Wednesday, 21 May 2008

5 Road Trips in the UK.

An afternoon spin - London to Brighton
A speedy jaunt that you can easily complete in a couple of hours. Begin in central London (a great excuse to sneak in a shopping trip), and take the A23 south. As the hustle of the capital opens up to the beautiful countryside of the Weald, and then the South Downs, you'll get a real feeling of freedom.

BrightonSoon the road gets quicker (for some of the journey it's actually the M23), letting you experience the lure of the coast, pulling you towards Brighton. The town has changed considerably since the days when Mods and Rockers made the same journey for their seaside confrontations.

In fact, Brighton's not even a town any more - it's been a city since 2000 - and is sometimes nicknamed London-by-the-sea. Cool bars, funky clothes shops, unusual jewellery boutiques (not forgetting shopping mecca, The Lanes) make this the perfect place to unwind after your spin in the car.

Celebsville Central - The Cotswolds
As well as being one of the most beautiful parts of the country, the Cotswolds now rival Beverley Hills as the home of choice for A-list celebs. Whether you're coming from the west or the east, your foot-down fun comes early, as you take the M4 to junction 17.

The CotswoldsThen it's the A429 north towards Cirencester (the great place names start straightaway - you'll see signs for Stanton St. Quintin, Little Somerford and Shipton Moyne). Cirencester itself is a pretty little town, well worth a look. Then take the A417 east.

Just after Fairford, take the left turn to Southrop (home to Kate Moss), then follow the signs back through Hatherop and Coln St. Aldwyn's to Barnsley (no, not that one), where Liz Hurley has her 72-acre estate. Then rejoin the A429 heading north, and just after Bourton-on-the-Water, turn right to Westcote, where Sam Mendes and Kate Winslet share a 14th-century manor house.

Then head up to Stow-on-the-Wold, and along the A429 to the equally picturesque Moreton-in-Marsh. This beautiful road (it's been there since Roman times, though there has been the odd resurfacing) will eventually take you to the M40.

Town and Country - The two faces of Yorkshire
It's grim up North, they used to say. Not anymore, with Leeds now one of the most fashionable cities in the UK. Start your trip with some luxury shopping (or keep it cheap with just a frappucino in the Harvey Nicks cafe), then take the A64 to York and Malton, then the A169 to the market town of Pickering, which is a good place to stop for the night.

YorkshireThe second day of this trip will blow out your cobwebs - you're onto the Yorkshire Moors. The A169 heading north lets you pick up speed through some of the bleakest but most awe-inspiring scenery you could imagine, then the port of Whitby offers a lunch of freshly-caught fish.

Take the A171 west, then turn off through Stonegate, Castleton and Hutton-le-Hole down to Kirkbymoorside, which should hold a place in every motorist's heart - it was the last town in England to introduce double yellow lines. Helmsley and Thirsk are great towns for a second night's stay, or if you want to head home the M1 is nearby.

Whisky Galore - The Scottish Highlands
At nearly four hundred miles, and spread over four days, this is the mother of all road trips. But if you or your man like a drop of the hard stuff, it's the one for you.

Scottish HighlandsStarting in Edinburgh, cross the Forth Road Bridge and take the M90 to Perth, then the A9 to the Blair Athol whisky distillery, just south of Pitlochry, where your passenger(s) can sample the produce (don't worry, it's your turn tomorrow). Stop overnight in Pitlochry, then change drivers as the A9 takes you through the Grampian Mountains to the Dalwhinnie distillery, then to Inverness, where you stop your second night.

Day three is the A96 to Elgin, then the A941 to the Glenfiddich distillery in Dufftown. Stop overnight here. Your final day takes you down the B9009 to the Glenlivet distillery, then the A939, A93 and B974 to the one at Fettercairn. The A90 is waiting to ferry all those bottles south.

Laid back and lazy - The Norfolk coast
Norfolk coastIf you want to keep your motoring nice and sedate, take the A149 from King's Lynn to Cromer. This stretch of the Norfolk coast is famed for its nature reserves (including Titchwell, Snettisham and Cley), and also includes Sandringham, country estate of the nation's best-known Helen Mirren impersonator.

During the summer, take the B1355 inland to Compton Hall, where there's a fascinating maze - it's cut into a cornfield.

So whether you're a city slicker wanting to flee the metropolis for a while, or you're bored of your usual surroundings and hungry for something new - there's nothing like taking the wheel and setting off on an exciting adventure to restore your zest for life

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