The 6 best autumn drives in the UK

The 6 best autumn drives in the UK
The changing autumn leaves can turn any landscape into a kaleidoscope of colour, and with a well-planned road trip you can take in some of the UK’s most stunning scenery from the comfort of your own car.

Autumn can be a challenging time for motorists, so read our top tips for autumnal driving before you head off and make sure you have UK breakdown cover that meets your needs.

Once that’s all sorted, you can get to planning one of these excellent autumn drives!

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The Sperrins (Derry to Coleraine)

After soaking up the spirit of Derry, the historic walled city on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, head south into the Sperrin Mountains, one of the largest uplands areas in the country.

The Sperrins are classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and driving through while surrounded with its autumnal colours, you’ll soon understand why. If you fancy getting out and going for a wander, the Sperrins are home to over 90 stone circles that are sure to captivate the imaginations of any little ones you bring with you.

SEE ALSO: Child Car seat laws: everything you need to know

Once you’ve had your fill of the Sperrins, head north towards Coleraine, the gateway to the nearby Giant’s Causeway. On the way, don’t miss out on the atmospheric Dark Hedges, an 18th century avenue of beech trees that’s become a tourist sensation after it was used as a location in Game of Thrones.


autumn drives scotland sperrins

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs (Dumbarton – Stirling)

Start your trip around Loch Lomond with a visit to Dumbarton’s dramatic riverside before heading north towards the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, home to Scotland’s largest freshwater loch.

Approaching the loch from the south, take the A82 and travel up its western shore. From here, you’ll experience some of the most breathtaking views the UK has to offer without having to get out of your car, as burnt orange hillsides tumble down towards the placid loch and the Trossachs beyond.

READ MORE: Road trips in Ireland – six of the best Irish routes

Once you’ve rounded the top end of the loch, head east into the Trossachs, an area of hidden valleys and lochs that gets its name from the Gaelic word for “bristly”. The Trossachs are very remote, so carry out car checks before you head off to ensure you’re not stranded by a breakdown.

Thetford Forest Trail (Thetford – Thetford)

Start and end this road trip in Thetford, a market town with a clutch of historical interest points including the ancient castle mound and museum dedicated to TV show Dad’s Army. From there, head north on the A134 towards the forest.

Thetford Forest is the largest lowland pine forest in Britain and covers around 19,000 hectares to the north and west of Thetford. The sheer density of the forest means that the autumn colours here are some of the most striking in the entire country, so you won’t want to miss out.

Outdoor activities are king in the forest, with mountain biking and outdoor adventure courses available for those who fancy something a bit more active than driving.

The forest also makes for a great Instagram post, so don’t forget to charge your phone. You can pick up car phone chargers from the RAC shop if you’re worried about running out of juice.

READ MORE: Road trips in Scotland — six of the best Scottish drives

new forest autumn

The New Forest (Southampton – Christchurch)

Having hit the shops and restaurants of Southampton, head west into the New Forest National Park to explore one of England’s oldest forests. Proclaimed a Royal Forest back in 1079, these days the New Forest is a favourite with families looking for a countryside escape.

While driving between the forest’s many picture-postcard villages, you’ll experience some of the best autumnal driving in England — but be aware of the local wildlife. The New Forest is home to ponies, deer, polecats and grazing cattle, all of which are known to wander onto the roads. Drive slowly and be prepared to stop, particularly at dawn and dusk.

Car enthusiasts should make a detour to Beaulieu, home of the National Motor Museum, before heading down to Christchurch, where an impressive natural harbour and collection of excellent beaches make it perfect for an autumnal stroll with some fish and chips.



wye autumn

Forest of Dean (Chepstow – Hereford)

After having a mosey around Chepstow’s 11th century castle and compact old centre, jump in the car and drive north towards Tintern and into the heart of the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The Forest of Dean is a former royal hunting ground and one of the UK’s few surviving ancient woodlands, so it’s perfect for taking in the autumnal carnival of colour. The region is also steeped in a rich industrial history thanks to its mining heritage, so there are plenty of day out opportunities for the family.

After sampling the idyllic Ross-on-Wye, take any of the country lanes that wrap around the meandering River Wye as you head up into Hereford, where you can explore the impressive cathedral and enjoy a well-deserved pint of local cider.

READ MORE: Road trips in Wales — six of the best Welsh drives


forest of dean rac guide

Robin Hood Country (Worksop – Mansfield)

Explore the home turf of England’s legendary outlaw just like Robin Hood himself would have done — from the climate-controlled comfort of a moderately priced family hatchback. From Worksop, head south on the B6034 until you hit the fabled Sherwood Forest.

A royal forest since the 11th century, modern Sherwood is just a fraction of the size it once was. However, it still makes for one of England’s most impressive woodlands, and the perfect place to take in the changing autumn leaves.

While an autumnal drive will be too late to take in August’s annual, week-long Robin Hood festival, there are still plenty of things to do for all the family. Check out the outdoor adventure park and forest’s miniature steam railway before heading into Mansfield, a market town with a charming main square.


Have we missed off your favourite autumn spot? Let us know where you like to watch the leaves turn in a comment below!

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