The Ultimate Destination Checklist for UK Drivers
The UK might not be the biggest place in the world but in terms of wonderful stops to enjoy on a road trip there is plenty on offer. Up and down this nation of ours there are many fun and interesting destinations to enjoy, from historical locations to great beaches, famous museums and cities with a thriving night scene. With that being said, we’ve put together a collection of destinations and activities for the ultimate UK road trip. So if you’re struggling for ideas, make sure to take a look.
Discover the Isles of Scilly
As mentioned, the UK is replete with exciting places to visit and if you’ve never been to the Isles of Scilly before, make sure to add this picturesque location to your checklist.
The Isles of Scilly official tourist board describes this must see destination as “a place like nowhere else in England” so why not jump into that shiny new Ford car of yours, drive on down to Penzance in Cornwall and get yourself on that ferry?
Make sure to take advantage of Scilly Parking while you’re at it, a secure parking service that is designed for those taking the Scillonian ferry or Skybus plane to the Isles of Scilly.
Image credit: IOS Wildlife Trust
Upon arriving, there is plenty to enjoy, including artist galleries, water sports in St. Agnes, and trips to some of the area’s most beautiful landmarks such as Bishop Rock. But one of the standouts is getting to walk among the area’s great wildlife. The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust is certainly the authority on the subject and they spoke to us about why Scilly is a must visit location:
“Scilly is just Scilly; but it’s very much like Marmite… you either love it or you hate it, there is rarely any in between. For those of us that call the Islands home there is nowhere better and just telling people about the Islands does not do them justice. You really have to visit and experience the Islands to understand why Scilly is such a special place.
“Each Island has its own character and charm and for those who do visit, and return year on year, it’s like visiting an old friend. The world moves on and things change but no matter how long you leave it between visits you can still strike up that conversation and although things have changed, it can feel like they haven’t.”
Image credit: IOS Wildlife Trust
And regarding the wildlife of the Isles of Scilly, the Wildlife Trust told us about what visitors can expect to find and the best means of discovering it:
“Scilly’s wildlife may not be as diverse as many other locations but we do have some things that you won’t find anywhere else, the best and cutest animal example of this is the Scilly shrew (Lesser white-toothed shrew); in terms of plants I’d have to vote for the Least Adders-tongue fern, found nowhere else in Britain.
“The Islands are refuge to a large number of seabirds (both resident and migratory) and we also have one of the largest breeding colonies of Atlantic Grey seals. There is always something interesting to see on the Islands, no matter what time of year: whether it’s the seal pups in winter, the puffins in spring, the sunfish, porpoise and dolphins passing through in the summer months, or the rare migratory birds blown in during the autumn. If you are interested in wildlife there is literally something for everybody no matter your age.
“There are a number of ways to discover the Island’s wildlife depending on what kind of experience you are after. The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust run guided walks, rock pooling sessions and boat trips (not only showcasing our wildlife but explaining how the work of the Trust benefits species and what individuals can do to support us and our wild environments).
“Other local businesses offer boat trips to see and snorkelling or swimming with the seals; horse and pony rides to discover some of our wilder places; hiring water sports equipment such as kayaks, wind surf boards, and sailing boats to take in the Islands at your own pace; it is also possible to hire golf buggies and bikes to explore.
“The possibilities are endless!”
Enjoy a day out with Team pursuits in Wiltshire
One of the great joys of a road trip with friends and family is being able to forge closer bonds with those that are important to us. Therefore, participating in team activities together is something that certainly must be pursued during your next trip. To make this a part of your road trip itinerary, we suggest spending a day with Team Pursuits in Wiltshire where a whole host of fun activities can be enjoyed.
“We have the benefit of being situated in a beautiful part of the Wiltshire countryside, on the edge of the Cotswolds,” Team Pursuits told us. “Our venue, based at Owl Lodge, provides a unique opportunity to experience a mix of countryside and motorised pursuits in a tranquil setting, guided by our professional instructors. All of our events are run in a relaxed and informal manner and we are open all year around come rain or shine.”
From motorised sports like hopping on a Segway, riding quadbikes and off-road buggies, to country sports such as archery, air rifle target shooting, clay pigeon shooting, and axe throwing, there is a lot to be excited about and it should all combine for a memorable stop on your UK adventure.
Head to Portsmouth for a sailing taster course
For a truly memorable stop on your UK road trip, heading on down to Portsmouth for some sailing lessons could end up being the highlight of your journey. Sailing might not have been an activity you thought about taking up before but this adventure can be a great excuse to do some unexpected things, so why not give it a try? You could end up falling in love.
If this idea sounds tempting, make sure to book a one day taster course for beginners with Sunsail, a company whose largest sailing school just happens to be in Portsmouth. Offering a wide range of courses, this is a great place to earn your sailing stripes.
