A591 From Kendal To Keswick
Wordsworth dedicated entire anthologies to the Lake District, finding the face of god in its sublime beauty. But he’d have struggled to wander lonely these days, before a cloud of exhaust fumes punctured his reverie.
Fortunately for William, he penned his poetry a few centuries before an F1 track designer and a quantum physicist declared the A591, which rips straight through the heart of the Lake District, to be Britain’s finest driving road.
The pair calculated bends, acceleration, cruising and braking, and came to the conclusion that the A591 presents the perfect combination of jaw-dropping scenery and a drive challenging enough to mean your eyes should probably remain on the road instead.
The A591 pairs straight line speed with brake-testing corners, so you want a car that puts its pace down quickly, like the Mercedes-AMG S63 Cabriolet, which has torque to burn. Plus a drop top, for savouring those views across Lake Windermere.
A82 From Loch Ness To Loch Lomond
The A82 is Scotland in a 140-mile nutshell: purple-blushed peaks; hills of gorse cleaved by mountain streams; and a pair of lochs, one of which affords the opportunity for monster-spotting.
Drilling straight through Scotland’s heart, it can get understandably congested. But between caravan convoys there’s enough twists and turns to really stretch your car’s legs. And when things do slow to a crawl, just savour the views.
A test not so much of your right foot as your capacity for awe, the A82 is a road to savour. The Bentley Continental GT isn’t shy on oomph when you need it, but offers an interior in which to relish what’s outside the glass when you don’t.
A9/A99 From Inverness To John O’Groats
There are very few places as far north as Inverness, but even the folk of this fair city would agree that John O’Groats is quite far away. It’s well worth making the trip though – firstly, to say you’ve been to one of the edges of Europe, and also to take in scenery so prehistoric you may as well have driven there in a Delorean.
The A99 does, however, bear the ignoble crown of Scotland’s most dangerous road, since it’s long, sweeping bends are a draw for motorcyclists. But if you respect the laws of gravity, inertia, and the highway patrol, it’s full of rewards. And we don’t just mean enough mountains and castles to satisfy your inner Braveheart.
To avoid adding to those fatality statistics, you want something that hugs the road like it’s not seen in it in years.
The Porsche Cayman GT4 took the already grippy Boxster and added a roof, providing a stiffer chassis and near-perfect balance, so you can treat corners like straightaways. You’ll probably not miss the convertible in northern Scotland, anyway.
A4069 Brecon Beacons
Going ‘over the Black Mountain’ sounds like a task for a member of the Night’s Watch. So if you want to release your inner John Snow, head out to the Brecon Beacons and take a charge up the A4069.
The road offers scenery you could imagine north of The Wall – particularly if you catch the Welsh climate on a surly day – and the kind of hairpins you’d normally expect to see flanked by a tyre wall.
Since Jeremy Clarkson tested them out a few years back it’s become a rite of passage for many drivers, so avoid Sunday afternoon logjams. Unless you’re actually just there for the scenery.
As with many of Wales’ rural roads, the A4069 cuts through unfenced sheep fields. Fortunately, the Chevy Corvette Z06 stops from 60mph in just 93 feet, courtesy of race-ready ceramic brakes and tyres that stick to the road like flypaper. So you’ll be prepared for any unexpected guests.
A26 From Royal Tunbridge Wells To Uckfield
A personal favourite of this author, as it’s on the way to my grandmother’s. But even if you’re not heading round for Sunday lunch, you’ll still appreciate the glorious dip that, taken at 60mph (honest, officer), makes you feel like you’re about to slip the surly bonds of Earth.
If you’re coming from Tunbridge Wells, there’s a small car park just before the road drops. If there’s any sign of Sunday drivers in front of you, pull over until they’re far away. Then, let rip.
You should definitely approach hidden dips with due care, but the Hornet AMC – which Bond (well, stunt driver Loren Willard) corkscrewed over a Thai river in The Man With The Golden Gun – has proven its mettle if you don’t.