When You Can’t Leave The Island: UK lockdown driving destinations

OK, so no-one can say that lockdown is fun. But we all appreciate its necessity and our personal obligations. But as we move into phase 2 of the pandemic planning it’s only natural that we’re starting to think about jumping behind the wheel and hitting the road – just for the hell of it…

Even though there’s been a little relaxing of the rules, we’re certainly not advocating throwing caution to the wind – but there’s nothing wrong with getting prepared. Being as it looks likely that overseas travel is on hold for the foreseeable future, we thought it timely (and morale boosting) to set our sights somewhat closer to home.

So, without further ado, feast your eyes on our ultimate guide to some of the best British drives just waiting to be discovered…

Lockdown Liberation: Corners & bends

There’s something about powering through a corner that brings out the ‘grunt’ in all of us. Information, position, speed, gear, accelerate… it’s all about your ability to process the data as the road unfolds before you and then – pow! Makes us shiver just thinking about it.

We’ve scoured the four nations of the UK to bring you some of the most awesome offerings out there. It’s time to find out just how twisted we really are…

Best British Drives: Can you handle these epic winding thoroughfares? 

  • The Lake District: Hardknott Pass: Not one for the faint hearted (or those without a head for heights) – this is hills and hairpins at their very best. It runs between Eskdale and the Duddon Valley and is at the very heart of this iconic national park. One of the steepest roads in England, this is definitely one for any petrol head’s bucket list. Find out more at Visit Cumbria – Hardknott Pass
  • Wales – Wild Snowdonia: Starting in Portmeirion, follow 70 miles of twisting glory to Porthmadog, Tremadog and onto Rhyd (A498 and B4410). Then had to Ffestiniog via the A487 and A496, before leaving the main road and embracing the isolated curves of the B4391/B4407 to Betws-y-Coed. There’s a brief foray with the A5 before taking the A4086 towards the might of Snowdon and beyond, to finish at the granite delight that is Caernarvon Castle. More info available at Visit Wales.
  • Wales – The Black Mountain Pass: At 23 miles it’s not the longest drive, but oh-boy, does it pack a punch. The tight bends come thick and fast – and the scenery isn’t too shabby either! You can’t get lost – just start in Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen and follow the A4069 to Llandovery. But watch your speed, there’s many a-sneaky cameras along the entire route, plus the indigenous wildlife (AKA sheep!) have a tendency to wander into the road… Visit Wales has more information.
  • Bonny Scotland: Bealach na Bà: The ‘Pass of the Cattle’ is a historical drive, the third highest in Scotland and has the greatest ascent of any road in the UK. Tight hairpins, near 20% inclines… This is truly an awesome route – one that rivals many an alpine road trip in the Alps or further afield. Whet your appetite at Visit Wester-Ross.

Best British Drives: The scenic route

We’re privileged to live in a country that offers some of the most stunning vistas on the planet, and a car is perhaps the ultimate tool by which to explore our little island. And the great thing is that even if you’re more Driving Miss Daisy than Lewis Hamilton, the wonderful UK scenery is just as beautiful, no matter how turbo-charged your journey might be to get there…

