The Top 10 Best UK Road Trips

Thanks to his novel 'On the Road', the writer Jack Kerouac is synonymous with the concept of the road trip but he didn't invent it. That honour goes to Berta Benz, wife of Karl Benz, the inventor of the first, practical automobile, who undertook the first properly recorded drive in 1888. She started a love affair with the road trip that has never dimmed, especially here in the UK.

That's because we're blessed with wonderful locations for great road trips. Some, such as Scotland's North Coast 500 are carefully plotted affairs and no less enjoyable for that. On the other hand, there's no reason why you can't just make up your own. A circular route is a good idea or else consider combining your trip with a regular journey. With summer in full swing, we bring you 10 of our favourite UK road trips.


1. South West Coastal 300

Where: Dumfriesshire and Ayrshire

How far: 300 miles

Why: For the quiet roads and coastal views
Sister trip, the North Coast 500 is the one everyone knows but do you realise how far north it is and how busy it has become? So tackle the SWC 300 instead, joining it at Dumfries just over the border. It takes in the beautiful Solway Coast (which is a road trip in itself) west to Mull of Galloway before turning north into Ayrshire through the Galloway Forest Park. From Ayr it heads east to pretty Moffat and back to Dumfries.

2. North East 250

Where: North East Scotland

How far: 250 miles

Why: For the unsurpassed variety and history
Again, south of the mighty North Coast 500 is this equally spectacular but more accessible road trip. The North East 250 is a circular route through Scotland's whisky country, taking in the Cairngorms National Park, the castles of Royal Deeside and the Aberdeenshire coastline as well as the Granite City itself. Since it's circular, you can pick it up anywhere but officially, it begins at Ballindalloch Castle on Moray Speyside.


3. Pembrokeshire Coast 200

Where: South West Wales

How far: 200 miles

Why: For the history and the wildlife
Opened as recently as 2021, this road trips starts at Amroth in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, not far, incidentally, from the just-opened Museum of Land Speed on Pendine Sands and only 30 minutes from the M4. It ends at the pretty riverside village of Dogmaels and in between takes in sights including the Blue Lagoon, a disused National Trust quarry and pool at Abereiddi, Ramsey Island nature reserve and the UK’s smallest city, St Davids with its glorious cathedral.

4. Welsh Marches castles

Where: Shropshire Hills

How far: 67 miles

Why: For seven enchanting castles
This is one of those road trips that encourages you to leave your car every few miles to explore some of the countryside you might otherwise have whizzed past. Our quoted distance is based on the fastest route but take your time and peel off to explore the hidden lanes and by-ways of this historic region. The chain of castles that defended the England/Wales border comprises Acton Burnell, where we start, Stokesay Castle, Richard's Castle, Ludlow Castle, Hopton Castle, Clun Castle and ends with Montgomery Castle.


5. Atlantic Way

Where: Somerset, Devon and Cornwall

How far: 77 miles

Why: For the wild coastline, historic ruins and golden beaches
Taking the A39 from Barnstaple in the north to Newquay in the south, this road trip is the sort you're going to want to deviate from now and then just to check out the fabulous views in greater detail. Bude, Tintagel and Port Isaac are just three of the places worth whiling away some time in. Padstow is another from where we suggest leaving the A39 to take the B3276 coast road to Newquay, stopping along the way to enjoy Constantine Bay and Mawgan Porth.

6. Lake District escape

Where: Cumbria

How far: 47 miles

Why: For a sneak taste of this fantastic region
Heading north and bored of the M6? Then leave it at junction 36 for Windermere before rejoining it at Penrith. Once at Windermere, take the A592 Patterdale Road through Troutbeck (check it's open; improvement works have been taking place in recent weeks) or for thrills, continue to Ambleside and take the Kirkstone Pass. Both spirit you to Patterdale and thence to Penrith, although do stop en route to take in the view at Ullswater, the region's second largest lake.

7. Eastern odyssey

Where: Norfolk

How far: 150 miles

Why: For Sea, sand and waterways
Back to a circular route, this time a leisurely drive starting at Norwich whose beautiful cathedral is a must-see. From here head for The Broads with its enchanting waterways and abundant wildlife. The traditional seaside town of Cromer is next followed by artsy Sheringham. Further along the coast at Blakeney Point glimpse grey seals on your way to a selfie in front of the beach huts at Wells-next-the-Sea. Fish and chips at King's Lynn and back to Norwich via historic Swaffham complete your trip.

8. Costwolds triangle

Where: Gloucestershire

How far: 71 miles

Why: For history, countryside and chocolate box villages
The Cotswolds spans a huge area but we've created a circular drive that takes in some of the best bits. The historic Roman town of Cirencester is your start point. Enjoy the Parish Church, Abbey Grounds and myriad independent shops before heading along the A429 Fosse Way Roman road to tourist trap, Bourton on the Water. Then it's west on the A436 for Andoversford, detouring briefly to Guiting Power, and, eventually, Cheltenham for the shopping in Montpellier. Now leave for Stroud, plunging down the B4070 with its stunning views and through the village of Slad, location of the famous autobiography 'Cider with Rosie' by Laurie Lee. Enjoy the eco vibe in Stroud before taking the A419 through the Golden Valley, so named for its autumn tree colours, to Cirencester. 

9. North Yorkshire Moors

Where: North Yorkshire Moors National Park

How far: 85 miles

Why: For breathtaking views and sweet coastal villages
It sounds bleak but the North Yorks Moors is a wonderful region of rolling hills etched with drystone walls and tumbling streams. The road from the pretty seaside village of Staithes to Kirkbymoorside is unforgettable and the memories keep coming as you turn for Pickering and head back north-east to Goathland and Grosmont before taking a right for Robin Hoods Bay. Whitby and a fish supper next, then follow the coast for your return to Staithes.

Northern Ireland

10. Causeway Coastal Route

Where: Northern Ireland

How far: 120 miles

Why: For sea views and the Giants Causeway
Northern Ireland's tourist office recommends taking six days for this, there's so much to see. Belfast is your start point (check out the Titanic exhibition) and then it's on to the Glens of Antrim along the coast. From Balllycastle Village you can take a boat to Rathlin Island for its marvellous views. Day four is the turn of the Giant's Causeway of basalt columns. After that, the Bushmills whisky distillery is your destination before, on day six, you head for Derry and from there to Belfast.  

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