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The Best UK Road Trips For 2020

Tuesday 21st January 2020
By Ely Power
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By Ely Power
We’ve got your next staycation sorted with these winning U.K. road trip ideas!

To admire the United Kingdom’s wild beauty like never before, you’ll need to skip its trains and planes. With over 260,000 miles of sprawling, winding and breathtaking roads to roam, we’ve got more than our fair share of scenic touring routes.

From cultural hubs and historical hotspots to extreme sports and natural wonders, a U.K. road trip delivers everything you need to experience your dream getaway - especially when you’re unbound by hotel bookings. Explore in a campervan, caravan or motorhome and you’ll have the freedom and flexibility to wander wherever your whims take you, discovering each destination at your own pace.

Not sure where to find the best road trips in the U.K.? To help you narrow down your search and plan the ultimate holiday, we’ve put together some of our favourite road trips across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It’s up to you to decide which adventure is calling. 

The Causeway Coastal Route

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash
Distance: 130 miles
Ideal Road Trip Duration: 2 days

Clinging to the rugged Atlantic coast, this jaw-dropping journey from Belfast to Londonderry showcases some of Northern Ireland’s top masterpieces, both mythical and natural.

Before setting off to discover the Causeway Coast and its many marvels, make sure to stock up on road snacks at St. George’s Market in bustling Belfast. From there, the route weaves nine scenic drives together, bringing you to iconic attractions like the knee-buckling Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, dramatic Dunluce Castle and, of course, the otherworldly Giant’s Causeway.

Local legend has it that feuding giants hand-built this World Heritage Site, while scientists argue that the 40,000 basalt columns were created when lava flows met the frothing ocean over 50 million years ago. Whether you’re a romantic or a realist, this extraordinary formation is a must-see (especially at sunset, when the crowds have cleared out).

And don’t let the thought of busy visitor centres put you off - swathes of pristine beach, craggy cliffside and the odd seaside village line your drive, with peaceful detours lying just off the beaten track.

After pulling up to Londonderry, finish off your Causeway Coast road trip with a trad music session at the lively Peadar O'Donnell's – a perfect end to your Northern Irish jaunt.

Pro tip: Watch your wing mirrors on the narrow twists and turns.

The Road To The Isles

Photo by Jack Anstey on Unsplash
Distance: 46 miles 
Ideal Road Trip Duration: 3 days

The A830 - or ‘Road to the Isles’ as it’s more whimsically dubbed - takes you on a scenic tour of the Scottish Highlands, along the shores of ancient lochs and across seas of wild heather. Steeped in folklore and tales from bygone eras, this legendary route runs from Fort William to Mallaig, offering panoramic views of the Scottish Isles and glimpses of majestic red deer on the Knoydart peninsula. 

While this road trip starts at the base of Ben Nevis, the U.K.’s tallest mountain, your history lesson begins in Fort William. Here, you’ll be driving alongside the 19th-century Caledonian Canal, which flows past the honorary Glenfinnan Monument for fallen Jacobites. Next, you’ll follow the West Highland Line tracks right by Glenfinnan Viaduct, featured famously in the Harry Potter films and across which you can still ride the Jacobite Steam Train. 

Another recordbreaker for your road trip is magnificent Loch Morar, the U.K.’s deepest freshwater lake. It’s even complete with it’s own fairy-tale beast: Nessie’s elusive cousin, Morag. When you reach the end of the road, fill up on some smoked kipper (Mallaig’s local delicacy) before hopping aboard a ferry to Eigg, Canna, Muck, Rum or Skye.

Pro tip: The last leg of this journey is a straight, speedy road from Arisaig to Mallaig. Provided you're not in a rush, we recommend opting for the older but more picturesque ‘Alternative Coastal Route’.

Snowdonia to Anglesey via Llanberis Pass

Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash
Distance: 46 miles
Ideal Road Trip Duration: 2-3 days

Brilliant for hikers young and old, this route is all about marvelling at the beauty of nature as you stretch your legs. After checking out the magical Swallow Falls at Betws-y-Coed, peel off from the A5 to follow the A4086 through Llanberis Pass. Driving straight across Wales’ first ever National Park, you’ll soon discover why Snowdonia is special.

There’s nothing like gazing out your window at ancient mountains blanketed with dense forest that only gives way to glassy lakes. As if that sight wouldn’t take your breath away, you’ll also drive right under Snowdon itself, Wales’ highest peak. Stop to brave the climb or simply awe at its magnificence from behind the wheel! No worries if it’s the latter, as you can choose from a range of other walking tracks throughout your journey.

Once you’ve traversed Snowdonia’s wilderness, continue along the A487 to reach Anglesey’s charming coastline. Here, you can take on as much of the 130-mile Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path as desired, exploring all sorts of wonderful attractions like Holyhead Mountain, South Stack lighthouse and Cemlyn Nature Reserve.

The North Coast 500

Photo by Colin Horn on Unsplash
Distance: 500 miles
Ideal Road Trip Duration: 6-8 days

Pay ode to the Proclaimers (well, kind of) and drive 500 miles with a scenic lap of Northern Scotland. This stunning circuit hugs the Black Isle coastline, skirts the craggy cliffs of Caithness and passes by the misty mountains of Wester Ross, highlighting the Highlands in all their glory. Think white sandy beaches, medieval castles and wild moorlands.

