The idea of a British road trip might not haul you away from the latest Netflix drama to start researching UK holidays. We often connect driving with commuting in this country and that’s rarely fun. But imagine a road trip that incorporates some beautiful British bridges… Think photo opportunities, reasons to break for a pitstop, and conversation to keep you going for the rest of the trip.
You may well have driven over, through or past these British bridges before. We’re here to give you reason to stop and stare next time. Oh, and to take a staycation. Obviously!
Best British bridges by car
The Forth Bridges – there are three of them – cross the Firth of Forth, west of Edinburgh, in spectacular engineering style. The Forth Bridge was Britain’s first all-steel bridge and is now a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s a bridge for trains though, which means you get the best view of it when travelling along one of the other two bridges: Forth Road Bridge (by means of motorbike, bus, taxi, push bike or on foot) or Queensferry Crossing (general traffic). Alternatively, enjoy a boat trip along the Forth. Sounds complicated. Not really, but there is a road user guide just to be sure!
See it for yourself on your way in or out of Edinburgh. We’ve got some fabulous Lothian holiday cottages to lure you to this part of the world.
Newcastle’s iconic Tyne Bridge is heaving with headlines. It was the world’s longest single span bridge when it opened in 1928. It’s second claim to fame – locally anyway – is that it was the model for Sydney Harbour Bridge. Indeed they were both built by the same team, and Newcastle’s version arrived four years earlier. But it is significantly smaller in every measurement. Despite that glitch, the team that built it included the first female member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Dorothy Buchanan. And finally, maybe, this fabulous bridge that links Gateshead and Newcastle upon Tyne was opened by King George V who was also the first to drive across it.
Make your own ‘firsts’ amidst the warmest of northern hospitality with a Newcastle day trip while staying across the county border in one of our Northumberland holiday cottages.
Best British bridges by train
Glenfinnan Viaduct is perhaps most well known today for carrying the Hogwarts Express and narrowly avoiding damage from Ron Weasley’s flying car in the second film. The additional magic this connection adds for those travelling along it with kids provides a moment’s more peace to enjoy the view! Stream train trips aboard a Jacobite engine and carriages run from Glenfinnan (Hogwarts Station) to Fort William and Mallaig. Wizardry imaginations aside, it provides an enviable perspective of Loch Shiel and the Glenfinnan Monument.
Take a trip aboard a summer steam train trip while staying in one of our Highland holiday cottages.
Modern day trains are your vehicle of choice for exploring the Ribblehead Viaduct (although walking holidays in Yorkshire are the other stunning option). Carrying the Settle-Carlisle Railway between Carlisle and Leeds the viaduct connects Cumbria and North Yorkshire by rail. Its 24 tall arches were built in the early 1870s to cross the Batty Moss valley. And if you haven’t seen it, the BBC drama series Jericho was inspired by its construction.
Best British bridges by boat
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in North Wales is a spectacle that those of us with vertigo gaze at in awe with huge lump in our throats. Its 19 pillars, designed by Thomas Telford and William Jessop cross the River Dee and are rightly a UNESCO world heritage site. Whether you’re planning a boating holiday along the Llangollen Canal or just a day cruise, you’ll need a head for heights. We highly recommend a horse drawn boat trip for an added slice of nostalgia.
There’s so much to see and do around the Trevor Basin Visitor Centre and Llangollen Wharf. Plus they’ve recently extended the car parking, so it would be rude not to visit during your North Wales cottage holiday.
Best British bridges on foot
The Iron Bridge at Ironbridge, Shropshire, today warrants Grade I listed and UNESCO world heritage status. It is largely heralded as the world’s first cast iron road bridge although some debate rumbles on this. Built in a time of Shropshire’s busy mining industry when crossing the deep gorges of the River Severn was required but limited it did just that, opening in 1779. Since 1834 it has been a Scheduled Ancient Monument and closed to traffic.
See it today as part of a visit to Ironbridge Gorge Museum while you’re staying in one of our Shropshire holiday cottages.
Monnow Bridge has perhaps the most fascinating historical claim to fame as Britain’s only remaining example of a fortified medieval bridge with an intact integral gate tower. The tower was added in the 14th-century, some 200 years after the bridge replaced a previous oak structure connecting Monmouth and Overmonnow. Amazingly it was open to traffic until 2004 when a modern bridge was completed a little downstream. It isn’t open to visitors every day, so do call ahead to check!
Absorb all the history and heritage of this now-unique structure during a stay in one of our Monmouthshire holiday cottages.
Pulteney Bridge, Bath, is often compared to Florence’s Ponte Vecchio. They share architectural grandeur and shops – two very exciting things that attract tourists in their droves! One of Bath’s most photographed structures – especially its position over the horseshoe-shaped weir below – it was built to connect the acreage of wealthy landowner William Pulteney with the city and to shore up his plans to create a new town. Open since 1770 it has been restored and extended at various stages. Today it is home to shops and restaurants the length of its 45 metre span and is Grade I listed.
Come snap it for yourself during a day trip to Bath while enjoying a short break in one of our Somerset holiday homes.
If there is to be a downside to booking a UK holiday, it has to be getting there in the first place. “Are we nearly there yet?” rears both laughter and tears from parents – depending on when they hear it, who is asking and how frequently the question has been asked in the last two minutes. But those holiday road trips that veer in the direction of one of these beautiful British bridges make the journey all part of the holiday.
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