6 scenic drives for your summer road trip

Sun’s out, map’s open, adventure awaits! 🗺️

You don’t need to cross the pond to take the road trip of a lifetime. The British mainland offers some of the most scenic drives in Europe! From winding your way through dramatic mountain ranges to cruising along an unspoilt coastline, these 6 summer road trip routes are guaranteed to satisfy your wanderlust.

North Coast 500, Scotland – 7 days

There is nowhere more rugged, wild and beautiful than the Scottish highlands. And the North Coast 500 is the ultimate way to see it. Starting and ending at Inverness Castle, on this 516-mile route you’ll encounter centuries of history, rich wildlife and breathtaking landscapes.

North Coast 500 route in ScotlandSpot dolphins in the Black Isle before travelling further back in time on the Pictish trail through Easter Ross. Here, you’ll find sculptures from Scotland’s earliest inhabitants, dating back as far as the 3rd century, while more modern traditions can be sampled on a Glenmorangie Distillery tour. Travel on to the most Northern point of mainland Britain, Dunnet Head in Caithness, before taking in Europe’s last great wilderness in Sutherland. Journey back south through Wester Ross, featuring stunning mountain ranges, secret lochs and beaches to rival the Mediterranean.

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The Coastal Way, Wales – 5 days

With the blue seas of Cardigan Bay on one side and mountain ranges on the other, this 180-mile odyssey takes you from the Llŷn peninsula to St. David’s. There’s rich culture, history, fine food and outdoor adventure to be enjoyed every mile along the way.

Cardigan BayStart your journey in style in the chic seaside town of Abersoch before taking in Criccieth Castle’s stunning views. There is nowhere quite like Portmeirion, a village made of Italianate buildings and gardens – the grand design of Welsh architect Clough Williams-Ellis. Aberystwyth is home to great culture, while the nearby Dyfi estuary is a Unesco Biosphere Reserve – containing a rich variety of rare creatures and plants. Spot Britain’s biggest pod of dolphins in New Quay before heading to another Blue Flag beach, Llangrannog, for the best surf in the bay.

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Cat and Fiddle, Peak District – 1 day

If an adventure behind the wheel is what you’re craving, check out the thrill of Cat and Fiddle road! Winding through one of the highest points of the Peak District, there are beautiful views to take in.

Peak DistrictThe historic spa town of Buxton is where you’ll buckle in for your 7.5-mile adventure. From there, you’ll travel along the road named after the 17th-century pub at its 1,690-foot summit. Since its renovation in 2020, the inn has become Britain’s highest-altitude whiskey distillery, which you can tour and sample the produce. Your passengers may be the ones to benefit from this pit stop, but you won’t mind being the designated driver for the exhilarating descent that follows as you wend your way down towards Macclesfield. And if you’re still craving adventure afterwards, head 45 minutes north and test your mettle on the Snake Pass.

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Planning an adventure-packed UK road trip? Check out our top tips for a budget-friendly road trip here!

Ribblehead Viaduct, North Yorkshire – 1 day

The Ribblehead Viaduct’s 24 arches soar 104 feet above the moor it was painstakingly built on, as part of the Settle to Carlisle railway. Begin in Settle and end at the Tan Hill Inn for one of England’s best driving experiences.

Ribblehead ViaductThis 36-mile adventure begins in the market town of Settle. Wind your way north through the Dales before the road opens up to reveal the viaduct, which you can explore up close on foot. Step out of the car to view this impressive structure up close. It was built in the 1870s on the backs of ‘navvies’, hundreds of whom lost their lives. Follow the road through the steep climbs and sweeping scenery to the Buttertubs Pass, which is named after its deep limestone potholes. After that, you can head up to the 17th-century Tan Hill Inn which, at 1,732 feet above sea level, is the highest pub in Britain!

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The Atlantic Highway, South West England – 3 days

This 70-mile road trip has been named one of the world’s most beautiful drives, and it takes you from the Devon border through Cornwall’s coastline to its northeastern corner.

Cornwall CoastlineBeginning in the ancient town of Barnstaple, the grandly named Atlantic Highway will first lead you to the unspoilt coastline and rugged cliffs of Bideford Bay and Hartland. Once you’ve crossed the border, you can settle in laid-back Bude – a hotspot for surfing and watersports. The romantic village of Tintagel is rich in folklore and mythology, with many links to Arthurian legend. The spectacular views from its castle are the reward for crossing the mainland to the headland via a suspended footbridge. There’s a reason Port Isaac has been the location for shooting TV series like Poldark. Soak up the atmosphere in this 14th century fishing village before working your way to Newquay – Cornwall’s most vibrant and trendy seaside town.

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Cheddar Gorge, Somerset – 1 day

Weaving your way through Britain’s deepest natural canyon along the cliff road is an unforgettable experience. Gorge yourself on local cheese in the Somerset village of Cheddar before taking the 15-mile journey to Ashwick for one of the most dramatic and scenic drives in Britain!

Cheddar GorgeSandwiched between 450-foot-tall limestone cliffs, drive carefully to fully take in this area of outstanding natural beauty. Park up and enjoy organised rock climbing and caving, or, for those seeking gentler thrills, walk the gorge’s four-mile trail. Here, you’ll discover weathered crags and pinnacles, alongside a wide variety of plants and wildlife – including famous Cheddar pink dianthus and feral goats. Once through the gorge, the road opens up to woodland and the rolling Mendip Hills – a stunning landscape of lakes, rocky outcrops and hilltops crowned by ancient monuments.

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