Sunsail explain why so many enjoy learning with them: “Portsmouth is a stunning place to sail and offers fantastic opportunities and the experienced Sunsail team will help those interested in learning to sail find out what it’s like to experience the freedom and adventure of life on water.”
If you’re tempted by the idea, make sure to visit Sunsail on your next road trip at their Port Solent Marina location.
Visit historical attractions in Dorset
We are blessed with many beautiful counties in this country and one of those is of course the gorgeous county of Dorset. There’s all sorts to see and do here but one of the true joys is the act of exploring its various roads while witnessing the many great sites on offer.
Visit Dorset know a thing or two about the virtues of this great county, and spoke to us about what drivers can expect to enjoy in their neck of the woods:
“No motorways, plenty of stunning views and winding country lanes. The coastal road from Bridport to Abbotsbury (the B3157) offers absolutely spectacular views along the Jurassic Coast and just before you arrive in the picturesque village of Abbotsbury – Chesil Beach stretches before your eyes with views to Portland.”
While in Dorset make sure to visit some of the area’s fascinating historical locations. There’s a lot to offer but Visit Dorset have one particular recommendation in mind: “How about a drive up to scenic Sherborne Castle? Built by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1594, visitors can enjoy collections of decorative arts and extensive gardens, plus the castle hosts a two day classic car show in July each year (15th in 2018) attracting more than 1000 supercars.”
Sounds good to us! A visit to Dorset and its many sights and sounds will be a great addition your destination checklist.
Learn to surf in Cornwall
Never learned to surf? Well, why not make it a part of your upcoming road trip by heading down to Cornwall and visiting the team at Gwithian Academy of Surfing?
"If you're coming to west Cornwall,” Gwithian Academy explain, “then you absolutely have to try surfing with us. Gwithian Academy is one of the longest running and highly regarded surf schools in the UK. It's owned and run by Tyson Greenaway, who is a competitive surfer and was ranked 3rd in the British Seniors and Masters and still regularly competes. All the coaches are highly experienced surfers and coaches, teaching everyone from complete beginners to elite competition level.
“We have a fully stocked surf shop and offer high quality self-catering accommodation only a stone’s throw from the beach. Also, if you want to combine surfing with yoga or Pilates, we can tailor a bespoke programme for you.”
Visit the Ashmolean and historic Oxford
Oxford is steeped in history and known the world over by its prestigious reputation. One of the great joys of a road trip is visiting places, even in the UK, that you’ve never got around to seeing, so this should be an opportunity not to miss out on.
When enjoying the sights and sounds of Oxford, one must visit attraction is The Ashmolean – a museum with great historic roots. Telling us about their history and what’s on offer, the Ashmolean say:
“The Ashmolean is the University of Oxford’s museum of art and archaeology, founded in 1683. Our world famous collections range from Egyptian mummies to contemporary art, telling human stories across cultures and time.
“The Ashmolean’s collections are extraordinarily diverse, representing most of the world’s great civilisations, with objects dating from 8000 BC to the present day. Among many riches we have the world’s greatest collection of Raphael drawings, the most important collection of Egyptian pre-Dynastic sculpture and ceramics outside Cairo, the only great Minoan collection in Britain, outstanding Anglo-Saxon treasures, and the foremost collection of modern Chinese paintings in the Western world.”
Go punting in Cambridge
Image credit: Scudamore’s Punting Company
Ever gone punting before? Well, now is your chance. One destination that has to be on every driver’s road trip checklist is the beautiful city of Cambridge and there is no better way to enjoy the destination than via punting (the practise of riding on a flat bottomed boat).
Scudamore’s introduced the practise of pleasure punting back in the early 20th century and today provide award-winning Cambridge tours, helping visitors to explore this famous part of Britain. Scudamore’s spoke to us a little further about what they have to offer:
“Scudamore’s Punting Company is the oldest leisure punting company in the world. Founded in 1910 by Jack Scudamore, the past time has enjoyed over 100 years of growth and today is widely regarded as one of the quintessentially Cambridge activities. Whether it is a chauffeured tour with one of our professional chauffeurs that you are after or if you would like to have a go at punting yourself, you will still find yourself immersed in the Cambridge culture.
“Scudamore’s operates along two stretches of river; the Upper River which meanders through woodland and meadows towards the idyllic village of Grantchester and the College Backs, so called as the river passes right through the grounds of a number of Cambridge University’s most famous Colleges. From the punts you can see the world famous King’s College Chapel, Cambridge’s very own Bridge of Sighs and the Wren Library alongside a number of other stunning buildings.”
Discover Bath’s Roman History
Image credit: The Roman Baths and Bath & North East Somerset Council
We’ve all heard of the famous Roman Baths, and have even likely seen them on TV, but if you’re realising you’ve never seen them in person, why not make discovering Bath’s incredible Roman history a part of your UK road trip?