The outside world will melt away as you travel from the east coast’s fishing villages to the wild western seaboard. By day, keep an eye out for dolphins and seals, particularly at Chanonry Point. By night, watch the Northern Lights flicker and dance in the clear night sky. This is one of the U.K.’s best spots to catch them in action!

Make sure to stop for a picnic under the pines at Loch Maree, looking out over its 66 islands. Continuing on, you’ll reach the bizarre yet beautiful Bealach na Bà, which winds its way up and down remote Applecross Peninsula like a giant serpent! Then it’s back to where you started - and the real-life setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth - Inverness Castle.

Pro tip: Thanks to about 200 miles of single-track country lanes, smaller campervans are best for this one. 

The Atlantic Highway

Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash
Distance: 77 miles
Ideal Road Trip Duration: 4 days

While it might sound like it belongs in New England, the A39 from Bridgwater to Bude is far from an American turnpike. 

Rather, this idyllic route laces its way through the rolling hills and windswept barley fields of the Devon and Cornish coastlines. A go-to getaway for surfers and sun-chasers, time will slow down as your Atlantic Highway road trip brings you to a laidback land of seafood shacks and hidden coves.

Although the road itself doesn’t quite touch the shoreline, you can peer beyond its hedgerows to spot golden dunes and crashing waves in the distance. Not to mention you’ll be driving right past the beachtown of Bude and its renowned surf! Those who’d rather stay dry can hike across the sweeping moors of Exmoor National Park or explore the ruins of King Arthur’s Tintagel Castle instead. 

When it’s time to refuel, treat yourself to freshly caught oysters at Padstow marina, indulge with a cream tea in Bideford, or enjoy a picnic in front of towering sea stacks on Bedruthan Steps Beach. And where better to finish your journey than Land’s End, the southernmost point of England?

All in all, this coastal road trip proves you don’t have to book a plane ticket for a dreamy seaside holiday!

Pro tip: Make sure your van has enough space to store a surfboard - you won’t want to miss these breaks.

The Black Mountain Pass

Photo by Tom Rickhuss on Unsplash
Distance: 22 miles
Ideal Road Trip Duration: 1-2 days

If you’re after a small but mighty adventure, this is the road trip for you. The tight hairpin bends and stunning scenery between Llandovery and Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen make Black Mountain Pass an old favourite amongst motor journalists. Sound familiar? You might’ve watched Jeremy Clarkson tackle the route on Top Gear! 

Zigzagging its way through the striking vistas of Brecon Beacons National Park, you’ll cross rushing rivers, wildflower fields and rocky limestone outcrops as you ascend the dragon’s humps of Pont Aber into high moorland and swoop into lush valleys.

To make the most of this heart-racing journey, remember to take a breather at each viewpoint (especially in Herbert’s Pass) and really appreciate your remarkable surroundings. While you can technically drive this route in a single day, it pays to take things slower!

Pro tip: Best stick with a smaller van for this one - hairpin turns and caravans aren’t an ideal combination!

A Lap Of North York Moors National Park

Photo by Agnieszka M on Unsplash
Distance: 90 miles
Ideal Road Trip Duration: 3 days

Feel as though you’ve stepped back in time as you drive through the enchanting North York Moors National Park. Here, country lanes rise up from bucolic hamlets in verdant valleys to the barren and blustery moorlands, where weathered stone crosses signal ancient Roman roads. To enjoy all that the region has to offer, embark on a lap that encompasses their greatest hits. 
First, stroll around the quaint market town of Helmsley, the fascinating ruins of Rievaulx Abbey and the Moors National Park Centre at Danby. Then head to postcard-perfect Whitby to feast on the day’s catch under a clifftop castle. Scalby and Dalby Forest will follow, offering respite from the car seat with an abundance of hiking trails. Alternatively, pay a visit to the lovely town of Rosedale Abbey, popular for its country strolls and Dale Head Farm Tea Garden.

Wherever your North York Moors road trip takes you, you’ll experience the rich heritage and diverse landscapes that make this incredible place one of a kind.

Pro tip: Visit this windswept wilderness the summertime, when a purple haze of heather blooms as far as the eye can see.

Planning A Road Trip Around The U.K.?

Once you’ve chosen your favourite route, it’s time to pick the perfect van for your adventure! Camplify offers #VanLifeForAll, connecting local owners with explorers wishing to set off on the U.K. road trip of a lifetime. ‘Cause whether you’re braving the Black Mountain Pass or cruising down the Atlantic Highway, nothing beats doing it your way. 

What Is Camplify? 

We are the U.K.’s largest caravan & motorhome sharing community, helping connect thousands of holidaymakers with local owners. 

These owners can list their vans for hire while not in use, earning over £10,000 each year! As a holidaymaker, Camplify helps you find the perfect rental so you can experience the joys of van life without having to own one yourself. 

Interested? Learn more about Camplify here.

To find out how Camplify can work with you and your RV, register today here.

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