Summer is a season of warmth and blossoming beauty, especially in the UK where the normally cool and moody climate transforms into a landscape of vibrant greens and vibrant blooms. One of the best ways to appreciate this transformation is by exploring the winding roads and picturesque vistas through a road trip, cruising through some of the best summer drive routes the country has to offer. From the dramatic coastal regions of Cornwall to the rugged beauty of Scotland, the UK has something for everyone. Let’s take an in-depth exploration of the best UK summer drive routes.
1. The Atlantic Highway (A39), Cornwall to Devon
Our journey starts in the stunningly beautiful Cornwall region, heading north through the Atlantic Highway. This road trip takes you along the Southwest peninsula, where the Celtic Sea flirts with the coastline, teasing a variety of mesmerising views. It stretches from the surfers’ paradise of Newquay through the charming towns of Bude and Clovelly, and onto the historic village of Lynmouth in Devon. From rugged cliffs and sandy beaches to coastal heaths and quaint harbours, this journey provides ample opportunity to sample local seafood, explore unique seaside shops, and take detours to picturesque attractions such as the Tintagel Castle, the mythical birthplace of King Arthur.
2. The Cotswolds Circuit
The quintessential English countryside experience awaits as you venture into the heart of the Cotswolds. A drive through this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) offers miles of honey-coloured limestone villages, meandering rivers, and vast green meadows. The charming villages of Burford, Bibury, and Chipping Campden make for excellent pit-stops. This circuit can easily be linked from the end of the Atlantic Highway, continuing the road trip into a completely different landscape.
3. The Black Mountain Pass, Brecon Beacons, Wales
Heading into Wales, the A4069, or the Black Mountain Pass, offers a captivating drive through the Brecon Beacons National Park. Popular with motoring enthusiasts due to its series of hairpin turns, sweeping bends, and steep gradients, the drive also rewards with majestic views of the Welsh landscape. Don’t miss Llyn y Fan Fach, a glacial lake situated in the western part of the Brecon Beacons. This stretch of road is relatively short but packed with natural beauty and thrills, making it a must-visit for any road trip enthusiast.
4. The Snake Pass, Peak District
Heading back into England and venturing northwards, you encounter the Snake Pass in the Peak District. The A57 or “Snake Pass” winds its way between Manchester and Sheffield, offering stunning views of the Peak District National Park. Notable for its serpentine shape, the pass snakes through forested valleys and open moorlands, presenting changing landscapes that will keep you captivated throughout. Stop off at Ladybower Reservoir for a pleasant walk and a picture-perfect picnic spot.
5. The A686 from Penrith to Haydon Bridge
Labelled by the AA as one of the “greatest drives” in Britain, the A686 road trip takes you from Penrith in Cumbria, through the breathtaking landscapes of the North Pennines to the historic village of Haydon Bridge. This route showcases some of the best vistas in England, featuring panoramic views from Hartside Pass and a journey through the charming, stone-built village of Alston.
6. The North Coast 500, Scotland
Our final route, the North Coast 500, is the crown jewel of UK road trips. Often referred to as Scotland’s Route 66, the North Coast 500 offers an epic journey around the northernmost points of the Scottish mainland. Starting and ending at Inverness, the route traverses a variety of landscapes from eerie lochs and towering mountains to dramatic sea cliffs and pristine beaches. Key highlights include the fairytale-esque Dunrobin Castle, the mysterious Loch Ness, and the spectacular sea stacks at John o’ Groats. Make sure to enjoy some of the local Scotch Whisky at one of the many distilleries along the route.
Each of these routes offers a unique perspective of the UK’s diverse landscapes, a blend of scenic vistas, history, and cultural experiences. So pack your bags, fuel up your vehicle, and prepare your senses for a summer drive that will not only enchant your vision but also enrich your understanding of the British Isles.
There is also no better feeling than seeing these routes in a luxury car you have won. Join the Good Life Plus Car Giveaway for your chance to win a car for free and tour around these great spots in style!