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The best scenic drives in Britain

Time to hit the open road? Our Motoring and Travel teams pick the best routes for a road trip in the UK – where thrilling driving comes with epic scenery.

1. A82 towards Glencoe, Scotland

Two hours north west of Glasgow, Glencoe is a haven of windswept, rocky splendour. From a floor of green moorland that is punctuated by icy lochs rise tors and Munros, black and craggy against skies of undulating grey and purple.

  • Scotland's best scenic drives


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2. A4069 Black Mountain Road, Powys, Wales

The road twists, dips and climbs through the Brecon Beacons National Park. Five of the most memorable miles you can drive in any country. Read our guide to the Brecon Beacons National Park.

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3. A1 past Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, England

Gateshead used to have just one claim to cultural fame: its multi-storey car park appeared in the cult film Get Carter. But since the Angel of the North (pictured) appeared in 1998, reasons to visit Newcastle's poor relation across the Tyne have multiplied: the Millennium Bridge, the Baltic art gallery and the Sage music centre.

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4. Bealach na Bà (Pass of the Cattle), Ross and Cromarty, Scotland

A 1-in-3 ascent with hairpins and narrow single-track sections. The reward on the other side is the Applecross Peninsula. 

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5. Hutton-Le-Hole, North Yorkshire, England

Explore Hutton-le-Hole, where the Ryedale Folk Museum recalls local life over the past 400 years. The route reverts to the present day on meeting the A170, where you turn right and complete the circuit by returning to Helmsley.

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6. Humber Bridge, North Lincolnshire/Yorkshire, England

The 2,220 metre-long single-span suspension bridge was the longest of its kind when it was first opened in 1981 and spans the Humber, the estuary formed by the River Trent and River Ouse, connecting East Riding of Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire. 

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7. The Dark Hedges, Ballymoney, Northern Ireland

Country Antrim's tree-lined avenue was made famous as one of the filming locations in the cult television series Game of Thrones.

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8. B4632 Cheltenham to Stratford, Cotswolds, England

Leave on the B4632 and climb to the viewpoint on Stockwell Common. The Malvern Hills are easily identified, across the Vale of Gloucester, and clear skies reveal the Black Mountains, 50 miles away in Wales.

Sweep down to Winchcombe, a pretty little town where buildings of Cotswold stone contrast with their black-and-white neighbours. 

At Mickleton, signs for the gardens at Hidcote Manor and Kiftsgate Court prompt a canter up the Cotswold escarpment. From there a lane sweeps down to Quinton, where we turn right for Stratford-upon-Avon.

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9. Ballyrush to Cushendun, Antrim Coast Road, Northern Ireland

This eastern section of the Co Antrim Coast Road takes in the spectacular views over Murlough Bay (head off the main A2 onto Torr Road, before turning onto Murlough Road to the coast). Geoff Hill, Telegraph Travel's Northern Ireland expert, says that this route is doable by bus, but is "most enjoyable under your own steam".

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10. A9 from Stirling to Inverness, Scotland

"The most beautiful A-road in the world", according to Telegraph Travel's Acting Head of Travel, Ben Ross. 

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11. A87, A863 and A850 around Skye, Scotland

Take detours to visit Dunvegan Castle and Talisker distillery. 

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12. Inverness to Nairn circular, Scotland

This splendid two-day drive takes in the coast alongside Lossiemouth before heading inland past distilleries and castles, as well as heading into the Cairngorms National Park. Look out for the picturesque Dulsie Bridge off the A939 on the return trip to Nairn.

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13. A2 Portrush to Ballycastle, Northern Ireland

Geoff Hill, Telegraph Travel's Northern Ireland expert, describes the Antrim Coast Road as "one of the world's great drives, rides, walks or cycles". He recommends this western section, taking in Dunluce Castle and the Giant's Causeway, and stopping for an ice-cream at Maud's in Ballycastle.

  • Northern Ireland's best scenic drives

14. Newtownabbey to Cushendall, Northern Ireland

Take the A2 coastal road, stopping at Glenarm Castle (pictured) and the Londonderry Arms Hotel, which was once owned by Winston Churchill, before heading inland to explore the Glenariff Forest, which is considered one of the mosr beautiful patches of green in the county. 

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15. Belfast Black Taxi Tours, Northern Ireland

Slightly left of field, and perhaps not scenic in the conventional sense, but Telegraph Travel's Northern Ireland expert Geoff Hill recommends these 90-minute trips round the capital of Northern Ireland for the insight into the city's history they provide, taking in the Catholic Falls Road and Protestant Shankill Road. "The driver, like taxi drivers everywhere, will have his own pithy views on where it all went wrong, and how to put it right." (belfasttours.com)

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16. Abergavenny to Penderyn, Wales

Stop off at Blaenavon iron works and admire the views of Pen y Fan (pictured) on this pleasant drive along the south edge of the Brecon Beacons national park. 

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17. Abergwesyn Pass, Wales

Ascend the aptly named "Devil's Staircase" on this not-for-the-road-shy drive from the town of Tregaron towards the attractive Llyn Brianne reservoir. Expect hairpins bends, straights, bridges, crests and spectacular views, as well as the odd sheep. 

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18. A470 from Conwy to Merthyr Tydfil, Wales

Take in such roadside beauties as the Coed-y-Brenin Forest before climbing 1,170 feet to the summit of the bleak Oerddrws Pass in the Cambrian Mountains on this road that stretches much of the length of Wales. 

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19. A5 Chirk to Bethesda, Wales

Enjoy the views around Capel Curig (pictured) on this stretch across the north of Wales in Snowdonia National Park, and don't miss the "Ugly House" beyond Swallows Falls, which is said to look like it was built "by a goblin with a warped sense of humour". 

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20. The A3055, Isle of Wight

"The Isle of Wight is like a pocket version of southern England, and within its 23 by 13 miles are high chalk downs dipping to leafy chutes, empty salt marshes and ancient woodland. There are cheerful, kiss-me-quick seaside resorts, dapper little sailing villages and fossil-studded cliffs," describes Telegraph Travel's UK editor Joanna Symons.

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