Outside of Leeds and Manchester, nothing beats a road trip, but it can be hard to get out on the open road in the winter months, especially if you prefer to head off of the beaten track.
With the return of spring, it’s a chance to get out of the house and feel the wind in your hair – especially if you have a convertible – on one of the fantastic routes throughout the UK and mainland Europe.
- Dalveen Pass, Dumfries & Galloway
The Scottish Highlands are the star attraction north of the border, but the drive to get north of Glasgow and the hill climbs involved can put some people off.
An often overlooked alternative is to head to the Southern Uplands instead – from Carlisle via Gretna Green and Lockerbie or Dumfries.
Dalveen Pass is the furthest south of the routes through the Lowther Hills, and also the longest, with scenery you could easily expect to see on any TV motoring show.
- Causeway Coast, Northern Ireland
From Belfast to the Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast route has undergone considerable development in recent years, making it an excellent driving route through glorious scenery and greenery.
The city has plenty of culture to offer, including of course the Titanic Quarter, while Giant’s Causeway combines a natural wonder with a visitor centre perfect for adding a little education to a family road trip.
In recent years Northern Ireland has also provided the setting for some of the exterior filming on the TV show Game of Thrones, and fans may want to head to those locations either behind the wheel of your own vehicle, or on one of the regular bus tours that set out from Belfast city centre.
- Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse, Austria
The fabulously named Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse – the High Alpine Road – closes every winter and only opens in May, making it a pilgrimage route for late-spring road trips.
‘Grossglockner’ is the black mountain at the heart of the route, which feeds the glaciers and waterfalls that add to the scenic beauty of the drive.
- Route 1, Iceland
Iceland’s Route 1 is an 830-mile circular route that passes the island’s main inhabited areas and tourist attractions – weather conditions force its closure in winter sometimes, but by springtime it should be clear.
Be careful if taking your own vehicle to Iceland, as off-road driving is illegal, and many of the roads are gravel surfaced; a protective vinyl vehicle wrap should offer some peace of mind if you want to protect your paintwork against any chips.
- Atlantic Coast, Portugal
Portugal is mainland Europe’s furthest south-westerly point, with a coastline that looks out over the North Atlantic towards distant North America.
From Porto and Braga in the north, past Lisbon to the Algarve in the south, the E1 road links the main coastal towns and tourist destinations.
Car hire is easily accessible for over-21s, if you’ve had a full driving licence for over a year, and there are adapted hire cars widely available for disabled drivers too.