Planning a staycation? Explore the nine best UK scenic drives
Packed with sightseeing opportunities, breath-taking scenery and places to stop and soak up the experience, a drive can be a really exhilarating way to explore. From the comfort of your car, and with the freedom to travel at your own pace, a scenic drive lets you decide when to stop and explore more. You can take in something you have never seen before in your local area, or why not use our top nine selections to head further afield?
Remember to check the maps in each chapter Opens in new window of the Rough Guide to Accessible Britain to help plan your day.
Kent and East Sussex – a route of contrasts
Start in the seaport town of Hythe, with its accessible pier, and take in atmospheric marshes, the headland of Dungeness, and an RSPB nature reserve. And don’t miss the medieval towns and the vineyards, hop fields and orchards of Kent before ending in the red-roof village of Goudhurst for views of the Kent Weald. This is a 62 mile drive that will take over 2½ hours without stops.
Covering 21 miles of windswept moors, wooded valleys and impressive coastline, this drive offers plenty of opportunity to stop and take a stunning photograph. This figure-of-eight route takes you through many of Devon’s pretty towns and passes by the Valley of Rocks, nicknamed ‘Little Switzerland’ for its dramatic rock formations and herd of wild goats.
An Artistic Drive through East Anglia
For an artistic day out, drive the 26 miles through Stour Valley and Dedham Vale where the nineteenth-century landscape artist, John Constable, painted some of his most famous masterpieces. Constable is not alone; the drive takes you through areas associated with author-illustrator Beatrix Potter and eighteenth-century portrait painter Thomas Gainsborough.
Peak District Scenic Drive
Take in the unspoilt hills, dales and rugged moorland of the Peak District National Park on a 50 mile route from Ashbourne in the South, through Victorian spa towns and along ridges to Hathersage in the North, travelling through the heart of Derbyshire. Don’t miss the spectacular stalactites and stalagmites at Poole’s Cavern.
Lake District Scenic Drive
47 miles of some of the finest scenery in Britain will not disappoint. Starting in the market town of Cockermouth, this drive takes in several of the Lake District’s famous waters and meres, as well as stunning mountain passes and views of some of the highest peaks in the country. Whilst Honister Pass is not for the faint hearted, the rewarding views are spectacular. Poetry fans will love the Wordsworth Museum in Grasmere, and the Brockhole Lake District Visitor Centre near Ambleside is a great end to the day.
North Yorkshire Moors
Taking in moorland as well as a host of historical and architectural gems, this scenic drive begins at Castle Howard – one of Britain’s most magnificent stately homes and which featured in television and film adaptations of Brideshead Revisited. You’ll go through the heart of the National Park to enjoy its rolling heather-clad vistas and wide open skies. This route also offers the opportunity to stop for a lunch of award-winning fish and chips in Whitby.
Scotland’s Island Coast
Start in Armadale on the mesmerising Isle of Skye (reached by ferry from Mallaig on the mainland) to take in over 80 miles of drive, and ferry, of the untamed northwest highlands of Scotland. Fishing villages, lochs, castles, and manor houses all aid the sensational views you’ll enjoy on the route. End the day in Plockton on the shores of Loch Carron to enjoy seafood and views of picturesque sailing boats.
The 53 mile drive between Machynlleth and Beddgelert is one of the most scenic in Wales taking in many different backdrops from woodlands to valleys, mountains, estuaries and ancient castles. The views of both mountain, such as southern Snowdonia’s most famous peak Cadair Iris, and beaches including those of Cardigan Bay, are simply stunning. Don’t miss the accessible boardwalk along the sand dunes near Dyffryn Ardudwy for beautiful views.
Northern Ireland’s Sperrin Mountain Drive
Taking in the heart of the Sperrin mountains, this 38 mile drive starts from the Gortin Glen Forest Park – the western gateway to the mountains – and continues through woodland and east to the shores of Ireland’s (and Britain’s) largest lake, Lough Neagh. Enjoy the panoramic view points, and look out for wildlife such as buzzards circling ahead. There are pretty villages and picnic spots along the drive.
For more details about each of the scenic drives above, as well as further suggestions of other fun days out around the UK, just visit The Rough Guide to Accessible BritainOpens in new window . The free online guide, created in association with the Motability Scheme, features full reviews of over 200 recommendations for great days out for disabled visitors and their families.
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