We have nearly 20,000 miles of glorious coastline on our doorstep, and what better way to explore it than by choosing a spectacular drive? For stunning ocean views, beautiful, remote beaches, dramatically craggy headlands and richly varied wildlife, we have teamed up with Hertz and Sophie Butler, to share six of the best British road trips*, with advice on which car to hire, where to stay, what to see and how to get out onto the water to spot puffins, seals and dolphins.
*Mileage is given as an estimate, allow for detours and stopovers
Start in Plymouth for great views of the seashore from Smeaton’s Tower (the city’s eighteenth-century lighthouse). Follow the A379 to Kingsbridge and South Devon’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, detouring to the lovely stretches of sand at Thurlestone, Hope Cove and Salcombe. Skirting the Kingsbridge Estuary, continue to the seaside nature reserve at Slapton and then Dartmouth to catch the car ferry across the River Dart to Kingswear. If you’re lucky, you may see porpoises in the bay from Berry Head National Nature Reserve, before soaking in some seaside razzamatazz on the ‘English Riviera’, a 22-mile stretch including the resorts of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham, famed for their balmy subtropical microclimate. Wind up your road trip in Exeter, allowing time to explore its Gothic cathedral, underground passages, picturesque quayside and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum.
Top beach: Blackpool Sands is a beautiful mile-long stretch of shingle, three miles west of Dartmouth, which is very popular with families in the school holidays. Lifeguards patrol the shoreline in high season, and there’s paddleboard and kayak hire, plus a beach café.
Take to the water: Tamar Cruising in Plymouth (tamarcruising.com) offers a new two-hour Breakwater Coastal Cruise, for a chance to see Plymouth Hoe, Drake’s Island and the river Tamar. Adult £15, child £10, family (two adults and up to three children) £45.