Breath-Taking Scenery in our Green and Pleasant Land

  •  Devon – Topsham to Paignton: 120 miles of pure pleasure as you experience remote moorland, plunging cliffs, wild coast and beautiful unspoilt beaches. Much of the route follows the A379, and we highly recommend stopping along the way for a picnic or (when lockdown rules allow) finding a B&B or hotel for a luxury overnight stop. Head to Visit Devon to find out more about the region. 
  • Scotland – The Highland Perthshire Loop: 100 miles of pure bliss stretches ahead as you travel from Highland Council to Aberfeldy, crossing the wilds of the Cairngorms National Park. Complete the drive in half a day or make it your own with a variety of side trip options (Loch Tummel and Pitlochry are must-see locations in which to while away a few hours or days). Check out the route here.
  •  N. Ireland – the Causeway Coastal Route: This stunning drive begins in Londonderry and finishes in Belfast, with 130 miles of incredible landscape along the way. Taking you through no less than three areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, even if you’re only in it for the driving you must, must, must stop and take a walk onto the magnificent Giant’s Causeway. We promise you won’t regret it…  Get inspired at the dedicated Causeway Costal Route website.
  • Yorkshire – Wharfedale Circuit: Yes, we know the ultimate drive in The Dales has to be Buttertubs Pass, but we wanted to highlight another – equally delightful but for different reasons – great British drive. The Wharfedale Circuit takes in castles, abbeys, quintessentially English towns and, it has to be said, some pretty damn fine driving… At just over 26 miles it’ll take around an hour if you do it in a single hit. But we challenge you not to make multiple stops along the way, if only to snap that perfect Insta frame with which to wow your followers…. Check out the route here.

Sometimes there’s almost as much enjoyment in the planning stage. And being as we’re all suffering from cabin fever right now, we’ll grab our pleasures any which way we can… All that remains now is for Boris to give us the go ahead. As soon as that happens? Well, we’ve got one thing to say to you. 

Eat my dust…

Image by Tanja Schulte from Pixabay

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Supercar Paradise: France’s best mountain passes

Excuse our presumption, but we’re betting that the numero uno reason you invested in your dream supercar wheels (apart from the kudos, naturally) is the thrill of pushing your driving skills and the ability of your vehicle to the limit. Well, there’s no better place to do this than in the wilderness paradise that is the French Alps.

So join us as we share some of our favourite locations that combine roads boasting inclines so steep that they scream for you to floor the gas, breath-taking vantage points and hairpins so numerous that they’ll set your heart a-flutter (and no, it’s not just because of the altitude…).

Welcome to the best French mountain passes that you have to experience at least once in your lifetime…

The Best French Mountain Passes for Supercars

Whatever you drive, we promise that the following mountain passes are perfectly equipped to bring on the buzz every supercar owner craves. The following are uber-drives that present multiple cols, passes, steep inclines and declines, switchbacks galore and the continual adrenaline rushes as you harness your inner Colin McRae. Just remember, they drive on the right in mainland Europe…

The 7 Cols of the Ubaye Valley

Named after the Ubaye River that runs through it, this is an amazing location to spend a lazy few days discovering the 7 amazing cols of this Alpes de Haute Provence department. These are:

  1. Col de Larche: Reaching 1991 metres in height, the Col de Larche is known as the Gateway to Italy as it heads into the Stura di Demonte valley in the neighbouring country. You’ll be delighted to know that at the present you won’t have to navigate cyclists, pedestrians or tractors as they’re currently banned. The perfect scenario for uninterrupted supercar driving.
  2. Col Saint Jean:  You head down from Barcelonnette to Le Lauzet (a drive of around 20km). From here you begin the climb to the 1333 metres, with gentle gradients of around 5-6%. Col Saint Jean is a relatively relaxing traverse, getting you revved up for the white knuckle drives further down the line.
  3. Col de Pontis: Nature at its best, the short winding road up to the Col de Pontis is a gritty drive, but well worth it for the views out over the dam and the resulting reservoir that flooded the original ancient village of Ubaye.
  4. Col de la Bonette: The highest paved road in Europe, the Col de la Bonette saves the best for the final kilometre of its 2715 metre climb, where the incline increases to around 10%. The view when you get there is, quite simply, jaw-dropping. Take a backpack, park up, and wander a little. The air is among the cleanest on the planet, and the delicious silence is the perfect antidote the 21st century life. And – breathe…
  5. Col d’Allos: This Tour de France classic offers plenty of places to stop for a refreshing dip at one of the natural beaches of Bachelard along the way. Top Tip: In July and August the road to the Col d’Allos is closed to all cars between 08:00 and 11:00 (it’s cyclists only at this time).
  6. Col de la Cayolle: Breathtaking from start to finish, Col de la Cayolle delights with an incredible 9kms of zigzags and hairpins. Stop off in the hamlet restaurant of Madame Arnaud in Fours for a hearty plate of local ravioli.
  7. Col de Vars: At 2109 metres, the Col de Vars is a serious climb that gets more stunning with every curve and bend. There’s some incredible natural rock formations on the way up, knowns as Demoiselles coiffees, and you can take a detour to a tiny lakeside inn where Napoleon once stayed.

