Best Driving Roads UK
Below we have showcased our top 10 Best Driving Roads in the UK based upon our extensive experience designing, planning and leading tours throughout Europe. We have picked out the very best driving roads in the UK and have accompanied our suggestions with some commentary that we hope provides you with an insight into what you may encounter en route!
For full details of these best driving roads in the UK below, plus full map links, including places to visit en route, experiences to enjoy across the UK, Europe, the USA and elsewhere then download our Ultimate Drives app – links on our Homepage
A44 Wales – Mountains to Coast
The lesser driven of the best driving roads UK list, this Mid-Wales hidden gem comes in the form of a mountain to coast jaunt worthy of its place in the Ultimate Drives Greatest Driving Roads DB.
Start the drive in the village of Rhayader, heading west. As the scenery unfolds before you expect to catch glimpses of waterfalls (particularly well known is the Devil’s Bridge Falls in the Rheidol Gorge). Reservoirs meet an industrial heritage which might conjure feelings of nostalgia, although there won’t be much time to dwell on this as you press on along sweeping bends through undulating hills; the odd mountainous twist and turn to keep you on your toes.
Some recommend driving the opposite direction, however the UD team prefer finishing in the historic yet vibrant market town of Aberystwyth, where you’ll be sure to discover a plethora of accommodation, dining and entertainment options to suit a wide range of preferences.
A82 to Glencoe – Lochs and Mountains
One summer afternoon the UD team were leading a group through the Scottish Highlands on a route we know well. That evening we sat down with the guests and couldn’t help but notice the buzz of excitement over dinner. Chatting away long into the evening we soon realised this drive had earnt itself a place on the Greatest Driving Roads app.
Sweeping corners and long ascents flanking Loch Lomond are interspersed by the occasional tight turn giving little indication of what is to come. Here, motorhomes and tourists may well prove the greatest challenge. The landscape soon becomes the main focus as the road delves further into the mountains and the tarmac stretches out through some impressive terrain.
In the northern reaches of Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park it is possible to combine the beauty of the natural world with a break from driving – the Falls of Falloch is one of many picturesque waterfalls and an opportunity to picnic on any local delights collected from the villages and artisan producers in the area. A wise time to recuperate as the next stage of the A82 favours those who appreciate the thrill of the drive.
Tighter corners, mountains rise up on both sides and the road continues to reward the driver. As you approach the end of this route be sure to check out The Meeting of the Three Waters waterfall. Located close to Glen Coe, an area frequented by hikers and skiers. The water that forms the waterfall itself is an amalgamation from three different sources which combine to flow into Loch Achtriochtan to the west. A stunning sight and the perfect opportunity to take a break from being behind the wheel and stretch the legs in beautiful mountain surroundings. Be sure to work up an appetite for arrival into the town of Glencoe which offers a wide range of dining and accommodation options. A strong contender for a top UK driving road and certainly cemented its place in our top 10 best driving roads in the UK.
A894 – The North Coast 500 (Part 2)
For ‘Part 1’ and ‘Part 3’ of the North Coast 500 route, download the Ultimate Drives app now. Not only will you find a route description and a route map, but also our other roads from the best driving roads UK list, alongside hundreds of great drives across the UK, Europe and beyond.
Sat there clutching a beer in a traditional Scottish pub and at the end of a week guiding an earlier group in the Highlands, someone in the Ultimate Drives team mentioned the words ‘Route 500’.
A now famous drive and a firm favourite with those venturing this far north, it was decided that we would break this fabulous tour down into our own stages to share with the community. This route picks up from Part 1, at the fishing village of Ullapool. Heading off initially in a north westerly direction alongside the shore of Loch Assynt, the road here is open with long sweeping curves and some memorable straight sections. Short ascents and descents abound before taking a right at a T-junction, climbing away from the Loch, leaving the A837 and following the A894 up into the mountains.
From here there are some narrow sections although the road miraculously isn’t quite single track. What’s more, the surface actually improves over the initial stages of this drive, with the hairpin/switchback at Eas a’ Chual Aluinn the only really challenging corner. From the head of Loch na Gainmhich sections of the road are regularly flanked by tall shrub banks on one side and breath-taking views on the other.
Take a break at the Rock Stop Café before checking out the famous Kylesku Bridge, north west of Unapool. Opened in 1984, it is famed for its elegant design and concrete structure and has an enviable reputation around the world. This is a wonderful area for exploring nature with hiking trails, wildlife excursions and boat trips. Admire the scenery and stretch your legs at the Assynt viewpoint. It feels like the last remaining point of civilisation as the road climbs steeply through moorland en route to Scourie, turning north easterly inland. From Laxford Bridge take the A838 towards Rhiconich, a welcoming place to rest up after crossing this wild yet beautiful land.
