UK Road Trip!
Make the Most of the British Summer
British summer is often all too brief, so when it finally arrives, we advise you to make the most of it. Getting behind the wheel and exploring what the highways and byways have to offer is a great way to see your beautiful surroundings. While it is of course a small country, the variety of landscapes can be hard to believe. Did you know that the British Isles are the most geologically diverse in the world? This leads to an array of different environments in the countryside, with hardly a dull moment to be seen out of your window.
We have put together some regional grand tours below. Each should take no more than about three hours to complete, which leaves plenty of time for the return journey. Of course, you’ll need plenty of entertainment for your trip, so fire up your XTRONS stereo, blast your favourite tunes and enjoy the world rushing by.
We always recommend doing some routine maintenance on your car before heading out; check your tyres and fluids, and make sure you have plenty of fuel (or your battery is fully charged). And of course, ensure your car is in decent condition and has an up-to-date MOT certificate - nothing dampens a road trip like being pulled over a few miles after setting off!
Richmond Park, Virginia Water, Stonehenge, Bath Spa
Beginning at the historic deer park on the fringes of London, you’ll head away from the River Thames and beyond the snarl of the M25 towards Virginia Water, a man-made lake created by the Duke of Cumberland in the 1700s. This beautiful area forms the edge of Windsor Great Park, which stretches as far as the royal palace itself, and is a beautiful place to stroll around.
From here we head down to the M3 to continue west, turning onto the A303 to roll past the World Heritage Site of Stonehenge. There are many theories as to how this prehistoric monument was created, but it is certain that the enormous stones were transported from around 140 miles away, with unknown technology. No written record has been kept of what the huge stones are used for, but the site aligns with the sun on summer and winter solstices. It’s still a religious site for many people today, as well as an irreplaceable piece of British heritage.
Heading northwest along the fringes of the Cranborne Chase AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), we proceed to our destination - the elegant and historic town of Bath. This city was known throughout Roman times for its naturally healing spa waters, still in use today, and its elegant Georgian architecture has made it world famous. It’s a beautiful place with some of the finest independent shops and cafes in the country, and a perfect place to recharge after the long drive.
Sizergh Castle, Windermere, Ambleside, Dunmail Raise, Keswick and Castlerigg, Bassenthwaite, Whitehaven Harbour, St Bees Head
In the far North West of England, just before the country meets Scotland, you find the world-famous Lake District. Inspiring writers and artists for generations, its rugged glaciated landscape is a perfect place to spend a summer’s day.
Pull off the M6 motorway onto the A591, stopping at Sizergh Castle to enjoy the manicured gardens and view of the distant fells. From here, continue on the main road towards the pretty villages of Windermere and Ambleside, on the shores of Windermere itself. This lake is England’s largest, surrounded by stunning mountains as well as cafes, shops and boat jetties.
Past Wordsworth’s residence at Grasmere, continue over the spectacular glacial valley at Dunmail Raise into the market town of Keswick. The town’s Victorian market square and incredible mountain scenery make it ideal for a quick pit stop. Head above the town to Castlerigg Stone Circle for an unbeatable view of the hills.
North of Keswick, join the A66 and continue west past Bassenthwaite Lake. Across the water looms the rounded peak of Skiddaw, among the most ancient mountains in the country. Continue along this road until you reach the Irish Sea at Whitehaven Harbour, a fishing port with a long history, with views stretching as far as Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.
It’s a short hop south to the wide sandy beach at St Bees Head. This natural break in the cliffs has some of the most stunning golden sand in England, as well as incredible views from the top of the sandstone outcrops. Enjoy an ice cream while watching waves crash against the shoreline as you congratulate yourself on the drive.
Chester Cathedral, Bangor, Menai Bridge, Llanfair, Snowdonia, Llyn Ogwen
For this trip through scenic North Wales, we actually begin in England, at the city of Chester’s historic cathedral. The spectacular mediaeval church dates from the 10th Century, representing one of the finest examples in the country. It remains an iconic religious site to this day, representing the centre point of this beautiful Roman city.
Heading out from Chester, take the A55 (North Wales Expressway) west into Wales itself, passing the oil refineries at Ellesmere Port and onto the beautiful North Wales coast. Here, the mountains of Snowdonia meet sandy beaches and rocky headlands, with the region’s industrial past as evident as its beautiful scenery. Stop off at the beautifully preserved Victorian seaside town of Llandudno for a break, perhaps taking the cable car up the Great Orme headland for a spectacular view.
