With summer just around the corner in the northern hemisphere and with lockdowns easing around the world, we must all be itching to travel again. While international borders are just starting to open up, it’s safe to say that staying close to home will be on most people’s agenda this summer. One of the most popular ways to travel this summer will no doubt be by private vehicle, so if you’ve always dreamed of taking a road trip, or embarking on your own driving tour of England and exploring new corners this is your chance. Not only do road trips allow you to see many places from the comfort of your own car, but they also let you explore places you probably couldn’t reach by public transportation while keeping you safely social distanced from others.
I guess England isn’t the first place that springs to mind upon hearing the words ‘road trip’. Normally I personally think of the USA or Australia or even New Zealand when it comes to road trips but don’t be fooled, England also has some promising road trip potential and unlike the United States, itineraries are a lot shorter, allowing you to combine some or even all of the following driving tour itineraries of England for the perfect little summer vacation. Never has there been a better time to explore England on four wheels.
TOP TIPS FOR ROAD TRIPPING IN ENGLAND:
↠ In some areas, petrol stations are few and far between. Make sure you use apps like Google Maps that tell you where they are. If you’re going somewhere remote make sure you have an extra tank in the car.
↠ Fuel up! With all the exploring that awaits you, make sure you have some awesome snack bars in the car ready for when hunger strikes. I always make sure to have plenty of Macro bars, they are healthy, delicious and perfect on-the-go.
↠ Some areas of England, especially in National Parks, don’t have much phone signal, so don’t just rely on internet-based map apps. I highly recommend downloading Maps.me which allows you to access maps offline too as well as a physical paper map for those truly off the beaten path destinations.
↠ Drinking water is available plentifully in petrol stations, cafes and even bathrooms so make sure you have a reusable, refillable water bottle for your road trip. If you don’t have one yet, get yours on Amazon here. Please consider the planet before buying plastic bottles.
↠ The right playlists make for the best road trips. Make sure you’re prepared and downloaded all your favourite songs or made the perfect playlist for your drive.
DRIVING TOURS OF ENGLAND:
COTSWOLDS ROAD TRIP
One of the best driving tours of England, for many, is village hopping in the Cotswolds. Covering a large area sandwiched between Wales and Oxford, the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Beauty allows you to drive from village to village, exploring the sensational hundreds-of-years old thatched cottages, stone bridges and the lush British countryside. Start your road trip in Oxford and then proceed onto villages like Bourton-on-the-Water, Bibury, Stow-on-the-Wold, Upper and Lower Slaughter, Burford and Castle Combe as well as large market towns like Tetbury and Cirencester. After driving in a north to south direction, finish your road trip in Bath, one of the finest cities in England.
ATLANTIC CORRIDOR ROAD TRIP: NORTH DEVON TO CORNWALL
This stretch of the Atlantic Corridor is probably one of England’s finest coastal drives, particularly the Barnstaple to Newquay part along the A39. There are so many places to stop and explore along this route that realistically this driving tour should take about 3-4 days to drive the 130 miles. My suggestion would be to start in Bristol or Bath before turning onto the A39 and making a stop in Chedder to drive through the jaw-dropping Cheddar Gorge. Next, head towards Bridgwater and then through the Quantock Hills and Exmoor National Park stopping to do a few short coastal walks along the cliffs. From Barnstaple, take a brief detour to Croyde and explore Croyde Bay, one of the most unique and beautiful beaches in England. Continue on your driving tour south along the A39 stopping anywhere the journey takes you. Make sure to check out Tintagel Castle, the believed birthplace of King Arthur before arriving in Newquay, Cornwall, England’s surf capital.
PEAK DISTRICT NATIONAL PARK
Located in the North of England between Manchester and Sheffield, the Peak District is an area of sheer beauty and history. It’s the perfect place in England for a short yet adventurous driving tour. Here you can spend hours driving around, exploring British history and heritage through ancient castles and charming country manors as well as really getting a dose of Mother Nature through the countless opportunities for hiking and trekking in the hills. Some of the best places to hike include Winnats Pass, Cave Dale, Dovestone Reservoir, Kinder Scout and Dovedale. Also make sure to check out the sublime Chatsworth House – an English mansion from the 1600s, Haddon Hall and Peveril Castle, a ruined Norman fort surrounded by limestone cliffs and rolling green hills.
