10 unforgettable driving routes in Britain

Monday 22 June 2020
An Aston Martin on The Wales Way, North Wales.

Escape Britain's motorways and visitors are often amazed at what they discover. From mountain passes to scenic coastal drives, Britain has plenty of stunning driving routes that are ideal to build a driving holiday around.


1. A82 - Loch Lomond to Loch Ness

This scenic route is widely regarded as one of the most iconic in Britain. Starting in Glasgow, the A82 stretches north into the Scottish Highlands, passing Loch Lomond before heading into arguably the highlight of the route – Glencoe. This stunning area has been called the most spectacular location in Britain, and one look makes it easy to see why. Film buffs will also recognise the area from the James Bond film, Skyfall.

After Glencoe, the A82 rounds Loch Leven before passing through Fort William. On this stretch of road, drivers are able to spot Britain’s tallest mountain Ben Nevis towering above them. Those feeling particularly adventurous often stop in Fort William and attempt to climb the mountain’s peak.

Continue north on the A82, and encounter another iconic British location – Loch Ness. Drive alongside the Loch and try to spot the legendary Loch Ness Monster, or stop off and take a relaxing walk around the area to finish the road trip in style. The ruins of Urquhart Castle date back to the medieval period and stand proudly overlooking Loch Ness too. Trace 1,000 years of history while taking in the remarkable nature that surrounds this majestic landmark.

The 140-mile route can be completed in around three-and-a-half hours, but it’s worth stopping off at numerous locations along the way to take in the sights!


2. A3055 - Military Road (Isle of Wight)

Running parallel with the west coast of the Isle, the A3055 (aka Military Road) is a road trip that should be taken sooner rather than later, as erosion along the coast could see parts of the road disappear! Landslides have reduced some sections of the road to single file traffic and marker boards along the route will illuminate to shut it immediately in the event of another landslide.

The A3055 dates backs to the mid-18th century when it formed a key part of the island’s military infrastructure. Linking St Catherine’s Point, near Chale, with Freshwater Bay to the west, the 11-mile route may be short, but it offers a wealth of sweeping ocean views and memorable country landscapes. No stopping is allowed on the section of road between Brook and Freshwater Bay as it is a designated Clearway, but there are a number of official car parking areas where travellers can stop to enjoy the views.


3. B3135 - Cheddar to Ashwick

Cutting a route through the Mendip Hills, designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the B3135 twists its way through cliffs and a gorge in central Somerset. Primarily known for its cheese, the village of Cheddar is also surrounded by lush, scenic country routes. Adventurous drivers can look forward to navigating the tight, winding bends through the spectacular Cheddar Gorge, before sweeping turns lead to the quiet village of Ashwick.

Despite not being the longest drive - around 14 miles - the stunning surroundings make for an unforgettable trip to England’s West Country. There’s plenty of other attractions in the area too, but none offer a sense of adventure quite like a drive through Cheddar Gorge. Set aside around 30 minutes to complete the route.


4. Wrynose and Hardknott Pass

For those dreaming of a road-trip challenge, Wrynose and Hardknott Pass is ready and waiting. Featuring some of the steepest roads in Britain (Hardknott Pass has a 33% gradient at one point), this route is not for the faint-hearted.

However, those who do brave the route one day will be treated with spectacular views across the Lake District, along with one hell of a story to tell when they head home. The single track route has plenty of twists and turns between the picturesque village of Eskdale and the town of Ambleside. It also passes the Hard Knott Fort, once one of the loneliest outposts of the Roman Empire. Built between 120 and 138AD, the archaeological site overlooks the pass which forms part of the Roman road linking Ravenglass to Ambleside, and Brougham to Penrith.


5. Evo Triangle

Named after Evo magazine which often uses this route to test or review new cars, the Evo Triangle combines three roads in North Wales. Starting on the A5 near Cerrigydrudion, head west towards the quiet village of Pentrefoelas, before taking a right turn onto the A543, where the Evo Triangle really starts to shine.

