Sarah Hunt

Sarah Hunt

Sarah is the Head of Marketing and she's tasked with keeping the fantastic marketing team in line. She's probably the reason you've heard of us, and her wealth of marketing experience means that no challenge is too big.

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The best road trips around the UK and Ireland

Who among us has not spent five minutes (or so) at work on a dreary winter’s day, dreaming about epic road trips. Flying down Route 66? Taking in the incredible vistas as you speed through the Alps? Admiring the Italian countryside, adorned with vineyards and sun-bleached white houses?

We’re raring to go just writing about it.

But did you know we have some pretty incredible road trips right here in the UK and Ireland?

Whether you’re looking for a short-but-spectacular long weekend getaway, or you want to explore the depths and breadths of the country over a week or two, you’ll be amazed at what’s on offer.


Before you set off

Depending on your route, you could be covering hundreds – or even thousands – of miles on your road trip, pushing your car lease to its limits on mountainous, coastal or country roads.

It’s important to maintain your lease car before, during and after your journey, to make sure it’s always on top form and ready to get you to your final destination, while allowing you to enjoy the journey and soak in the incredible sights you’ve set off to find. It might seem obvious, but preparing to put in the miles by doing an overall check of your car is a good idea.

Check your oil and fluid levels, your wipers, and – of course – your tyres. You want them to both be inflated correctly and have the right tread depth to keep you, your passengers and your vehicle safe while you’re away from home.

And – as with any road trip, whether you’re zooming down Route 66 or dodging sheep on the North Coast 500 – there will be times when you’re on a rural stretch of road with little or no facilities. So, make sure you refuel when you can, and that you’ve thoroughly prepared by stocking your car with all the necessary driving essentials, including emergency blankets, a torch, a first-aid kit, basic tools, a brolly, and plenty of snacks.


North Coast 500 – Scotland

Length: 500 miles
Route: Circular route from Inverness across to Applecross, up to Durness, across to John o’ Groats, and back down to Inverness

Starting at Inverness, the North Coast 500 (NC500) is an epic journey - that gives the Odyssey a run for its money - across northern Scotland.

Dubbed ‘Scotland’s Route 66’, it’s the perfect UK road trip for any intrepid explorers. Or those who really, really like rugged coastal views and mountainous vistas.

The 500-mile road crosses the highlands before leading you all around the coastline. As you meander through a mix of country lanes and epic open roads slicing between the mountains, past lochs and over the sea, you’ll realise there’s no better way to enjoy the creature comforts of your brand-new lease car.

From Inverness you’ll had towards Applecross on the west coast.

Don’t forget to fuel up at Lochcarron – the last petrol station before Applecross – before driving along Bealach na Ba (Gaelic for ‘pass of the cattle’), one of the most spectacular roads in the UK. The winding lane clings to the mountainside, down towards the Applecross peninsula.

It’s not a route for the faint-hearted, but for those brave enough to give it a good old-fashioned go, you’ll be richly rewarded with panoramic views over the sea beyond. When you reach the end, you’ll find the Applecross Inn, the perfect place to stop for a traditional Scottish meal overlooking the sea.

As you roam along the coast, the route stretches around the peninsula and continues north towards the village of Ullapool.

Despite being a small village, Ullapool is a popular destination, as it’s the largest settlement for miles. Continue on past Loch Assynt and the peak of Ben More, over the imposing Kylesku Bridge and on towards the north coast.

Durness is the first key stop on your north coast stretch.

This unusual town has a remote feel – it faces out to sea with nothing in its way until you hit the distant Faroe Islands. Its beautiful blue waters are perfect for taking a refreshing dip. If you can call ice cold water refreshing.

Once you’re warmed up and refuelled, carry on driving along the rugged north coast towards Thurso, a haven for surfers and one of the largest towns in the area.

From here, the NC500 bends around the top of the north coast, passing the most northly point in Britain – Dunnet Head near John O’ Groats – before dropping down to begin the northeast stretch.

