London is not known for its traversability by car. What with its central London congestion charges – and congestion to match – the city is most commonly navigated by underground or train. This is even more cemented on account of the many train terminuses that connect the city to the outside world. Furthermore, London has recently expanded its cycling network and increased the number of rentable bikes available across the city centre, meaning that both locals and guests of London hotel deals can easily explore the wider city without even needing a car.
This is one of the reasons why many people who live in London don’t even own an automobile, which might sound crazy to those of us who live more rurally. However, the last year of restrictions and lockdowns has shown just how meditative and freeing owning a vehicle can be. With many of us isolated in our local areas over the last year, driving a car meant that you could explore further afield and find a little peace and quiet away from the household.
This blog will explore the many options available to Londoners and holidaymakers at Paddington hotels when it comes to scenic drives out of the city. Whether you’re renting a car or own one, driving is a great way to really get a taste of the scenery out and around London, the home counties and the nearby coastlines.
South Coast Exploring
The south coast holds many beautiful views that are just an hour outside of London. Whether travelling down the M23 to Brighton and then along the coast or following the A22 then A26 roads towards Newhaven, there’s a lot to see along the southeast coast. With Eastbourne’s chalk-lined Beachy Head and the classic promenade town of the same name, you can really get a handle on the southeast of England. Furthermore, pushing out to the southwest will see you hit harbourside Shoreham and further along, Littlehampton and Worthing with its classic English promenade and pier. It goes without saying that the south coast is a lot more than just Brighton, although we recommend a day trip there too!
The Weald And The South Downs
For guests looking for something a little greener than watery, the south downs are an easy to reach part of Sussex, Hampshire and Surrey, providing a stunning array of valleys, forests and nature reserves to drive through and picnic in. the chalk-lined escarpments of the Weald are a must-visit for guests at the best spa hotels in London who may be hankering for another dose of serenity. Make sure not to miss hiking trails such as Devils Dyke and Ditchling Beacon which are both located just outside of Brighton. These spots especially are ideal for drivers as they are primed with widespread parking areas.
From Salisbury Cathedral to Stonehenge, the setting of the southwest of England is well worth a drive, especially as you’ll be travelling through and past the North Wessex Downs and close to Cranbourne Chase. The M25 motorway should get you most of the way in just under 2 and a half hours, but there are plenty of villages you can stop off at along the way. Make sure to take a breather on the banks of the River Avon in Salisbury, and drink in the looming spires of the city’s stunning cathedral. Of course, you’ll probably want to get a look at Stonehenge whilst you’re there, so make sure to turn left onto the A303 after leaving Salisbury before heading back to London.
The drive to Norwich should take you just under 2 and a half hours and will transport you through some of the most beautiful villages in the UK. Through Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk, you’ll pass both the Hutton and Weald County Parks as well as the eye-catching flatness of the Norfolk countryside. If you have time, carry on through Norwich and head to the East Anglian coastline, where canal marked marshlands are quite the spectacle.
The journey to Cambridge shares part of the leg of Norwich’s journey but has you divert at Greater Chesterford onto the M11. The beautiful journey will see you pass beautiful East England villages teeming with thatched roof cottages and ancient pubs. Make sure to drive through Epping Forest on your way out East as well, this beautiful stretch of ancient woodland lies on the border of London and Essex and is definitely worth leaving the car and stretching your legs for. Further into Cambridgeshire, before the titular university town itself, make sure to survey villages such as Arkesden and Stickling Green for more pastoral charm.
There’s a lot to see along the Kentish coast, from the stylish Margate beach to the twee hideaway of Whitstable and Blean. Make sure to drive through the Blean Woods nature reserve and along the diverse coastlines of Ramsgate, Broadstairs and past the estuaries of the River Wantsum.
On your way to the bucolic Cotswolds, make sure to stop off in Oxford for an exploration of the Medieval university city and its atmospheric colleges. Furthermore, the many villages of the Cotswolds are just crying out for riverside rambles. Standouts in Cotswold include the Cotswolds wildlife park, Roman ruins in Chedworth and bucolic villages like Chipping Campden and Bourton On The Water. These villages are especially emblematic of the area, their Jurassic limestone-built buildings really contrast perfectly with the lush green hills and hiking trails that stretch across this 787 square mile area.
A 4 hour round drive should take you from London into Surrey should be enough to cover this beautiful set of hills and, of course, the famous Box Hill. Drive through historic English towns like Leatherhead, Guildford and Woking on your way to Pixham in the designated Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty Surrey Hills. It’s just outside of Pixham that you’ll find the summit of Box Hill, which promises stunning views over the south of England on clear days.