car driving through the woods
Beth Twigg

Beth Twigg

Beth is our Content and Paid Media Specialist, tasked with creating great articles to keep you both entertained and informed. She has two years previous experience, but has been writing and scribbling for much longer.

Read time of 10 minutes.

You've chosen your new car lease, you've been given the keys, and now you're itching to get behind the wheel and explore some of the top 10 best drives in Britain.

Nothing quite compares to the excitement of that first drive; beautiful new car smell tantalising your senses and the whole world laid out in front of you. Luckily for you, we've done the hard work and rounded up 10 of the best scenic drives in Britain, so all you have to do is make sure you've got enough fuel (and snacks) before you leave.

Life across the UK is starting to open up again just in time to make the most of the summer, though international travel restrictions still stand. While an Observer poll has revealed that 68% of people haven't booked a summer holiday this year, there is no reason you can't hop in your car and explore the length and breadths of Britain.

England, Scotland and Wales contain some of the most beautiful drives anywhere in the world (not that we're biased), with some that can be perfectly tied into a staycation, and some that can be done in one evening if you live close enough; perfect for a post-work jaunt.

Winding road through the Lake District

1. Kendal to Keswick (A591), Lake District 

The Lake District is famed for its rolling landscapes, lush green hills, and wide open lakes. Not just for holidaymakers and hikers, the Lake District boasts some of the best drives across the country with some of the most breathtaking views.

The A591 between Kendal and Keswick in particular is one of England's top scenic drives, though it can get very busy during rush hour as it connects two of the Lake District's most popular towns. But this is not a drive you want to take at top speeds. 

This is a drive to savour.

The winding route takes you right through the heart of the lakes, along the banks of Lake Windermere and Lake Thirlmere. The surrounding countryside teems with both nature and culture; while keeping your eyes peeled for buzzards, kestrels, red squirrels and more, you can also spot the landscapes that inspired both William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge. There's even a second century Roman fort at Ambleside, if your taste in history is more of the ancient variety.

The road itself is not overly tricky - the A591 wanders up through the lakes and features winding bends that keep the drive varied. Be sure to take this drive in the middle of the day if you can, or be prepared to sit in traffic.

But with so many incredible views on offer, it may just be the best traffic jam of your life.

Where: Lake District, Cumbria
Distance: 29.8 miles
Approximate time: 1 hour 
Great for: Wandering lonely as a cloud

Road through the trees in the Peak District

2. Cat and Fiddle (A537), Peak District

The Peak District was founded in 1951 and is known for being the first official National Park in the UK. One of the most beautiful areas of England, the Peak District is also home to what has been called one of the most dangerous roads in the UK. 

The Cat and Fiddle route, named after the historic pub situated beside the road, features steep climbs and sharp bends, making it a particular favourite of motorcyclists. 

Never fear if you prefer four wheels over two, the incredible views across Greater Manchester, the Cheshire Plain and the National Park itself will ensure that passengers and drivers alike are wowed the entire time.

The whole route is now covered in average speed cameras in a bid to make the road safer for all, but with so much to see outside your windows this is no bad development. An exhilarating drive for all concerned, the Cat and Fiddle is not one to miss for anyone visiting, or local to, the Peak District. 

Where: Buxton to Macclesfield, Peak District
Distance: 11.1 miles
Approximate time: 30 minutes
Great for: Testing your mettle on sharp bends

Winding road through Cheddar Gorge

3. Cheddar Gorge (B3135), Somerset

Unfortunately formed from limestone, not cheese, Cheddar Gorge carves a path through the Mendip Hills that leaves behind a stunning road perfect for an adventure. The Mendip Hill area is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and once there it is easy to see why.

The 27 cliffs of Cheddar Gorge were formed during the last Ice Age, around 33,000 years ago, and it has remained an area of importance throughout the various eras of Britain, from the Romans, to the Saxons, right through to the more touristy Victorian age.

This natural landscape means that drivers, starting in the large village of Cheddar before heading out along the B3135, can look forward to navigating the tight bends of the Gorge, near vertical cliff faces looming either side. Once through the steep gorge, the road opens out to a gentler gradient and the sheer rockface gives way to trees as the road eventually deposits drivers in the town of Ashwick.