To provide a small taste of what’s on offer, The Roman Baths help describe this must visit attraction:
“The Roman Baths, at the heart of the City of Bath World Heritage Site, consists of the remarkably preserved remains of one of the greatest religious spas of the ancient world. The city’s unique thermal springs rise in the site and the Baths still flow with natural hot water.
“Visitors can walk on the original Roman pavements which were built around the magnificent Great Bath and see the first century drainage system in action hundreds of years after it was built! Visitors can also experience the remains of the Temple of Sulis Minerva – the Roman Goddess of wisdom and healing – and the massive bathing complex which the Romans built next to the Temple and its sacred spring.
“The East Baths area of the Roman Baths, adjacent to the famous Great Bath, includes new displays immersing visitors in the sights and sounds of the Roman bath house. You can also meet our costumed characters daily around the Great Bath. On any one day you might meet the Roman soldier and armourer, or Flavia and Apulia, or even our Roman lady and slave girl.
“Try the natural spa water at the end of your visit – it is definitely an acquired taste!”
Night out in Cardiff
The UK is replete with fantastic cities to enjoy with friends, but why not make a Cardiff night out with friends a featured stop on your upcoming road trip? Drive on out to the Welsh capital and see why so many people rave about this British city. Cardiff is home to a number of top restaurants, clubs and bars, so you won’t be short for any ideas once you’ve parked up for the night.
One such Cardiff bar that must be visited is Lab 22. Specialising in cocktails, Lab 22 really pushes the boundaries of mixology and is the place to be for cocktails in the city. Lab 22 were on hand to tell us a little more about what guests can expect when spending an evening with them:
“Lab 22 is Cardiff's original molecular cocktail bar with an emphasis on quality service and innovative drinks. Nestled in the city centre on the iconic Caroline street, customers can expect a night of premium drinks and hospitality that is unrivalled in the city.
“Established in 2012, Lab 22 has become a favourite with locals and visitors to the city. Our menu delves into the world of creative drinks from a scientific perspective, utilising smoked drinks, dry ice mists and clarification. At the forefront of drinks technology in the city, our menu is also focused on sustainability, local culture and produce.
“On our menu we cater for a spectrum of palettes, whether it’s our bestselling ‘Cloning Unicorns’, mixing rose and raspberry infused vodka with clarified apple juice, malic acid, vanilla sugar and glitter topped with spun sugar or our ‘Martini 22’: a unique experience for the discerning martini connoisseur, where the customer is given the choice on what accents and hues they want in their martini, performed at the table and served below zero.”
Lab 22 is open every day, but they do advise to make bookings during busy periods. Lab 22 also suggest that prospective guests “check out our Moonshine Mondays featuring live jazz and prohibition era cocktails.”
The Bierkeller bar in Cardiff is another fantastic option for your night out in the city and really offers a bit of everything, all wrapped up in one unique package. Located at Stadium Plaza, Bierkeller Bavarian bar spoke to us about how to enjoy a top night out with them:
“When visiting the Welsh capital, Cardiff Bierkeller is a must visit destination and one stop shop for the ultimate night out. Complete with 3 unique bars all under one roof, each offers different food and drinks menus, different entertainment and a different experience.
“Work your way through our world beer menu at Around The World bar, tuck into our tasty dishes from bar snacks to our legendary burgers whilst enjoying live music from some of Cardiff’s best up and coming artists.
“If live sport is your thing then Shooters is the place for you, home of the biggest screen in the city, you can catch all the action or play one of our many bar games from shuffle board to pool, table fussball or darts. Shooters is a sports fan’s dream and even looks out onto the Principality Stadium!
“If you’re after something truly unique and different try The Bierkeller, it will provide a taste of Bavaria with lederhosen wearing waitresses serving steins of bier, cider, cocktails and authentic bratwursts. Our Friday and Saturday night oompah shows with Max and the boys will get you up dancing on the benches so join them for a sing song and even the famous conga line, it really is a night to remember.”
Cardiff is also home to a number of great hotel choices, such as The Royal Hotel, allowing you to get a good night’s sleep before hitting the road again.
Hiking in Snowdonia
Heading off to Snowdonia with friends and family during your trip would be a brilliant way to see some of the finest environs that the UK has to offer. Perfect for a shorter break, stop on your road trip, or even a longer holiday, Snowdonia has a true bevy of activities that can be enjoyed.
Snowdonia Mountains and Coast, the official tourism website for the area, recommended to us “hiking, cycling, zip wires, and water-sports” as top activities to enjoy while visiting Snowdonia and the truth is that this only scratches the surface of great fun to be had in this beautiful part of the world.
