There’s something irresistibly romantic about exploring the back roads; something intrepid about meandering around the dips and curves of unknown countryside. The roof might not be down (this is the UK after all) but cue the tunes, skip the motorway and channel your inner Kerouac to drift along one of these gorgeous road trips during 2018.
1. Peak District: Sheffield-Macclesfield
Cut across the dales of the Peak District for emerald hillocks and swooping roads that would have Top Gear salivating. You can plot your own route, but take in the handsome hot spots of Edale, Buxton and Bakewell if you can.
(Photo by www.johnfinneyphotography.com)
2. Scotland: North Coast 500
A glorious 500-mile stretch of road leading from Inverness Castle out into the rugged roads and staggering coastal scenery of the Scottish highlands, taking in stops such as John O’Groats, Durness and Ullapool, this is the Scottish equivalent of Route-66.
(Photo by www.theweeagency.co.uk)
3. South Wales: Heads of the Valley Road
The A465 leads upwards from Swansea and into the fern-speckled moorland and dramatic peaks of the Brecon Beacons, taking in old mining and market towns along its 40-mile path. Well worth planning a quick hike along the way to make the most of the accessible yet glorious scenery.
(Photo by www.visitwales.com)
4. Yorkshire Dales: Richmond – Ravenstonedale
Cut across the Yorkshire Dales from the refined market town of Richmond to feast your eyes on a patchwork of fields, drystone walls and picturebook villages. Don’t miss the particular beauty of Arkengarthdale, which is studded with waterfalls and twisting, Postman Pat lanes.
(Photo by www.pedalnorth.com)
5. Northumberland: Haydon Bridge – Mickleton
England’s highest waterfall, carpets of heather moorland, steep escarpments and unspoilt scenery lie at either side of some 70 miles of road snaking through this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
(Photo by www.greentraveller.co.uk)
6. The South Downs: London to Winchester
Eschew the M3 south out of London for the more imperious A3, a slower road running loosely in the same direction but taking in the fabulous scenery of the South Downs, known as the lungs of South East England. Meander through the rolling green of the national park before pitching up in the historic cathedral city of Winchester.
(Photo by www.nationalparks.gov.uk)
7. Somerset: Cheddar Gorge and the levels
Join the A371 at Winscombe to take a serpentine drive up the famous Cheddar Gorge (stop for a stomp around the footpath at the top if you have time; views are breathtaking) before heading on out over the Mendips to Wells and then across the glimmering Somerset Levels towards the mysterious Glastonbury Tor, welling up, alone, from the landscape and steeped in ancient history.
(Photo by www.amateurphotographer.co.uk)
8. The Dorset coast
Follow the B3157 out of Dorchester, joining the A3052 at Charmouth to continue to Exeter, for a spectacular coastal drive hugging the Jurassic coastline, so named for its famous fossils.
(Photo by www.dorsetcamper.com)