Friday, 11 September 2015 GMT
Author: Staveley Head
Whether you’ve got kids, a partner, best mates or you like to go it alone, we all have a favourite drive we like to take. And the UK is a pretty varied place to have one.
There are amazing cities to visit, little seaside towns to explore, as well as pubs in the country, hotels, castles, parks, woodlands, walks – everything you want to do and see is yours. You can drive somewhere with your bike or surfboard, take your dog, just explore, go out on a boat, go shopping or simply enjoy some peace and quiet.
In fact, there’s so much to it got me thinking. What are the best day drives in the UK? Where can you drive to in a couple of hours, have a truly amazing time and still get home in time for tea?!? Obviously, it depends where you live. You’re not going to make it from Aberdeen to a little tea shop in Cornwall in 120 minutes, so what are the best ones near you?
Now this list could go on and on so I’ve kept it short and sweet and found these absolute belters. And I’ve a nice little tip for you at the end of them!
Always hard to get out of the capital by car unless you always leave early or really late, but there are some amazing places to visit in the city and just outside it within our timeframe. Choose from historic experiences at Windsor Castle, Hampton Court, Eltham Palace and Gardens and the Royal Museums at Greenwich in the south of the city to the beautiful seaside town of Whitstable in Kent (2hrs and 12 mins from Charing Cross). There’s more fun going east at Southend-on-Sea, there’s the history of Oxford and Cambridge, the fresh air of the New Forest and the stunning Suffolk coast where you can relax over a local pint.
Going west now and in about 30 minutes you can get to Bath with all its Roman glory, and Cardiff in just a few minutes more. Exploring Wales further you can reach the stunning southern coastline – even get to the Mumbles if you’re lucky. Go north east from Bristol and in about an hour you’ll reach the Cotswold Country Park with an inland beach and activities like swimming, kayaking, canoeing, even zorbing! Even nearer and potentially more thrilling is Cheddar Gorge X-treme with near vertical cliffs to scale and eerie caverns to explore. My favourite out this way is the Strawberry Line cycle ride along the old Cheddar Valley railway line. It’s pretty much all flat and off-road and you can drive to Yatton in half an hour and hire bikes from there. Great family day out!
Now if you want a day out from Manchester (!) then you have to visit Blackpool. You’ll get there in under an hour and there is every British seaside holiday you’ve ever experienced squeezed into one place. Go to the beach, ride the donkeys, walk on the pier, discover the Tower, visit the sea life centre and, if you really fancy it, stay in a fab little B&B. Lytham St Anne’s is just south of here and has to be one of the most beautiful little Victorian towns (with another pier, too) in the north west, lovely place to spend the day. From Manchester you can nip over to Llandudno in north Wales in our two-hour limit to explore the ‘Queen of Welsh Resorts’, visit the buzzing, historic city of Liverpool, potter along to the Staffordshire Potteries and of course, explore the unrivalled beauty of the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales. So much to do from here!
Each of these cities have amazing things to do and see hear them, but the days out from Edinburgh have to be most breath taking and dramatic. Only 70 miles away is the beautiful town of Kirriemuir in Angus with its 16th century history of witch trials. Many of the older buildings still have a witch’s stane (a hard grey stone) set into the local red sandstone to ward off evil – wonderfully spooky! In under an hour there’s Stirling with its extraordinary castle, the picturesque harbour town of Eyemouth with thrilling RIB trips out on the water and of course, Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow. You can drive to St Andrews for the golf (and the little-known beaches), relax in the tranquil haven of Loch Lomond for a day out boating and hiking and fall in love with my personal favourite, Pitlochry. This is Scotland personified and I could spend a week bike riding (and hiking, at a push) through the Faskally Wood, round Loch Tummel and hitting the not-too-mountainous Ben Vrackie.
Now this is a whirlwind tour of what’s going on in just a few hours from four cities. I know there are hundreds of towns where even more is happening so do let me know your favourite. As for that tip I mentioned earlier, try this handy Petrol Price Checker. It shows you where you can find the best value fuel for your journey so you can save money and have an amazing day out!