Ten Best Roads for a Spring Drive
There is something in the air. It is getting ever so slightly warmer and spring is beginning to look like a realistic prospect at last.
For a certain type of petrol head, this is exactly the time that thoughts turn to the joy of the open road and a blast in the country behind the wheel of our beloved car. Everyone has their own favourite, and local drivers can always point you towards a road that may not be on the favourites list, but here are ten roads that really do deserve to be known nationally.
1) A82, Scotland
The A82 starts in unpromising fashion, leaving the west of Glasgow as a busy commuter route. You don't have to go far, however, until it gets a whole lot better. A few miles up the road and you are skirting the shores of Loch Lomond, and then the scenery goes into overdrive as you motor through Glencoe. Reaching Fort William, you have the choice of driving the length of the Loch Ness shore to Inverness or plumping for the wilder west coast, which brings us to our second choice.
2) A896/A832, Scotland
If you turn off the A82 just before Fort Augustus and head for Kyle of Lochalsh, you are in for a special treat. At Balmacara, take the road for Plockton and then continue up the coast on the A896. Here you will find a tiny twisting road that skirts lochs and the Atlantic while threading through the mountains. Soon it becomes the A832 as you head towards the far north-west of Scotland.
3) A470, Wales
The M5 and M6 may provide a far quicker way to drive from one end of Wales to the other, but it is no match for the A470 when it comes to sheer driving enjoyment. This road winds through the Brecon Beacons and some of the best bits of the Snowdonia National Park, and it does so with some dramatic bends and sweeping straights that will keep your eyes glued to the road. It's probably best to stop before you look at the scenery.
4) Black Mountain Pass (A4069), Wales
This used to be one of those roads that only the locals knew about. Then Jeremy Clarkson and the boys enjoyed it on Top Gear, and the secret was out. You can start off at Gwaun Cae Gurwen and head for Llangadog to enjoy a great combination of driving and scenic pleasure. Although it is better known now, it is still not crowded, and a crisp day in early spring is the ideal time to enjoy this road in peace.
5) The Evo Triangle, Wales
This route gets its rather scary name from a car magazine that uses these roads as their test route. It is easy to see why, as the combination of the A5, A453 and B4501 is about as challenging as it gets. It is also hugely enjoyable, and you just might find yourself doing more laps than you had intended.
6) Snake Pass (A57), Peak District
The Snake Pass cannot claim to be a hidden gem. It is well known among petrol heads as one of the most challenging driving routes and connects Sheffield with Manchester.
7) Buttertubs Pass, Yorkshire Dales
This route combines glorious straights with terrifying bends over sheer drops. It is exhilarating but probably requires a few trial runs before being tackled full on.
8) Elan Valley Loop, Wales
This looped route takes us around the Elan Valley, taking in a number of local reservoirs. Take the B4518 and head for Elan Village, then circle north through the valley past Craig Goch before turning back to Rhayader.
9) Moffat Loop, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland
Another circuitous route that will have you looping through the best scenery in southern Scotland. Moving from sea level to over 1,000 feet, you will take in the A708 from Moffat to Selkirk and then on to the A707 and the A72 to Castlecraig. The A702 will then take you back towards Moffat.
10) The Cat & Fiddle, England
This last road is also among the most challenging and can even be dangerous. Care should be taken as you wind through the A53, A54 and A537 from Macclesfield to Buxton. The combination of blind corners and hidden dips should be enough to keep anyone alert, even if the scenery is so distracting.