Travel and Adventure

EXPLORE THE UK WITH YOUR SUV

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Burgh Island, Devon

Most visitors come to see the Art Deco Burgh Island Hotel, star of numerous TV programmes, and maybe whet their whistle in the adjacent Pilchard Inn.

But it is worth exploring beyond, taking the path to the top of the island behind the hotel and past the remains of an old chapel. The views across South Devon and out to the English Channel are as spectacular as the drive across the 250m sand causeway: four-wheel drive is recommended; always-on configurations are preferred.

And when you’ve finished that, hop around the bay, across the River Erme to sandy Bantham Beach, one of South Devon’s premier Surfing spots

Lindisfarne, Northumberland

Steeped in medieval religious heritage, Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, as the locals call it, is separated from the Northumbrian coast by a long tidal causeway. The crossing looks deceptively safe, but ignore the tide times and warning signs at your peril: it’s a long swim back to shore and the coastguard is called out to rescue dozens of drivers each year who think they know better.

The priory and 16th century castle are located in the south of the Island, the main focus for most visitors. But head north to the tranquillity of the remote conservation area and you’ll find quite literally a different side to Lindisfarne.

Hardknott Pass, Cumbria

Technically, the UK is home to roads even steeper than this one, which twists dizzyingly skywards from Eskdale to the Duddon Valley. But you’d never guess it from behind the wheel.

Attack Hardknott in the wrong car in bad weather and you will get stuck. Ideally you want to be driving something with a commanding driving position that makes the best of the road’s often limited visibility, and is backed up by the security of an always-on four-wheel drive system to ensure 100 per cent of the engine’s power is converted into forward momentum.

Take a break near the Eskdale end of the climb to admire the view from the remains of the Roman Hardknott Fort.

Pendine Sands, South Wales

Basking in the calm of Pendine Sands, with miles of beach sprawling majestically in either direction it’s hard to feel anything but zen-like. But back in the 1920s when speed-hungry petrol heads realised that conventional racetracks were no longer big enough to host record breaking top speed attempts, this place echoed to the thunder of brutal-looking aero-engined sports cars.

Malcolm Campbell reached 174mph here in Blue Bird in February 1927; almost a century later the speed limit on the main bathing beach is a more gentle 10mph, though the nearby Museum of Speed is on hand to offer a glimpse of the sand’s exciting history. 

B9087, Shetland Isles

Forget John O’Groats. If you really want to stretch out to the very tip of the British Isles, you need to catch a ferry to Shetland – and then a couple more; first to Yell, and then over to Unst.

Closer to the Arctic Circle than London, Unst is where you’ll find the B9087. Heading north-east from Haroldswick it appears to run out of steam at Norwick, though an earlier junction takes you even further north to Skaw.

Once you’re done gazing into the wildness of the North Sea, backtrack to the Hermaness National Nature Reserve or discover Shetland’s maritime history at Boat Haven.

Keilder Forest, Northumberland

Sailors, walkers and mountain bikers play cheek by jowl at Kielder and since 2008 budding astronomers have flocked to the stunning eco-friendly observatory. Built to capitalise on the low light pollution that makes this one of the best places in the UK from which to view the Milky Way.

Many of the forest roads open to the public are paved, but Forest Drive isn’t. This tough trail of gravel and chunky stones really does give you a taste of what Subaru’s rally heroes had to battle with on this spot back in the 1990s.

B6318, Northumberland

Travelling the length of the 73-miles wall that marked the edge of the Roman Empire would have taken soldiers days in the time of Emperor Hadrian. Today you can still walk the course of the wall, although driving the B6318 that runs parallel slashes the journey time.

Significant sections of the road, which was started in 1746 to speed up troop movements to tackle Jacobite risings, are actually built on the site of the wall itself, and even used the wall’s stones for its foundations. Though arrow straight for much of its length, the undulating Tarmac is a stern test of a car’s suspension control.

Zig Zag Hill, Dorset

Like the fairground ride it’s reminiscent of, Zig Zag Hill is over almost before it’s begun. But you can always turn around and do it all over again.

Claimed to be Britain’s twistiest stretch of road, it’s the perfect place to learn about the benefits of Subaru’s unique-in-class Boxer engines, which contribute to a low centre of gravity that boosts handling and agility.

Part of the B3081 and located just outside the village of Cann Common it looks spectacular at any time of year thanks to the changing colours of the tree canopies overhead. From there, head to another famous hill, Gold Hill in Shaftsbury, location of the famous Hovis TV ad.

A82, Scotland

Scotland is ripe for adventure, but the remoteness of some of the best locations means trips need time and planning. Found just 90 miles north of Glasgow however, the route between Crianlarich to Gelncoe on the banks of Loch Leven is both beautiful and accessible.

Or at least it is in a Subaru, whose Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive means even the very real likelihood of snow in winter need never put a stop to your journey. Take a break to climb one of the many routes to the top of the 1150m Bidean nam Bian and keep your eyes open for red deer and golden eagles.

Mountain Road, Isle of Man

A mecca for motorbike fans, the Isle of Man and its famous Mountain Road between Ramsey and Douglas are free of speed limits, though we wouldn’t advise trying to replicate the 128.7mph average four-wheel lap record Mark Higgins set here in a specially sanctioned run in a purpose-built Subaru WRX STI in 2016.

Anyway, there’s more to the Isle of Man than motorsport and a low tax economy that means it’s the fifth richest nation in the world by GDP per capita. The Island has its own language, Manx, and is home to a network of heritage railways and the world’s largest working waterwheel.