6. The Cheltenham loop, Gloucestershire
Length 40 miles
On the one hand, it’s a pleasant drive following the A435 as it tracks the Churn Valley in the Cotswolds between Cirencester and Cheltenham, or, if you take advantage of the road’s sweeping corners and long, clear straights, it’s a fast road that will have you grinning from ear to ear. We’ll take the latter. In all the excitement, don’t forget to peel off left onto the A436 at Seven Springs before briefly joining the A417 for Cirencester. Look out for the B4070 signed for Slad, made famous in Laurie Lee’s autobiography Cider with Rosie, and eventually Stroud. Now the route dips and dives through some of the most sublime Gloucestershire scenery before entering Stroud and picking up the A419 for Cirencester. Enjoy the steep climb up the Golden Valley onto the tops and enjoy the A419’s bracing straights and sweeping corners as circumstances allow – but beware of deer.
Quality, wide roads but Slad valley stretch needs care
Dreamy, chocolate box scenery
Drive it in: Range Rover Evoque
7. Oopnurthring, Peak District
Length 55 miles
Do you see the allusion to Nürburgring in the name for this spectacular drive around the Peak District between Manchester and Sheffield? You can start where you like but the important thing is to get the roads right, and there are a few of them. We recommend joining the A6102, close by the village of Oughtibridge, travelling north in the direction of Stocksbridge. Join the A616 passing Midhope and Langsett reservoirs. Look out for the B6106 crossing your path and join it turning left for Holmfirth. Once in the town keep your eyes peeled for signs to the A6024 and Glossop where things start to get really exciting. At Woodhead reservoir you briefly join the A628 before peeling off left for the B6105 to Glossop. Once there, pick up the A57 Snake Road (a perfect description) that takes you back towards Sheffield around the southern leg of the route. Peel off left to the A6101, briefly pick up the A61 and then rejoin the A6102 to Oughtibridge.
Clear straights, tempting corners demand mature car control
If you can tear your eyes from the road, spectacular
Drive it in: Porsche Cayman R
8. Hartside Pass, north Pennines
Length 45 miles
The Penrith to Hexham road is surely one of the world’s greatest drives, never mind the UK’s. Leaving the tedium of the M6 behind you at Penrith you enter north Pennines country, so often ignored by tourists heading west to the Lake District, following the A686 across the wonderful Eden Valley. Designated an area of outstanding natural beauty, the landscape here is all gentle undulations until around Melmerby it takes on a different character and begins to climb to Hartside, 1,900ft above sea level. Take a break at the café to admire the view, extending as far as the Solway Firth. Continuing on your way through the surrounding moorland (so clear sight lines for clean, safe overtakes) you’ll pass through Alston, perched 1000ft above sea level, making it one of England’s highest market towns, and the drive’s mid-point. After that, it’s more expanses of bracing moorland before the road swoops down to the River Allen and its wooded gorge. Look out for the B6305, another delight that spirits you to Hexham.
Many tight corners, swoopy contours can throw car off line
Bleak moorland but Hartside saves it
Drive it in: Mini Cooper S
9. Southwold to Aldeburgh, Suffolk
Length 23 miles
One for the culturally curious, taking you through a designated area of outstanding natural beauty. Southwold, our start point, is a magnet for tourists who come to gaze on its town-centre lighthouse and fine Georgian architecture as well as enjoy its pier and inhale the bracing North Sea air. But it’s an industrious little town, too – the home of the Adnams brewery and a thriving fishing fleet. Leave the town on the A1095, joining the A12 south before shortly turning left onto the B1125, a far prettier and quieter road. Within a few miles you come to the junction with the B1122 which you follow to Aldeburgh. Fans of classical music will know this to be the former home town of the British composer Sir Benjamin Britten. Park next to the shingle beach to admire (or recoil from) the controversial sculpture The Scallop dedicated to his memory. Then head out of town on the A1094 before taking the B1069 for Snape and the Maltings, the concert hall Britten commissioned and which is still a busy arts and concert venue.
More sightseeing drive than all-out drive
Sand, sea and Suffolk ‒ sublime
Drive it in: Jaguar XFR
10. Hastings to Rye, Sussex
Length 13 miles
A short drive linking two historic towns and with a switchback corner to bring a smile to any petrolhead’s face. It couldn’t be simpler: after a bracing walk along Hastings sea front, and perhaps a quick crammer on a defining moment in England’s history at nearby Battle off the A21, point your car west along the A259 for Winchelsea and Rye. Once clear of Hastings the road clears and opens up giving good, uncluttered views of the wide, sweeping corners ahead. There’s a rather fetching straight after Icklesham followed by the first of two engaging corners, although as ever, obey speed limits, be aware of other road users and expect the unexpected. The second, a switchback at the foot of Ferry Hill, is particularly special followed by a series of straights in open countryside affording good overtakes, where it is safe to do so. Your drive concludes in Rye with its pretty gift shops, charming houses and busy harbour.
At least two great corners demand total concentration
Apart from the start and finish, little to distract you
Drive it in: Caterham 7