When you think of road trips, you probably have the US in mind. The iconic Route 66 or the West Coast Highway. Stunning vistas through landscapes out of a picture book. But did you know there are plenty of incredible road trips here in the UK. Southern England is no exception, with rolling hills, stunning seascapes, and iconic landmarks waiting to be explored from the driving seat of your car.
One of the most iconic road trips in UK history, London to Brighton is most commonly associated with the mods and rockers who would take their motorbikes and mopeds down to the seaside for some sun, sea, and a scrap or two! Whether you have 2 wheels or 4, taking the M23 to this iconic seaside resort makes for a fantastic road trip. Cruise along the seafront, visit the famous Pavilion, or take a walk through the lanes for some vintage clothing. Just make sure you pick up a stick of Brighton rock for the return journey.
A destination beloved by Victorian England, modern-day Southend still has plenty to offer. The highlight being the beloved Southend Pier – at least by the locals! The longest pleasure pier in the world, take a walk along the 1 and ¾ mile promenade and find yourself in the middle of the Thames Estuary. You might also bump into Jamie Oliver – he films his Channel 4 TV show in a café here. Aside from the pier, there’s arcades and an amusement park. So if the weather is not good enough for the beach, then there’s still plenty to do.
The name may conjure up ideas of cheese, but the Cheddar Gorge is a spectacular location often overlooked in the UK. Cheddar Gorge is a route seemingly carved through limestone, taking you through the Mendip Hills to the Somerset village of Cheddar. As well as the spectacular scenery you can see, you can take a trip to the Cheddar Caves, a subterranean wonderland that is a must visit. A drive to the Gorge is like taking a trip back to when England was first formed. Incredible.
The coastal road from Poole to Exeter takes you to many of Dorset and Devon’s best seaside towns. From Poole Quay, you travel through historic Dorchester, through Bridport, and then along an incredible and dramatic road that winds along the coast to Exeter. Steep cliffs, big hills, and small seaside villages. Plenty of interesting stops along the way. But even if you stay in the car, the views are spectacular.
The southernmost point of the UK, Land’s End is the last place you can visit before it’s all Atlantic Ocean until North America. There are a few different routes down through Devon and Cornwall to reach this point. Stop off at a seaside resort for some fish and chips or visit the north coast for some surfing or bodyboarding. And then, finish it all off with the dramatic rock formations and seascapes at Land’s End landmark attraction. Once you’re done, you can always turn around and take the road all the way to the most northern point, John O’Groats in Scotland. It’s only 603 miles away.
If you ever wanted to get lost in the woods, then the New Forest is the place to go. Take one of the many woods that wind their ways through the trees and heaths of the forest. Stop for some afternoon tea in Lyndhurst, or visit one of the exclusive hotels, like Chewton Glen in New Milton. Just make sure you slow down for the famous New Forest ponies. They own the roads here!
One of the most iconic landmarks in the World, never mind the UK, Stonehenge is a spectacular and mysterious location that everyone in the UK should visit. No one knows exactly who built this circle, nor why they did it. Maybe it was ancient druids? Maybe it was aliens? What we do know is that a trip to Stonehenge is to tick off an item on the bucket list. Who knows, you may uncover some deep spiritual connection to ancient England.
Two cities filled with history, taking a trip from Bristol to Bath or vice-versa gives you an insight into England. A visit to Bath is a trip back to Roman England, with the baths a must-visit. If you like your historic fiction, then a visit to Jane Austen’s house takes you into the life of the iconic author. And if you like rugby, Bath’s stadium is in a beautiful location beside the river. Then visit Bristol and the historic dockyards or the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge. And keep your eye out, as you might see some artwork by Bristol’s own Banksy.
Take a trip through wild open moorlands of Dartmoor, a spectacular national park in the south west of England. Walk amongst the moors, climb the craggy landscapes, or picnic amongst the forests and rivers that make up the park. There are Neolithic tombs, Bronze Age stone circles, and even a Napoleonic prison to visit. Keep an eye out too for the famous black cats that may or may not be prowling the moors.
How many road trips in the world can end with you seeing lions, giraffes and monkeys? Unless you’re driving across Africa, your best bet is to take a road trip to Longleat in Wiltshire. The highlight is the safari park, where you can drive amongst some of nature’s most famous and beautiful creatures. Just keep your doors locked in the tiger enclosure, and make sure everything is nailed down and glued properly before you encounter the cheeky monkeys. They like to take their own souvenirs from every trip! You can also visit the stately home and get lost in the giant hedge maze. There’s so much to discover, you will want to come back again and again. And not just to recover the items stolen by the monkeys!
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