10 most breathtaking road trips around the UK and Ireland
Living or studying in the UK or Ireland is a perfect opportunity to spend long weekends or holidays road tripping around the British Isles. Assemble a playlist (try EF’s Spotify), stock up on snacks, and head out on one of these breathtaking road trips around the UK and Ireland:
1. Yorkshire Dales, Buttertubs Pass, England
Yorkshire’s abundance of winding roads, hairpin turns, and never-ending moors provide the perfect opportunity to practice your single-track driving. While you may be stuck behind a tractor or two on route, make your way to Buttertubs Pass in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, a lung-busting climb notorious from Stage One of the 2014 Tour de France, and home to famous 20-metre-deep potholes where farmers would lower their butter to keep it cool on route to local markets. Stop by the Wensleydale Creamery on route to sample the finest cheese in the Dales!
2. Burrowdale to Buttermere, Lake District, England
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Lake District is an outdoor lovers’ paradise. When exploring this beautiful part of England which spreads across nearly 2,500 square kilometers you’ll discover picturesque lakes, towering hills and the most beautiful sunsets in England. Try driving from lake to lake and camping out in Buttermere, taking a kayak across Ullswater Lake or hiking Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England.
3. Black Mountain Pass, Brecon Beacons, Wales
This 20-mile pass sweeps through Welsh valleys from Gwaun-cae-Gurwan to Llandovery, crosses narrow bridges lifting you over fresh mountain rivers, squeezes between stone walls and climbs up to moorland over the legendary Black Mountain. Look out for the stray sheep and make sure you have fully functioning breaks to stay safe on this breathtaking pass!
4. Abergwesyn Pass, Powys, Wales
Another beautiful road trip in Wales is a 20-mile stretch connecting Abergwesyn and Tregar, nicknamed The Devil’s Staircase. There’s a good reason for this nickname: a narrow single track, almost vertical climb through the winding forest that is not for the faint-hearted. The challenge is rewarded with miles of exposed valleys where you’ll only have sheep for company. Bear in mind, there’s a steep descent at the other side of the hill.
5. Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, England
Cheddar Gorge, a limestone gorge in the Mendip Hills near the village of Cheddar in Somerset, attracts half a million visitors each year who travel to visit the Cheddar show caves. Take a drive through the gorge and where 500 ft near-vertical cliff-faces tower above the road and goats clamber on the ridges. An early morning drive is recommended to avoid the hustle and bustle of all the tourists.
6. Cotswolds, England
The Cotswolds are characterized by rolling hills, postcard-worthy thatched medieval villages and beautiful castles and stately homes that make you feel like you’ve walked onto a set of Downton Abbey. Visit Castle Combe, Stroud, Blenheim Palace and the little village of Bourton-on-the-water. The Cotswolds hold many festivals and events, so check out what’s happening before you plan your trip.
7. Cornwall, Devon, England
Cornwall, in the southwestern corner of the UK, is perfect for a road trip. Rugged coastlines boasting sandy beaches, hidden harbours and quaint tea rooms make driving in this county an absolute treat. There’s an abundance of coastal views so there’s no perfect route or distance to take during your trip, just make sure to take a stop in Lands End, the hidden cove of Cadgwith and the traditional fishing village of Port Isaac. Oh, and sample some Cornish cream tea with a scone while you’re there.
8. North Coast 500, Highlands, Scotland
If you’re feeling ambitious and want to travel a little further, Scotland boasts some of the most picturesque scenery in Europe. The North Coast 500 route offers over 500 miles to explore Scotland to your heart’s content. Travel the snaking roads from Inverness to John O’Groats and back south again, visit distilleries, pass rugged castles, discover isolated beaches and spot the wildlife on the way. If you’re short on time, pick a few priority places such as the Cairngorms!
9. The Wild Atlantic Way, Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork, Ireland
Explore nine counties of Ireland on a 2,500 km tour along the country’s beautiful West Coast. Spot picturesque islands on an awe-inspiring route that includes five national parks, numerous beaches, monasteries, castles and lighthouses. If there’s bad weather, don’t worry – there are famous breweries, museums and art galleries just waiting to be discovered.
10. Snowdonia National Park, Wales
Tracing a ‘Y’ shape on the map, this unconventional route begins in the quaint town of Betws-y-Coed (google Pont-y-Pair bridge) and winds up through the epic Snowdonia National Park to Llanberis. Here, you’ll see glorious Mt. Snowdon poking through the haze at 3,560 ft. Then, retrace your wheels south past Harlech’s rugged medieval castle to Barmouth, where epic views of Cardigan Bay await.