Take in the dramatic scenery of ruined castles and remote beaches at the village of Keiss and on to the pretty Caithness town of Wick. This stretch of road is filled with historic sites, including Dunrobin Castle, so if you’re looking to combine your epic road trip with some history, this is a great area to visit.

Mosey on down the coast, and you’ll eventually meet Inverness again, bringing your epic escape to an end.

Don’t miss: Driving to the Applecross Peninsula, stopping to refuel in Ullapool, driving over Kylesku Bridge, a delicious pie at Lochinver Larder, exploring Smoo Cave, wandering to Dunnet Head at John O’ Groats, picking up some souvenirs at Black Isle Brewery, the sea stacks at Duncansby Head.


The Atlantic Highway – Devon & Cornwall

Length: 134 miles
Route: Bridgwater-Minehead-Barnstaple-Bude-Fraddon

As Devonians ourselves, this scenic road trip is one of our favourites.

The Atlantic Highway spans 134 miles across North Somerset, North Devon and North Cornwall. Passing fishing villages, beautiful coastlines and some of the rural South West’s finest scenery, this epic driving route is often overshadowed.

Though the Highway technically begins in Barnstaple, the A39 stretches along the north coast of Devon into Somerset. Start at Bridgwater, take in the tree-lined Exmoor cliffs at Lynmouth and Porlock, before joining up with the official Atlantic Highway in North Devon.

Rick Turner of Visit North Devon & Exmoor said, “The Atlantic Highway is the perfect choice for a road trip in North Devon, showcasing idyllic landscapes and seascapes alike as you travel down the A39 that links North Devon and North Cornwall.

“It connects the busy town of Barnstaple to some of our most beautiful coastal areas including Bideford, Clovelly and Hartland. A must-see if you’re driving across the South West!”

From here, the A39 winds south towards the ancient town of Bideford, where you have the opportunity to take a small diversion to the adjacent villages of Appledore and Instow, or the wide-open beach of Westward Ho!.

Just a short stretch further, it’s worth stopping to wander the cobbled streets of Clovelly, a village that has remained unchanged for hundreds of years.

Sue Haworth, Marketing Manager at Clovelly Village, said, “Clovelly is a picturesque, historic fishing village steeped in maritime atmosphere, once owned by the Queen of England.

“This atmosphere is embodied in a traffic-free, cobbled street with flower-strewn cottages, tumbling down a cleft in the 400ft cliff to the ancient fishing harbour and 14th Century quay, bringing glorious views along the way.”

For those keen to delve deeper into Devon’s heritage on their road trip, Clovelly is a prime stop.

Sue added, “There are many literary connections; Charles Kingsley lived here, Charles Dickens wrote about it and Rex Whistler featured about it in much of his work." If you’re setting off on your trip during the summer, look out for Clovelly’s unique festivals, including the Seaweed Festival and the Lobster and Crab Festival.

The beauty of the Atlantic Highway is its multitude of potential stops.

There’s something to see almost every few miles, so you can take your time meandering through Devon and Cornwall to transform this 134-mile journey into a weeklong trip.

Further south, on the Cornish border, the seaside town of Bude has two sandy beaches, stretching down towards Widemouth Bay, a part of the coast reminiscent of California on a sunny day. From Widemouth, the Atlantic Highway veers further inland, but there’s an opportunity to follow the coastal road through some of North Cornwall’s prettiest towns and villages including Crackington Haven, Boscastle, Tintagel, Port Isaac and Polzeath.

You can then meet the A39 down towards Fraddon, where the Atlantic Highway ends.

Don’t miss: Walking through Clovelly, admiring the cliffs at Hartland Quay, walking through the gardens at Hartland Abbey, a cream tea at Docton Mill, a pub lunch at The Bush Inn Morwenstow, a stroll along the sand at Widemouth Bay, stepping back in time at Tintagel Castle.


Wild Atlantic Way – Ireland

Length: 1,600 miles
Route: Along the Irish west coast from the Inishowen Peninsula down to Kinsale, County Cork

As the world’s longest defined coastal touring route, it’s difficult to imagine a more epic road trip than the Wild Atlantic Way.