Widely considered one of Britain's natural wonders, Cheddar Gorge is not a drive to miss. Make sure you keep a camera nearby to catch the beauty of the gorge, and brag about your trip to all of your friends and family.

Where: Cheddar Gorge, Somerset
Distance: 14.4 miles
Approximate time: 30 minutes
Great for: Buying some of the infamous cheese

View of Hardknott Pass

4. Wrynose and Hardknott Pass, Cumbria

Potentially the most challenging drive on the list, the Wrynose and Hardknott Pass is not one for the faint of heart and unsteady of hand. Offering an exhilarating drive for anyone willing to tackle it head-first, this drive is best left for the summer months - it isn't one to be enjoyed in the ice of winter.

But it is a rewarding challenge, offering some spectacular views across the Lake District, as well as passing by the solitary Hard Knott Fort.

This Roman fort was once one of the loneliest outposts of the Roman Empire - though those unspoilt views across the lakes would have been unparalleled - and was built between 120 and 138 CE, overlooking the pass which forms part of an old Roman road.

Beginning in the picturesque village of Eskdale, the route begins by meandering up the Wrynose Pass. Perfect for warming up those driving reflexes, it also offers the chance to take in the delightful warning signs before you move to the next stage: 'extreme caution', 'severe bends', 'gradient 1 in 3'.

Warmed up, with those warning signs firmly embedded in your brain, you'll be on the steep ascent to Hardknott Pass, testing both your mettle and your driving skills. The feeling once you've made it through, however, and landed safely at Ambleside is unparalleled, making the whole experience more than worth it.

Where: Eskdale to Ambleside, Cumbria
Distance: 29.7 miles
Approximate time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Great for: A testing drive like no other

Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island

5. Alnmouth to Lindisfarne, Northumberland

This stunning drive takes you up the Northumberland coast, following the shoreline and offering up incredible views across the North Sea to one side, and rural Northumberland to the other.

The history of the county is vast and varied, and remnants of the past are scattered along the route. 

Bamburgh Castle is a particular highlight, with its earliest recorded history dating back to the early English kings. It became a Norman stronghold in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and the Keep that was erected remains the heart of the castle to this day.

Speaking of history, the end of this meandering drive brings you to Lindisfarne, where you'll find Holy Island, Lindisfarne Castle, and the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve. The site of the first Viking invasion in 793CE, Holy Island and Lindisfarne Castle are incredible to view from afar, but if you want to get up close you'll have to check the tides; the causeway leading to the island becomes unpassable at certain times of the day, and the last thing you want is to get stranded!

Alnmouth to Lindisfarne is a truly incredible drive, and not one to be rushed. Worth it for the views alone, the meandering route is the perfect road for even the newer driver.

Where: Alnmouth to Lindisfarne, Northumberland
Distance: 35 miles
Approximate time: 1 hour
Great for: History buffs - castles and islands galore!

View of the South Devon coastline

6. South Devon Coast (A379) - Devon

Another stunning coastal route, this one takes you along a 24 mile stretch of the unbeatable south-west coast, taking you from Dawlish to Dartmouth. 

The perfect drive if your staycation this year brings you to Devon, the route treats you to nearly everything the county has to offer; quaint seaside towns, rural countryside, and coastal views.

Beginning in the popular seaside resort of Dawlish, the route snakes along the stunning coastline, offering views of the wide beaches of Dawlish and Teignmouth, and out across the English Channel. You'll then cross Shaldon Bridge, before heading down to Torquay - otherwise known as the English Riviera - and finally arriving at Dartmouth Higher Ferry. 

Take the ferry across to Dartmouth while soaking in the sight of the picturesque town, and enjoy the rest of your day exploring some of the best independent cafes and shops in Devon.

Where: Dawlish - Dartmouth, South Devon
Distance: 24 miles
Approximate time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Great for: Sandy beaches, rolling countryside, and ice-cream

View of Bealach na Ba, Scotland

7. Bealach na Ba, Scotland

The North Coast 500 is a hugely popular route around the north of Scotland, and one that is well worth taking the time to make a proper holiday out of. However, if you don't have the time to dedicate a week or two to exploring the nooks and crannies of the wild north, this 13 mile stretch is a stunning alternative.

