Driving doesn't have to be a frustrating bumper-to-bumper crawl of endless stops and starts. It can even be fun. True, the UK might be one of the most crowded places to live in Europe, but it is possible to escape the endless traffic lights and road rage - if you know where to go. The United Kingdom is blessed with scenic drives and miles of open road that are anything but stressful. Here are some of our favourites...
Kendal To Keswick
This 30-mile stretch in the Lake District National Park is nothing short of spectacular. This winding section of the A591 provides unmatchable views of Lakeland fells and the banks of Lake Windermere and Lake Thirlmere. This is the countryside that inspired poets Wordsworth and Coleridge, and you can even take a peek at two of Wordsworth’s former houses en route in the picturesque village of Grasmere.
Black Mountain Road
This five-mile stretch of the A4069 in Powys is up there with some of the most scenic drives in the world. The virtually deserted road climbs, dips and twists through the Brecon Beacons National Park.
The Northumberland Coast
The roads that wind along Northumberland’s most northerly coastal region are the perfect antidote to motorway tedium. This northerly point of England is a magical place filled with ancient castles like Warkworth, Bamburgh and Alnwick (pictured), as well as sandy beaches, rolling hills, rugged moorland and picture-postcard market towns.
The Glens Of Antrim
The Antrim coast road passes by the foot of each of the nine glens, running along the coast for about 25 miles from the Black Arch near Larne to the Red Arch near Cushendall, passing through the villages of Ballygalley, Glenarm, Carnlough and Waterfoot. This stretch of the A2 is regularly referred to as one of the most scenic drives in the world.
Winding through the Yorkshire Dales, the B6255 is not short of impressive natural beauty, but the highlight is surely the man-made Ribblehead Viaduct. This awe-inspiring 400-metre construction dates back to 1870 and is a listed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument - but it is perhaps best known for its cameo in the <em>Harry Potter</em> films.
Horsham to Winchester
Perfect for meandering down on an English summer's day, the A272 weaves its way around the undulating and quintessentially English countryside of West Sussex and Hampshire, with the market town of Petersfield and the antiques hub of Petworth both providing excellent stop-offs.
Land's End to St Ives
The A30 and then B3306 hug the unspoilt Cornish coast, offering up stunning views of Whitesand Beach, Sennen Cove and the Cornish Cape, as well as coast village gems like Zennor and Pendeen.
Bealach Na Bà (Or Pass Of The Cattle)
This is a narrow road that branches off the A896 from Lochcarron to Shieldaig, and crosses the hills to Applecross peninsula in Wester Ross in the Scottish Highlands. The Pass of the Cattle - or Bealach na Bà to use its proper Gaelic name - is a historic pass through the mountains that is both bleak and jaw-droppingly stunning. In winter the conditions can be treacherous so <a href="http://www.ambaile.org.uk/en/item/item_photograph.jsp?item_id=43684">be sure to always check ahead</a>.
This mesmerising 50 square-mile landscape of peat bogs, lochs and lochans is braved by only the hardiest of hikers. But this expansive wilderness can also be explored from the comfort of your car on the near-empty B846.
Beddgelert To Betws-Y-Coed, Snowdonia
One of the best scenic drives is the run along the A498 from Beddgelert past two lakes, Llyn Dinas (pictured) and Llyn Gwynant, and up the Nanat Gwynant Pass into the higher ground of Snowdonia and then to the gushing beauty of Swallow Falls at Betws-Y-Coed.