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From the rugged beauty of the Scottish Highlands to the rolling hills of Somerset, the UK has plenty to offer road-trippers. And of course, there are a wealth of cultural and historical attractions to visit too. One of the great things about these getaways is the fact that you can simply plot a route, get in your car and drive. There's no need to book flights or stand in queues at airports.
To give you inspiration for the next time you fancy hitting the highways, we've put together five interactive maps showcasing routes based on different themes, from wildlife to relaxation and heritage. To make sure we selected appealing itineraries, in June 2022, we polled 1,000 people in the UK aged 45 and over to find out what they look for in a road trip.
There's no denying the popularity of road trips. More than four in 10 (41%) of the people we surveyed said they 'would love to' take one of these journeys, while a total of 42% revealed they were either likely to or were considering it. The top reason for taking a road trip was to see more of the country, with 41% of people motivated by this. This was followed by people's desire to make new memories, with nearly a third of respondents (28%) choosing this answer.
The most popular theme when it came to these staycations was history and heritage, followed by relaxation. In terms of locations, Scotland took pole position, with 22% selecting it as their first choice. This was followed by the south-west of England at 17% and Wales at 12%.
Road trips might not require much planning, but it is important to pack carefully. As well as making sure you have all the right clothes for your sojourn, you should pay attention to what you'll need when you're actually on the road. It seems snacks are a must for most of us. Nearly three-quarters of the people we questioned said they would take nibbles. And given our increasing reliance on gadgets including mobiles, it came as no surprise that a majority of respondents (59%) stated they would take powerbanks or portable chargers with them. as well as powering up phones, this is essential kit for keeping entertainment devices such as iPads and Kindles charged – and 52% of people said they would take these electronics with them.
Summer is obviously a popular time for road trips, and 58% of those we polled said they would take sunscreen with them on their travels. Meanwhile, a safety-conscious 57% said they would pack a first aid kit.
When it comes to following a route, it appears as though sat navs are taking the place of more traditional navigation techniques. Whereas 56% of respondents suggested they would take sat navs, only 33% said they would pack a map.
Of course, road trippers need a place to stay at the end of a day's travelling and sightseeing. Hotels were the most popular option for accommodation, followed by traditional B&Bs and then caravan parks.
Taking into account what people look for from these breaks, we created the following five road trip routes:
If, like many people in our survey, you love to immerse yourself in history and culture, this route could be perfect for you. Start your adventure in Liverpool, a city with more galleries and museums than any UK city outside London. One attraction not to miss is the Western Approaches HQ Museum, a secret underground bunker from WWII that's hidden underneath the city's streets. From Liverpool, it's just a short hop to the ancient city of Chester, with its Roman walls and amphitheatre and 1,000 year-old cathedral.
Continue your journey south to Stratford-upon-Avon, birthplace of William Shakespeare. While there, why not take a tour of the playwright's five family homes? Just an hour south-east, the next stop off is Oxford with its dizzying array of historical colleges, buildings and museums. Explore attractions including Christ Church and the Cathedral of Oxford. Then on to London, home to no fewer than four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Palace of Westminster and the Tower of London.
For a good chance of spotting some spectacular wildlife, it's hard to beat Loch Lomond the The Trossachs National Park. Our route starts off at the picturesque hamlet of Aldochlay, just south of Luss on the banks of the loch. You can take a guided kayak or canoe tour of this beautiful part of Loch Lomond, keeping your eyes peeled for otters. Or set of on a forest walk and look out for creatures including red squirrel and pine martin.
The trip then takes you south to Galloway Forest, where you can visit the Red Deer Range and get up close to these magnificent animals in the viewing area and hide. From here, travel over the border into England and make your way to the Yorkshire Dales National Park to explore attractions such as the Freeholders' Wood Local Nature Reserve. With birds including chaffinch, nuthatch, bullfinch, goldcrest and more to see, it's well worth a visit. Then continue south to the Hatchmere Nature Reserve, where you might spot a variety of animals, including wild beavers. Finally, conclude your wildlife-themed holiday at the Exmoor National Park complete with its spectacular moorland, woodland and coastline. Look out for red deer, otters and the famous Exmoor Ponies that can be seen on the open moors.
