No matter where I travel, I relish the opportunity to get off the beaten path, to see how the locals live, what the landscape is like – I desire to see just what makes that part of the world go ‘round. One of the best ways I’ve found to do this is on a road trip, where I can take the way less traveled – or even the popular routes that just can’t be missed – and take my time about it, stopping wherever I please and turning north, south, east and west on a whim.
Some of the world’s most scenic drives are situated in my beloved UK – I highly recommend arranging a car the next time you’re in the region and venturing out (our partners at Original Travel UK can assist you with car rental, maps and recommendations on where to stop along the way).
Snowdonia is particularly lovely for a drive – it’s an exhilarating experience and boasts the most majestic mountain views. The A4086 cuts through the sheer-sided Llanberis Pass to the east of Caernarfon. Llanberis itself is the closest one gets in Wales to a thriving alpine climbing village, though you’ll definitely feel the traditional Welsh ambience. The A5 winds its way through the stunning Ogwen Valley between Capel Curig and Bethesda, passing the numerous slate quarries that helped fund Penrhyn Castle, as well as several National Trust farms. Our friends at Bodysgallen Hall & Spa will enthusiastically arrange for sightseeing in the region and give you a lovely respite when the day’s driving is complete. From the hotel, one has magnificent views of Snowdonia and Conwy Castle.
Another favorite route is the A498 south of Capel Curig, through the Pass of Aberglaslyn to Porthmadog on the coast, brimming with breathtaking mountain and lake views. You’ll certainly want to pack your camera and plan on many photographic stops. Be sure to build in time to stop just north of the Pass of Aberglasly in the tiny village of Beddgelert, steeped in Welsh mythology and legend.
I adore the Cotswolds, and our partners in the region (Barnsley House and Calcot). It’s easy to become smitten with the cozy villages and thatched cottages, babbling brooks and lush forests that define this storybook region. We can help arrange driving tour for your clients – perhaps pulling out from Calcot en route to Tetbury for its, then on to Westonbirt National Arboretum to see one of the world’s finest tree collections (more than 18,000 spread out over 600 vast acres). Countryside jaunts can also include polo matches in Beaufort and concerts at Berkeley Castle, and the Regency attractions of Bath and Cheltenham. Those seeking alpine vistas can head for the A44, which while ear-poppingly steep, awards drivers at the peak with incredible views of the Black Mountains and Birmingham.
Scotland is, of course, bubbling over with its own awe-inspiring driving routes and our friends at The Torridon rave about the NC500, which was recently launched and is already gaining global recognition. The most famous pass along the route is the Beallach Na Ba (pass of the Cattle) to Applecross. I think the drive even surpasses those I’ve made in the Swiss mountains – the views are incredible, including the whole of Skye, much of Wester Ross, the Islands of Rum and the Outer Hebrides.
Suitably inspired? As always, we are brimming with ideas and have the connections to make a scenic road trips a memorable part of any UK stay. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.