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Sunday 26 July 2020

10 Road Trips to Start Planning Now

I'm not sure there has ever been a better time to plan a UK or Irish roadtrip. With the opportunity to explore cities and the countryside with a bit of adventure thrown in for good measure and also a reduced risk of having to quarantine for 2 weeks upon return at the last minute. So here you a run down of some of the top roadtrip options, close to home allowing you to travel slightly more sustainably (without even having to try)!

Urban House

The South Lakes, Lake District

Easy to access by car or train (Windermere has a big station), The Lake District has been a hotspot for many and with good reason. With so many stunning vistas, a Lake District roadtrip offers incredible sights at every turn. If you're short on time, the South Lakes can be fitted into a weekend as it's based on a 20mile radius of Windermere lake, however you can easily spend a week.  Start your journey in Windermere and be sure to take a lake cruise and call in at the Lakeside and Haverthwaith Steam Railway (my Grandad was a big fan!). From there head along to Ambleside, Grasmere and then onto Hawkshead before completing the loop of the lake to end back in Windermere.  Along with hundreds of walks that you could opt to do, be sure to check out Beatrix Potter’s cottage, Hill Top. 

As you'd expect, the Lake district has plenty of sustainable options, so why not try Cedar Manor Hotel at Windermere, Waterhead Hotel at Ambleside and Moss Grove in Grasmere. As you near the completion of your loop, be sure to stop of at Porto restaurant as well, just be sure to have booked!

Causeway Coastal Route, Northern Ireland

If you're still wanting to experience the away from home then why not opt for Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coastal Route. After arriving via boat into Belfast (it's so much easier than you may have originally thought), travel along the coast to Derry, stopping off at The Gobbins, Murlough Bay, a quick trip over to Rathlin Island, Ballintoy and Whiterocks Beach and coastal path, which holds a prestigious Blue Flag award. In between Ballintoy and Whiterrocks, be sure to check out the stunning World Heritage Site Giant’s Causeway, and if you're not too scared of heights why cross the popular Carrick-a-rede rope bridge. 

If you're after a sustainable hotel option along the way, be sure to book a stay at the Salthouse Hotel located in Ballycastle. The hotel has been called one of the most sustainable and "smartest" in Ireland and Europe with on sight wind turbines and solar panels, you'll be sure to say your stay had no impact due to it going beyond carbon neutral. Now that's a guild free trip!

NC500, Scotland

If you're after an adventure that leaves you in awe, then an NC500 roadtrip is what you've been looking for. Catch the sleeper train to Fort William before hiring a car to see you around 600 mile trip. You'll weave through the highlands, driving past wild beaches and inhabitated spots as you truly emerse yourself in nature. The trip requires at week at least, two if you have it and should you feel adventurous, there are plenty of camp sites on loches and hidden spots should you wish. Be sure to call in at Applecross, one of the most remote villages in the Scotland and home to one of the countries most impressive road Bealach Na Ba Route and the incredible Walled Garden Restaurant. From there head to Ullapool, and onwards to the most northwesterly village, Durness. Next head along the top of Scotland to John O Groats before heading down to Dornoch. If you make time, try and drive of the main roads into tiny villages, you'll likely find incredible hidden gems. 

Accomodation wise, The Applecross Inn or The Torridon Boathouse are a great first stop. Argyll Hotel in Ullapool, Kylesku Hotel, Kylesku, and Smoo Lodge, Durness all site along the route as you head north as well and with plenty of sustainability credentials are each, you know your trip is as eco friendly as possible.

Celtic Routes, Wales and Ireland

A roadtrip across two countries provides the perfect opportunity to d o something a little different. Celtic Routes, a heritage initiative to connect  the two countries allows visitors to explore history whilst also witnessing stunning landscapes along the way. With no set route, the options are vast however, I would suggest catching ferry from Liverpool to Dublin. Then head South calling at Wicklow to see Black Castle, on wards to  Waterford and then across to Wexford with incredible sites over Fethard Quay. From there catch a ferry back across to Wales from Rosslare Harbour ending at Fishguard. Pembrokeshire National Park has plenty of spots to explore and as you head North along the Pembrokeshire coast, Cemaes Head, Foel Drygarn, Llagrannog and Cors Caron are just a few spots worth a visit. 

If you're first stop is Dublin, be sure to stay at Iveagh Garden Hotel with great eco credentials and a stay at Brook Lodge and Macreddin Village will be bound to impress and as home to  Ireland’s largest geo-thermal hotel heat recovery system, and sustainability credentials are easy to see. Once in Wales, Llys Meddyg provides the most perfect pit stop with a beautiful hotel and restaurant just by Fishguard. Further up the Welsh coast Coes Faen Spa Lodge can be found, the perfect relaxing way to end your trip.

