Seven Winter Drives That Make The Most Of The UK's Stunning Scenery
From frosty peaks to frozen lakes, the UK’s countryside is a must-see in the colder months.
But cold hands and feet, slippery paths and unpredictable weather might be putting you off exploring the great outdoors. We've identified seven picturesque views which you can see by buckling up rather than wrapping up.
Duncan McClure Fisher, founder and CEO of MotorEasy, said: “The UK countryside is a site to behold but when the cold weather sets in it’s not always the most accessible by foot. Driving is a great way to venture deep into the wilderness and embrace nature in comfort.
“We advise motorists to do the necessary vehicle checks before heading out on winter road trips, including making sure they have enough fuel, screen wash and, most importantly, checking their tyres.
“While the minimum tyre tread is 1.6mm, in winter it’s recommended that you have a minimum of 3mm to enhance your car’s grip on icy roads. A winter health check is recommended too to get ahead of any issues that could crop up.”
Once you’ve made sure your vehicle is ready for the conditions, there’ll be no stopping you exploring the best winter scenes the UK has to offer.
1. A686 Haydon Bridge, Northumberland to Penrith, Cumbria
Take the time to complete this 45-mile drive, featuring tree-lined sections and swooping roads. There are a number of places of interest as you hit the Allen Valleys, a stunning area of natural beauty in the North Pennines. Not only is it a great connection between the two counties, it’s virtually traffic free - giving you plenty of space to explore. The surrounding fells and heather moors are home to flowers and wildlife, including the rare black grouse.
2. A149 from Hunstanton to Cromer, Norfolk
While the A149 runs from Kings Lynn to Great Yarmouth, the section of coast road from Hunstanton to Cromer shows the best of North Norfolk. From the endless sea views to the idyllic villages to explore en route, you could make a holiday out of all the sights on this stretch of Tarmac. Starting with the stunning red and white cliffs at Hustanton, cruise along the coast and catch the early winter sunset at Holkham Hall’s nature reserve. On the route you can grab some fish and chips in Wells-next-the-Sea, and take a stroll down one of its many walking routes. The Wells and Walsingham light railway is just east of the village and is definitely worth a pitstop.
3. The Snow Roads Scenic Route, Scotland
The highest public roads in Britain, stretching for 90 miles, this route covers some of the most scenic points in Perthshire, Aberdeenshire, Moray, Speyside and the Highlands. Taking in snow-capped mountains, rugged glens, the Snow Roads Scenic Route will lead you to some of the Cairngorms National Park’s best spots. Starting in the picturesque market town of Blairgowrie, the route passes through the towns of Braemar, Ballater and Tomintoul before finishing in Grantown-on-Spey. There are spectacular views aplenty out of your windscreen, but be wary when visiting in snowy conditions - these roads stake their name to being the first roads to close when snow falls.
4. Aberystwyth to Rhayader, Wales
The scenic route across the Cambrian Mountains. From Aberystwyth on the A4120 to Devil’s Bridge, follow the B4574 to Cwmystwyth, then pick up the magnificent mountain road that sweeps through the mountains, past the Elan Valley reservoirs, before eventually landing into Rhayader. Take a pitstop in Aberystwyth and enjoy a steam train journey up to Devil’s Bridge. The Elan Valley reservoirs were devised by the Victorians to supply water to the English Midlands. The estate now provides tranquility for walkers with lots of wildlife to spot.
5. Sperrin Mountains, Northern Ireland
With views of wild and untouched mountains, teeming with wildlife, drive through County Tyrone to witness the Sperrin Mountains in all their glory. It's said the routes take you through 10,000 years of history. There are four routes to choose from – North, Central, East and South – which you can either do in isolation or mix and match if you want a longer adventure. Whichever one you choose, you’ll be astounded by the sheer beauty of the area. You’ll motor through thick forests and past spectacular waterfalls. Pack some binoculars and look out for golden eagles at one of the many pit stops in the area. You might even snatch a rare glance at a red grouse.
6. Buttertubs Pass, Yorkshire
Jeremy Clarkson says this is “England’s only spectacular road” and featured it on Top Gear and his own series Clarkson’s Car Years. Crossing the high moorland between Wensleydale and Swaledale, most will know this road from the Grand Depart of the 2014 Tour De France. While the area stunned crowds and cyclists alike in the June sunshine eight years ago, it is equally as glorious in the winter season.There are places to pull in at the summit and you can visit the limestone potholes which give the pass its name. The story goes that as farmers rested at the top of the climb on a hot day - on route to Hawes market - they would keep the butter they had produced cool by lowering it into the potholes.
7. The Long Causeway, Lancashire to Yorkshire
This is the shortest on the list, but what it lacks in length it makes up for in thrills. Whichever way you approach it, the ascent is steep but the seven-mile glide over the West Pennines is a highway to heaven.Feeling on top of the world, this Bronze Age track turned major trading route has plenty of stopping points for you to jump out of the car and take in the 360 degree views, and even wander amongst the wildlife for a while. Aside from a few houses, the journey is completely rural and with Cliveger at one end, and Hebden Bridge at the other, there’s plenty to take in once you climb back down.