Continue west to the university town of Bangor, heading past the railway station and over the elegant span of the Menai Bridge. Once the main road, the bridge carries you over the Menai Strait and onto the island of Anglesey.
On Anglesey, stop off at the town with the longest name in Europe - Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Often (understandably) shortened to simply Llanfair, the name means “St Mary’s church of the pool of the white hazels over against the pool of St Tysilio of the cave”. The name was likely created in the 19th Century as a publicity stunt, and the railway station, with its long sign and visitor’s centre, is a popular tourist attraction today.
Join the main road and head back onto the Welsh mainland over the larger Britannia Bridge, and take the turning towards the town of Bethesda. Passing through here you will end up at your final destination - the shores of Llyn Ogwen, overlooking the pristine waters to the mountains of Snowdonia. Enjoy the fresh air and hope the rain has stayed away!
Hampden Park, Erskine Bridge, Loch Lomond, Glen Coe, Fort William, Ben Nevis
For our whistle-stop tour of the Scottish Highlands, we begin in a much more urban setting. Begin at the home of Scottish football, Hampden Park stadium, on the south side of Glasgow. This historic ground is the home venue for the Scottish national team, and played host to Zinedine Zidane’s famous European cup-winning volley in 2002.
From here, head west on the M8, past Glasgow airport, then head north over the River Clyde on the elegant Erskine Bridge. Continuing through the town of Dumbarton and past the large whisky distilleries on the edge of town, you reach the southern edge of Loch Lomond. This popular beauty spot is at the heart of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. The main A82 road hugs the shore of the loch as you journey north, past rolling hills, deep forests and cascading waterfalls.
Leaving the loch and continuing along the main road, the landscape gradually changes from woodland into open moorland, approaching the ancient valley of Glen Coe. The glen was the site of an infamous massacre in the 17th century, when clansmen who refused to pledge allegiance to the new King were killed en-masse by government forces. These days such violent history is thankfully a distant memory, and the scenery in the area has to be seen to be believed, with craggy mountains and cliffs that are among the best in the whole of Europe.
The main road continues to wind its way through the glen, eventually descending to the shores of Loch Leven, a sea inlet surrounded by mountains. Continue over Ballachulish bridge and onto the tourist centre of Fort William, a haven of shops, cafes and hotels, with onward boat trips further into the Highlands. Behind you, lurking in the distance, is the long shadow of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the country, capped with snow on all but the warmest days.
Titanic Belfast, Antrim Castle gardens, Lough Neagh, Giant’s Causeway, Derry
For this trip through Northern Ireland, start your journey at Belfast harbour, at Titanic Belfast. This world-class museum tells the story of what was once the greatest ship ever built, the RMS Titanic. This huge ship was designed to sail across the Atlantic in the greatest of comfort and luxury. Famously striking an iceberg and sinking during her maiden voyage, the museum tells the story of the ship in great detail, as well as of the shipbuilding heritage of Belfast which continues to this day.
Head northwest out of Antrim towards the north coast, where you’ll find what is almost certainly Northern Ireland’s most famous tourist attraction - The Giant’s Causeway. This spectacular coastline, formed of over 40,000 basalt columns, is the result of an ancient volcanic eruption and forms a unique environment on this windswept coastline. The unique rock formations and North Atlantic beyond make for an unforgettable environment.
Head northwest out of Antrim towards the north coast, where you’ll find what is almost certainly Northern Ireland’s most famous tourist attraction - The Giant’s Causeway. This spectacular coastline, formed of over 40,000 basalt columns, is the result of an ancient volcanic eruption, and forms a unique environment on this windswept coastline. The unique rock formations and North Atlantic beyond make for an unforgettable environment.
From here, head west along the dramatic coastline to the historic town of Derry/Londonderry. The town has played an important role in the history of both Ireland and the UK, with the scenic River Foyle splitting the town in two. Enjoy the unique atmosphere of the town while congratulating yourself on the long and scenic drive across the island.
For a drive such as this, you’ll need the very best in in-car entertainment. Whether you need a rear-seat screen for your kids, or a powerful head unit for the driver and front passenger, XTRONS has up-to-the-minute tech to suit your needs. Keep your passengers entertained and make the most of your drive by having a look at our range. With something to fit almost any model of car, you’ll find the perfect finishing touch for your vehicle.