The Route Napoleon

What could be better than driving the high altitude road that takes you from Grenoble to gorgeous Grasse on the Côte d’Azur? Spring or autumn are great times to take on this glorious route, perhaps stopping along the way to kayak or bathe in the bright blue-green waters of the Gorges du Verdon.

Take some time out to enjoy the towns of Corps, Sisteron, and Castellane, and you can indulge your love of perfumes in the epicentre of the industry – Grasse – at the end of this classic route.

Top Tip. Avoid Route Napoleon in the height of summer as this is when you’ll encounter the most traffic. Plus the temperature in spring and autumn is pleasant, averaging 20 – 25°C, instead of the blistering 30 degrees plus in July and August.

The Daddy of them All: The Routes des Grandes Alpes

At 684 km in length (425 miles), this adventure starts at the shores of Lake Leman and finishes at the Mediterranean. Along the way there’s an incredible 16 mountain passes, with the highest hitting an oxygen-thinning 2,802 metres.

The Route des Grande Alpes was opened in 1913 and was fully paved by 1937 – this truly is a legendary route, but only one you should attempt from mid-June onwards. Only then will the highest passes be guaranteed snow free. They’ll close again when the snows arrive in the autumn.

Journey’s end, in Menton, is a French Riviera delight, and well worth a few days R&R. And, of course, you shouldn’t fail to drive your wheels in Cannes or St. Tropez. As the video shows, you’ll be in good company.

Why France?

So apart from the obvious (scenery, incredible driving experience, the food, wine etc.) there are many additional reasons to book a Eurotunnel ticket and set your satnav for our nearest major mountain range.  These include:

  • The solitude: While there’ll be others enjoying the same adventure playground, the sheer scale of this mountainous region means that in general the roads are quiet. 
  • The nature: OK… So the roar of your engine might not be conducive to spotting shy creatures, but packing a picnic and stopping along the way for a peaceful alfresco lunch might mean you’re lucky enough to spot beasties as diverse as Golden Eagles and even wolves! However, you’ll be lucky with the latter (there’s only an estimated couple of hundred covering an enormous area). But keep your eyes peeled and marmots, chamois, ptarmigan, mouflon and even Ibex might make an appearance.
  • The language: It goes without saying that if you learn a little lingo you’ll enamour yourself with the locals. Pick up a phrase book, don’t worry too much about your accent, and give it a go. Your supercar will have undoubtedly piqued interest from others, and the odd word or two en français will do wonders for English-French relations.

Check out our Radical Rally Sandbanks to Monaco Grand Tour where we’ll include some of the above. We also hope to include the D23 near Boulogne as well. Although do check local information as rocks slides and other issues often cause it to be closed.

Image by Frank Derrier from Pixabay

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Road Trip: Highways, Cities & Hidden Gems of Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe, while not quite on our doorstep, is a wonderful destination within easy reach of the UK (especially with the power of a supercar at your disposal). With a diverse array of countries, including Croatia, Russia, Romania and the Czech Republic, you can experience cities crammed with culture, landscapes that range from open prairie to mountain ranges and, very importantly, roads that stretch for mile upon mile with barely a car in sight.

Welcome to Eastern Europe – a location that, for the supercar owner, is the ultimate adventure playground for you to test your driving skills to the limit…

Reasons to Visit Eastern Europe 

1.     The incredibly diverse culture: Countries might not be far apart geographically, but when it comes to identity and culture they’re poles apart. Cross a border, and brace yourself for a whole new world…

2.     The traditions and experiences: Cites, such as Krakow, Prague, Vilnius, and Kotor will, quite literally, blow your mind as you explore and discover local customs. Get the timing right and you can party like a local at incredible festivals across the region.

