It’s no secret that one of Britain’s greatest treasures is its countryside. Through the ages, the British have moulded their rural environment, making it more and more idyllic while also managing to make it appear a pure work of Mother Nature. Those rolling hills with their green fields, low stone walls and charming villages are an irresistible combination. Here are three routes that allow you to take an eco-friendly drive through the countryside in an electric car.
The Lake District National Park is a must-see for nature lovers. What will remain in your mind’s eye after your visit? Most certainly the varied shades of green ochre and blue that are so characteristic of this place, its fresh scent and the scenery that transmits serenity and beauty alike. The Lake District is an incredible location that has been honoured by poets from the region such as William Wordsworth. It was he who publicly declared the need to protect this natural area, so it could be enjoyed by everyone. And time proved him right, as in 1951, the Lake District became a National Park.
Our route starts in Windermere, home to the beautiful navigable lake of the same name. The longest lake in England at 17 kilometres, it offers multiple ways to discover it. Windermere itself is one of the epicentres of the Lake District, with a railway station that is easy to reach from the main British cities. It also offers the option of easily renting an electric car by the hour, a luxury that enables you to explore the area in an budget-friendly and sustainable way.
After leaving Windermere we head for Ullswater and Red Screes ridge. The hill itself is 776 metres high but the car park is at an altitude of 454 metres, so the climb itself is not at all difficult. If you prefer to enjoy the view from a pub, then the Kirkstone Pass Inn is the place for you, with its rustic interiors and five hundred years of history.
Ullswater is the second largest lake in the National Park. The Inn on the Lake Hotel is the ideal place to stop and it has a free electric car charging station, so you can recharge the car if needed. During the wait, you can grab a snack or even have lunch and enjoy the fantastic views.
The next stop on our route could be the Aira Force waterfall, before a mandatory stop at Castlerigg Neolithic stone circle, one of the most spectacular cromlechs in the country. Close by is Keswick, a delightful village with its curious Pencil Museum and a popular market. If your stomach is starting to growl, the afternoon tea served at the Borrowdale Hotel is one of the best in the area.
Our route takes us south along the A-591. After passing the Thirlmere reservoir, we continue again along one of those typical, winding, country roads with their attractive dry-stone walls. The last stop before we reach Ambleside could be Rydal Cave, a man-made and extremely photogenic cave created from a slate quarry.
Our final destination, Ambleside, with its characteristic houses made of slate, is one of the prettiest villages in the Lake District. This Victorian-style village receives many visitors who choose it as a base for longer stays. One pub with great views where you can relax at the end of the day is the Drunken Duck Inn.
Inverness is the largest city in the Highlands and its cultural epicentre. This route starts here, taking us along some of the most beautiful roads in the Scottish Highlands, the birthplace of legends and myths, with its lush green meadows and open spaces that stretch as far as the eye can see. Before setting out on the journey, you would be wise to get a ChargePlace Scotland RFID car charge access card, which gives you access to the public network of 2,000 charge points.
The first stop on this route is the famous Loch Ness, which has a surface area of 56 square kilometres. It would be a shame to go there without keeping your eyes peeled for the elusive monster, Nessie. If you decide to explore the shores and surroundings of the lake (which has a perimeter of just over 100 kilometres and is located on a quiet road), stop at the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition car park, where there is an electric car charge point with spectacular views that will make the wait worthwhile.
Our next stop is Fort Augustus, at the southern end of the lake. Located near the Caledonian Canal, it has wonderful views of the surrounding area. There you can have lunch at the Scottish pub The Bothy, a restaurant inside a cosy cottage that is over two-hundred years old. As for the menu, it includes the classic dishes of the north, such as vegetable broth, haggis and smoked salmon.
Fort William, which you can get to along the impressive A82, is a magical place at the foot of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK, with an altitude of 1,345 metres. It is easy to reach on the Jacobite Steam Train, which also doubled as the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films! Fort William is also the perfect site for practising what is known as slow tourism, with a surprising range of outdoor activities such as survival adventures and foraging for food with Wildwood Bushcraft. Practically all the pubs in the area have that unmistakeable aroma of pure malt whisky and real traditional ale that is so typical of the region, but a good option for lunch is the Scottish seafood restaurant Crannog, on the boat landing. If you need a charge point, there is one at the Camanachd Crescent car park.
If you have time before continuing to our final destination, Tyndrum, turn off to the west to visit the beautiful Mallaig Bay, which is one hour away. Travelling along the Road to the Isles (the A830), which they say is one of the most beautiful highways in the world, means discovering beaches with crystal clear waters and golden sand, heather-dotted moorland and woods that seem straight from a fairy-tale.
Tyndrum, a small village near Glen Lochy, will be our last stop. There, the Real Food Café has a car charge point, and also serves excellent fish and chips and delicious options for vegetarians and vegans.
This part of northern England is not that well known, which means you can enjoy its beauty away from the crowds.
This route, with a distance of just fifty-five kilometres, has a little bit of everything: sea, mountains and plenty of peace and quiet. The location of one of the most attractive highways in England, the area is home to hundreds of castles and forts - the largest concentration in England. Starting out from Amble, we head for Warkworth, a small village on the coast that is part of the protected landscape of the Northumberland Coast with its marvellous mediaeval castle and monastery, Warkworth Castle. There, breakfast at Bertram’s is always a good option, whether it be porridge, or a full English, both made using local ingredients.
Our next stop is Alnwick, which is home to Alnwick Castle. Dubbed the Windsor of the north, it has a history of almost one thousand years and is the second largest inhabited castle in England. Those who like rural pubs may also want to travel the 15 kilometres that separates the town from The Ship Inn, one of the most acclaimed gastropubs in the area, with its own microbrewery and a menu that is focused on local produce and delicious “old-fashioned” desserts such as apple crumble and sticky toffee pudding.
To end our trip, we take the B6341, a show in itself, and head for Elsdon, in the heart of Northumberland National Park. The views of the Cheviot and Simonside Hills are one of the most memorable parts of the road trip, which runs parallel to the River Coquet for several kilometres. Between Rothbury - a tiny village where it is worth stopping if there’s time - and Thropton, we can see several farmsteads and authentic scenes of everyday country life. On our arrival, we are greeted by the last of the castles at Eldson.