B6270 & The Buttertubs Pass
When describing the Buttertubs Pass, none other than Mr Jeremy Clarkson of BBC’s Top Gear has been quoted as stating [it is] “…England’s only truly spectacular road”. A regular feature on best driving roads in the UK, this is one of our favourites. Rising to an altitude of 526 metres above sea level and with a leg of the Tour de France Grand Depart in its recent history (2014), this road is rightfully famed for its steep gradients, fast descents and ample number of technically challenging twisting sections. The road surface is well maintained and the road wide enough for two cars to pass throughout. However the undulating terrain requires much attention from the driver and this road should not be taken lightly.
Leaving Thwaite and the B6270, the actual pass road heads in a southerly direction, making an initial climb that could rival some of its continental equivalents. At the summit of the Pass the views across the Yorkshire Dales are stunning, particularly if the weather conditions are favourable. Here you can also explore the limestone potholes with their reputed connection to butter storage, from which the Pass gained its name!
Make sure you enjoy this short drive to the maximum by taking in as much of the landscape, a recommendation is to visit one of the many natural sights in the area such as the Hardraw Force waterfall just before arriving into Hawes. For refreshments and accommodation there are several options in Hawes including Simtheonstone Hall Hotel or the Stone House Hotel.
A896 & Bealach na Bà
A strong double espresso was the team drink of choice on the morning we set off from Bealach Café, a regular stopping point for drivers touring Scotland’s greatest driving roads including the North Coast 500. This drive was undoubtedly going to be on our best driving roads UK list. We’d been touring for a few days and the weather hadn’t been particularly welcome so far! However, the forecast for the day ahead was promising and after it has dried out, it was decided we’d tackle the Bealach na Bà or Applecross Pass. A wild and challenging road, originally built in 1822 as a route for moving cattle, little has changed other than a basic asphalt surface added in 1950. The Applecross peninsula forms part of the Wester Ross region of the Scottish Highlands which is known for its stunning landscapes. The road itself winds its way relentlessly via hairpin bends, twists and turns and extremely narrow sections with very few passing places and up the UK’s steepest road ascent to a height of 626 metres above sea level – the third highest road in Scotland.
Showing many of the characteristics traditionally associated with the spectacular mountain passes found on the continent this road is not for the novice driver or those who lack experience. This route is single track and exceptionally narrow with little margin for error. There aren’t many passing places either. In winter the road is regularly blocked so check before setting out.
Despite the dangers involved, the rewards are more than worth the effort. Beyond the driving, the scenery is breathtaking and the chance to escape into Scotland’s true wilderness is hard to resist. Ensure you take on fuel (preferably caffeinated!) at the Bealach Café, stop at the Bealach na Bà viewpoint for far reaching vistas across much of Wester Ross, the Isle of Skye and the Islands of Rum and Outer Hebrides. Ending the drive at the delightful Applecross Inn, there’s a chance to reflect on the day’s accomplishments over a wide range of home-cooked food. Take the opportunity to rest up here overnight!
A4086 – Snowdonia – The Llanberis Pass
A firm favourite with the UD team whenever we’re over in Wales, we have been known to head straight for this quick jaunt immediately after crossing the Severn Bridge (and not just for the quaint village pubs serving proper ale!). The drive crosses the northern section of the Snowdonia National Park, from Capel Curig to the coastal town of Caernarfon over the famous Llanberis Pass. Situated at an altitude of 359 metres, the Pass road was built in the early 1800’s and has a ‘magical’ quality – the sense you are following in the footsteps of countless weary travellers from days gone by. Except you’re behind the wheel of an automobile and driving for pleasure. And this drive delivers. It had to feature in our best driving roads UK list.
Without doubt this is the most dramatic (scenic) road in Wales, though as a drivers road, it loses a few points as it does get very narrow in parts, and tourist and local buses also use the route, meaning you need to keep your wits about you..
Setting off from Capel Curig through trees and with views of the lakes of Llynnau Mymbyr and in the distance imposing mountains. The road runs alongside the water for a mile or so before reaching a wonderful section with curves and elevation changes. Turn right and stay on the A4086 heading up onto the Llanberis Pass.
After a steady climb, the road soon produces twists, turns and views of the breathtaking Snowdon. This still feels like wild country despite its popularity with tourists. Driving alongside streams and pasture land, make sure you keep an eye out for other motorists and the wildlife! On reaching Clanrug the adrenaline subsides but many happy memories will keep you going until you reach the fantastic hospitality in Caernarfon town.
A4069 – The Black Mountain Pass
Looking for another of the best driving roads in the UK? The Black Mountain Pass crosses the Black Mountain to the west of the Brecon Beacons. One of the most talked about roads in the British Isles and the setting for countless magazine car reviews, automotive films and driving challenges.