Proving most popular in the summer, it becomes the stuff of legends and fairytales in winter, with dark clouds kissing the tops of snow capped mountains.

You'll start this short drive in the tiny hamlet of Ardarroch, where you'll have views all the way across to the Isle of Skye, before ascending up a single track road that snakes back and forth to a height of 626 metres. 

You can enjoy some of the best views across the Scottish Highlands from the very top, at the Bealach na Ba viewpoint, before descending back down the other side to Applecross, with its vista across the sea to the island of Raasay.

Not one to be rushed, this is definitely a short drive to make the most of.

Where: Ardarroch to Applecross, Scotland
Distance: 12.7 miles
Approximate time: 30 minutes
Great for: Stepping straight into a fantasy book

View of Isle of Arran

8. Isle of Arran Coastal Road (A841), Scotland

One for adventure lovers, this drive takes place on the Scottish Isle of Arran - a place chock full of history, mystery, hidden coves, and rugged landscapes. 

After taking the ferry from Ardrossan on the mainland across to Brodick on the island, you'll be able to explore the whole perimeter of Arran, with each new section of the road offering new views across different parts of Scotland. Or you could go rogue, and explore the inland routes that take you through the mountains.

Either way you're in for an adventure. 

Going anticlockwise, you'll start in Brodick before taking the A841 which takes you in a circuitous route around the isle, following the popular Arran Coastal Way hiking trail. Passing the Brodick Castle and Country Park to your left, it won't be long before you'll be at Lochranza, where you'll be able to gaze across the waves and spot the castle sitting alone on its promontory.

Continuing on, you'll head south along the same road, passing through several of the islands' small towns, past sandy beaches to the south, before looping back round to Brodick, where you'll be able to catch the ferry back to the mainland.

Where: Isle of Arran, Scotland
Distance: 56 miles
Approximate time: 2 hours
Great for: Adventures off the beaten path

Road through the Brecon Beacons, Wales

9. Black Mountain Road, Brecon Beacons National Park 

The Brecon Beacons has long been a favourite destination of hikers looking for an adventure, but the winding roads and incredible views also offer plenty for those who prefer to take a leisurely drive as they absorb the sights.

Brecon is also home to the Black Mountain Pass.

A route that has long been popular for thrill seekers, it even featured on an episode of Top Gear. With tight bends, stunning scenery and stomach-turning drops, this route offers something for everyone, driver and passenger alike.

One of the more tricky drives on this list, the route starts in the Welsh town of Llandovery before ascending up into the Brecon Beacons, peaking at 493 metres at Foel Fawr. The road consists of several steep climbs up to the summit, before smoothing out into a meandering road that takes you through the heart of the Beacons.

One that is much better saved for a weekday, this is not a route for someone who hates a hairpin bend, but for those who are willing to tackle the challenges this drive has to throw at them, it's completely worth it. 

Just remember to keep your eyes peeled for sheep.

Where: Llandovery to Brynamman, Wales
Distance: 20 miles
Approximate time: 40 minutes
Great for: Flexing your driving skills 

Road through Llanberis Pass, Wales

10. Llanberis Pass, Wales

For an incredible view of Mount Snowdon - or Yr Wyddfa, to give the mountain its proper Welsh name - it doesn't get much better than the route from Capel Curig to Llanberis across the Llanberis Pass. 

The route has long been popular with bikers and hikers, but it is also the perfect route for motorists, passing by the foot of the mountain and offering up some of the most incredible views Wales has to offer.

The route is bordered by waist high stone walls, framing the road that cuts through the pass, craggy rock faces rising to your left and right. It's an A road with a 60mph speed limit and without some of the hairpin bends of the other drives on this list, meaning you'll be able to build up a bit of speed which will only add to the sheer exhilaration of the drive.

You'll also pass by the Pen-y-Gwryd hotel where Sir Edmund Hilary stayed when he was using Yr Wyddfa to train for Everest, and Llanberis at the end of the route allows you to take the Mountain Railway to the summit of the mountain.

 Not a drive to be missed.

Where: Capel Curig to Llanberis, Wales
Distance: 11 miles
Approximate time: 20 minutes
Great for: Mountainous adventures and exhilarating straights

If you're interested in finding out more about a personal car lease and testing out some of these drives for yourself, get in touch with one of our leasing experts who would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have.