Google Maps. It’s an invaluable tool, and one which we rely on day-after-day in this digital age. But apps like ‘Maps’ have robbed us of something; the scenic route. It’s possible that, in our haste, we’re bypassing some of our greatest national treasures. B-road Britain may be a wild and woolly place — but there are diamonds of road trips to be found in the rough.
And where better to drive incredible cars than through stunning scenery? That’s why, below, we’ve rounded up five of the finest road trips to be found in the British Isles — and matched each of the journeys to the perfect car. From The Cotswolds to Causeway Coastal Route, here’s the best that Britain has to offer…
Adventure in to Scotland's Highlands and Islands in a Range Rover
If you’re in to rugged scenery, sandy beaches and castles aplenty, a tour of the highlands and Islands of Scotland is for you. Maybe you’ll opt for the official North Coast 500, or perhaps you’ll take your time on your own planned route. In either case, don’t miss the idyllic towns of Ullapool, Durness, John O’Groats and Dornoch.
Whether you’re admiring the beauty of Achmelvich Bay, dolphin spotting at Chanonry Point, trying smoked fish on North Uist or canyoning at Corrieshalloch Gorge, the plethora of options available for the intrepid road tripper is astounding.
Nothing beats the Range Rover for comfort, style and driving experience, and paired with the dramatic scenery of the Scottish Highlands it is second to none. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more charming, refined and beautiful SUV if you tried. It’s said that no one dares try to copy the Porsche 911 because they know they can’t beat it – it’s the same with the Range Rover; an old-school car, masterfully updated and uncompromising in luxury and power.
Unleash your wild side in North Wales with the Aston Martin DBX
North Wales boasts some of the most breath-taking scenery in the British Isles, with the drive taking you through Snowdonia National Park and across the Menai Straits to Anglesey. Starting at Betws-y-Coed and heading west into Snowdonia, the A4086 will take you past Snowdon itself. The 50-mile route takes 1-2 days to complete if you stop at all the major sights, so be prepared to get your walking boots on and climb Snowdon in time for sunrise.
Leaving the National Park behind you, head to the Menai via historic Caernarfon, before heading over the water to explore the beautiful Isle of Anglesey. On the shores of the Menai Strait, Caernarfon is one of North Wales’ trendiest towns, and with its stunning waterfront and impressive castle (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), it’s not to be missed.
The Aston Martin DBX is the first Aston to be made in Wales and the first SUV in the company’s 100-year history. Hitting all the targets, the DBX feels like an Aston to drive and is very practical as an SUV. Although aesthetically not to everyone’s taste, the DBX is perfectly suited to the roads and tracks of North Wales – supremely comfortable to drive and able to handle challenging terrain.
Aston Martin DBX
The Cotswolds are made for the new Land Rover Defender
Nowhere claims a bigger abundance of pretty villages than the Cotswolds. With dreamy church spires, meandering streams and fine architecture, it is unsurprising that the Cotswolds remains one of Britain’s greatest tourist attractions. This 70 mile route should take 3-4 days to complete, starting in Chipping Campden and heading south, village hopping all the way down to Bath.
The Cotswolds is recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. With watersports and birdwatching available at the Cotswolds Water Park and plenty of historical houses to visit (most famously Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Winston Churchill), there’s something for everyone in the Cotswolds.
With fords to cross and windy lanes to navigate, we advise driving the new Land Rover Defender in the Cotswolds. Admittedly the new model has faced much scrutiny, replacing the much-loved classic Defender that was adored by the public yet totally uncomfortable to drive or be a passenger in. The new Defender changes all that – this is a car that’s as good at doing the school run as it is at climbing mountains.
Land Rover Defender
View the Lake District from the Alpine A110
From William Wordsworth to Beatrix Potter, the Lakes of Cumbria have inspired generations of creatives who have been taken in by the mountains, hills and freshwater lakes that the area is synonymous with. Starting in Kendal, head north towards Windermere, the lake that inspired Swallows and Amazons. From there, head further north past the romantically named villages of Ambleside and Grasmere (the latter is home to Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage).
The route is about thirty miles long, and we recommend taking 2-3 days to do it properly, visiting Potter’s house in Near Sawry and enjoying the paddle steamer on Ullswater, where Donald Campbell perished in Bluebird whilst breaking the world water speed record.
We recommend the Alpine A110 for exploring the Lakes. This French car may look like a Porsche, but it’s as light as a Lotus whilst maintaining all the creature comforts of a regular coupe. Tackling the difficult roads of the Lake District with ‘poise and agility’, the A110 proved that you don’t need big wheels and a big engine to carry weight. As Top Gear says, ‘there’s not much that flows across country with so little effort and so little energy expended.’
Tour the Causeway Coastal Route in Northern Ireland in a VW Transporter
This extraordinary route from Belfast to Derry is steeped in myth and legend. Easy to break down in to shorter, scenic drives, the rout takes in some of Northern Ireland’s most famous landmarks – the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Dunluce Castle, Dark Hedges (of Game of Thrones fame) and the Glens of Antrim.
Whether you fancy visiting the upside-down lighthouse on Rathlin Island or the Old Bushmills Distillery (the oldest of its kind in the world, producing Irish Whiskey since 1608), this 120 mile route – which should take 3-5 days to complete – offers a plethora of attractions and sites to keep everyone happy.
For this longer road trip we suggest taking a camper of some sorts, so that you can make the most of the countless campsites and carparks along the route. Whether you’re in to vintage or contemporary, the VW Transporter has been providing a home from home for decades, and the latest incarnation is no exception. 72 years old this year, the VW Transporter feels like a car to drive, yet offers the space and comfort of a campervan. With loads of flexibility and countless optional extras, the VW Transporter is the perfect car to take you around the top of the island of Ireland.
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