A must-drive for petrolheads and anyone who has that nagging feeling that a drive is more than simply getting from A to B. Consistently ranked as a ‘dangerous road’, this one will take all your driving skills and reward you with miles of grins! Sweeping corners, hedgerows, valleys, bridges, dry-stone walls, moorland and resident sheep all battle to consume your senses…but process this all and you will come away a Black Mountain convert.
Best driven in the summer when the weather is most likely to be clement, ensure you set off early to avoid other adventurous drivers and the odd wayward tourist.
We have fixed the road to start from the Tregib Arms, since the end hotel at The New White Lion is a perfect overnight, though some people argue it’s better driven in the opposite direction – so why not just turn around and head back over again for twice the enjoyment.
Of course this particular road was first brought to the mass public attention back in 2011 when Jeremy Clarkson test drove the Mercedes CLK 63 AMG through the Brecon Beacons, when he commented “I’ve often wondered why they call these the Black Mountains, because they’re not black – they’re sort of green and brown,” he said. “But now I know why.” Good old Clarkson. More recently the team were back there in 2012 testing the Aston Martin V12 Vantage – a trip which confirmed this road belonged in our best driving roads UK list.
A93 – The Old Military Road
There are a number of Scottish roads on our best driving roads UK list. Scotland holds a true combination between the most tortuous, meandering, circuitous and deviant roads. The Old Military Road near Glenshee in Scotland is a clear example of this and one of the best stretches of driving road in the UK. Over 80 miles long it brings you through the Cairngorms up to Glenshee Ski Centre.
The road passes by two castles at Braemar and Corgarff. Two of the bridges built on this section of road, the old Brig o’ Dee and Gairnshiel are still important landmarks.
B4632 – A Run Through The Cotswolds
Not normally a region which features on everyone’s best driving roads UK lists. However we believe it should for a number of reasons. Rolling countryside, wonderful waterways, and the sweetest chocolate box villages you could imagine. A journey to the Cotswolds is nothing short of magical. And anyone who visits this little corner of natural beauty in south central England always dreams of returning once again.
Of course you can arrange a whole week touring through this region, but if you prefer to just drive a scenic route through the heart of the region, we can recommend something rather special indeed – around 120 km start to end
As a start point, where better than the ultimate Petrolhead meeting place, Caffeine & Machine, where you can grab a great coffee, whilst drooling over the cars you’ll find parked up at this incredible meeting spot. The drive through the heart of the Cotswolds ends at a suitably cool automotive hotspot too, the Castle Combe racing circuit.
As you head away from Caffine & Machine, pick up the glorious B4632 road, taking you through half a dozen picture postcard villages, as you meander your way around Cheltenham and continue south. In the south stretch, head through Badminton (famous for the horse trials) and onto some beautiful C routes, where you can expect narrower stone walled roads, sweeping through deserted rolling countryside – a stretch where you really can enjoy your car, as well as the outstanding views.
With plenty of suggested stops along the way, including a few of the best Inns, allow yourself a full day to truly appreciate one of the most beautiful corners of England.
A272 – A South Downs Escape…
Looking to escape London for a day and hit the open road? Seeking one of the best driving roads in the UK, yet not able to venture too far afield?
Well there’s no need to travel to another continent to experience some great driving and stunning scenery. Nestled in the semi-rural south east of England, the A272 is a fantastic route stretching from East Sussex to Hampshire. This is not what we traditionally call an ‘Ultimate Drive’ but we wanted to share a great road that’s on the doorstep of our growing London user base.
The route can be started from the east (Blackboys) or the west (Winchester), dependent on where you are heading from. Starting in the east at the Blackboys Inn the road passes close to Sheffield Park and The Bluebell Railway. However, the road is the main highlight with some twists and turns before opening out onto faster curves and straights as you head into the South Downs National Park. Despite not being further than an hour from London at this point, the road harks back to simpler times with eateries and pubs en route providing hearty fare. For a quick diversion, stop by the Bentley Wildfowl & Motor Museum with an eclectic array of vehicles across the ages.
Heading through Cuckfield village rather than deviating around it, stop off at The Talbot for a drink and soak up the views to the South Downs. Beyond this, enjoy the surrounds of Petworth and the famous (now National Trust) house. From here, the historic Goodwood Motor Circuit is close but requires you to leave the A272 – taking the A285 south, and then the A286 back north which makes a great driving triangle. Assuming the intention is to push on, the road enters Hampshire via the pretty villages of Trotton and Rogate. The market town of Petersfield awaits. With several hills standing between here and the end of the road near Winchester, there are steep climbs and sweeping ascents to be enjoyed as the winding A road nears its close. We have chosen to end the route just outside Winchester, with some accommodation recommendations inside the city in case you fancy an overnight…
For full details of our best driving roads UK, other best driving roads, plus full map links, places to visit en route, experiences to enjoy across the UK, Europe, the USA and elsewhere then download our Ultimate Drives app now on the Apple AppStore and Google Play Store.