If you fancy jumping behind the wheel and heading off on a winter drive, here are three routes that promise wild roads, wild scenery and wild life.
It’s not just the quiet roads and spectacular views that make Anglesey such a great winter driving destination. The island’s location just off the North Wales coast means its climate is tempered by the warm Gulf Stream, so although it may feel the full force of westerly gales, the roads here rarely see any snow or ice.
Drive onto the island via the iconic Menai Suspension Bridge then pick up the A5025 and travel anti-clockwise around the coast road. Maybe take a short detour to Beaumaris Castle, or enjoy a stroll on the beach at Red Wharf Bay. Push on past Moelfre where the road cuts inland, then re-emerge on the coast, as the road sweeps down to Bull Bay.
Stop at Cemaes and take a walk along the harbour wall, then follow the A5025 to Valley, where it meets up with the A55 which will take you speeding back to the mainland. But the sights aren’t finished yet, because on clear days, the setting sun illuminates the mountains of Snowdonia in a breathtaking panorama.
Running along the southern edge of the Mendip Hills, the B3135 connects the towns of Ashwick and Cheddar, and this 14-mile route offers some of the most magnificent scenery in the UK. The road can become jammed with tourists during the summer months, so winter is the perfect time to visit. And at this time of year, the low afternoon sun casts haunting shadows across the landscape.
The road skirts sheer drops as it cuts through Cheddar Gorge – the UK’s deepest canyon – so this route isn’t for the faint-hearted. And drivers must focus all their attention on the road ahead, as it twists and turn through 22 tight bends. But passengers can enjoy breathtaking views of the majestic limestone cliffs.
If you need to stretch your legs, a 4-mile National Trust hiking trail through the gorge gives the driver a chance to relax, to take their eyes off the road, and take in the scenery of the surrounding Mendip Hills.
Castle to Castle
Stretching 410 miles from London to Edinburgh, the A1 is Britain’s longest road. And while much of it serves as a bustling commuter route, there’s a short stretch in the wilds of Northumberland that’s ideal for a winter road trip.
Starting at Alnwick Castle, the road threads north across exposed moorland towards the village of Haggerston, and about 20 miles out from Alnwick you’ll see a sign for Lindisfarne Castle. Take the turn off and follow the road through Lindisfarne Nature Reserve. At this time of year, the landscape can feel bleak and barren, but it’s actually bursting with life – because over 50,000 wild birds come here to escape the Arctic winter. There are great flocks of golden plover, up to 10,000 pink-footed geese, and breathtaking displays of murmurating starlings.
The roads ends up crossing a causeway to Holy Island and the famous Lindisfarne Castle – so if you’re considering a trip, check local tide times to make sure you’ll be able to drive on and off the island.