The last 18 months have brought many trials and tribulations for many of us, with restrictions not allowing us to see loved ones or even travel very far. Taking a road trip or driving a few miles away from home has just not been possible, let alone a holiday abroad. When restrictions began to lift, seeing friends and family was the first thing on most people’s minds, quickly followed by:
“Where can we go on holiday?”
We recently ran a poll on our social media channels asking where our followers would prefer to go for a staycation.
The results were:
Lakes and mountains 🗻 - 39%
Beach 🌊 - 33%
Camping ⛺ - 17%
City break 🌆 - 11%
Based on these results, and with the end of the summer rapidly approaching, we have compiled some of the best last-minute staycation destinations, and have included information about some of the best driving roads in these areas that you quite simply have to drive on if you ever visit, whether in a car, van, or motorbike.
The Derbyshire Dales, otherwise known as the Peak District, should be high on anyone’s list as a staycation destination. Historical world heritage sites, museums, places of natural beauty, small market towns and villages – Derbyshire has something for everyone. Some of these places include; Bakewell, which is home of the infamous Bakewell Tart; Matlock Bath, which is a mecca for motorcyclists across the country; Ladybower Reservoir and the beauty of Hope Valley, and its historic connections as a test site for the bouncing bomb in World War 2; the awe-inspiring world heritage site that is Chatsworth House; and if hiking is more your sort of thing, Kinder Scout should test your knees and your stamina!
If you do decide to visit Derbyshire for a staycation, or even just a day trip, and you like driving, there are no other roads in the county that come close to the fun, exhilaration, and a true test of your driving prowess than Snakes Pass. As the name suggests, it is a route on the A57 that snakes through a mountain pass in Derbyshire that was originally constructed to link cities in the north and south.
The route has many changes in elevation and is nearly 1700ft above sea level, and on a clear day it is possible to see the city of Manchester from the high points. The route has attracted much attention over the years, from driving enthusiasts due do its climbing, twisting, and snaking bends over a 12 -14 mile stretch of tarmac. The road itself is classed as one of the most iconic roads in the UK - it has even featured in the Tour of Britain cycle race.
Snakes Pass was also home to the 2nd highest public house in the UK, ‘The Cat & Fiddle’, until its closure a few years ago. The site now operates as a distillery and serves food and drink for those wanting a rest on their journey.
Auto Trader has previously voted Snakes Pass as the number one driving road in the UK, and even Jeremy Clarkson named the route ‘Top Gear Road’. There should be no doubt, this is also a very dangerous road and caution should always be applied if you ever decide to traverse it as the weather in the area can change rapidly, and the road has been closed a few times due to adverse conditions. Always ensure that you drive safe and keep within the speed limit!
If you consider yourself a true car fan or motorcyclist, and happen to be on a staycation in the local area, experiencing Snake Pass on a motorcycle, car, or even in a van is something that should be on your list of things to do.
Scotland is home to many places of natural beauty and interesting historical places to visit. Some of the places to visit are; Ben Nevis located in Glen Nevis near Fort William, which is the highest peak in the whole of the United Kingdom; Loch Ness which is home to the mythological creature of the same name, Edinburgh Castle which stands on Castle Rock and has been occupied by humans for hundreds of years, Hadrian’s wall whose construction began nearly 2000 years ago of which 73 miles of wall still stands, and more recently the Fourth Bridge which was constructed in the late 1800’s and is considered a UNESCO world heritage site and a symbol of Scotland.
With Scotland being a vast and open country known for its lakes and mountains, travelling to some of these staycation destinations may require you to travel on what some consider to be the best driving roads in the whole of the UK.
Glasgow to Fort William
One such road is the A82 which connects Glasgow and Fort William - it is roughly around 107 miles long in total and is the second longest A-road in the whole of Scotland. The Scottish Government has even been quoted stating that the route is "a vital artery for communities in the western Highlands and links Fort William, the Highlands and the Western Isles with Glasgow and the Central Belt", the road also featured as a filming location in the James Bond film ‘Skyfall’ which depicted two Aston Martins driving in Glen Etive.
