From Manchester to: The UK's Best Road Trips

Explore the North Pennines, down through Cornwall, gawp at the Highlands or just get scared on the Snake Pass...

By Ben Brown | 25 August 2020

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Credit: Elektra Klimi / Unsplash

The Atlantic Highway
Atlantic Highway is the name given to a long and winding 70-mile section of the A39 which runs from Barnstaple in North Devon down to a village called Fraddon on the outskirts of Newquay. A large section of the road is sandwiched between wild rolling hills and some of Britain’s best coastline. You’ll get to explore Exmoor National Park, and drive through the towns of Bude and Padstow, which are well worth a visit, as well as Newquay itself where you can party until the early hours with all of the surfer dudes. From here, you might as well continue down the A30 to Falmouth, and then Land’s End while you’re down here.


The ‘Roof of England’
This road trip isn’t too long, consisting of only around 38 miles of road, so you can squeeze it all into one day or do it over a weekend. The ‘roof of England’ refers to a ride from Penrith in Cumbria to Haydon Bridge in Northumberland – dissecting through a large portion of the country. Take the A686 and you cut right through th North Pennines National Park, a stunning landscape of open heather moors, peatlands, dales, woods and some cracking villages to stop off at and have a proper pub lunch.


Snake Pass
I’m sure most of you reading this will have actually done this drive, as it’s one of the most well-known and hair-raising rides in the whole of the UK. A road that takes you from Manchester to Sheffield, it passes through some proper twisty bends, lots of elevation changes and some potential hazards around every corner – especially if the weather is shite. Take the pass on a nice day though and you’ll wonder at the stunning scenery and there are a fair few pubs to stop off at along the way.


Credit: Gary Butterfield / Unsplash

The Yorkshire Dales
Make like James Herriot and explore the Yorkshire Dales in all of their brutal, stunning glory with this circular trip from the lovely town of Harrogate. From the town you’ll head out into the Dales, taking in some of the area’s villages including Grassington and Hawes, before circling back to the beginning again. Along the way you’ll pass meadows, waterfalls, farms serving up some amazing cheeses, unbeatable pubs and some of the best walking routes in the world.


Credit: Marcus Platt / Unsplash

North Coast 500
Pretty much Scotland’s ‘Route 66’ except with less sand, less cowboys and more calories in every dish that you stop off for along the way. This circular route stretches across over 800km of road, taking in stunning coastline, medieval ruins, castles, fishing villages and loads of whiskey distilleries. The longer it takes you the more time you’ll have to stop off and explore one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.


The Norfolk Coast
I can imagine Alan Partridge has probably driven this route many, many times in his Lexus, hopefully he had shoes on and didn’t just stuff his face with Toblerones the whole time. Starting at King’s Lyn, this route hugs the stunning Norfolk coast, taking in the Norfolk Broads National Park and a whole host of quaint little seaside towns along the way. The final destination is the great Great Yarmouth – a town which is a lot like Blackpool except you won’t get shanked in the local Maccies.



The Coastal Circuit
A stunning route from Belfast to Derry which will take you down the rugged coast of Northern Ireland and through some lovely small villages along the way. One of the biggest reasons to do this trip is that not only does it allow you a bit of time in the wonderful city of Belfast, but you can also visit Giants Causeway, as well as a whole host of Game of Thrones locations. Once you’re finished, you could even carry on right down to Dublin if you wanted – it’s not really as expensive as people say it is. Not any more anyway.


Credit: Jack Anstey / Unsplash

Ben Nevis to the Isle of Skye
This drive from Fort William to Mallaig will take you from the foothills of Ben Nevis to the craggy coast of the west of Scotland, and there’s a lot to see and do on the way. Fort William itself is a great starting point, with the aforementioned mountain but also the world-famous Caledonian Canal (which leads up to Loch Ness if you follow it north). The route also takes in the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which any fan of Harry Potter will know, as well as Loch Morar – the deepest freshwater lake in the UK.


The Black Mountain Pass
If you’ve ever watched Top Gear then you’ll probably know this route really, really well. That cruel old, miserable sod Jeremy Clarkson used to love driving new cars down here for the show – until he started beating people up that is. It’s a truly majestic mountain road that runs right through the Brecon Beacons – taking in views of the Tywi Valley and seemingly endless sheep along the way. The tight turns might give your little Ford Fiesta a run for its money – but it’ll all be worth it in the end.