3.     The welcome: Many Eastern European countries were, not so long ago, closed to outsiders. Today they embrace visitors with open arms and many are the friendliest and safest places on the planet today.

4.     The food: Gastronomic choices abound, and that includes beverages on which to imbibe. In many cases local production isn’t enough to export, so only by being ‘boots on the ground’ will you ever get to experience what’s on offer. Quite simply, foodie heaven…

5.     The landscapes: From national parks to lakes, beaches to jaw-droppingly beautiful mountain views, Eastern Europe over delivers on every front.

Best European Roads & Cities: Road Trip Heaven

Achingly beautiful cities, deserted roads and a variety of landscapes, you certainly won’t be disappointed with a road trip to Eastern Europe. Check out the following to whet your appetite.

From Poland to Estonia

After spending at least a day exploring the wonders of the Polish capital of Warsaw, head to Krutynia River, the country’s lake district and a premier Eastern European kayaking destination (no experience required). Spend a day messing about on the water before heading to Białowieża Forest, one of the continent’s last primeval forests and a protected UNESCO world heritage site.

Hit the road again, this time crossing the border into Lithuania, and head to Vilnius, the delightful capital city where you can marvel at the culture in the daytime and party hard after dark. Next stop is the capital of Latvia – Riga – with its art nouveau and gothic architecture (and rather scrumptious delicacies that include smoked fish and spicy sausages).

Hit the beach next, as you head to the resort city of Pärnu in Estonia, a relaxing place to wend away a day or two, enjoying the long, sandy beaches, walking the river of the same name that bisects the city, dining on regional specialities of pork, fish and pastries, and enjoying the rather fine beer and vodka that the country is known for. 

Final stop is the Estonian capital of Tallinn – small, compact and perhaps one of the most beautiful cities in all of Eastern Europe, it’s a fitting place to end a trip of around 700 miles. 

The Adriatic Highway

One of the best ocean drives in the world, the Adriatic Highway takes in the countries of Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro. Incredible coastal views, mountains, serpentine turns and twists, crashing waves hundreds of feet below, hairpin bends… Truly the stuff of supercar dreams.

Stop at will along the way, perhaps enjoying The Bay of Kotor in Montenegro and the beautiful fortress old town of Kotor with its fjord-like landscape. The fascinating city of Dubrovnik enchants and, if time is on your side, you may wish to linger here a little longer than you intended. And then there’s Split, a city that we guarantee will steal a little piece of your heart. We recommend ditching the guide book and just wander – get lost if possible – and discover those never-to-be-forgotten cafes and bars to chow down with locals for a few hours and truly embrace the traditional vibe.

You can visit the beautiful islands of the Dalmatian Coast from here, we recommend doing so from the port town of Zadar – where you’re far more likely to experience delicious tranquillity as you sip a traditional rakai, local beer or a rather good, locally produced wine while watching the spectacular sunsets the region is renowned for.

The Adriatic Highway, or Jadranska magistrala to give it its Croatian name, really is a bucket list drive that you have to experience at least once in your life…

The Transalpina Highway

Romania’s high-altitude Transalpina Highway extends from Novaci to Sebes should definitely be on the bucket list of every supercar driver. At only 87 miles long it might not be the longest in the world, but wow! Is it spectacular. You can only drive the road during the summer months due to the altitude (7,038 ft/2145m) and snow during the winter, and is officially open from July 01 to November 01 each year.

We recommend a road trip that takes in the beautiful city of Bucharest before driving the 171 miles to Sibu, a Transylvanian gem in its own right, before hitting the awesome mountain ‘Devil’s Path’ that is the Transalpina.