LAKE DISTRICT NATIONAL PARK
There’s plenty to do and see in England’s most popular national park and just like the Peak District, it’s packed with culture, quintessentially British villages and rolling green hills. Not only that, as its name might suggest the main draw to this area are its lakes, deep blue reservoirs that go on for miles, dotting the landscape with beauty and natural artistry. Spend your time road tripping around the park, stopping off to admire lakes and viewpoints, for a traditional English lunch and pint in a pub and of course of the occasional hike. Don’t miss climbing Scafell Pike- England’s highest mountain as well as Lake Windermere, Ullswater, Beatrix Potter’s 17th Century cottage, Ambleside and Grasmere just to name a few of the abundant highlights.
NORFOLK CIRCLE ROAD TRIP
Norfolk, located in the East of England is often one of England’s most overlooked counties. Not far from London, the ultimate Norfolk road trip involves driving around the whole of Norfolk in a circle, taking in Norwich and it’s beautiful cathedral, the seaside town of Great Yarmouth and the picturesque Norfolk Coast. Don’t miss out in the Norfolk Lavender fields, the Royal-family owned Sandringham Estate, Norwich Castle and Holkham Hall, the 18th Century country manor where you even have a chance to spot deer on the vast premises.
CORNWALL ROAD TRIP
Cornwall is the county known for surf, beaches and wild moorland- perfect for those looking for a more active driving tour of England. If you’ve never tried surfing or even if you’re already a seasoned enthusiast, why not road trip from cove to cove and test out the waves? Stay in Newquay for all the surf vibes before heading south and exploring the St. Agnes Heritage Coast, St Ives and the Penwith Heritage Coast- the very tip of England. Don’t miss the Minack Theatre, an ancient open-air amphitheatre and the Eden Project, an iconic eco-park. Loopback around and drive straight to Penzance and then Falmouth for all sleepy fishing village charm.
THE NORTH YORKSHIRE ROAD TRIP
After spending a day or two in York, its time to road trip around the beautiful countryside of North Yorkshire. Head East to Scarborough and then on to explore Robin Hood’s Bay, Sherwood Forest, Whitby Abbey and Whitby Harbour before driving westwards into the North York Moors National Park for some long walks and hikes among the beautiful wind-swept plains. Before arriving in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, make sure to stop at Fountains Abbey- beautiful church ruins amid landscapes gardens and Harewood House, a beautiful historic country house. Finish the road trip by driving and hiking through the Yorkshire Dales, experiences all four seasons in one day. If you have some extra time, I’d highly recommend driving north into Northumberland, along the coastal road to the Scottish border. Here you can visit the infamous Bamburgh Castle, a stunning ancient castle located right on Bamburgh Beach.
THE SOUTH COAST + ISLE OF WIGHT ROAD TRIP
Begin this driving tour itinerary in Dover, enjoying a peaceful walk over the dazzling White Cliffs of Dover before heading back to your car and starting westwards, following the smaller roads closest to the coast. Drive through Hastings and Eastbourne before stopping in Brighton for some culture, great food and the thrilling Brighton Pier. Then, continue on to Portsmouth and take the ferry to the Isle of Wight and spend a few days road tripping around the island, walking the miles of coastal paths and exploring the pretty villages. If you have time continue along the South Coast to Bournemouth and Torquay stopping for a hike on the stunning Jurassic Coast of Devon.
WEST SUSSEX AND THE SOUTH DOWNS NP
If you’re looking for a short driving tour option of England, perfect for a weekend away from London, keep reading. West Sussex is located just south of London, along the coast and it boasts beautiful castles, windmills, country estates and picturesque valleys. Split your time between driving around this beautiful county and exploring the South Downs National Park and the stunning Devil’s Dyke, a scenic valley full of winding roads and hiking trails as well as the historical town of Chichester. Arundel Castle should be firmly on your list as possibly one of the most stunning castles in England and don’t miss West Wittering Beach and it’s brightly painted, perfectly lined beach shacks.
LAND’S END TO JOHN O’GROATS ROAD TRIP
Ok, this one might not be just an England road trip, but if you want a 1 or 2-week drive of Great Britain this is it. From the most southern to the very northern tip of the UK, this adventure of a lifetime can pretty much incorporate most of the smaller driving tours of England you see above. Whichever way you decide to do it, it’ll take you through some of England’s finest coastal roads and national Parks, bigger cities and small market towns, the Scottish Highlands and Cotswolds Villages. Allow at least one week or ideally two for this trip if you’re planning to really stop and explore, which I highly suggest you do.
Do you have any comments or questions about these driving tour itineraries of England? Leave them below, I’d love to hear from you.
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