The Vanishing Game begins when Alec Dunbar hops in a Land Rover Defender to drive from London to Edinburgh. Capture the spirit of the open road with these five scenic drives through Great Britain.
From the craggy Scottish Highlands in the north to the sheer cliffs of southern England, Britain offers up some of the world's greatest road trips. We put together our top five picks for the best roadways in the United Kingdom—and we don't mean the ones that have the nicest pavement. This list isn't for the faint of heart and requires a vehicle that can withstand the elements.
Northern Ireland: Ballycastle to Portrush
Follow the A2 along the stunning coast of the North Atlantic, beginning in Ballycastle, where the waters of the Devil's Churn have created an underwater tunnel. Stop in Bushmills for a tour of the world's oldest licensed whisky distillery, registered in 1784. Make a detour to Carrick-a-Rede, a tiny island connected to the mainland only by a swinging rope bridge, suspended nearly 100 feet above crashing waves. Pass by Sheep Island, which local lore claims was used by the Vikings to store livestock they had stolen from and sold back to the farmers of County Antrim. Visit the geometric wonder of Giant's Causeway before ending the journey in the coastal town of Portrush.
England: Kendal to Keswick
It's said that the Lake District was a major inspiration to Samuel Coleridge and William Wordsworth, two famed poets of English literature's Romantic Age. See if you can bottle some inspiration at Dove Cottage, the latter's home during his most creative decade. As you motor along the A591, you can't miss the vast natural beauty of Windermere Lake, and you'll graze the edge of the tucked-away River Rothay as it wends its way to the lake.
Wales: Abergwesyn Pass
The Devil's Staircase may be the more treacherous section of the Abergwesyn Pass, a single-track road that scythes through the hilly Welsh countryside along a route that once served as a cattle path. Hairpin turns await road warriors who will be rewarded by peaks and valleys, forests and peatland, and of course the odd sheep herd grazing quietly. Be sure to see the bridge over Tywi River, which leads to the Dolgoch Bunkhouse, a farmhouse built in the 1700s. From there, you'll have your pick of a number of hiking trails, one of which will take you Soar-y-Mynydd, one of Wales' most remote chapels.
England: Isle of Wight
The Military Road, as the A3055 is known locally, will take drivers through pristine National Trust land along sheer cliffs on the southwest coast of the Isle of Wight. On one side, waves throttle the beach below; on the other, rolling hills fall away into the mainland. Heading from East to West, drivers are rewarded near the end of their trip with one of the most beautiful views of England: Freshwater Bay.
Scotland: Bealach na Bà
Switchbacks and one-lane stretches of road at a nearly 20-percent grade await those brave enough to embark on the Pass of the Cattle, an ancient thoroughfare once traversed by drovers and their bovine companions. The road is one of the highest in all of Scotland—a prime challenge for the cycling competitions that take place there each spring and autumn. On the other side of the pass awaits Applecross Peninsula, whose Gaelic name, A' Chomraich, means "the sanctuary".