The Best of the Rest: Eastern European Roads and Cities

Other great driving and travel opportunities include:

  • The Troyal-Karnare Pass, Bulgaria
  • Serpentine Road, Kotor, with its 25 infamous switchbacks
  • Vienna to Vienna: stopping at Ljubljana, Zagreb, Budapest, Krakow, Wroclaw and Prague
  • Moldova to Albania: taking in Chisinau, Transylvania, Sofia, Skopje and Tirana

Eastern European roads and cities represent some of the best driving in the world. Still relatively undiscovered, the roads are far less crowded than the more-visited areas of Central and Northern Europe and are generally in good condition. Plus there’s a huge added bonus that local communities are generally welcoming (and if you’re in a supercar, you’ll likely become somewhat of an infamous visitor with people clamouring to investigate your ride… )

We really can’t recommend a road trip in Eastern Europe enough. It’s a place where adventure beckons around every curve and bend, locals are genuinely pleased to see you, and the roads? Well, they might just be the best the planet has to offer…

Image by Aida Toromanovic – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

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Licence to Thrill: Swiss James Bond roads you have to drive

Switzerland. The home of cheese, chocolate, cuckoo clocks and….  the highest proportion of James Bond film sets anywhere in the world.  Combine this with the adrenaline rush that every self-respecting supercar owner experiences every time they get behind the wheel, and you’re all set for one of the world’s ultimate driving holidays.

So grab a map (and Google) and get inspired for an amazing driving adventure that takes in some of the best James Bond roads amongst the awesome backdrop that is Switzerland and the mighty Swiss Alps.

Getting There

With Calais a mere 510 miles from Geneva, the alpine country is an easy hop when you have some decent horsepower beneath the bonnet. When you cross the border from France into Switzerland you’ll need to purchase a vignette to pay the autobahn tolls. However, the highlights of Swiss driving isn’t about blasting down an empty motorway – far from it. This adrenaline rush is about sweeping curves, mountain passes, steep climbs, glinting glacial lakes, snow-capped peaks… In short, this is the driving playground every supercar owner dreams of.

The following are some of the highlights you have to include on this 007 driving spectacular.

Furka Pass: Car chase, Goldfinger

The 2,431 metre road that takes you over the Furka Pass is a bucket list location for Bond fans. Immortalised in the 1964 film, Goldfinger, this is a drive to enjoy in summertime (it’s closed in the winter), and is delightfully unchanged since the movie was made. Make sure you take a pitstop to walk the Rhone Glacier Ice Grotto (it’s surreal!) and take some time to admire the somewhat spookily abandoned Hotel Belvedere that also took centre stage in the movie.

Piz Gloria: Blofeld’s hideaway, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

A simply breath-taking place to visit, you dangle thousands of feet above a rocky vista as you’re whisked by cable car to the dizzy heights of the Schilthorn mountain and Blofeld’s ‘allergy centre’ that perches precariously at the summit. But, vertigo aside, there’s no cause for alarm. Today it’s home to a revolving restaurant and some rather impressive Bond memorabilia.

Top tip! It’s not frowned upon if you take one of the restaurant’s paper menus home as a souvenir.

But this is simply the cherry on the cake of a day’s 007 driving delights. Begin by visiting Blofeld’s Goldfinger smelting works, the Pilatus Aircraft factory in Stans,. Nestled on the shores of Lake Lucerne, this is the very factory that manufactures the pilotless plane that skydiving Pierce Brosnan intercepted during the opening sequence of GoldenEye.

From here it’s a mere hour’s drive to Murren and the Bond World Museum, from where you board the cable car for the white-knuckle ride to Piz Gloria itself.

The Simplon Pass (& Tunnel): From Russia With Love

One of the world’s most scenic drives, the Simplon Pass connects the canton of Valais with Domodossola in Italy. Stop along the way to snap a selfie at the infamous Simplon Tunnel, the planned killing ground for Bond and Tatiana Romanova in the movie, From Russia With Love.

