Top Twelve Scenic Drives in the UK & Ireland
For expats who are enjoying life in the United Kingdom, comprised of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, or business travelers who wind up on the beautiful island nation in northwest Europe, one of the ways to make the most of your time there is by journeying out and seeing all the picturesque lands the area has to offer.
After all, for many people, they can only dream of seeing such breathtaking places, and driving through the British countryside is one of the great pleasures of the area. Thanks to a solid network of well-maintained rural roads, some of the world’s most beautiful scenery can be seen with a leisurely drive. Whether you’re in the mood for dramatic landscapes, scenic mountains, captivating coastlines or lush green valleys, the UK—whether Great Britain, Ireland, Scotland or Wales—has it all.
Here are 12 of the UK’s most beautiful stretches of roads along with Google map links of the drive
1. Cheltemham to Stratford-upon-Avon
In Cotswolds England, riding along the B4632 Cheltenham to Stratford-upon-Avon (the place of Shakespeare’s birth) is a favorite among sightseers. The winding road isn’t a major roadway, so travelers can enjoy a peaceful ride through the tranquil green hills of the Cotswolds, seeing meadows full of wildflowers, views of sheep pastures and woodland, plus picture-perfect English villages on the way. A great stopping area is the historic town of Chipping Campden, which offers great sightseeing of its own. Once you get to your destination, be sure to check out a performance at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. [Google Maps directions]
2. Barnstaple in Devon to Newquay
Another great route in England is the journey on the Atlantic Highway along the north Cornwall coast. The long and winding roadway from Barnstaple in Devon to Newquay will take you 160 miles through many of the country’s most lovely coastlines. Sights to see on the way include Constantine Bay and the Bedruthan Steps, and you can even veer off on a private toll road to the lighthouse at Trevose Head. [Google Map directions]
3. Bamburgh Castle to Alnwick Castle
If it’s castles you want to see, then be sure to journey across the wild North Northumberland Coast to take in the dramatic sight of Bamburgh Castle, an ancient castle looming up above the neighboring village. You can continue along the roads to Alnwick Castle, and you’ll be passing by the bird-lovers paradise, Lindisfarne Nature Reserve. Northumberland has more castles than any other country in England and the drive will be one to remember. [Google Map directions]
4. Somerset to Cheddar Gorge
Make your way to Somerset and drive along the Cheddar Gorge, one of UK’s greatest natural wonders and an ideal spot for a leisurely drive. Voyage down the B3135 and see the 27 magnificent cliffs just to the side of the road. If it’s adventure you seek, you can stop at multiple places on the road to do some cave exploring or rock climbing. [Google Map directions]
5. Journey around New Forest
Brits will tell you that one of their favorite local drives is in New Forest in southern England. The beautiful drive consists of scenic pastures, heathland and forest. In fact, New Forest is designated as a national park of the country and those with an interest in wildlife will have plenty of picture-taking opportunities along the trip, including the popular New Forest Pony. [Google Map Directions]
6. Loch Lomond to Glencoe
For pure charm in Scotland, you can’t beat the trip from Loch Lomond up to Glencoe on the A83 and A82. This passage will take you along the water’s edge and into picturesque Argyll Forest Park and the spectacular Trossachs National Park. Once you arrive in Glencoe, enjoy the fabulous views of the Pap of Glencoe. [Google Map directions]
7. Belfast to Derry
The drive from Belfast to Derry in Northern Ireland is also a delight. This voyage will take you along the northeast coast, bringing you by the magnificent Glens of Antrim, nine green valleys with a patchwork of fields and woodland flanked by the sea to the north. [Google Map directions]
8. Galway to Westport
While in Ireland, be sure to make the trip from Galway to Westport, which spans more than 230 km along the N59. The drive will take you over to Clifden, past Connemara National Park and then to the center of Westport. While in Clifden, take in the extraordinary Sky Road, offering stunning view of the Atlantic coastline. [Google Map directions]
9. Wexford to Waterford
The 78 km from the Viking-founded town of Wexford to Waterford is a trip you won’t forget, as the road meanders across the wave-swept Hook Peninsula and on its southern tip sits the 13th Century Hook Lighthouse, still in operation today. [Google Map directions]
10. Loch Lomond to Lochgilphead
In Scotland, be sure to check out the lovely countryside on a journey from Loch Lomond to Lochgilphead. The route offers a mixture of lochs and hills as it brings you to Kintyre and the islands of the West Coast. Travelling north from Glasgow on the A83, you enter the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park at Balloch. [Google Map directions]
11. Inverness to Nairn circular
The Scots will tell you that the drive from Inverness to Nairn circular is a must for seeing the lavish countryside. The drive takes in the coast alongside Lossiemouth before heading inland past distilleries and castles, as well as heading into the Cairngorms National Park. [Google Map directions]
12. Highland Perthshire Loop
You can’t drive in Scotland without treating yourself to a drive along the 65 km Highland Perthshire Loop. The route passes by many of Highland Perthshire’s most gorgeous scenery and sights, making for a great half-day excursion. Add to the spectacular scenery by veering off for short visits to Pitlochry and Aberfeldy with a route along the River Tay and Loch Tummel. [Google Map directions]
Before driving in the UK, it’s important to understand the driving laws of the country and have the proper license and insurance. Read this article about European driving rules and laws to prepare and also learn about important things to know about getting an international driving permit.
Clements Worldwide can help you obtain a UK motor insurance policy.