Autumnal driving might bring its own unique challenges, but the colours make it my favourite time of the year – and I can’t be alone! So, here are five of the best driving routes in the UK from which you can enjoy the “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”.
The South Downs National Park and the New Forest
For inspiring autumn views, meander your way through the South Downs National Park and be sure to stop at Alice Holt Forest (postcode: GU10 4LS). It has a café and Habitat Trail, plus plenty of other things to do (handy if you’re looking after grandchildren in the half term break), all set in 850 ha of ancient woodland that’s absolutely teeming with wildlife.
And, if you fancy more driving, the New Forest is only a gentle hour’s drive away to help you make a day of it.
Grizedale Forest, Lake District
The Lake District is a wonderful place to visit at any time of the year, but never more so than in the autumn. Grizedale Forest (postcode: LA22 0QJ), which comprises almost 2,500 ha, provides ample space for you to breathe in the crisp autumnal air in peace.
And when you want to stretch your legs, there are enough great walking trails and small towns to explore for you to turn your one-day road trip into a long weekend away.
The North Coast 500, Scotland
The North Coast 500, or NC500, is a genuinely world-beating 500-mile road-trip that circles the north of Scotland. The roads are much quieter in the autumn than they are in the summer, but the main reasons to travel in September and October are the colours and the views, which are breathtakingly beautiful as the leaves change and the early morning mist hovers over the many lochs.
If you can, allow a week to trace the whole route slowly; it could be driven in a (very long) day, but to do so would be to miss the point...
The Dee Valley and Clwydian Range, North Wales
As it’s my home I might be biased, but I think the Dee Valley and Clwydian Range AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) contains some of the most stunning scenery in the world.
Llangollen makes a great base from which to start your day’s adventure – you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the golden hues of the surrounding woods and moorlands as you slowly meander your way north to the coast for a fish and chip supper.
The Sperrin Mountains, Northern Ireland
The Sperrins, Northern Ireland’s most extensive mountain range, run from the Donegal border in the west to Lough Neagh in the east and to the Atlantic shore in the north. Another designated AONB, it offers four distinct driving routes: North (50 miles); South (64 miles); East (63 miles); and Central (90 miles).
You can download the four routes as one brilliant PDF guide, which makes exploring this magical part of the world simplicity itself. See the autumn skies reflected in the Gortin Lakes, which have a gravel path running around them for easier walking and plenty of benches to admire the views.