Best of Britain: The Best Scenic Drives in the UK

in Sightseeing, Travel Tips

Snowdonia National Park, Wales - Photo: Ray Wise

Snowdonia National Park, Wales - Photo: Ray Wise

Taking a drive along the United Kingdom’s top scenic driving routes can be a highly rewarding experience for overseas visitors to the UK and resident Brit’s who often don’t realise the stunning vistas that exist on their own doorstep.

Here are some suggestions for spectacular driving routes encompassing a variety of UK regions.

1. England

Lynmouth to Newquay – The Atlantic Highway
Distance: 135 miles
Roads: A39, A395, A399
Useful postcodes for your satnav: PL34 0HE (Tintagel) EX39 5AP (The Big Sheep) EX31 4SG (Exmoor Zoo)

Lynmouth to Newquay - The Atlantic Highway

Lynmouth to Newquay

Starting in the Devonshire town of Lynmouth, the Atlantic Highway (the A39) takes you down through a section of Exmoor National Park (home to the roaming Exmoor ponies, before meeting the coast at Bideford and meandering through rural Cornwall finishing in the surf haven of Newquay. It’s a great chance to see the beautiful countryside of coastal Devon & Cornwall from the comfort of your own car

Quaint coastal villages such as Boscastle, rebuilt after the devastating floods of 2004 and Tintagel (PL34 0HE), whose castle rumoured to be the birthplace of the legendary King Arthur are popular tourist destinations en route to Newquay.

2. Wales

Snowdonia National Park – Conwy to Portmeirion
Distance: 38.5 miles
Roads: B5106, A5, A4068, A498
Useful postcodes for your satnav: LL48 6ER (Portmeirion) LL55 4TY (Llanberis Lake Railway) LL32 8LD (Conwy Castle)


Conwy to Portmeirion

Jump in the car and make your way to Conwy Castle to begin this stunning drive over the winding roads of Snowdonia National Park, giving the opportunity to take in some spectacular views en-route to the top of Mount Snowdon (if you’re feeling fit!) and typical picture postcard welsh villages along the way.

Betws-y-Coed, a bustling village located in the area, offers an excellent starting point for your journey through the hills, as well as being within easy reach of attractions such as Conwy Castle (15 miles) and the wacky town of Portmeirion (22 miles away) – film set location of the once popular TV show The Prisoner.

At the foot of Mount Snowdon lies Llanberis, 17 miles from Betws-y-Coed from where you can take a trip to the summit by steam train in just one hour.

It’s 4.7 miles up from Llanberis station to the summit of the highest mountain in Wales and England, where you can relax and take in the views in the Hafod Eryri visitor centre. Tickets cost from £25 return for adults and £18 for children. It’s possible to avoid the climb up and walk back down to your car by purchasing a one way ticket up!

For athletic types who fancy the walk up Snowdon, there are a number of trails leading to the summit, which can take approximately 5 hours on foot if you follow the path that accompanies the railway trail.

3. Scotland

Glasgow to Inverness (via Fort William)
Distance: 170 miles
Roads: A9, A82, A827, A93
Useful postcodes for your satnav: IV63 6TU (Loch Ness Exhibition Centre) PH33 6SQ (Nevis Range) PH18 5TL (Blair Castle)


Glasgow to Inverness

The vast Scottish Highlands are a majestic, rugged and wild region where weather patterns can change in minutes and snowy peaks pierce the horizon for miles around.

Initially the route takes you along the shoreline of the stunning Loch Lomond and into the Scottish Highlands. Loch Lomond is the largest freshwater UK loch in, over 24 miles long and has around 60 small islands within this area, many are only accessible by boat – including Inchconnachan, home to a wallaby colony that are a popular tourist attraction.

Further on, Fort William provides an ideal base for winter sports enthusiasts, with the Nevis Range ski centre offering a chance to ski and mountain bike on Aonach Mor. A more leisurely option is to take a gondola ride, 650m up the mountain with great views of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain at 4,409ft.

The stretch from Fort William to Inverness takes you further along the A82 for around 70 miles along the side of Loch Ness, providing the opportunity for stunning photography as you journey through Loch Ness monster territory. There is an exhibition centre dedicated to the legend of the Loch Ness Monster (entry from £6.50 for adults and £4.50 for children)

4. England’s Lake District

Circular Route: Kendal via Keswick to Kendal
Distance: 67.8m
Roads: A5284, A591, A66, A5091, A592
Useful postcodes for your satnav: LA22 9SQ (Dove Cottage – Wordsworth Museum) CA11 0US (Ullswater Steamers)


Kendal to Keswick

Cumbria’s Lake District, in the far north west England is an area of deep valleys and high fells, engineered over thousands of years by glacial erosion from the last ice age carving out a beautiful landscape unique to this part of the world. The A591 from Kendal to Keswick, links two of Cumbria’s most popular towns, winds for 29 miles through the national park and provides spectacular views of Lake Windermere and Lake Thirlmere on the way to Keswick.

Drive east from Keswick on the A66 before switching onto the A5091 towards Ullswater, the second largest lake in the Lake District, where you can take trip on one of the Ullswater ‘Steamers’ that offer tours of the lake from the village of Glenridding (tours from £5.60 for adults and £2.80 for children), or take a leisurely walk along one of the many Lakeland fell trails in the area, looking down onto the beauty of the Lakes as you go.

This is a guest post written by Michael Wade. Michael writes for the team at He lives and works in the North West of England and has a passion for travel writing.

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