Spanning 1,600 miles along Ireland’s west coast, this route offers drivers the opportunity of a lifetime. From the secluded landscapes of County Mayo to the popular yet pretty County Kerry, the Wild Atlantic Way allows visitors to sample the best of Ireland’s scenery on one connected route.

Work from north to south, and you’ll start in the Inishowen Peninsula.

As Ireland’s largest peninsula, it’s flanked by glorious beaches and craggy clifftops. The Gap of Mamore road on this stretch ascends to 800ft, giving you a spectacular view over the coast.

From here, the next section cuts through the remote Donegal countryside, twisting down the coast towards Sligo. Mullaghmore Head is considered one of the finest examples of the landscape on the Wild Atlantic Way. If you fancy a little detour, you can hop on a ferry over to the island of Inishmurray.

County Mayo, although not as well-known as the likes of County Kerry or Donegal, is one of the most remote stretches of the Wild Atlantic Way. Impressive sea stacks, sweeping beaches and country lanes make this one of the most enchanting counties in Ireland.

Branch out to the Mullet Peninsula to find some of the best beaches. From Mayo, the road stretches down to Achill Island, Ireland’s largest island.

Historically, Achill Island was famous for its population of basking sharks. Today, its frontier feel draws visitors who wish to rest on the sand or admire the highest sea cliffs in the country.

The Wild Atlantic Way continues south, passing Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s sacred mountain, the valleys of Doo Lough and Delphi and Killary harbour. Before long, you’ll find yourself approaching Connemara National Park and Ireland’s Sky Road, with panoramic views over the Atlantic.

Narrower roads wander down the coast before reaching Galway, a vibrant harbour city.

Continue past the famous Cliffs of Moher, past Kilkee and onto Tralee, before you reach the Dingle Peninsula. With seemingly endless sandy beaches, colourful cottages and ancient Irish pubs, Dingle encompasses much of Irish culture in what is one of the busiest areas in the country.

But you can escape the crowds on Slea Head Drive, or take a boat over to the secluded Blasket Islands.

After taking your lease car for a spin around the Peninsula, continue to the iconic Ring of Kerry. From here, you can reach the Skellig Islands, which featured in the final scene of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The route carries on further south, away from the busier areas of Dingle and Kerry, to bring you back to the remote beauty of the Ring of Beara, before stretching around the south west of Ireland for the epic conclusion to your epic trip.

Don’t miss: Walking on the sand at Mullaghmore, taking in the views at Keem Bay, looking up at the towering Croagh Patrick, diving into the Irish culture in Galway, looking out over the Cliffs of Moher, taking your car for a spin along Slea Head Drive and the Ring of Kerry.


A82 Glasgow to Fort William – Scotland

Length: 108 miles
Route: Glasgow - Bridge of Orchy - Glencoe - Fort William

Famous for scenes in the 2012 Bond film, Skyfall, in which Daniel Craig drove an Aston Martin DB5 through the mountains, this iconic road via Glencoe is well worth a visit.

As you make your way north from Glasgow, the scenery quickly transforms.

The industrial buildings and houses begin to disappear, and the lush forests surrounding Loch Lomond come into view. The A82 closely follows the banks of the loch for 24 miles, meaning you don’t miss a moment of this iconic Scottish landmark.

Fiona Robertson, from the famous pit-stop The Green Welly Stop, said, “A tour up the west of Scotland is a must.

“Head up the A82 from Glasgow and take in the atmosphere of Loch Lomond. No matter what the weather, it’s a stunning route. However, be aware that the road is very narrow in places.

“There are a couple of good parking spots on the way that will give you a chance to stretch your legs and check your camera is in good working order!”

When you’ve reached the end of the loch, the road begins to cut across the Trossachs, heading north to Glencoe. The landscape changes again as you head towards the Bridge of Orchy, as the dramatic peaks of Glencoe slowly come into view.

