Driving on the Wrong Side with the Wind in my Hair
July 30, 2007 6:36 AM   Subscribe

Looking for great scenic and historic drives in England, the wind whipping my hair as I wind through cottages and countryside. Thus far, The guidebooks and my google-fu are failing me.

I'll be in England with a convertible I am looking for some great scenic and/or historic drives.

I have some flexibility but I will be based in around Oxford, so it can't be anything too remote (No Scotland, Northumbria, Lake District or Yorkshire). I will also be in Wales for a little while. It's not hard to find great American drives on the web or in guidebooks, and I'd like to find a parallel listing for British ones.

Oh, and I've been to the Cotswolds before, but any specifically great itineraries would be welcome.
posted by MasonDixon to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
You don't get much more historic than the Ridgeway, down towards the South Coast. Not sure how well it would work with a car, though. Ermine Street (London to Lincoln) and Watling Street (London to Dover) were major Roman roads; don't know how they rate for prettiness, though.

For scenic, I'd try a national park or the New Forest, or just head away from the motorways and dual-carriageways and drive at random.
posted by Leon at 6:50 AM on July 30, 2007

I can't recommend a specific drive, but I just finished watching this BBC series, and it was spectacular. It may afford some very informed inspiration for your trip.


posted by Haruspex at 6:59 AM on July 30, 2007

If you're looking for some beautiful, Hound of the Baskervilles-esque English countryside I recommend Dartmoor Forest in the moors of Devon.
Take a tour of the tors.
posted by cloeburner at 7:00 AM on July 30, 2007

I will also be in Wales for a little while.

The Mountain Road from Elan to Devil's Bridge. Takes you through the Elan Valley dam system and through the most beautiful scenery anywhere on tiny roads. Page for walking here but I can attest that the drive is just as amazing.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:31 AM on July 30, 2007

"wrong side"? Pah!

If the sound of the Elan Valley drive is tempting (and it's fabulous scenery), I'd suggest you incorporate this into a full cross-Wales trip - the A470 runs from Cardiff in the south up to Llandudno in the North with innumerable historic sites en route.

Otherwise, if it's not too far from Oxford, a drive down the south coast of Devon and Cornwall as far as The Lizard, returning along the Atlantic coast will be one that is sure to stick in the memory.
posted by Lionel d'Lion at 8:21 AM on July 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'd recommend the Exmoor coast as far as say, Lynmouth. Spectacular cliffs, and very steep ascents and descents. May be a bit remote from Oxford though.
posted by crocomancer at 9:01 AM on July 30, 2007

London to York is just over 200 miles. London to Helston/Lizard is ~275/285 miles, it's not much less from Oxford. If Yorkshire is out then Cornwall is likely to be, and possibly Devon too.
posted by biffa at 9:05 AM on July 30, 2007

go around the magic roundabout in swindon?

(god, i'm a nerd)
posted by rmd1023 at 9:56 AM on July 30, 2007

Best answer: There was a long-running series years ago in the Torygraph called "Great Drives". I can't work out how to link to the search, but if you search for "Great Drives" in the motoring section, there are loads to look at at. Alternatively, the last in the series is here and you can work backwards through them all using the 'previous' link at the bottom of that page.
posted by patricio at 9:58 AM on July 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Thanks everyone for the answers. I also continued to dragnet google and eventually surfaced this:

Frommer's Britain's Best Loved Driving Tours, Drive around England and Wales and Signpost Guide England and Wales.

I'm not sure they are all in print, but Amazon has some. The last two are both Thomas Cook and I suspect quite similar.

I also found this: VisitBritain.us Car Itineraries
posted by MasonDixon at 6:04 PM on July 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

Dartmoor itself I find a little bleak but you can do a really nice circuit round the edges of it. A necklace of pearls in the churches and villages. Brecon Beacons, Mid Wales and the Borders are excellent motoring country. I prefer just to set off on a compass bearing rather than have to map read every inch of the way. Norfolk is also very beautiful, especially if you're into medieval churches. Have fun.
posted by Dr.Pill at 2:58 PM on July 31, 2007

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