The Best UK Grand Tour Routes

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Louis Fielden

Louis Fielden

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The best routes to experience on your Grand Tour of the UK

No matter if you’re visiting the UK in the summer or winter, it can be a wonderful place with vast mountain ranges and flowing rivers. It is simply the perfect location for a long drive to get away from the bustling city and experience the bleak, but beautiful atmosphere of the countryside.

If you’re thinking of planning a long drive through the UK, then the following article will do all the work for you. Sit back, relax, and let us tell you some of the most scenic roads you can include in your grand tour.

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We also have a brilliant selection of 7-Seater cars available for hire, including the Skoda Kodiaq, Volkswagen Sharan, Touran & Tiguan Allspace. These can be found in the Car Rental section of our website by using the People Carrier filter.

Oh, and also check out our range of Camper Vans & People Carriers to accompany you on your route.

North Coast 500

Arguably the most famous of the five locations, this 500-mile route around the North Highlands is the UK's answer to Route 66. The North Coast 500 can take up to a week to complete, but is well worth the visit with the family! Along the way, you can experience white water rafting, snorkeling or even try out some of the local experiences like Munro Bagging. Depending on if you go in the spring, summer, autumn, or winter, you could also spot some Dolphins off the coast of Scotland.

This route starts in the northern city of Inverness and heads westerly to Applecross; once you’ve reached Applecross you’ll travel northwards towards the towns of Torridon and Ullapool. From there, you’ll be able to experience some of the most northerly points in the UK, venturing through Caithness and John o’ Groats before heading south again through Dingwall and finally back to your starting point in Inverness.


Winter in Keswick

The Keswick Loop

This next route is located in the Lake District and stretches for almost 25 miles. Although it is not as big as the North Coast 500, it boasts some of the most spectacular views in the Lake District. If rolling hills and quaint cafes are your thing, then this route may be perfect for you.

You’ll start in the market town of Keswick which is home to The Cumberland Pencil Museum, and you’ll head southwesterly in one of our rental vehicles past Dale Head and Grizedale Pike to Buttermere. Here presents an opportunity to experience a real wonder of the Lake District. Lake Buttermere is one of the smallest lakes in the Lake District, but its mirror-like qualities make it a real attraction for tourists. It is simply beautiful. If you do visit this location, don't forget to take a picture of our vehicle in front of the lake. Post it on Instagram using the hashtag #vwfsrentacar.

Once you’ve taken in the beauty of the lake, the route will finish off by passing through Honister Pass Rosthwaite and Seatroller.

This route only takes a little over an hour.

The Cliffs Road – Cheddar Gorge

If you’re looking for a route that is located further down south in the UK, perfect for renting from one of our Southern locations like Bristol, Portsmouth or Southampton. Then Cliffs Road in Cheddar Gorge could be ideal for you and the family. This iconic route is in the heart of Somerset and is dictated by the large natural canyons which were carved out by glacial meltwater from the last ice age. In some places, they tower 138 meters high. The Cliffs Road is only 14 miles long but includes an eclectic mix of Somerset views.

The first section of the 14-mile route takes you and our rental vehicle through a tight and demanding road, which at points can feel almost claustrophobic in nature. However, soon the tall, daunting gorges turn into sweeping roads and green trees. This is definitely a much gentler section of the route! The third and final section really does round off the journey, with long straights and gentle changes in gradients.

The routes ability to change form in three different ways perhaps explains why it was included in the Tour of Britain race and was named the best driving road in Britain in 2018.

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The California Ocean

Buttertubs Pass

This next route is unique to all the other roads on the list. In fact, it is unique to any road in the UK, as it was named the only truly spectacular road in the UK by the one and only Jeremy Clarkson.

Who better to listen to about planning your grand tour of the UK than a co-host of The Grand Tour! Buttertubs Pass is located in the Yorkshire Dales and spans for 6 miles between the two towns of Simonstone and Thwaite. At points, it can be tight, and twisting and includes some of the most spectacular views of the UK. Although this route is challenging, with the average road gradient being 6.5%, it is well worth a visit during your grand tour of the UK.

A fun fact for you! The name Buttertubs comes from limestone potholes formed by the rock face. Local legend says that farmers would use them to store their butter during the summer en route to their local market.

The Coastal Way – Wales

The fifth and final route of the article is located on the west coast of Wales, passing through the coastal town of Aberdaron, venturing through Snowdonia, and finishing in Wales’ smallest city, St. David’s. The Pembrokeshire coast is an iconic spot for many holiday goers in the west of the UK so be sure not to miss out on this road trip.

This route definitely isn’t just a gimmick that passes through a wonderfully small city. The coastal way really is beautiful and offers everything, from the great mountains of Snowdonia to the beautiful beaches of the Irish Sea. You could even be lucky enough to spot some dolphins at New Quay along the way.

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