7 Of The Best Driving Roads In Britain
With all this talk of driverless cars, autopilot systems and environmental concerns, driving is becoming a black art, seemingly soon to be conducted quietly and covertly. If the world of the petrolhead is set to become an underground one, though, it’s best we enjoy it while it’s still socially acceptable.
To help you get out there and enjoy the roads, we’ve picked seven of the country’s best driving routes. If you can think of any others, let us know…
North Yorkshire is home to many great things, from Wensleydale cheese to the birthplace of Captain Cook, but some of its best attractions are the roads.
The best of these is the Buttertubs Pass, which connects the valleys of Wensleydale and Swaledale. Climbing high into the Pennines, this steep, twisting stretch of tarmac is named after the natural holes in the ground at the top of the pass, which – local legend has it – were used by local farmers to keep their butter cold.
Commonly combined with the B6255, which runs from Ingleton to Hawes and passes the iconic Ribblehead Viaduct, the road has been used for a stage of the Tour de France cycle race, as well as for various Jeremy Clarkson TV shoots. The Clarkson links don’t end there, though, because the road passes the hotel where the fracas that effectively ended the fuzzy-haired Yorkshireman’s Top Gear career took place.
Famously named after the performance car magazine, the Evo Triangle traverses the edge of Snowdonia, offering stunning views and even better driving. The undulations, tight corners and unforgiving dry stone walls make for an exciting drive if you put the hammer down, while the dramatic mountain peaks make it an equally pleasant cruise.
The police are equally aware of this route’s lure, however, and mobile speed cameras are a relatively common sight in the area.
Following a path forged by nature more than 1.2 million years ago, the B3135 twists and turns between rocky outcrops as it climbs away from the tourist town of Cheddar. Although more famous for cheese than motoring, the town is relatively receptive to the petrolheads who visit purely to enjoy the road.
It’s a tricky drive, though, with narrow sections and jagged stone walls ready to punish the ambitious or inattentive. Once out of the gorge itself, the road opens up as rolling farm land replaces the claustrophobic rock walls, but it’s a blur of epic fun almost all the way across to Green Ore and the edge of the Mendip Hills AONB.
Cat and Fiddle
Notorious for being a ‘biker’s road’, the Cat and Fiddle is festooned with speed cameras, but that doesn’t stop it being a great drive.
First, let’s get the big issue out of the way. There’s a 50mph limit, enforced by average speed cameras, that runs the length of the road. In truth, though, only a bike is likely to exceed this, because as long as you don’t cane it on the straights, the slow, technical corners should keep your average speed right down.
Draped over the Peak District to link the provincial towns of Macclesfield and Buxton, the road is packed with tight bends and elevation changes that make it a real challenge, especially when the weather gets all northern (which it does, regularly).
Black Mountain Pass
Splitting the western end of the Brecon Beacons, the Black Mountain Pass has become a firm favourite with drivers and bikers, and is sometimes heralded as the best road in Wales.
Starting in the Roman town of Llandovery, the road runs parallel to the edge of the national park, before taking a sharp left and plunging down a long, lush river valley then climbing out into the hills.
From the top of the pass, stunning views of south Wales are abundant, although you do need to keep an eye out for sheep. There are no walls or fences keeping them off the roads, so they roam freely and make a nasty mess if you hit them.
The Scottish Highlands are always a great place to drive, and the A939/A944 route from Forres to Alford is one of the best roads in the area. Ploughing through the Scottish countryside south-east of Inverness before climbing into the Cairngorms, the 72-mile route mixes country roads with mountain passes.
The mountain part of the route is mostly open and fast, with good sight lines in abundance. It hits its most exciting on the way back down, though, after the road becomes the A944 at Corgarff. From there, it winds from wood to wood, merging with the A97 as it follows the River Don down from the Cairngorms.
Snaefell Mountain Road
A key part of the notorious Isle of Man TT course, the Snaefell road is a dangerous, but highly rewarding, driver’s road.
Starting in the town of Ramsey, the road winds up the hillside, passing low stone walls with iconic black and yellow stripes before climbing up towards the clouds that invariably gather at the top of the mountain. Famously, the road here is completely de-restricted, with no speed limit whatsoever. Triple-digit speeds are legal, if not always advisable, because some of the corners are far tighter than they look and halfway along there’s a tram line that crosses the road.
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