Whether it’s your first or hundredth time in the UK, or you live there, the beauty of Britain lies in its diverse locations, jaw-droppingly beautiful landscapes and heritage.
Bundle all of those up in an awesome road trip and you’ll have a holiday to remember. Get the satnav updated, select ‘avoid motorways’, download some cracking driving tunes and head for the hills… or lakes, coastline, moors.
North Coast 500, Scotland
Scotland, 500, The Proclaimers, anyone? You have to be of a certain age to get that reference, but any age will love the circular route that drums up a greatest hits album of Scottish icons. There’s hundreds of miles of back roads which skirt the coast from Inverness past the crags of Caithness, Sutherland and Wester Ross.
Pass east to west from the villages of Dornoch and Wick to Aultbea, Poolewe and Gairloch as you meet the savagery of the western coast and the peaks of Loch Maree. North Coast 500 is isolation, windswept beaches, the gothic ruins of castles and historic landmarks.
Distance and ideal duration: 516 miles, 4-7 days
Top tip: Don’t overestimate how often you need to fill up
Where to stay: accommodation is sparse on the route, but if you’re driving up from the south of Scotland or England, then start and end your road trip at CLC Duchally Country Estate in Perthshire, the Gateway to the Highlands.
The English Lake District
Dancing and swaying in the breeze… no reason why you can’t join the daffodils with some poetic movement as you drive along some of England’s most picturesque roads. Inspiration for not only Wordsworth and the Romantic poets but also Beatrix Potter, the English Lake District is gorgeous countryside to be enjoyed from behind the wheel.
Another circular route, this takes in much of the Lake District, from its most popular towns and villages, such as Coniston and Ambleside, to remote and wild valleys. Stop off and hike the hills, jump on a boat at Windermere or pop into Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage.
Distance and ideal duration: 126 miles, 2-3 days
Top tip: Fill up (yourself not the car) on Kendal Mint Cake.
Where to stay: Lakeland Village in the southern Lake District has a range of apartments and cottages, some dog friendly, offering a great base for exploring the area.
The Norfolk Coast, England
Start in the provincial town of Norwich with its 11th century cathedral, before heading east into The Broads. Quite a change from the Lake District, these are England’s flatlands with scenic waterways and a variety of wildlife. Chances are you’ll be stopping to take Instagram-able photos frequently.
This is not a trip for rushing. Take the coastal roads to Cromer, famous for its crab and home to an historical throwback, the last remaining end-of-the-pier variety show. The wide, windswept beaches of Branchester beach are perfect for a picnic on the sands and there’s a total of 40 miles of Blue Flag beaches and sandy shoreline.
Distance and ideal duration: 90 miles, 2-3 days
Top Tip: Another Instagram ready shot is the red and white Happisburgh Lighthouse
Where to stay: So much to choose from with quaint B&Bs, pubs and self-catering cottages.
The Black Mountain Pass, Wales
Beloved of Jeremy Clarkson, this pass is nicknamed the Top Gear road. This is epic mountain road territory with breathtaking views across the Brecon Beacons and Tywi Valley which come into sharp relief as you navigate the hairpin bends and switchbacks.
From Llandovery in the north, you’ll cross the dragon’s humps of Pont Aber and Herbert’s Pass before flowing down to the village of Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen. Along the way, you’ll pass rustic farmhouses, wind-tanned farmers, the odd wayward sheep and a test driver or two.
Distance and ideal duration: 23 miles, as long as you want to make it last
Top tip: Drive from north to south and watch out for stray sheep
Where to stay: Laugharne Estate, Dyfed, Camarthenshire. Dylan Thomas’ “Under Milk Wood” was inspired by Laugharne town.
Atlantic Highway, South West England
Pick up the A39 from the M5 at Bridgewater and you’ll be winding your through country lanes and stretches of dual carriageway as moorland, rugged coastline and high hedgerows scroll past your window. In Devon, stop off at Westward Ho!, the only British town with an exclamation mark in its name with its sand dune edged, wide beaches. The picturesque village of Clovelly was inspiration for “The Water Babes” and its steep cobbled street leading down to the harbour is rewarded with a welcome pint of cider.
Bude in north Cornwall is the first of many Cornish surfers’ paradises. Head further into Cornwall to gorge on fish and chips in Padstow and join the sun-bleached shaggy haired surfers at Newquay, before tipping up at Land’s End.
Distance and ideal duration: 170 miles, 4-5 days
Top Tip: The A39 can be busy in summer, so if your VW camper is liable to overheat, steer clear of the peak holiday times.
Where to stay: Winding your way home from Land’s End, stop off at CLC Trenython Manor near Fowey. Self-catering lodges are great for groups while the elegant hotel rooms are ideal for couples.