While the UK’s roads aren’t blessed with the gorgeous climate of California’s Highway 1, nor the historic prestige of Route 66, we believe our country is home to some of the world’s most beautiful driving locations. From Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coastal Route to Wales’s Elan Valley, there are plenty of stunning drives that are just a little closer to home, and that also make perfect locations for a photoshoot.
Domestic tourism has always been popular in the UK, but with an estimated 16% of Brits planning a staycation in 2022 (WTM London), now seems like the perfect time to take a look at some the UK’s best driving experiences. Over the last 12 months, there has been almost 450,000 UK search engine enquiries for ‘road trip,’ as well as a boom in searches for ‘staycation,’ highlighting the increased popularity of domestic road trips. (SEMrush, Google Trends).
It’s with that thought in mind that vehicle finance specialists Anglo Scottish Asset Finance have compiled a list of some of the best – and most Instagrammable – driving locations in the UK. They’ve researched picturesque driving locations to find the most photogenic driving locations in the country, and analysed Instagram hashtags and search engine data from SEMrush and Google Trends to find which location is the most sought-after.
- The NC500 is the UK’s most tagged route on Instagram, with over 340,000 posts under that hashtag alone, 137,000 tagged #northcoast500, and another 32,110 under #nc500route. That’s 991 posts per mile!
- The NC500 was popular in search engine queries too – according to SEMrush, there was over 122,000 searches related to the North Coast 500 in the last 12 months.
- There are 107,964 Instagram posts tagged #causewaycoast, and another 58,114 tagged #causewaycoastalroute, totalling 852 posts per mile.
- Somerset’s Cheddar Gorge was well-loved on Instagram, with over 85,000 posts for a 14 mile road equalling over 6000 posts per mile.
- Cheddar Gorge, a prominent landmark, also had the highest search volume over the last 12 months with over 126,000. (SEMrush)
- Wales’s Elan Valley was another popular driving location, with over 55,000 tagged posts. Its most popular route is a round 54 miles, resulting in 1056 posts per mile.
- At 26 miles, Snake Pass, in the Peak District, featured in over 17,000 tagged posts, for a figure of 667 posts per mile.
- Hardknott Pass, the list’s shortest route at 1.4 miles, had the most tagged posts per mile. It featured in almost 15,000 tagged posts, resulting in a huge 9,959 posts per mile!
So, if you love driving, and feel like you need to up your social media skills, Anglo Scottish Asset Finance can help. For stunning natural landscapes and epic rock formations to boost your feed, look no further than these tried-and-tested locations.
Any list of the world’s top drives is incomplete without the North Coast 500. The NC500 is a 516-mile round trip around the northern-most coast of Scotland, starting and ending at Inverness Castle. The NC500’s undisturbed landscapes, white sandy beaches and rolling highlands make it a perfectly-Instagrammable drive, and one with plenty of varied photo ops!
The NC500 is one of the most popular drives in the world by Instagram hashtag volume, and has been the subject of over 122,000 related Google searches over the last 12 months. Plus, with so much ground to cover, you’re unlikely to have your photos spoiled by other photographers!
#nc500 – 341,725 posts
#northcoast500 – 137,512 posts
#nc500route – 32,110 posts
Hugging the northern-most tip of Ireland, the Causeway Coastal Route shows off the beauty of the island’s rugged coastline, natural rock formations, and rolling green hills. There’s a plethora of great ‘gram spots, from the rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede to the Old Bushmills Distillery, to – of course – Giant’s Causeway.
With over 100,000 hashtagged posts of landmarks along the route, and almost 60,000 related solely to the drive, it’s safe to say that the Causeway Coastal Route is a perfect route for Instagram. Search volume peaked in 2021, and the last 12 months saw over 45,000 related search queries. Don’t miss out!
#causewaycoast – 107,964 posts
#causewaycoastalroute – 58,114 posts
Located in the Mendip Hills, in Somerset, this road was named the best driving road in the UK in 2018. Twisting and turning amongst one of Britain’s most spectacular natural landmarks, the sheer limestone cliffs of Cheddar Gorge, this drive offers plenty of Instagrammable angles, both from above and below.
A major UK landmark, total searches for Cheddar Gorge totalled almost 130,000 in 2021, making it the most searched location on this list. With views like this, we’re not surprised! Search interest in Cheddar Gorge peaked in summer 2021, suggesting 2022 could be another big year for this location.
#cheddargorge – 82,006 posts
#cheddargorgeous – 3,170 posts
Elan Valley (54 miles)
Home to breathtaking rolling hills, winding roads, and waterfalls is the Elan Valley. The Welsh region is mostly known for its series of reservoirs and is occupied by four dams, which make perfect backdrops for photo opportunities. The tranquillity of the Welsh scenery, paired with wonderful Victorian architecture, makes this location a favourite for travel and adventure accounts.
With over 30,000 related searches for Elan Valley in 2021, its clear that the Welsh area’s stunning dams and National Nature Reserves make it a popular location. Over 50,000 tagged Instagram posts tell the same story… just look at those views!
#elanvalley – 51,243 posts
#elanvalleydams – 5,792 posts
Climbing high into the mountains at 512m, Snake Pass links Sheffield and Manchester, and was named one of the best driving roads in the UK by Auto Trader in 2009. As its name suggests, Snake Pass is a twisting, turning route across the Peak District, and it overlooks awe-inspiring natural vistas, undisturbed waterways, and boundless grassy peaks.
Snake Pass saw over 30,000 related searches over the last 12 months, which is even more impressive given the lack of attractions on this route. This one’s for the driving purists – just kick back and enjoy the ride.
#snakepass – 17,332 posts
A much-loved route for cyclists as well as motorists, Hardknott Pass runs through the Lake District National Park, and accordingly has access to many Insta-worthy views. Hardknott Pass is one of England’s steepest roads and weaves through craggy rock formations and grassy contours via the ruins of a Roman fort – a perfect backdrop for an Instagram post.
With 12,900 related searches, Hardknott Pass is hardly a well-kept secret, but you’re less likely to encounter other people here. If you’re looking for a more tranquil (and much shorter) drive through Britain’s gorgeous greenery, Hardknott Pass is exactly that.
#hardknottpass – 10,465 posts
#hardknott – 3,478 posts
So, the results are in! For the experts at Anglo Scottish, these are the top drives in the UK, based on their beauty, Instagrammability, and search engine popularity. These routes have something for everyone’s Instagram feed, whether you prefer expansive green landscapes, tremendous cliff faces, or authentic Victorian architecture. Which one is your favourite?
Can you think of any driving locations that should be added to the list? We’re sure there’s plenty of untouched locations around the country that would make wonderful drives, even if Instagram hasn’t caught up yet. If you’ve located a great driving road before the masses have started searching for it, let us know!
*All search data sourced from SEMrush, correct as of 07/01/2022.