The pass itself has been a travellers’ route since the 13th century, becoming more important when Napoleon built a carriage road here at the very beginning of the 1800s. From then on its status as an alpine pass rivalling others in the region was without question. But we love it for the jaw dropping views, sharp bends that beckon as you approach and the roar of your engine as you boot it out the other side…

Geneva: a city of 007 importance

Did you know that Ian Fleming studied at Geneva University? Avid viewers of Skyfall might remember that Bond’s mother, Monique Delacroix, was mentioned, and she came from a canton close to the city – Vaud. In Fleming’s books he tells us that Bond also studied in the city and honed his ski skills on Swiss slopes.

So, if that doesn’t make the city worthy of a visit then we don’t know what does. The home of Patek Philippe watches, the city boasts the enormous lake of the same name, and has a plethora of things to see and do that’ll keep you busy for at least a day or two of your 007 tour. Oh – and let’s not forget that it’s the location of one the most important annual supercar shows in the world, Geneva Auto Salon.

And While You’re In the Area…

There’s three other passes of note that you shouldn’t miss the thrill of driving. These are the Great St. Bernard Pass, one of the most famous routes through the Alps, the cobbled St. Gotthard Pass (pack spare pants!) and the Bernina Pass, another film location from the classic Goldfinger.

Whether you favour an Aston, a Mustang, a Bentley or any other supercar (Bond wheels or otherwise) we guarantee that hitting Swiss mountain tarmac will test both your driving skills and your vehicle’s potency to the limits. 

The only other question you’ll need to ponder is whether to order your Swiss sundowner as shaken, or stirred…

Image by Julius Silver from Pixabay

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Why It’s The Journey, Not The Destination, That’s Important

Much as we all love an extended road trip, every single time you slide behind the wheel should be an experience. Remember that shiver of pleasure the day you went from supercar virgin to a paid up member of what is a truly an exclusive club? Well, here at Radical Rally we’re all about ensuring the thrill of the romance is as fresh today as it was the day your vehicle first seduced you with its ample charms…

Why We Love Driving

Can you remember what made you fall in love with driving? Perhaps it was the sense of freedom – of being in charge of your destiny. Maybe learning the art of car control, or the feeling of power as you hit the gas? Undoubtedly for supercar owners, there’s the thrill of speed, the wheels eating up the miles as you roll and the advanced ability of your vehicle to take corners and bends without a twitch.

The following are some of our favourite reasons we love being out on the open road, no matter where we might be heading.

  • The sense of control: Behind the wheel is perhaps the one place where you experience true control. Your ability to handle the power is yours and yours alone, and every decision you make is crucial to the quality of the drive. This level of total control is something 21st century life doesn’t often allow, making it one of the premier reasons to love being in the driving seat.
  • Privacy and solitude: How often do you really get that yearned-for ‘me time’? In a country where 24/7 attention is not only expected, but demanded, it’s certainly not a common occurrence. Shutting out the world as you drive gives you the peace and clarity to exit the rat race, allowing you to direct your thoughts and emotions in whichever way you choose without any external influences.
  • The adventure: Every drive is a quest – an undertaking of discovery. What’s around the next corner? Are you ready for the unexpected? You’re honing your driving skills and pushing the boundaries of how to best test your car’s power and ability. To be honest, nothing compares. The day the rush of driving your supercar dims is the moment you subconsciously resign yourself to swapping your supercar for ownership of a people carrier (let’s pray that time never arrives…)
  • Late night drives to a favourite playlist: The hours of darkness are one of the ultimate times to enjoy your supercar. Bluetooth your essential playlist as you roll and boom! It’s as close to paradise as you can get on Mother Earth.
  • Smiles per gallon: Okay, okay, we know it’s litres now, but it’s not as catchy. The roar of the engine, the gurgle of the exhaust, the whoosh of the turbo… Quite simply, we love the unique sounds our cars make as we drive. And if the sound of a perfectly tuned V8 revving at full chat doesn’t move you almost to tears then, to put it bluntly – there’s not much hope of us being friends…

To Plan Or Not To Plan?

