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Best UK Road Trips For Over 60’s – Top 5 Routes To Follow

• Written by Julia Hammond

There’s nothing like the freedom of the open road to put a smile on your face, no matter what your age. Even though some countries on the continent apply no upper age limit for renting a car, there’s so much to explore in the UK that you don’t even need to go abroad. If you’d like to travel under your own steam, here’s a roundup of the best UK road trips for people over 60.

Scotland’s North Coast 500

 

The UK’s answer to Route 66 is the North Coast 500. It’s a challenging drive, and one not to be hurried, but some of the finest views in the country are the reward for those who follow this route along the shoreline of the Scottish Highlands. To kick off this list of UK road trips you should start your Scottish tour in Inverness and meander west to Applecross before turning north in the direction of Torridon and Ullapool. The NC 500 takes you to Caithness and John o’ Groats before it heads south via Dingwall to loop back to Inverness. Along the way you’ll skirt lochs and beaches, passing castles that look like they’ve been lifted straight out of a fairytale. You’ll need to get to grips with place names like Bealach na Bà, Inchnadamph and Achmelvich and cope with plenty of single track country lanes, but it’s utterly worth it to experience such magnificent sights. Allow at least a week to do it justice and reserve accommodation well in advance, this truly is one of the top UK road trips.

The Yorkshire Dales

“England’s only truly spectacular road,” proclaimed Jeremy Clarkson when he drove Buttertubs Pass, which takes its name from the limestone potholes farmers would use to keep their butter cool. Linking Simonstone and Thwaite in the Yorkshire Dales, this exciting 6 mile stretch of road with numerous tight twists and turns is a must for any Yorkshire Dales road trip. Make it part of a loop that encompasses the Cow and Calf rock, moorland and tea rooms of Ilkley, the stunning limestone scenery and waterfalls of Malhamdale and the magnificent Ribblehead Viaduct, engineering marvel of the Settle to Carlisle railway best seen from the road.

The Essex Coast

Though Essex for the most part lacks the drama that characterises the scenery of other parts of the UK, it’s the perfect choice for road trippers who don’t want to have to tackle steep hills when they get out of the car. Begin in sunny Southend, with a train ride along the world’s longest pleasure pier. From there, drive north, skirting the River Crouch and making a pitstop in historic Maldon. Time your visit to coincide with a tour of the Moot Hall; from the top there are fabulous views over the Blackwater and beyond. Pick up the B1026 and follow the Saltmarsh Coast, pausing for lunch in the Edwardian sail lofts overlooking Tollesbury Marina before driving on to Mersea in time for an oyster supper. Check the tide times before you cross the Strood as it’s impassable for an hour or so on the highest tide. Back on the mainland, duck across to pretty Frinton and Walton for a stroll along their wide sandy beaches to the Naze Tower. Your final stop should be in Harwich for its rich maritime tradition – it’s likely that the Mayflower was built in its dockyard before setting off across the Atlantic in 1620.

The Atlantic Highway

The West Country’s roads clog with holidaymakers all summer, so this is one of those UK road trips best planned for late spring or early autumn when the traffic isn’t at its peak. The long and winding stretch of the A39 dubbed the Atlantic Highway runs from Barnstaple in Devon to Fraddon, near Newquay. Along the way, short detours lead to some of the area’s prettiest villages and beautiful beaches. Tackle the steep cobbled hill down to Clovelly if you’re able, stroll beside the river to the sea at Boscastle and visit mediaeval Tintagel Castle, linked to the legend of King Arthur. Padstow, adopted home of chef Rick Stein is a must for foodies. If you’re fit enough, park up and hire a bike to cycle the flat 17-mile Camel Trail to Bodmin, following the route of a disused railway. Definitely not one of the more traditional UK road trips but by far one of the most interesting!

The Causeway Coastal Route

 

It’s possible to loop Northern Ireland in a day, but with scenery this good we had to include it in our UK Road Trips list and it’s worth planning to stay for a few days at least. From Belfast, take the inland road to Dark Hedges, beloved of photographers. The overhanging rows of beech trees planted in the 18th century now frame the lane perfectly. Drive on to Old Bushmills whiskey distillery, which offers guided tours, and then to romantic Dunluce Castle, which has clung to its rocky cliff top perch since the 14th century. The headliner is the basalt columns of the Giant’s Causeway, pounded by the waves, their hexagonal platforms the result of centuries of conflict with the sea. Roark’s Kitchen in Ballintoy harbour makes a convenient pitstop to lunch on champ and freshly baked potato bread. Drag yourself away and walk off the calories as you cross Carrick-a-Rede. This bouncy rope bridge, originally erected by salmon fishermen who needed to access Carrickarede Island, requires a good head for heights. Quaint Cushendun is a charmer of a village, and worth stopping for on your way back to Belfast.

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