Top 5 best driving routes in the UK

Discover our pick of the best roadtrips in the UK, from the iconic NC500 to the microadventure in the South West that is the Atlantic Highway.

Northumberland 250

Quickly becoming the UK’s most iconic and fast-growing circular route, the Nland250 is a 250-mile adventure across the country’s most sparsely populated county. Take in breath-taking beaches, quaint villages, one of the largest expanses of wilderness left in the country, and some of the darkest skies in Europe.

Highlights include eating oysters grown in the shadow of the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, watching the boats leave local harbours such as Seahouses, the vast wilds of the Cheviot Hills and the rush of catching the Northern Lights off the coast at Beadnell.  There are also nature reserves, ancient looming castles, and intimate restaurants serving local produce.

A real gem that still lacks the crowds of more established routes.

North Coast 500

THE driving route to rule them all, and easily one of the most prestigious driving routes in the world.  The NC500 takes in some of the most eye-wateringly spectacular scenery on the globe and has been described as ‘Scotland’s Route 66’.  You’ll skim alongside lochs, soar up into the craggy peaks of the Highlands and gaze out over the sea cliffs of the Northern Atlantic.  All the while feasting on seafood plucked fresh from the water’s edge that morning, or game harvested from the heathery moors visible from your window.

It truly is one of the greats, but as such is heavily subscribed.  We’d advise going out of season and taking the time to go off the main route to avoid the crowds.

Welsh Coast-to-Coast

From North to South, ride the A470 right down the spine of wales from Conwy in the North to Cardiff in the South.  Given the option we’d always go North-South, as to quote Tolkein’s Ents it ‘feels like going down hill.’

Doing it this way also throws you from the shores of the Irish sea straight into the prehistoric jaggedness of Snowdonia National Park. Recently, Snowdonia has become a real mecca for outdoor sports, and first-class mountain biking, climbing, and even surfing can be found amongst the classics such as Mt Snowdon and Crib Goch Ridge.

As you travel south, you are treated to almost every iconic UK geography; the rolling hills and steep valleys of the Lake District in Wales’ soft midriff, before hitting the Cairngorm-esque Brecon Beacons. All before driving down into the cosmopolitan plains of Cardiff.

The A470’s windy roads and sheer variety of landscapes make it one for those of us who crave adventure.

Atlantic Highway

In essence, the stretch of the A39 between Barnstaple in Devon and watersports mecca Newquay.  However, to describe it as such does it a great disservice.  Along this particular stretch you are offered jaw-dropping views of the Atlantic in a part of the world that, despite its links to the rest of Southern England, couldn’t feel more remote.

Think bucolic little fishing villages nestled amongst high-banked bays, rolling hills and swell-carved cliffs.  It has food, accommodation and activities to match, though with it being exposed to the Atlantic, the weather can be temperamental, so pack for all eventualities.

Perfect for a weekend microadventure in the South West.

Kendal to Keswick

Technically not a ‘route’… but this 30 mile stretch along the A591 was recently voted the second most breath-taking journey to be experienced by car.  Considering how beautiful the rest of the Lake District is, this makes it the perfect jewel to include in a multi-day itinerary through one of the UK’s most wild spaces. 

Taking in views of the Lakeland fells and the banks of Windermere, it encompasses all that is, as Wordsworth put it, ‘The loveliest spot that man hath found.’

A must-add to any campervan trip through the Lake District.

Check out our locations to discover places to stay on the routes for the perfect off-grid adventure.

Grace Fell

Hi, I'm Grace, founder of Wild With Consent! I love getting out into the great outdoors at every possible opportunity, and am passionate about helping more people explore our great countryside. I think Northumberland has some of the best natural beauty in the country - but I'm biased having grown up there!

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