The route starts in Glasgow and slowly winds through the Scottish countryside and ends at Fort William. You can expect winding and twisting roads on the journey that are also complimented with huge flat pieces of land that are surrounded by mountains, winding rivers, shimmering lochs, and extraordinary views of rolling hills and peaks, especially when driving through Glen Coe. Should you want to take a break along the A82, a few stops to consider should include; ‘The Devils Staircase’ which stands on the shores of Loch Achtriochtan - a very high ridge with a rich history that offers extraordinary views, whether viewed from the shore or at the peak; ‘The Falls of Falloch’ which is boasts beautiful waterfalls, and has picnic tables should you want to rest and have lunch. There is also a famous cottage (pictured above) at the foot of Buachaille Etive Mòr that offers some fantastic photography opportunities if the weather is good, and if you make it all the way to the highland town of Fort William, there is the West Highland Museum to visit, and Ben Nevis should you fancy the challenge of climbing the UKs tallest peak.
This is a route that in normal conditions takes roughly around two and a half hours to complete, however it is highly recommended to take your time on this route as it has some fantastic views and places to visit along the way.
Many of these roads can be quite treacherous and dangerous at times, particularly in adverse weather conditions. Always ensure that you plan your journey before setting off, and make sure that you take extra water and blankets. It is also worth checking the status of the A82 before you disembark, as it has been closed at numerous points for maintenance.
Wales, very much like Scotland, is adored and visited by many for its natural beauty, ancient monuments, rolling hills, mountainous terrain, and its large National Parks. There are plenty of places to explore and stay, including the many small villages, forests, rivers, and mountains. Some of the locations in Wales that are essential for consideration for a staycation, or even a day trip, include; attempting to ascend Mount Snowdown, which at 3560 feet above sea level makes it the tallest peak in all of Wales and a good challenge on the knees; a visit to one of Wales’ most popular tourist attractions - St Fagan’s Open Air National Museum of History; the ‘Gower Peninsula’ which was recognised as a place of outstanding natural beauty and offers extraordinary beaches, woodland, and natural geological marvels such as the The Worms Head; and let’s not forget why Wales is called ‘the land of castles’ - it has over 400 to visit and explore.
The Black Mountain Pass
The Brecon Beacons are a mountain range in southern Wales and is one of three large national parks in Wales, with Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and Snowdonia National Park making up the other two. If you ever find yourself visiting this part of Wales, you will not find many greater roads, than the one that cuts across the western corner of the Brecon Beacons known as ‘The Black Mountain Pass’.
The route follows the A4069 and connects Llandovery with Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, and climbs up Black Mountain, which at its highest elevation is 1624 feet above sea level. Although the route is only 23 miles long, it attracts people from all over the country that want to witness its natural beauty and the experience of simply driving along it, with people shouting and making cuckoo noises at one of the famous corners on the route known as Cuckoo Corner.
The original road is over 200 years old with its original construction starting in 1813, and its eventual completion in 1819, and was primarily used to transport coal to the local kilns. Whilst coal deliveries may have ceased a long time ago, the road has many fans due to its turns, tight hairpins, blind corners, breathless scenery, and stunning views of the surrounding mountains that make you feel like you have been transported to another world - just be mindful of any stray sheep that are known to wander freely!
The route has featured on Top Gear, and much like Snakes Pass on this list, has also earned the title of being a ‘Top Gear Road’ due to it being used many times as a filming location for the TV show. After its appearance on the show, the road became even more popular and is now a staple for many driving clubs, car enthusiasts, and motorcyclists.
Again, much like the other driving routes on this list – please ensure that you pack enough water and warm blankets before you set off, and always check for traffic and weather updates.
Have you ever driven on any of these routes or would you now consider paying them a visit?
Photo credit: Leigh Bowers 📷