A question we often contemplate is whether or not to map out a driving route or whether to ‘go rogue’. The latter would always be the preference because, after all, there are nearly always multiple ways to get from A to B.

Sure, you might be planning a substantial road trip, maybe heading to a particular country or region of the UK. But who says you have to follow a mapped route? How many times have you passed a turning and wondered where it leads? 

More importantly, what’s stopping you from finding out? Just turn, drive, and see what destiny brings. In today’s age of sat-nav and GPS, you’re unlikely to get lost. And if you do? Well, it just might lead you to a road that offers one of the most memorable drives of your life…

Great Driving Roads In The UK

Okay… So sometimes you might want to have a destination in mind. In the UK, despite its relatively small size and ever-growing amount of traffic, we’re delightfully well off for awesome roads to drive, enjoy and test our skills. It doesn’t matter where you live, there’s sure to be a classic driving opportunity within easy reach.

We could wax lyrical about commonly known routes such as the EVO Triangle (complete with its recently installed speed cameras), Cheddar Gorge (Somerset) and the Kirkstone Pass in the Lake District. But we urge you to check out roads closer to home. That way, whenever you have a spare hour or two you can get out and drive, just for the sheer hell of it.

Roads such as the following:

Or… Discover your own. 

(we also have some great suggestions for amazing driving roads in Europe if you want to travel further afield)

The key to supercar happiness is the immediate thrill of the road beneath your wheels, not where you’re heading. Relish those revs and indulge your inner Hamilton with every bend and curve. Above all, enjoy.

We’ll see you out on the road.

Image by Jan Alexander from Pixabay

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The Highs and Lows of Supercar Driving: Head to Europe’s mountains

Supercars are, quite simply, made for the mountains. Hairpin bends, steep inclines and, of course, when heading to mainland Europe, those wonderful German autobahns to traverse on your way to the hills where you really can let rip. What’s not to love?

However, Therein lies a quandary. With so many European mountain ranges in easy reach, where on earth do you head to? To help with inspiration we’ve put together some of the most tempting elevations throughout the continent. 

But the choice of which to select? Well, that’s completely up to you…

The Peaks and Troughs of Mainland Europe

The first major topography of altitude that probably springs to mind is The Alps. Stretching across 750 miles of France, Switzerland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Germany, Austria and Slovenia, enjoying their delights could well take up the rest of your driving days.

But Europe’s behemoths certainly aren’t your only option. In fact, for supercar drivers, the welcoming arms of the lesser known uplands are perhaps even more appealing. The following are some awesome natural ranges that are well worth the effort it takes to reach them.

The Pyrenees: Forming a natural barrier on the border of Spain and France, the Pyrenees stretch from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. 

Three reasons to visit:

  1. A petrol head’s paradise playground stretching from coast to coast. Blast up your way up steep inclines, share the landscape with cows and goats as you cross high altitude passes, and head back down multiple death defying descents into verdant valleys. But your biggest challenge will be working out whether to speak French or Spanish… 
  2. Stock up on duty free goods in the tiny principality of Andorra.
  3.  Soothe away the stresses of everyday life at incredible natural spa towns, such as Baños de Benasque in Spain and Bagnères-de-Bigorre in France.

Feast upon:

  • Locally produced duck and goose dishes.
  • Chilindrones – a deceptively delicious side dish of sautéed peppers, tomatoes and onions.
  • An incredible array of local cheeses.

The Carpathians: Central Europe’s third largest mountain range stretches over 900 miles through Serbia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Ukraine and Romania.

