Driving Britain: 5 Best UK Road Trips

Britain is a relatively small country and therefore it makes the ideal place to do a road trip. Every summer my mother and I would go to visit my grandma in Plymouth, which was a 4-6 hour drive from Manchester depending on the traffic. I used to really look forward to those road trips because I loved the whole experience; listening to music, talking, driving along motorways, stopping at service stations, looking out at the UK countryside and watching for road signs. Sometimes we would take road trips through Devon and Cornwall, following winding country roads and stopping at quaint little towns along the way.

Lake District- Best UK Road Trips

The Lake District

Outside of the cities, the UK has some beautiful rural areas, which makes for a very scenic route. These are 5 of the best UK road trips:

1. The Lake District

Situated in the north west of England, the Lake District national park boasts some of Englands highest peaks and most beautiful scenery. It was the home of Beatrix Potter and the inspiration for famous poets such as Wordsworth and Coleridge.

2. Norfolk Coast

For a nice relaxing journey you can drive the Norfolk Coast from Hunstanton to Great Yarmouth. Don’t miss Burnham Market, also known as “Chelsea-on-sea”, for some upmarket shopping.  Make a stop at the Her Majesty the Queen’s Norfolk retreat, Sandringham, where the house and gardens are open to the public.

3. Yorkshire Moors

Start your trip with some shopping in the trendy city of Leeds, then drive out on the A64 towards York and Malton. 15 miles north of York you can visit Castle Howard, which is one of the grandest mansions in Britain and was used as the filming location for ‘Brideshead Revisited’. Stop the night in Pickering, then continue along the A169 across the bleak but awe-inspiring scenery of the Yorkshire Moors. You’ll arrive in the seaside town of Whitby, which is most associated with Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

4. Scottish Highlands

The Scottish Highlands offer some of the most breathtaking mountain views in Britain. You can also taste whiskey at some of Scotland’s finest distilleries- just remember to book an overnight stay somewhere if you’re going to be having a drop of the hard stuff! You’ll have the chance to sample the best single malts from distilleries such as Glenfiddich, Glenlivet and Dalwhinnie.

5. South West Atlantic Highway

Anyone who says England doesn’t have great beaches hasn’t been to the south west. Follow the A39 along the Atlantic Highway from Bideford all the way to Newquay and make sure you stop in my favourite towns of Port Isaac, Polzeath, Rock and Padstow on your journey.

UK Road Tripping Tips

Driving in the Highlands

  • Make sure you have good breakdown cover because you don’t want to get stuck by the side of the road somewhere if your car breaks down! Keep the breakdown numbers and information in your glove box in case anything happens.

  • Check your tyres to make sure they have enough air and there’s enough tread on them. You can shop online for tyres at National.co.uk
  • Listen out for travel updates on the radio or set up travel updates on your navigation system so you are aware of any accidents or big traffic jams. If you are aware of them, you can do your best to take an alternative route and avoid them. One of your passengers can also check the BBC traffic website on their phone to see any traffic problems.

  • Carry water in the car and plenty of snacks for the journey. Food in the petrol stations isn’t always healthy, so fill up a cool bag with some delicious snacks.

  • Make sure you get plenty of rest if you are tired. Roll the window down to get some fresh air while you are driving and pull over at a service station for a nap. If there are two drivers in the car you might consider taking it in turns to drive.

  • Every couple of hours make a quick stop so you can use the bathroom, stretch your legs and drink some water.

  • Carry an AA road map in the car in addition to your GPS or your mobile phone, as you never know when those things are going to run out of battery. The trusty AA road map is particularly useful for rural situations and it is great for noting down attractions, campsites and national parks. You can pick up a road map in service stations, bookstores and newsagents.

  • If you have children, take some activities for them to do in the car so they don’t get too bored. It might be something as simple as a colouring book or a puzzle, or it could be a video game or a portable DVD player.

  • Start your journey early. My mum used to set off at the crack of dawn or sometimes in the middle of the night so we wouldn’t get stuck in traffic. By starting your road trip early you will find less motorists on the road and you’ll be able to cover a lot more distance.

  • Carry blankets in the car in case it gets cold, particularly at night. Britain is not known for being the warmest of places! If you break down, these will come in useful.

photos by Barry and kiarras on flickr

Victoria Brewood

Hi I'm Victoria, a British girl from Manchester. After graduating from university I decided there was more to life than the hours between 9 and 5, so I packed my journalism degree into my suitcase to travel the world and find a way to make money at the same time. I now call London home, although I still travel whenever I can. I hope to inspire you to be your own boss, live life and see the world.

  • Life Leaps
    Posted at 19:43h, 13 August Reply

    Hi! I’m running a project team right now that is based in the UK, and I ran this by them. They said you are spot-on! But you knew that already :-). Thanks for the post. I look forward to using this when I visit them in the near future.

  • Perran
    Posted at 21:24h, 18 August Reply

    Absolutely agree – as a west country girl myself I have to say any trip to the UK isn’t complete without venturing west of Bristol – Somerset, Devon and Cornwall have some of the most breathtaking views in the country, possibly world, although I’m biased!

  • Tiana Kai
    Posted at 20:59h, 23 August Reply

    This looks great, I am in the works of planning my road trip now so am open to tips like this! I am looking forward to a month of adventure in the UK!

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