AS WE TURN off the motorway and into the country lanes it is like throwing our car down a green tunnel. I feel like Alice down the rabbit hole. One minute in the A30 tail back the next in England’s
green and pleasant land where we can wind the windows down and actually hear the birds sing. I love meandering around the West Country
from Daphne du Maurier’s Cornwall to Devon and the stark beauty of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Dartmoor
Driving along the impossibly narrow country roads with their high hedges edging patchwork fields, you never know what you are going to find around the next tight corner. What you find is nearly always good: An old watermill, a picturesque pub, a stone village. Sometimes of course it is a tractor, in which case expect to be reversing back up said country lane and getting tangled in the hedgerows. It is all part of the fun however and we managed it without a scratch to our shiny Mercedes, although we did get the odd bramble caught in the door. Because of course the other joy of touring is doing it in luxury.
Hotel Endsleigh, Milton Abbot, Devon
Thurlestone Hotel, Thurlestone, Devon
Combe House Hotel, Gittisham, Honiton, Devon
Five Best Driving Roads in Devon & Cornwall
Now you have your prestige car. Why not enjoy it?
B3224 Wheddon Cross to Raleigh’s Cross
If the idea of time-travelling back 50 years and roaring through beautiful countryside in an open-tourer appeals to you, then this is probably the best road in Southern England upon which to negotiate long fast bends and feel the wind in your face. Traversing the Brendons at between 1000 and 1300 feet the two-lane B3224 really does offer motoring at its rural best.
B3306 St Ives to St Just
Always winding, sometimes narrow, the remarkable coast road which follows the northern littoral of the West Penwith peninsula is breathtakingly beautiful. Perhaps in high summer it is a road best avoided, but at this time of year you can enjoy views of the dramatic granite moors as they plunge, with much rocky ado, into the mighty Atlantic Ocean. A few squat villages, some old mines, and a number of excellent pubs along the way – what more could a motorist ask for?
B3170 Blackdown Hills
The wide open expanses of the Blackdown Hills offer an ideal hunting ground for old-fashioned wide-open roads because the A0NB is based on a high flat plateau – which is why they built so many aerodromes up there in World War II. The often empty two lane road which leads from Wellington Monument east to join the B3170 is one of the best as it curves south between its beautiful beech hedges to eventually join the overly busy A303.
B3212 Moretonhampstead to Two Bridges
Frustrating for its first few miles, this road has to do a lot of zigging and zagging as it climbs to the moors, but all the way you experience a growing sense of anticipation. Then, as you cross the cattle grid near Lettaford, it all becomes worthwhile. For now we are up onto the roof of Devon and motoring along what must be the most open road in all the Westcountry. Vast moorland and views accompany every rev and gear-change of the way, albeit at under the speed limit of 40 mph..
A39 Porlock to Lynmouth
Saving the best ’til last, we climb the steepest hill on any main road in the UK and ascend out of pretty Porlock to reach Exmoor's high coastal ridge. It’s not surprising that this dramatic stretch of the A39 has been used in many a car advert. Stunning views reveal themselves at every touch and turn. Here there are purple heather moors, now glimpses of the sea 1400 feet below. And finally, we are introduced to the vertiginous panorama of Lynmouth Bay, which may startle vertigo sufferers but delight everyone else.