The people of the United Kingdom love a good old fashioned road trip. Hopping into our vehicle of choice and hitting the open road is just something we, the people of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, seemingly can’t get enough. What is it, though, that makes road trips in the UK so special? Is it the road signs? Is it the packed lunches? To be totally honest with you, it is neither of those things. The simple fact is that the UK offers some of the world’s most scenic drives, with the four countries that make up ‘the kingdom’ each home to some very nice roads in their own right.
We say that dream road trip in the USA can wait and that you should explore the roads of the UK first. Whether you’re looking for a quick drive in the outdoors or a longer multi-day route, there’s so much adventure to be had on this list below (and on these islands on which we reside).
North Coast 500 (Scotland)
Route: Inverness Castle (start and finish)
Distance: 516 miles (830 km)
Duration: 1-7 days
If our Scotland Issue wasn’t enough of an indication already, we’re big fans of the land up north. The first route on our list of UK road trips is one that stretches over 500 miles, and one that serves up ample opportunities to explore the Scottish Highlands from your launchpad of Inverness.
The freedom of the open road is exactly what you’ll experience when you take on this trip, that and Scotland’s finest scenery of course. The first port of call on this looped road trip is the world famous Loch Ness. Bonus points for anyone who spots a monster swimming in the murky waters of the most voluminous lake in the UK.
The North Coast 500 is an absolute must for any true road trip enthusiast. Whether it’s the west coast section to Applecross or the northerly coastal points like Caithness and John o’ Groats, it feels like every part of the route gives you something special to experience. Perhaps the greatest Scottish sight though can be found on your discovery of Ullapool. This picturesque village is at the heart of one of the least spoilt natural environments in the UK.
If taking just one look at the Kylesku Bridge (pictured above) doesn’t make you immediately want to dive into exploring the North Coast 500, then we don’t know what will.
Route: Cirencester to Gloucester
Distance: 91 miles (146 km)
Duration: 1-3 days
The working week can be hard to get away from and often leaves you with little time for exploring. The Cotswolds though offers you a weekend escape that’s full to the brim with quaint little villages, and never-ending options for pub lunches. Village hopping is the perfect way to spend your time in this neck of the woods. It’s an approach that means you’ll get to experience everything from the rural landscapes to the stone-built settlements.
Start in the market town of Cirencester that lies on the lower dip slopes of the Cotswolds Hills. Here you’ll find the River Chum, which is the first tributary river of the River Thames. After this, get yourself to the towns of Upper Slaughter and Stow-on-the-Wold. Be sure to check out the beautiful gabled Manor House, which is far and away one of the most striking buildings in the area.
In fact, the Manor is now a hotel and a great, albeit pretty fancy, place to rest one’s head before moving along. The road trip concludes in Gloucester, a place that offers up some attractions to explore in the shape of Gloucester Cathedral and the areas’s Historic Docks.