Discover some of the most beautiful autumn UK road trips, from village hopping in the Cotswolds through to rugged, stormy coastlines and fiery red forests in Scotland and Ireland.
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With travel restrictions understandably still in place, along with the need to stay safe in our household ‘bubbles’, UK road trips can be a good option for families looking to have an autumn holiday.
Sure, most of us will be sad not to get our fix of winter sun with a trip to warmer climes, but although it might lack the warmth of Turkey or Thailand, Britain still has a lot to offer during the autumn months – in particular its gorgeous autumn landscapes.
What better way to see them than by taking a road trip? To inspire you to hit the road and explore the UK this autumn, we’ve teamed up with car hire company Enjoy Travel to put together this guide to some of the most beautiful autumn UK road trips out there. Let’s see if any of these amazing October holiday destinations take your fancy…
Village hop across the Cotswolds
One of our favourite UK destinations, the Cotswolds make for a superbly scenic road trip setting in autumn.
Take your time driving through the villages, stopping off to explore beautiful spots like Bourton-on-the-Water, Pickwick, Tetbury, and Upper and Lower Slaughter, and why not book yourself a night or two in a gorgeous hotel like the Lords of the Manor?
There are many spots that are must visits in autumn, including the Westonbirt and Batsford Arboretums, where the acers burst with fiery shades of red.
Why not park up from time to time for a breath of fresh air and head out on an autumnal walk. Winchcombe on the Costwolds Way is perfect for this, as well has having lots of cute independent shops to explore and being a hop skip and a jump away from Sudeley Castle.
Blenheim Palace is glorious any time of year but the Capability Brown’s landscapes come into their own in autumn, making it the perfect place to wrap up and enjoy a walk, then there’s Broadway Tower.
Perched on top of Fish Hill, this iconic tower is surrounded by gorgeous walks and if you’re lucky you’ll see the resident deer herd. Combine this with a trip to nearby Broadway, where you can warm up in one of the lovely coffee shops or enjoy a fabulous afternoon tea at the Lygon Arms Hotel.
Why not take a look at official destination website www.cotswolds.com to help plan your road trip?
For more Cotswolds inspiration, check out our guide of things to do in the Cotswolds in autumn.
Explore the Great West Way
The Great West Way is a 125-mile route that’s based on the one of the first great roads commissioned by the kings of England. Linking London to Bristol it’s a great route for a road trip, as you’re never more than a few minutes’ drive away from an interesting destination or attraction.
Pick up the Great West Way from wherever you chose and get stuck into your adventure with either small day trips or weekend breaks that cover sections of the route, or take a week and travel slow to savour the entire route!
Stop off at Windsor, take a detour to see Stonehenge, explore beautiful Wiltshire villages and towns such as Malmesbury, Lacock and Calne… the choices are endless. Then, as you near the western end of the route you of course have historic Bath and Bristol, which are both full holiday destinations in their own right.
A road trip around the Lake District
It might be heavenly all year round, but there’s something special about visiting the Lake District in autumn, when the changes of colour make for lovely views of the trees and bracken as they all start to turn golden.
For a great introduction to both the lakes and the mountains of Cumbria, ensure your road trip takes you along the Kirkstone Pass – the highest pass in the Lake District, along with the winding and steep country roads of the Wrynose Pass and the Hardknott Pass. From there you’re only a short distance from Wastwater – which, as you’ll see from our photos is stunning in autumn!
You can also expect jaw-dropping views as you drive along the A591, which is essentially the Lake District’s central artery. This road hugs the lakes of Windermere, Rydal Water, Grasmere and Thirlmere before joining the A66 to drive along the shore of Bassenthwaite, one of the largest lakes in the district.
The North Coast 500
The North Coast 500 is a spectacular 516-mile circular route around the north coast of Scotland, which starts and ends at Inverness Castle.
It’s recommended that you take 5-7 days to make the most of this trip, which will take you past some of the most northerly coastal points in Scotland, including John o’ Groats. There’s something for everyone here, whether you’re into your history, the great outdoors, wildlife or spectacular eateries.
Stop off at Loch Ness, discover castles and ruins, take an autumnal walk along a beach or across the Scottish Highlands, perhaps you might event want to undertake a bracing mountain climb!
Visit the North Coast 500 website for a selection of great itineraries an interactive maps loads of other tools to help you plan out your autumn Scottish road trip!
The Causeway Coastal Route, Northern Ireland
Steeped in myth and legend, the Causeway Coastal Route hugs the Atlantic coast providing some awesome views as you weave along its winding roads. As your road trip goes on the landscape will vary from beaches to mountain tops, busy cities to small hamlets and coastal harbours.
Northern Ireland’s lush greens are replaced more muted autumnal colours during autumn, and this 120 mile drive between Belfast and Londonderry takes you past must-sees including the Giant’s Causeway (ofc!), Dunluce Castle, the Dark Hedges made famous by Game of Thrones and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.
It’s recommended that you take 3-5 days to make the most of this road trip and really explore the area. Our main recommendation is to stop and take the boat over to Rathlin Ireland to visit the lighthouses and the renowned bird sanctuary. Puffins anyone?!
Here’s a good site to help you plan your autumn road trip along the Causeway Coastal Route…
UK road trip planner
We’ve shown you some of the best autumn UK road trips, along with some links to create your own itineraries, but what if you want to create your very own road trip somewhere else in the UK?
We’ve only scratched the surface of scenic drives in the UK, so if you have your own UK road trip ideas, why not use a tool like the RAC’s route planner to plan your own British road trip? We’d love to hear your autumn UK road trip plans, so please do share in the comments section below!
Autumn UK road trips
So there you have it, our guide to some of the best UK autumn road trips. If you’re thinking about where to go on holiday in October, we hope this guide has helped. Why not pin this pic for future reference?!
This article was sponsored by car hire company Enjoy Travel.