Whether you’ve just left uni and are ready for some adventure or you’ve decided to take a gap year and want to make the most of it, one of the most liberating things you can do is head out on a road trip.
The UK has some incredible routes that are sure to spark a passion in drivers of any ability, but before you head off it is important to make sure that you and your car are as prepared as possible.
Aside from your driving licence, there are plenty of things to do to make sure your car is ready for the journey ahead.
The legal part
For a car to be road legal it will need insurance. This is one of the most expensive parts of owning a car, especially for new drivers. To help reduce the cost it is worth considering specialist insurance for young drivers, but the price can still vary depending on the type of car and the driver’s experience. Premiums are also determined by the estimated number of miles you expect to drive, so make sure that your roads trips are factored in when you apply.
Apart from cars that are less than three years old or exempt, you will need to ensure your vehicle has a current MOT certificate. This annual test will ensure your car is safe and roadworthy – very useful if you want to avoid breaking down in the middle of nowhere. Road tax is another legal requirement which is based on the engine size, CO2 emissions and the age of the vehicle.
Whether petrol or diesel, fuel is an important consideration on a road trip and understanding how fuel efficient your car is will help you plan your journey. This can also be helped by how you drive. Adopting simple habits like checking your tyre pressure, driving in higher gears and accelerating or braking smoothly can all help to reduce fuel consumption and minimise the amount of times you have to stop. Before a long journey it is also important to ensure the car has enough oil to reduce wear and tear on the engine.
Most of the items on this list are precautionary, but you’ll be grateful for them should something go wrong:
Your driver’s licence
Start your engines!
You’ve got keys in one hand and your licence in the other, your car is prepared, and the playlist is complete – so what are you waiting for? It’s time to hit the road for an adventure! Check out these five incredible routes:
1. Cheddar Gorge (B3135)
This journey on the B3135 will take you through the heart of the stunning countryside of Somerset. As you drive along you will experience some incredible views, not least the 27 spectacular cliffs by the roadside.
This route has some tight turns, but it is incredibly scenic and offers numerous opportunities to stop and do some exploring. When you arrive, the spectacular sight of Cheddar Gorge will await you. At three miles long and 400 feet deep, it is the largest gorge in England.
2. Loch Ness to Loch Lomond (A82)
The A82 is one of the longest A-roads in Scotland, stretching over 140 miles. It is an incredibly photogenic route that provides stunning views thanks to the winding turns in the road.
The route will take you past Ben Nevis and numerous lochs as well as Rannoch Moor Bridge and the beauty of Glencoe’s mountains, rivers and valleys. As a result of this route’s popularity, it can become quite busy, so time your visit accordingly.
3. Buttertubs Pass
While it is a short road, the 5.5 miles between Thwaite and Hawes packs in everything you could want from a route and is essential for anyone exploring the Yorkshire Dales by car.
The unusual name comes from the 20m deep potholes the road passes, it is said that farmers would store their diary produce in the potholes to keep it cool while they rested in years gone by.
The first part of the route climbs before reaching the cliff side pass’s peak, which offers incredible views (and steep drops) that can be enjoyed as drivers tackle twisting roads. By using the B6270 and A648, the fun can continue as part of a 37-mile circular route.
4. Evo Triangle (A5, A543, B4501)
This 20-mile route in North Wales has become infamous as a location for high-powered cars to be put to the test. The name comes from EVO magazine, who use the area for road testing cars.
The route itself is full of long bends and sharp corners, framed by the incredible scenery of Llyn Brenig Lake and the moorlands that seem to go on forever. The feeling of being set loose on the open road makes this an essential part of any Welsh road trip.
5. Penrith to Haydon Bridge (A686)
Very popular with bikers, the A686 runs across the ‘roof’ of England and is a 20-mile route considered one of the greatest drives in Britain. The highlight of this route takes you over the Pennines. The climb is steep and will take you to an altitude of 1,900ft, but from there you will be able to experience one of the best views you will find in England, encompassing the moorland and Lake District.
The roads on the downhill section continue to twist and turn for a different but equally thrilling, driving experience, but it does mean that the scenery on this section will be more for the passengers than the driver.
From short trips to day long journeys, these routes all offer exciting roads and stunning scenery which should be included on the itinerary of any road trips in these areas. Most also offer numerous charming locations to stop and explore, grab something to eat, or just relax. But be warned, while some stretches might be tempting to tackle at speed, they are all public roads and so the usual speed limits need to be adhered to.