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Britons tend to forget their island status – instead we often associate sea and sand with mainland Europe. But the UK is wrapped in dramatic stretches of stunning coastline. Wherever you are in the country, you’re never far from feeling that freedom which comes with speeding along deserted country roads looking out to limitless sea. So here are the best British coastal roads drives... enjoy the view!

Edinburgh to Holy Island
Distance: 120 miles round trip
The borderlands between Edinburgh and Newcastle offer a dramatic coastline. Avoid the temptation of the rushing on the A1, heading south out of Edinburgh. Instead, stick to the smaller coast roads that thread through the fishing villages hugging the North Sea. This sweep of country is cinematic, spattered with castles and stunning viewpoints. Take the A199 out of Musselburgh, then zoom along the B1348 until the urban sprawl of Edinburgh falls away behind you and you’re left skipping between seaside golf courses on the UK’s east coast. Drive through Dunbar and Broxburn then slide onto the A1107 to pass through beachy Coldingham and alongside the idyllic harbour town of Eyemouth. Cross the England-Scotland border, back on the A1, turning off when the A1167 is signposted to drive through historic Berwick Upon Tweed.
Coming out of Berwick, get back on the A1 before coming off on Lindisfarne Causeway to reach your end point: Holy Island. Read the tide timetables carefully – you don’t want to be stuck on the two-mile causeway, connecting the island to the mainland, when the tide comes in. Once on the island have coffee at Pilgrims Coffee House or go to the Ship Inn for proper pub grub.

 

Bristol to Weston Super Mare and the Mendip Hills
Distance: 65 miles round trip
Take the M5 out of Bristol, coming off at the Portishead turning. Just five miles from Bristol, Portishead is a pretty coastal town overlooking the Severn Estuary. On a clear day, see Wales from the picturesque harbour. There are plenty of scenic walks from here: there’s the Gordano Valley Nature Reserve, Battery Point and the Clevedon Coast Path. But don’t get too distracted – get back in the car and drive through Walton Bay to Clevedon, a Victorian seaside town. Walk along the promenade, stop for fish and chips overlooking the beach or check out the stylish cafes surrounding the pier. Take the M5 again, until you reach Weston-Super-Mare. Try The Old Thatched Cottage for British-meets-Mediterranean food. Explore the famous pier and beach town before heading back to Bristol via the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Drive through charming Cheddar and stop at the Cheddar Gorge where the vast limestone crags are breathtaking. Take the A37 back to Bristol.

 
Credit: iStock

London to Ramsgate
Distance: 140 miles round trip
The drive to Kent’s north easterly tip will surprise you with remote corners of beach, so close to London. This stretch of coastal towns, jutting out to sea, is creative and cosmopolitan with plenty of activities eager to please city-types hungry for freedom and fresh air.Take the A2 then M2 east out of London, turning off on the A299 towards Whitstable. Once in Whitstable, park the car and wander the quaint high street. Have a coffee in a lopsided café or get some whitebait to takeaway in the popular chippy, VC Jones. Walk along Tankerton Bay, the town’s pretty stretch of seaside lined with colourful beach huts, looking out to the wind turbines in the distance. Get back on the road through Herne Bay and on the A299, taking the turning to Margate. Visit the re-invigorated pleasure-park Dreamland or the town’s much-acclaimed gallery, the Turner Contemporary. Leave the town, heading towards Broadstairs. To Charles Dickens, this was the “freshest, freest place”. It has seven beaches and coves – Botany and Viking Bays are two of the best. End the adventure admiring Ramsgate’s architecture – from the alleyways packed with ramshackle cottages to grand Georgian terraces. Grab a bite to eat at the Corner House before heading back to London.

 

Southampton to Swanage
Distance: 100 miles round trip
The Jurassic Coast is one of the UK’s most breathtaking and dramatic stretches of scenery where you can find rock dating back 185 million years. Make this your end point. From Southampton, drive through the New Forest National Park, looking out for the wild ponies on your way to Lymington. The thatched Fleur de Lis and the Monkey House both offer lovely food in a quaint, village setting. Drive along the A337; pass through Christchurch and Bournemouth. Come off the A338 at Westbourne. Take the ferry (with your car) into the Studland and Godlingston Heath National Nature Reserve. The scrubby moorland, set against the blue water littered with boats, creates a beautiful contrast. Drive through Studland, stopping off at the chalky Old Harry Rocks, protruding from the sea. Get back on the Swanage road, through Ulwell and on to Swanage itself. This is the most easterly town on the Jurassic Coast. Drive out to the pier and walk along the SW coast path until you feel it’s time to go home.

 Words: Lucy Tittle, community manager at easyCar Club


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