Self-confessed reluctant driver Isabel Carmichael gets captivated by natural beauty and dons her driving gloves in the name of designing the most memorable drive.
La Costa Viola
Scilla, the beautiful town rendered famous in Homer’s Odyssey for its connotations with a monster that lived somewhere along the Strait of Messina, will be your starting point. Take the Strada Statale 18 via Favazzina and Bagnara Calabra to see both outstanding coastline and hillside before finishing on the coast at Marinella di Palmi, overlooked by the magnificent mount of Sant’Elia.
Sparsely populated and mountainous terrain makes driving around the Scottish Highlands some of the most remarkable driving experiences in the British Isles. Made famous by the UK’s highest point, Ben Nevis, this area of Scotland is steeped in history and natural beauty. Set off from Inverness and head for the Isle of Skye with pit stops in Duirinish and Glenelg to glimpse some of the country’s most traditional characteristics.
Pan American Highway
Not for the faint-hearted, the fabled Pan American Highway road trip encompasses close to 30,000 miles of open road. The longest motor-friendly road in the world, this route covers some of the most iconic places on the map of the Americas including Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru and Chile. If you have the time and wish to make this trip officially ‘pan’ American, start in Alaska and head towards Argentina.
The Jurassic Coastline
Devon and Dorset
It is hard to top England’s first natural World Heritage Site which covers 95 miles of coastline from East Devon to Dorset with its 185 million years of the earth’s history. Many of the towns along this coast have been rendered famous in literary texts; from Budleigh Salterton with its iconic cliffs to Beer. There are so many characteristic villages. With its roots in the Doomsday Book and not to mention terrifying folkloric traditions which see burning barrel rolling amongst crowds of frightened onlookers on bonfire night, Ottery St Mary is without doubt your first pit stop.
the garden route
The N2 stretch running from Heidelberg in the Southern Cape to Storms River Village on the Eastern Cape border is the major highway through South Africa’s Garden Route drive. The route itself may be world renowned; the small towns tucked on its side roads however remain relatively unknown. Look out for Oudtshoorn (the ostrich capital of the world), Sedgefield, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.
Offering some of the most untouched and natural landscapes on the planet, New Zealand’s South Island showcases towering Alps and rugged and dramatic coastlines. If you have three days try the stunning Christchurch to Nelson route which runs via Kaikoura. If watching whales in the wild from a white sand beach isn’t enough to captivate you, there is the opportunity to visit outstanding vineyards and climb towering cliffs. Head to the West Coast for the Queenstown to Milford Sound via Te Anau route; take a leisurely drive around the curving Lake Wakatipu on the way to what is known as the gateway to Fjordland.
I was once told that there is a specific point along the coastline of Galway that would provide protection from a nuclear attack due to the way in which the wind blows. I am not sure if this is true but it makes sense since this coastline boasts some of the most outstanding examples of natural beauty in the country and there are parts so untouched it seems possible to entirely escape modernity. Try driving Bearna to Lettermore.
July 26th 2015