remote trip!
- Listen for travel updates. Getting stuck in traffic goes against that feeling of being on the open road but sometimes it’s inevitable. If you’re heading up the Scottish highlands, listen out for weather updates – sometimes the roads can freeze.
- Carry water and a safety kit. On the off-chance you do breakdown, a first aid kit, tyre inflators, extra blankets, torches, batteries, and non-perishable snacks in the boot will mean that you are prepared.
- Get plenty of rest. If you’re tired, just take a break. Remember that you have people’s lives in your hands, and that is more important than making it to the next hotel in time for check in.
- Bring a road map. It’s easy to forget to bring one of these in our age of GPS and Google Maps, but you might run out of battery or be on a route that is covered by these apps. A trusted road map is very useful for rural driving and noting campsites and parks.