Three reasons to drive there:

  1. Relatively undiscovered by those outside Eastern Europe, you can be guaranteed your supercar will attract plenty of admiring glances.
  2. Visit the real legend of Dracula – Bran Castle.
  3. Drive the 90-odd miles of Romania’s most famous road, the Transfagarasan Highway. Made famous by Jeremy Clarkson (something that’s either good or bad, depending on your perspective) who proclaimed it to be, ‘the best road in the world’. 

Feast upon:

  • Traditional shepherd food, such as the classic Bohrach – a mouth-watering combination of different meats, spices, potatoes, tomatoes, carrot and sweet peppers. Beware, a touch of chilli pepper gives it a bite…!
  • Rokot Krumpli, hearty fare that combines potato, sour cream, eggs, sausage and cheese.
  • Smooth, wild mushroom broth. Sounds simple – tastes incredible…

Sierra Nevada: Andalucía’s best kept mountain secret, the Sierra Nevada is a mere 20 hour blast through France and Spain if you drive straight through, or a mere 9 hours from Santander (take the 24 hour ferry from Portsmouth).

Three reasons it should be on your radar:

  1.  See the famous white villages of Las Alpujarras – tiny congregations of centuries old houses that gleam against the rocks and vegetation.
  2. Virtually deserted mountain roads to drive, and all in surprisingly great condition.
  3. Star gaze to your heart’s content in a true dark sky location – perhaps one of the best in Western Europe.

Feast upon: 

  • Migas: Salted bread crumbs fried with green peppers, olive oil and garlic, garnished with satisfying chunks of chorizo and morcilla.
  • Honey and jam – all locally produced and on sale in restaurants and roadside stalls
  • Cured ham, or jamon, served alongside your beer in local bars (gratis). The region is famous for it.

We could go on (and on) about great European mountain locations to enjoy your supercar. Others to discover include:

  •  The Balkans: Stretching from the Bulgarian-Siberian border to the Black Sea, the perfect driving location if a few days by the sea is a satisfactory conclusion to your supercar mountain adventure.
  • The Urals: A natural boundary between Asia and Europe, this Western Russian range is a place where you’ll see little evidence of outside visitors…
  • The Caucasus: If you fancy heading to the wilds of Georgia then you’ll love the Caucasus mountains. Home to friendly locals and travellers with an adventurous streak.
  • Owl Mountains: This Polish mountain range hides 90,000 cubic metres of concrete tunnels created and used by the Nazis during WWII.
  • Highlands: Yes, Scotland’s rugged, often harsh, landscape is still on the continent of Europe and offers an incredible driving experience close to home.

Mountain Driving Skills

No-one’s disputing that you know how to drive your car. But when heading to a terrain different to that which you normally enjoy it’s always worth re-visiting a few key driving skills. And you will, undoubtedly, have to adapt a little to account for steep mountain conditions.

  •  Be prepared: Mountains equal altitude equals snow and ice – even when it’s balmy and warm at sea level. We all know that winter brings such conditions (check out our blog on driving your supercar in the winter), but the real danger times are spring and autumn. At this time the high mountain passes might sport unexpected amounts of the white stuff or dangerous black ice. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and adjust your driving accordingly.
  • Visibility is key: The reason for taking your supercar to the mountains is to enjoy the testing driving conditions. But, exactly the same as on flat roads, don’t attempt any manoeuvres where your line of sight is impaired. In the mountains, rock walls and other natural geographic features can prevent you from seeing ahead. So be sure to keep to your side of the road (and that’s on the right, once you cross The Channel).
  • Adapt to the terrain: When descending steeply you’ll need to use lower gears and ensure the revs don’t red line. The general rule of thumb is the steeper the gradient, the lower the gear (and that applies to going uphill as well). The brakes and clutch are likely to take a bit of a hammering, so be aware of any smell that could indicate overheating.
  • A word about fuel: Petrol stations are often few and far between, so carry out due diligence as to where your next fill up point is if you’re planning a long drive.

But above all, enjoy. Mountain roads and supercars are a match made in heaven, so get out there and drive… 

Image by xuuxuu from Pixabay

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