Tight bends and sweeping vistas make the uphill climb a joy, with the road veering off ahead almost endlessly. Eventually, the route will pass the Sportsman’s Arms, before taking a right onto the B4501. This is arguably the finest stretch of the route, featuring panoramic views across the Alwen Reservoir and a twisting, turning road that supplies plenty of thrills. At just over 20 miles, the route takes around 30 minutes to complete, and drivers might even see the latest sports cars being tested!


6. Alnmouth to Lindisfarne

Driving through the countryside can sometimes be a chore, but not on the Northumberland Coast. This route from Alnmouth to Lindisfarne Nature Reserve follows the coast, offering spectacular views across the North Sea. The Northumberland Coast is also littered with castles, towering above the roads on hillsides; Bamburgh Castle is a particular highlight on this route. Originally the site of a Celtic fort, the imposing stone castle was built in the 12th century and its walls have witnessed dark tales of rebellion and bloodshed.

At the end of the journey lies Lindisfarne, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a historic gem in northern England.  The sight of the first Viking invasion in 793AD, Holy Island and Lindisfarne Castle are both picturesque from afar. Those who intend to get closer, beware; the causeway leading to Holy Island becomes unusable at certain points because of tidal shifts! Expect to spend around an hour driving the route, although there are numerous opportunities to stop and admire the scenery along the way.


7. Bealach na Ba

Historically used to drive livestock across the mountains, Bealach na Ba (aka Pass of the Cattle in English) has been transformed into one of the most scenic drives in Britain. It’s a little intimidating at first, but any worries will all melt away near the midpoint, thanks to glorious views across the Scottish Highlands.

The winding single-track road dates back to 1822 and was engineered in a similar vein to the great mountain routes in Alpine Europe. There’s no complex directions to follow on this one; just follow the road south of Tornapress towards Applecross, before ascending across the Bealach na Ba. There’s plenty of stopping points along the 11-mile route, so make sure to get out and take time to enjoy the view!


8. A470 - Brecon Beacons to Snowdonia

The A470 runs across most of Wales, linking Cardiff in the south with Llandudno in the north, and if drivers venture northwards on the road, they’ll be able to see some of the best views that the country has to offer. North of Merthyr Tydfil, the A470 enters the Brecon Beacons National Park, with its rolling hills and near endless horizon.

Continue onwards and the A470 heads into the Welsh countryside, passing through numerous tiny villages and communities. There’s plenty of opportunity to break off and explore the surroundings, but stick with the A470 to eventually arrive in Snowdonia. Along the way, drivers will find themselves surrounded by mountains in the distance and views that just keep getting better.

A mix of single carriageway roads and sweeping dual carriageways, the 178-mile route can be completed in around four-and-a-half hours. The Cambrian Way, a journey across the mountainous spine of Wales, follows much of the A470, with additional detours to sites including Welsh Royal Crystal at Rhayader and Adventure Parc Snowdonia.


9. Snake Pass

Located in the Peak District, Snake Pass provides a route across the Pennines between the market town of Glossop and Sheffield. As one might expect from the name, Snake Pass is full of curves and bends, with each one offering a glorious view of its own. In the late summer, heather blooms across the surrounding hills, bathing the area in a gorgeous purple colour – it’s a spectacular sight.

Once the main route linking Sheffield to Manchester when it opened in 1821, Snake Pass experiences regular snowfall in the winter months and is often closed during these periods. It’s popular with bikers and cyclists during the rest of the year, with a leisurely drive along the 20-mile route taking in the region of 30 minutes.


10. B3306 - St Ives to St Just

The B3306 might not be the quickest route between St Ives and St Just, but it’s definitely the most exciting. A 13-mile stretch of coastal road, the B3306 twists and turns between quaint villages and hills sloping down to the ocean.

The B3306 follows the ‘Tin Coast’ of the Penwith peninsula and near Trewellard is the Levant Mine and Beam Engine, part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site, which is home to numerous surviving mine buildings and a restored 1840s engine. Or venture to Pendeen, to see the Geevor Tin Mine, a well-preserved museum that stands as it was left by the miners in 1990.

For more information contact:

VisitBritain Media Team


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