Visit Scotland

South West 300, Scotland

You could call this roadtrip route the little brother of the NC500, and although there are similarities (its in Scotland, it goes along the coast), it offers so much more due to the inland contrast and variety of national parks. Starting in Dumfries, head along to Colvend, onward to Isle of Whithorn then Cairgaan before heading north along the A77 to Aye. The last stretch sees you head inland again and back to Dunfries but along the way be sure not to miss Mennock Pass, Caerlaverock Castle and Mull of Galloway Lighthouse. 

If you're not sure where to stay why not stay at Nithbank Country Estate or Queensberry House along the way.

Wild Atlantic Way

Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland

If exploring 2,500 km of coastline is something you're interested in then a roadtrip along the Wild Atlantic Way is for you. Starting in LondonDerry all the way down the westcoast to Kinsale near Cork you're sure to experience some of the best Ireland has to offer. A personal recommendation, be sure to call in at Dingle a beautiful little harbour town. Along the way from the northern headlands to the surf coast beauty is to be found at every turn. There are so many possible stops and sites to visit I cant note them all but a visit to Galway and if possible a boat across to the Blasket Islands. If you want to make it a real adventure, I would encourage you to get the boat across to Ireland from Wales/Liverpool and drive across to where you will start the route. It may take a little longer but will add so much more to the experience. If you don't have time to do the whole length of the country, many would recommend The Ring of Kerry, a 120 mile loop that could take a weekend or a week depending on how much you want to see and do.

To stay, why not stop at Beach Hotel and Restaurant, Gregans Castle HotelMadra Rua which overlook Trawbreaga Bay and Doagh Island and Slieve Bloom Manor Eco B&B.

The Yorkshire Circuit, England

Through the moors and onto the dales, the Yorkshire's landscape offers a certain ruggedness not found in many places of the UK. Start your Yorkshire Roadtrip from York first visit   Harrogate followed by Grassington before heading back to Aysgarth Falls. Then head off to Ilkey and onto Wensleydale.Of course you must remember to visit the Creamery Visitor Centre after all Wallis and Grommit would approve. Finally head North to Reeth in Richmond before finishing back where you started in York. If you fancy, you can make this route even shorter by starting and ending in Harrogate. 

Top sustainable spots to stay include Beck Hall in Malham, Cambridge House in Reeth and Aldward Manor Golf & Spa Hotel in York.

Best of the Brecon Beacons, Wales

At only 50 miles, this is a short roadtrip, but don't let that put you off as it can easily be extended. Starting at Abergavenny and heading to Gwaun-Cae-Gurwens be sure to do this road North to South. Famed from Topgear this route is filled with hairpin bends and unrivalled views of the Tywi Valley. If you fancy extended beyond, upon reaching Gwaun-Cae-Gurwens head on to Tenby and along to the Penbrokeshire Coast National Park, then to Fishguard before looping back to Abergavenny. 

There are limited spots directly in the Brecon Beacons however, near Tenby the Grove-Narberth is a great spot, as is Llys Meddyg near Fishguard. Before you start your drive you could choose to stay at Drovers Rest at the far North of the national park. 

Best Of The Cotswolds, England

A backdrop for any film or media where quintessential England is depicted, a Cotswolds Roadtrip offers beautiful villages and miles of lush countryside. Starting in the North of the Cotswold area, Chipping Campden offers a great base, from there you can zigzag between beautiful villages, Medevial churches and old English pubs before ending your trip in Bath. Be sure not to miss Bourton on Water, Burford, Kingham, Chedworth or Bilbury. If you're wanting something a little less touristy though, Nauton may also be a great spot. With the whole trip being under 70 miles, you know you can stop at a different place each day should you wish!
You won't be sure of beautiful B&Bs to stay in on your trip, my sustainable recommendations though are The Wild Rabbit in Chipping Northon, Daylesford Kingham, and if you're feeling like something really special Thyme in Lechlade.

Atlantic Highway, England

The Atlantic Highway Roadtrip follows the coastal path through Devon and Cornwall as it winds through small fishing villages and past beautiful beaches. As you follow the A39 from Bridgewater to Bude, be sure to first stop off at Exmoor National Park. Bude will be one of the first coastal villages you reach in Cornwall, then as you continue to wind along the peninsular do not miss out getting a bite to eat in in St Issac and of course Padstow. As you head off to reach Land's End make sure you take the time to walk a small patch of the coastal path. What ever part you do, oceans views are bound to be out of this world. 

Cornwall and Devon are home to some of the most sustainable accomadation and dining options in the UK. One of the top stops is Bangors Organic located just outside Bude. If you fancy some luxury, a little further along your route be sure to stay at The Scarlet in Mawgan Porth. Then,as you reach the end Tregenna Castle in St Ives will be a perfect pit stop. 

There you have it, enjoy your trips!

E x


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