By: Lisa Harper
If like us you’re suffering from January blues, then there’s nothing better than planning your next holiday to boost your spirits. As champions of British motoring, we thought we’d share some of our favourite holiday destinations that also offer great driving opportunities.
Best for those seeking adventure
Snowdonia offers it all - dramatic mountains, stunning scenery, captivating coastlines, quaint villages and a thrill seekers delights! There’s something for every member of the family to enjoy. Re-investment in an area once renowned for mining have seen some innovative diversification, from underground trampolines in abandoned mines, to adrenaline raising zip lines Snowdonia doesn’t disappoint for those looking for something different. For those after a slower pace don’t worry, Snowdonia also offers a stunning coastline, countless castles and delightful villages complete with requisite tearooms and souvenir shops.
Our must do drive
The A4086 is our must drive road in Snowdonia. The A4086 takes you through the raw and natural beauty of North Wales and will not fail to stir your soul. Start in the Royal Town of Caernarfon with its impressive castle and travel along the A4086 to the small village of Capel Curig. En route you’ll skirt past Wales’s highest peak Snowdon and pass through the village of Llanberis, where you can hop on the Snowdon railway and travel up the peak in ease, or for those who like a challenge lace up your your walking boots and get hiking.
The drive allows you to see an impressive array of welsh scenery, including heather clad grasslands, glimmering lakes, and foreboding mountains. Expect tight turns, roads that unexpectedly narrow, steep climbs and exciting dips that are sure to turn your stomach.
Great for people who love to stay active
The New Forest has a lot to offer as a holiday destination and is a fantastic place to head for those who love to get out and explore. Whilst the New Forest is great for exploring in your car be prepared for a lot of narrow roads and the need to give way to the resident New Forest ponies that roam freely.
Get an essence of the New Forest in this gently meandering drive from Lyndhurst to Beaulieu via Brockenhurst.
Starting in Lyndhurst you’ll experience this quaint and bustling town that was once Williams the Conqueror’s Royal Hunting Ground. After exploring the town head out of Lyndhurst on the A35 towards Christchurch. After passing Highland water, you need to watch out for a right turn heading towards Brockenhurst. This takes you on the Rhinefield road (also known as Rhinefield Ornamental Drive) a delightful stretch of narrow road lined with large trees and rhododendrons, which is best seen in late May or early June when the rhododendrons are in full bloom.
Continue through to Brockenhurst, officially named the most beautiful place to live in the UK, where we recommend making a stop to see if you can catch sight of the ponies, cattle or deer who wander freely around the village. Following that it’s time to head out of Brockenhurst on the B3055 towards Beaulieu experiencing the glorious British countryside, from green pastures to heather clad moorland on winding roads. The delights continue as you reach Beaulieu which is the home of the National Motor Museum, a must visit if you’re a lover of British motoring.
Take care when driving as the native New Forest ponies, appear where you least expect!
Best for relaxed driving
The Cotswolds offer a delightful mix of quaint English villages, glorious countryside and thriving market towns. With a great range of A and B roads the Cotswolds is perfect for exploring in your car.
There’s plenty to see within the Cotswolds from quaint honey coloured cottages, winding streams and lush green landscapes. Wherever you go there are great pubs, cosy tearooms and delicious deli’s a plenty. We recommend Chipping Campden for its extensive selection of independent shops and Burford if you love antiques. Bourton on the Water is a charming village which the River Windrush flows right through and is known as the Venice of the Cotswolds. Kingham is a beautiful picture postcard village and is worth a trip, whilst Naunton is a great place if you’re looking for a less touristy place to the soak up the atmosphere of the Cotswolds.
Exploring the Cotswolds is all about returning to a relaxed pace of a bygone era and just enjoying the drive so there’s no one route we would particularly recommend just go with the flow and see where it takes you. However for a truly indulgent experience we do recommend hiring a classic car (preferably a convertible) so you can meander (roof down) in style around this green and glorious patch of Britain.
Best for those with a head for heights and sense of adventure
The Lake District is home to some of Britain’s most spectacular scenery and one the most visited National Park within the UK. The perfect place for a driving holiday the Lake District offers challenging, winding narrow roads surrounded by spectacular scenery, from domineering mountains to charming valleys and of course glistening lakes. Whether you base yourself in one place and travel out each day or you choose to meander your way around frequenting the delightful B&B’s or hotels on offer, you won’t be disappointed.
If there is one thing your visit to the Lakes must include its driving through Hardknott Pass into Wrynose Pass. With a 1in 3 (33%) gradient it is one of the steepest roads in England. Not for the faint hearted you’re required to navigate steep climbs and hairpin bends, on a road that for the main part only accommodates one car. You’ll have to be prepared to give way to oncoming vehicles, with at least some skilled reversing required to make it back to a passing point. But it’s all worth it for spectacular views that stretch out over the Lake District.
We recommend making at least a few stops on the way, to look back upon the stretch of road you’ve just successfully conquered and to take in the breath-taking surroundings. For a picnic stop we’d definitely recommend the Roman Fort at the Eskdale end of Hard Knott Pass. One of the loneliest outposts of the Roman Empire, you can freely wander through the remaining ruins and be in total awe of the Romans and their ability to build in such a remote spot.
Great for those looking for ultimate escapism
Located off the west coast of Scotland in the Firth Cylde on the Isle of Arran you’ll find everything from stunning scenery and amazing wildlife to outstanding local produce. Known as Scotland in miniature it offers two distinct regions with the North being wilder and more rugged and the south being more cultivated. Whilst you’re on the Island why not see if you can spot any of Arran’s big 5 - red deer, golden eagles, common seals, otters or red squirrels.
The 56mile circular drive around the coast of the island allows you to experience the delights of the entire Island. Experience views of craggy highlands in the north, low lying fresh pastureland to the south and an ever changing sea view as you circumnavigate the island. There’s also a handful of smaller roads branching off the main road that take you into the mountains and are well worth exploring. The leisurely nature of this trip means we highly recommend making frequent stop offs at the side of the road to explore further on foot, or take some amazing photos of the primordial landscape.
Be prepared Scottish Islands are known for quick changing weather, you may start the day with balmy blue skies and end with a tumultuous brooding skyline. In our view it all adds to the intensity of the drive.
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