The UK’s most photo-friendly road trips - from the North Coast 500 to the Evo Triangle
It might not feel like it on the daily slog to the office but Britain has some of the best driving roads in Europe.
Tourists come from around the world each year to experience the thrilling driving routes and spectacular scenery on offer, from the sun-kissed south-west coast of Cornwall to the wild and rugged mountains of the Scottish Highlands.
And as well as making the most of the excellent driving on offer, hundreds of thousands of travellers share photos of their experiences as they embark on their own road trips around the UK.
To see which road trips were most popular with snap-happy drivers, Click4Reg took to Instagram and analysed the number of hashtags associated with the routes. Scotland’s world-famous North Coast 500 topped the table, with more than 88,000 tags but Wales was the most ‘grammed country, with five of the 15 most popular routes.
The UK’s most photo-friendly road trips
North Coast 500, Scotland
As its name suggests the NC500 is a 500-mile route that runs around the northern edges of Scotland. It takes in everything from soaring, snow-capped mountains to beaches that rival the Caribbean for beauty and along the way you’ll see everything from Highland cows to golden eagles. Among its many highlights are the snaking, vertiginous Applecross Pass and the spectacular Kylesku Bridge.
Cheddar Gorge, Somerset
Cheddar Gorge is a major tourist attraction in its own right, with its steep limestone cliffs and network of caves a huge draw. For drivers, the scenery makes a spectacular backdrop but the B3135 that snakes along the gorge’s floor is also a 14-mile stretch of twists, turns and surprises to keep drivers thrilled.
Elan Valley, Wales
The first of five Welsh entries on the list. Elan Valley is in the heart of the Cambrian Mountains and showcases why Wales is such a popular road trip destination. The ever-changing roads in the valley wind among sites of special scientific interest, rugged scenery and past five giant dams used for training by the legendary Dambusters.
Causeway Coastal Road, Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland’s answer to the North Coast 500, the Causeway Coastal Road follows a similar pattern with phenomenal roads, stunning scenery, wildlife galore and food and drink destinations along the way. Running from Belfast to Derry-Londonderry it offers photo opportunities galore from the modern architecture of Belfast to the 16th century ruins of Bonamargy Friary. And for Game of Thrones fans, the Dark Hedges, which double as the King’s Road, are on the route.
Snake Pass, Peak District
Familiar to anyone who listens to traffic reports in winter, the Snake Pass winds its way high into the Pennines between Glossop and the Ladybower Reservoir at Ashopton. While its altitude means it is vulnerable to snow-related closures in winter, in warmer months it offers a driver’s paradise of sweeping roads and Instagram-friendly views across the Peak District.
Hardkott Pass, Lake District
Not one for the faint-hearted, the Hardknott Pass is a series of seemingly endless corners and switchbacks on a 1 in 3 gradient, making it one of England’s steepest roads. Sudden changes of direction and dramatic drops are the norm along the route from Eskdale to the Duddon Valley but if you brave the drive you’ll be rewarded with jaw-dropping views across the most beautiful part of England.
Evo Triangle, Wales
The EVO Triangle is a contentious route which took its name from the performance car magazine which made the roads famous. It has developed a cult following among people who like to drive, often too quickly, leading to heavy police enforcement on the roads between Llyn Brenig, Pentrefoelas and Cerrigydrudion. But driven sensibly the roads are still amazing and the scenery breathtaking.
Llanberis Pass, Wales
The Llanberis Pass is a mere five miles long but packs an awful lot into that short distance. Whether you’re there for the photogenic scenery, the twisting routes among rugged, rocky hillside or both, you’ll understand why it’s a popular filming location for film, TV and adverts.
Great West Way, England
If you want to get from London to Bath you can just use the M4. Alternatively, you can follow one of Charles I’s “Great Roads” and take in some of the prettiest and most photogenic parts of England. The Great West Way winds itself across the country, cutting through picture postcard Cotswolds villages, past ancient churches and coaching inns and alongside the Kennet and Avon Canal.
Atlantic Highway, Somerset to Cornwall
A 70-mile stretch of the A39 that, for much of its run, hugs the famous Devon and Cornwall coastline. Its rolling fields lack the rugged drama of Scotland or Wales but it makes up for it with a string of golden beaches and pretty fishing villages nestled among the cliffs. Along the way drivers can stop and snap at Tintagel Castle and Trevose Head lighthouse.
Road to the Isles, Scotland
A stone’s throw from the NC500, the historic Road to the Isles features many of the same highlights. Running from Fort William to Mallaig the A830 skirts Loch Eil before curving around the tip of Loch Shiel in the shadow of the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct, then on to the silver sands of Morar and Arisaig. Bounded on one side by mountains and the rugged coastline on the other, it’s a photographer’s dream and once you hit Mallaig you can carry on via ferry to the equally stunning Isle of Skye.
Woodhead Pass, Peak District
A major connecting road between Manchester and South Yorkshire but still one that throws up some magnificent views. Running through Derbyshire, the A628 sweeps past a series of reservoirs, with views taking in huge swathes of the Peak District. Just avoid it at rush hour, if you can.
Buttertubs Pass, Yorkshire Dales
This challenging route that cuts through the heart of the Yorkshire Dales takes its name from the huge limestone pot holes in the cliffs where, it is claimed, local farmers used to store their butter. It’s a short route but packed with sweeping vista over the Dales, if you can take your eyes off the undulating, twisting Tarmac.
Coastal Way, Wales
Another route that does what it says on the tin. The Coastal Way winds its way along the edge of Wales, clinging to clifftops and plunging down to the sea, skirting picturesque fishing villages and beaches. Like the NC500 and Causeway Coastal Road, it is now being presented as a broader destination with outdoor sports, cultural events and high-quality food and drink among the treats along its length.
Black Mountain Pass, Wales
Popular with everyone from Sunday drivers to magazine road testers, and made famous by Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear this mountainous pass is a 20-mile stretch through the Brecon Beacons. It carves up and down valleys, encompasses sweeping straights, challenging hairpins and stunning scenery. Local insight suggests that the driving is more exciting heading north to south while the views are more spectacular going the other way. Either way, don’t forget those hashtags.