Of course, there is the infamous Snowdon (the highest mountain in Wales and England) at 3,560ft that can be scaled, Surf Snowdonia’s 300 metre lagoon, King Arthur’s Labyrinth, fishing, golf, and myriad other great walking/hiking destinations, allowing visitors to Snowdonia to consume the beautiful landscape they will find themselves surrounded by.
And considering this will be a part of your ultimate UK road trip, you will be happy to know that Snowdonia has some stunning driving opportunities. Snowdonia Mountains and Coast told us: “A very important development recently is the launch of The Wales Way by Visit Wales, which highlights 3 iconic driving routes through the country.”
There’s The Cambrian Way where people can discover the UK’s premier mountain biking attractions, there is The Coastal Way where drivers can see the area at its picturesque best with its seaside village and harbour boats, and finally The North Wales Way which passes Bangor University and Penrhyn Castle, and offers stunning views of Snowdonia’s mountains and coast.
Wine tasting in Hampshire
If you’ve got somewhere to stay, perhaps booking a room for the night at New Place Hotel, taking yourself and those on your road trip for a spot of wine tasting in Hampshire would be a terrific option. It’s not every day that you get to taste some of the country’s finest wines in the setting from whence they came, so stopping by a place like Hambledon Vineyard for a tour and tasting should definitely be on the agenda.
Hambledon Vineyard spoke to us about their operation and what to expect when visiting their winery:
“English sparkling wine is becoming more and more popular, not only due to the high quality in production but also due to the results in the glass. Making our award-winning sparkling wine at Hambledon a real labour of love, our vineyard team works hard all year round, in all weathers.”
Hambledon Vineyard told us that their “100,000 vines” need to be pruned by hand, which they describe is “like pruning the roses in your garden.” The grapes at Hambledon are handpicked in the months of September and October. Both their presses and winery are located on the premises, making sure that they minimise the time between picking and pressing, which they say is a “crucial factor to ensure the quality of our wine”.
“There is also plenty of history and heritage associated with Hambledon,” the vineyard tells us, “it is England’s oldest commercial vineyard, having been established in 1952 and the village has a strong connection with cricket as far back as the 1700s.”
“We are delighted to welcome guests all year round to our beautiful vineyard in the South Downs National Park. Discover how we maintain our vines and learn how we harvest our grapes. Let us guide you through our unique gravity-fed winery as our experienced staff explain the processes involved in making our sparkling wine. What better way to finish your experience by tasting two of our excellent cuvées? Tours cost £15 per person (including a tasting of two wines), last approximately two hours and can be booked by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the office on 02392 632 358.”
Enjoy spectacular scenery and cheese in Somerset
Cheddar Gorge and Caves, a limestone gorge near the village of Cheddar in Somerset, is certainly a site worth visiting during your road trip. The site of wondrous caves and where Britain’s oldest complete skeleton (over 9,000 years old) can be found, the area is of great scientific interest and a popular tourist destination, attracting 500,000 visitors each year.
The gorge isn’t all that is on offer, however, as the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company is also on hand – a great location to visit and makers of handmade cheese. The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company told us why visitors to the Gorge should also pay them a visit:
“The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Co is set in the heart of the iconic national landmark, Cheddar Gorge. Situated in the stunning Mendip Hills; this is the true home of Cheddar Cheese. The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Co is the only company still making cheese in the village. Our award winning cheese is still handmade using traditional methods.
“At the centre of the old village, our shop, working dairy and courtyard surrounds are a magnet for lovers of our famous artisan cheeses, as well as visitors to the Gorge itself. Visitors often combine a trip to the historic caves, where we mature some of our cheddar, as well as walking and rambling in and around the Gorge.”
For a true Cheddar Gorge Cheese experience during your trip, and for cheese enthusiasts, the team advises travellers to stop by their visitors centre:
“Our working dairy and Visitors Centre is open nearly all year round, seven days a week from 10am. On a typical day, cheese making is normally completed by mid-afternoon. Visitors are able to purchase a £2.00 (per adult) ticket, allowing them to come and go throughout the day. Here you can watch our entire cheese making process, including the cutting and stacking of the curd (known as ‘cheddaring’).
“As our cheese is hand made in open vats, visitors are fully able to appreciate the hard work and dedication of our professional cheese makers. There is also a 20 minute film showing the whole process from start to finish. We provide a wealth of information on the procedure, as well as a lot of history behind the making of Cheddar Cheese in the region.
“We provide tasters for our range of cheeses, and encourage visitors to come through and enjoy a little of what they have just seen being made! Our friendly staff will answer any questions and can help customers find the perfect cheese to take away and enjoy.”
The ultimate driving destination checklist
There you have it, as you can see, the UK is packed with many great destinations and exciting activities to enjoy during your road trip. Whichever part of the country you decide to set your sights on, there is no end to the fun that can be had. Consider the above, visit some of our suggested destinations, and enjoy creating wonderful memories on each stop of your UK adventure.
Image Credit: mwanasimba