Have motorhome, will travel.
And thanks to the variety and contrasts packed into these British Isles, you’ll rarely need to drive all that far to experience all the joys of the open road likely to stretch out before you.
Motorhomes, of course, are made for just these kinds of road trips – every journey an adventure unto itself, exciting and fascinating, experience-rich, and mind-expanding. Few of us are likely to turn down the opportunity of embarking on the great road trip.
Britain has them aplenty – so, let’s take a closer look as we suggest some of the greatest road trips in the UK.
The far north
We’ll start our catalogue of great road trips with what might be considered the most dramatic scenically and furthest from the gentle English countryside many of us may know.
This is a journey that will take you from a starting point at Inverness on the northwest coast of Scotland, pass along the coast and many Highland towns, through Applecross, Durness, to the most northerly point of mainland Britain at John O’Groats, and Dunrobin Castle beyond.
With everything from mountains, lochs, pristine beaches, brooding castles emerging from the mists, and historic landmarks dotted everywhere along your route, this surely qualifies as one of the great British road trips.
It’s a very satisfying 516 miles in length, and you might want to take as long as seven days – or more – to enjoy the trip. Little wonder that a blog on the Winfields website describes the route – which sticks to the North Coast NC500 – as Scotland’s answer to America’s Route 66.
The New Forest
From the far north, let’s now point the compass to central southern England, where the New Forest offers a complete contrast and altogether different – but no less satisfying – road trip in your motorhome.
Because the New Forest is so easy to get to – just take the M3 or the M27 – and lies in a densely populated part of the country, it might not immediately spring to mind when planning a road trip. In fact, the area covered by the National Park – more than 218 square miles (566 square kilometres) – that many a winding journey can be made along its wooded roads and lanes.
The New Forest is unlikely to make an exhausting road trip – rather one in which you spend lazy days strolling through the woodland trails, striking out across the heathland, or visiting the surrounding places of interest. The Gap Decaders website highlight the towns of Brockenhurst, in the centre of the Forest, and Lymington, on the coast – and a gateway to the Isle of Wight – as spots worth visiting.
The Norfolk Coast
A great road trip under big, big skies awaits you along the windswept coast of Norfolk.
It’s an English coastline that is little visited these days – those steeped in an illustrious past. Indeed, your journey might well start in the historic city of Norwich and its landmark 11th-century cathedral.
Indeed, as your road trip progresses, you’re likely to encounter a hundred or so churches from the 11th century or so, built with the round towers that reflect the traditional designs from the North Sea and Baltic nations with long-standing trading links to this part of the UK.
As you head east out of Norwich, you enter the Norfolk Broads – a whole world unto itself, boasting more than 125 miles of navigable waterways winding through picturesque villages and towns. The Broads are a man-made wonder of the east coast.
Leaving the Broads, you’ll head along the coast to Cromer, Brancaster Beach and Blakeney Point (where you’ll also find England’s largest colony of seals).
A mark of the exceedingly high quality of the beaches you’ll drive past – and, no doubt, stop to admire – lies in the fact that the North Norfolk coastline boasts more than any other English region with six blue-flag beaches.
When you’re planning a great road trip, you might be drawn to those routes less travelled and paths less trodden. The Causeway Coastal Route across the top of Northern Ireland, from one side of the Province to the other, meets just such a bill – and packs in its fair share of drama and history too.
If you’re not fortunate enough to live in Northern Ireland already, of course, there’s a passage by ferry across the Irish Sea to start your journey. Your road trip can then begin in Belfast, as you take the route north and along what is probably the best of Britain’s coastal drives.
From Belfast around to Derry on the west coast, the journey is around 120 miles long – but you might want to give it a full five days to lend it justice. Handily, the entire Causeway Coastal Route is broken up into nine separate scenic drives, so you can explore each one at your leisure.
The constant backdrop to your coastal road trip is the Atlantic Ocean. Stopover nights are likely to be spent stargazing into the darkest of night skies, and topping up your tumbler of Irish whiskey as you listen to or recount the tales and legends of old.
Stop over at some of Northern Ireland’s best-known locations, such as the Giant’s Causeway, Dark Hedges, the rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede, or the Glens of Antrim. To make the most of the outdoor life in stunning scenery, walk along, swim or surf at some of the island’s gorgeous beaches.
Can’t choose between North or South Wales for your road trip? Then why not plan one that covers its length, from Llandudno in the north as far as Cardiff on the south coast.
The key to your road trip is the A470, which you can follow from Llandudno to Cardiff, explains Visit Britain – but, of course, you’re almost certain to want to stray away from the main route to take in some of the highlights that just about anywhere in Wales has to offer.
In the north, you have the rugged majesty and splendour of Snowdonia National Park – and here alone, you might want to spend a day or two exploring the 823 square miles or so of its diverse landscapes.
The A470 pretty well follows the Cambrian Way or the spine of Wales from north to south. Once away from the more well-known tourist hotspots, you’ll find yourself deep in the countryside of unspoilt mid-Wales and its plethora of small villages and communities. Once again, you’re going to struggle in resisting the temptation to stray away from the main route and instead follow wherever your fancy may take you.
Eventually, however, you’ll find the Brecon Beacons National Park on your horizon, with its more rugged mountains and moorlands, before dipping down into the valleys of South Wales, the town of Merthyr Tydfil, and on to Cardiff.
From start to finish, this road trip covers 178 miles – on a mix of dual and single carriageway roads – which you could drive in as short a time as just four and a half hours. With so much to see and do along the way, however, who on earth would want to do that? For that chance to travel the length and breadth of the whole of Wales, your great road trip is likely to take at least several days.
We hope these ideas have inspired you on where to go for your next staycation. Enjoy!