St Ives, Cornwall is the ideal place to start a family vacation. This picturesque seaside town, which was voted 'Best Family Holiday Destination' by Coast magazine, boasts the blue flag-rated Porthmeor beach and is a great location for a range of watersports, including paddleboarding. To reach the next stop on this road trip, Abergavenny, travel north and take the Prince of Wales Bridge across the River Severn into Wales. If you and your brood are feeling adventurous, why not give caving a go? Guided caving sessions suitable for ages eight and above are run nearby from the activity centre located just north of the Brecon Beacons National Park.
From Abergavenny, drive less than two hours north-west to the unspoilt Welsh county of Ceredigion, where you'll find the Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park complete with play areas, café and farm animals including pigs, goats, sheep and donkeys. Next, continue north, crossing the border back into England en route to York. With festivals for every month of the year and attractions including the JORVIK Viking Centre and York Dungeon, there's plenty to keep families busy. Why not also take a ghost tour to get a glimpse of the city's darker side? Finish your trip at the scenic Lake Windermere, England's largest lake. There are lots of activities to get stuck into, including lake cruises.
If you love to explore the majesty and beauty of the natural landscapes on offer in the UK, this itinerary is for you. Kick your road trip off at Durdle Door in Dorset. Part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, this iconic limestone arch formation is truly breathtaking. Next, head north to Cheddar Gorge in Somerset. One of the UK's most spectacular landmarks and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this gorge features dramatic cliffs and subterranean caves complete with stalactites.
Next, travel north-west to Henrhyd Falls in Wales. The highest waterfall in South Wales, you might recognise it as the entrance to the Batcave in Hollywood blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises. Like Batman, you can venture behind the falls, although you might be out of luck if you're searching for an entrance to the superhero's lair. Then on to Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, where you'll find visitor favourites including Mother Shipton's Cave and the Petrifying Wall – an unusual natural phenomenon where cascading water appears to turn everyday objects to stone. Last but by no means least on this road trip, make your way north-west, cutting across the Pennines to Scafell Pike. The highest mountain in England, it's characterised by its imposing crags and rocky crests.
If it's some much-needed R&R you're after, this road trip should leave you feeling rejuvenated. Start off at the Duddon Valley in Cumbria, which offers excellent spots for invigorating wild swimming. The River Duddon flows through some of the least visited parts of the Lake District, so it's ideal if you're after a little peace and quiet. Next, head south to Snowdonia, Wales' largest National Park. You can leave the driving to someone else once you arrive and enjoy the scenic vista provided by the Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog rail line, which offers return trips that take two-and-a-half hours. You'll pass villages, pastures and ancient wooded slopes.
Then on to Moreton in Marsh in the Cotswolds. This elegant market town offers a range of attractions and, if you feel like being pampered, it's near to the Bamford Wellness Spa Cotswolds, where you can enjoy a selection of carefully curated relaxation treatments. From here, it takes less than two hours to reach Holland Park, Kensington. Although you're in London, you'll feel far away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Spanning 22.5 hectares, this park with its woodland and wildlife is a feast for the senses. It also features the beautiful Kyoto Garden, which is an idyllic spot for some quiet reflection. Next stop is the Seven Sisters on the East Sussex coast. This stunning stretch of coastline with its white chalk cliffs, named for the seven hilltops that form its silhouette, is home to rare flora and fauna and provides a sublime setting for a tranquil stroll. You can also take a boat trip along the Sussex Heritage Coast, keeping an eye out for harbour porpoises and common seals.
We hope our itineraries have given you plenty of ideas for your next road trip. Have your own suggestions you'd like to share? Join the conversation using #RoadTripsForOlderAdults.
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