Be sure to refuel and stock up on souvenirs at The Green Welly Stop.

With plenty of parking, a renowned whiskey shop (well, when in Scotland, it would be rude not to), gifts, clothes and delicious food, this is an excellent place to refuel for your road trip. For a true taste of Scotland, try their Cullen Skink – a traditional Scottish soup made from the finest smoked haddock.

Whether you’re embarking on the trip in your new car lease in winter, spring, autumn or summer, Glencoe always looks magical.

In full bloom, the landscape resembles a scene from Lord of the Rings, while in the winter, shrouded in mist and snow, Glencoe is transformed into a magical wonderland.

After driving for 90 miles, there’s no finer place to stop for a picnic than Glencoe. Come prepped with big coats and thermos flasks, and even in the depths of winter this is a beautiful spot for some bread and cheese.

When you’ve drunk in your fill of Glencoe and can bear to drag yourself away, continue north on the A82 to Fort William. The rest of the route is very picturesque, crossing over Loch Linnhe and hugging the banks up to the Fort, where you’ll find the imposing mountain of Ben Nevis.

Don’t miss: The views across Loch Lomond, the photo opportunity as you drive into Glencoe, lunch at the Kings House Hotel, the Three Sisters of Glencoe and a dram at the Clachaig Inn.


Short but spectacular drives

Cheddar Gorge – Somerset

Length: 14 miles

At almost 400ft deep and three miles long, Cheddar Gorge is the largest gorge in England.

Luckily, you can drive through the heart of this spectacular natural landscape. Although it’s only a 14-mile route, it is guaranteed to be one of the most incredible drives you’ll ever enjoy without escaping abroad.

Cheddar Gorge is over one million years old, making the area a fascinating place to visit.

Check out Cheddar Caves, wander through the villages, and pick up some cheese from the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company, before continuing your drive through Somerset.

Abergwesyn Pass – Powys, Wales

Length: 20 miles

This steep, narrow road crosses the Cambrian Mountains in Wales.

At only 20 miles, it’s a short run. But with the route offering panoramic views over the remote, hilly landscape, it’s well worth the visit. And with its hairpin bends and steep descents, it’s a drive that’ll keep you on your toes.

The route climbs up Abergwesyn Pass, through the Devil’s Staircase, and onto beautiful conifer forests and desolate valleys. For those wishing to sample some of Wales’ wildest landscape, this is the perfect road.

Snake Pass – Peak District

Length: 14 miles

Often hailed as one of the best driving roads, Snake Pass allows drivers the opportunity to cut through the heart of the dramatic Peak District landscape.

At the start of the descent into Glossop, it’s said you can see over the hills to Manchester on a clear day.

Drive over moody moorland as you twist your way through the countryside, pretend you’re in a music video as you gaze out over the bleak hills (Kate Bush is perfect for this), and test your driving skills with tricky bends and blind summits.

Black Mountain Pass – Brecon Beacons, Wales

Length: 23 miles

Connecting the quaint market town of Llandovery with Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen in south Wales, Black Mountain Pass is not only spectacular, but also extremely practical.

If you’re looking for an easy way to cross the Brecon Beacons National Park without missing the views, this 23-mile stretch is perfect.

Keep your eyes peeled for stray sheep, and be mindful of the hairpin bends while you’re admiring the views.

A686 Penrith to Haydon Bridge – Cumbria & Northumberland

Length: 37 miles

Named one of the AA’s greatest drives in Britain, the A686 from Haydon Bridge in Northumberland to Penrith in Cumbria had to make the cut.

Best till last, perhaps?

You’ll have to take the driving plunge to find out.

The long, sweeping sections of road offer incredible open views while the tree-lined sections offer a glimpse of the northern countryside.

At only 37 miles, the road only takes an hour, but if you’re visiting this part of the country, it's worth taking this remarkable road.

Image credits: Richard Wiseman, shrinkin’violet, Keith Dixon, ebosman, Petr Meissner,

So, you've picked your road trip, but do you have everything you need to hand?