BRITAIN is home to a number of fantastic driving roads.
We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to drive three of the best in England, Scotland and Wales in a hybrid Hyundai Ioniq.
While the Ioniq certainly wasn’t the sportiest of cars, it did manage to return a rather respectable 51.1mpg over the course of the 823-mile road trip from Portsmouth to Inverness.
Wales: A4069 – Black Mountain Pass
The A4069, more commonly known as the Black Mountain Pass, is a 21-mile stretch of road that winds its way through the western reaches of the Brecon Beacons National Park from Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen to Llandovery in Wales.
This was the first of three great British driving roads we tackled in our Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid.
Unfortunately, by the time we had completed the first leg of our road trip up from Portsmouth to reach the start of the road, night time had all but fallen.
Even at the respectable hour of 4.30 in the afternoon, high beams were required to help us navigate this narrow, snake-like route that wound its way up through the Black Mountain range.
In the darkness, driving this road with any enthusiasm at all really was a test of our mettle.
As the road climbed higher and higher, you could just about make out the rather steep drops that bordered the road.
Without the light of day to help guide us, attempting this route was an experience similar to what we imagine riding a roller coaster in near pitch-black conditions would be like.
Nevertheless, we pushed on into the black, navigating the sharp turns and undulations that seemed to be in their hundreds.
We couldn’t help but get the feeling that the Ioniq was a tad out of its comfort zone on a road like this – the steering wasn’t exactly communicative, and there was a fair amount of body roll through the bends.
However, it gripped well, and in Sport mode the throttle response was sharp enough to help you put the power down that much quicker when exiting a corner.
As we climbed higher, we found ourselves heading into a thick blanket of fog.
Because of the near total lack of visibility, we had to abandon any attempts at driving enthusiastically.
Ultimately this was a bit of a shame, as we really got the feeling that had we arrived when the sun was up and conditions weren’t so murky, this would have been a great little road to take on.
England: A686 – The Roof of England
To avoid a repeat of the previous day, we were on the road bright and early – leaving Wales and heading towards the north of England and the A686.
We arrived at about 1pm, and while visibility was much better than it had been, low cloud and a damp road still meant driving conditions weren’t perfect.
That didn’t matter though, as the leaden skies and quickly failing light complemented the staggeringly pretty scenery of the North Pennines.
The A686 winds its way through the range, passing stone-walled fields, beautifully bleak fields and the occasional patch of snow.
As we made our way across the Pennines it was quickly becoming apparent that the Hyundai wasn’t really the sort of car you should push to its limits on roads such as this.
No, it was much more suited to being a car from which you could take in and appreciate the fantastic natural beauty of places like the North Pennines.
By the time we reached the end of the A686 at the village of Haydon Bridge, roughly 37 miles from the road’s starting point, the light of day was quickly beginning to disappear.
We trundled on to our overnight stop at the Battlesteads Hotel in Wark on Tyne for what was supposed to be a night of stargazing at the on-site observatory.
Unfortunately, a thick blanket of cloud meant there was nothing to be seen, so the stargazing was promptly called off.
Scotland: A82 – Loch Lomond to Loch Ness
The third and final day of our 800-mile road trip saw us head north yet again, towards Scotland and the fabled shores of Loch Ness.
Today we would be driving along the A82, a 140-odd-mile road that heads north from the western shore of Loch Lomond to Inverness via Loch Ness.
Of the three famed driving roads we completed over the course of our road trip, this just pips the Roof of England as the prettiest.
The landscapes you take in while driving this road are what make it truly special.
There is everything from the windswept surfaces of the various lochs to the steep, plunging mountains that drop down into their waters.
While passing through the rugged Scottish Highlands on the A82 makes for one of the most memorable driving experiences in the UK, this road does have one rather irritating drawback – traffic.
If you travel this road, you should dispel any visions of open-road driving where you don’t encounter another car for miles and miles.
We lost count of the number of times we became stuck behind a lorry, bus or slow-moving car.
A lack of power from the Hyundai Ioniq also made overtaking a rather tricky procedure.
Nonetheless, the jaw-dropping scenery more than made up for the traffic, and driving along the A82 was still a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Verdict When we eventually arrived at Inverness Airport – the final stop on our road trip – we were left with some time to decide which of the three roads was our favourite.
In third place (largely owing to the fact we arrived later than we planned) was the Black Mountain Pass.
In second, the A82 with its magnificent scenery but annoyingly large volume of traffic, while the Roof of England with its combination of dramatic landscapes and exciting road, means it takes the crown as the best of the three driving roads.