The UK’s Top 5 Romantic Road Trips to Drive this Valentine’s Day!

Only a few days to go until Valentine’s Day! And if you’re looking to plan the perfect date, why not really impress this year and take your other half on a romantic road trip? For inspiration, we’ve done the research for you to find the UK’s top 5 romantic routes. Read on and see which you would want to visit for a Valentine’s treat!

Andrew Jervis, Co-Founder of ClickMechanic, said: “A scenic road trip is a perfect way to spend Valentine’s Day. It’s a chance to explore some amazing new places together from the comfort of your car, which is particularly a bonus given the weather! Just remember to share the choice of music…”

1. The North Coast 500, Scotland

For a truly breath-taking and adventurous drive, Scotland’s North Coast 500 is your ideal choice for this Valentine’s Day. Beginning and ending in the northern city of Inverness, this route skirts around the Scottish coast, covering over 500 miles of unparalleled scenery.

Along the ride, you can visit a number of impressive structures including the famed 1000-year-old ruins of Urquhart Castle on the Loch Ness banks. You can also discover some of the concealed and untouched beaches on the route; be sure to visit Moray Firth, home to around 130 bottlenose dolphins! Finally, it goes without saying that the road will also take you through some stunning views of the highlands, which alone are worth the trip! Be sure to save some time for this journey however, 5-7 days of traveling are recommended to take in all of the sights.

2. The New Forest

Offering both beautiful and relaxed surroundings, driving through the New Forest is a brilliant option for couples who are looking to take it easy and soak up the sun (hopefully!). Being less than one minute’s drive from the M27, it is easily accessible with countless activities and sights available for visitors.

Picturesque villages are scattered throughout the area, not to mention thousands of wild ponies and donkeys also roam-free, so take care on the road! For keen animal lovers, the New Forest Wildlife Park at Ashurst offers the chance to get up close and personal with some of the local wildlife. And for those that appreciate cars, The National Motor Museum in Beaulieu features over 250 vehicles and recounts the history of motoring. So there really is something for everyone! If you’re unsure of which route to take, the New Forest Tour offers an open-top safari-style tour of the area and covers three key routes to see all of the best sights.

3. The Dark Hedges, Ballymore, Northern Ireland

Any Game of Thrones fan will recognise this road; it is also known as King’s Road during Season two of the famous fantasy series, where Arya Stark travels north. While it is simply an avenue of beech trees folding into one another, the overall effect creates a true sense of fairy-tale wonder as you pass through it.

This inspiring formation, or the Dark Hedges as it is actually known, was planted two centuries ago to decorate the entrance of Gracehill House, a Georgian mansion. Today, it has become a renowned spot for photographs in Northern Ireland and attracts visitors from far and wide. Sadly, due to recent damage, it can no longer be driven directly down by motorists; however, there is parking nearby at the Hedges Estate Hotel and it is more than worth the walk for this enchanting experience. It is indeed a beautiful road to visit this Valentine’s Day.

4. The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is renowned for its scenic, picture-postcard villages and for the natural beauty of its countryside; just two reasons for being a perfect drive on February 14th!

But if you’re wondering which route to take to get the best views, why not follow the aptly named Romantic road? Cotswolds.info has mapped out its own circular route from Broadway which passes through Stow on the Wold and Bourton on the Water, taking the driver through a number of impressive sights. You will have the chance to explore the famed beauty of the Cotswold hill villages as well as the quaint river valleys and the charmingly idyllic country pubs. Covering 45 miles in total, it’s also more than suitable for a day trip!

5. The Lake District

As England’s largest National Park, the Lake District is filled with breath-taking scenery and raw, natural beauty. With an incredible mountainous landscape combined with vast lakes and, of course, countless activities available, each valley will not fail to please!

While the sheer size of this National Park means the possible driving routes are essentially endless, if you’re looking for guidance, Lake District Drives lists 15 possible routes to choose from. However, for a truly romantic experience, the Keswick to Borrowdale to Buttermere drive is a great pick. It features some of the most stunning sights of the mountain passes and allows you to stop and explore places such as Lodore Falls waterfall and Honister Slate Mine. The route covers 38 miles in total.

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Motorists in 2018

The New Year is finally here and with its arrival comes the vowing of countless New Year resolutions from across the country. From leading a healthier lifestyle to breaking bad habits, Brits will be trying to make all sorts of changes for the better. As such, we felt it more than fitting to find the top 5 New Year’s resolutions for UK drivers. Read on to see how much of a difference can be made from behind the wheel this year.

Andrew Jervis, Co-Founder of ClickMechanic, said: “These resolutions can make a significant difference in terms of saving money, emissions and, most importantly, lives. Be sure to stick to them for the best start to 2018!”

1. Slow Down

The majority of motorists recognise the dangers of speeding, yet few realise the full benefits of slowing down. It’s not only safer, but more cost effective for the driver as well – particularly if travelling on the motorway. Most cars are designed to drive at an optimum speed of about 55mph, which means driving any faster will cost more and generate additional emissions.

As such, driving at an average speed of 80mph on the motorway, as opposed to 60mph, will cost the motorist an additional £3000 in fuel over a lifetime and generate an elephant’s weight in carbon emissions on top of that. Not to mention, any speeding fines are going to add to this cost too!

2. Put Down the Phone

Any habits which distract the driver from the road should be broken immediately, including the handling of smartphones. Even if the driver is merely using the phone to control the music, or program directions into the map, this should never be done whilst driving if it involves handling it.

Being distracted for even a fraction of a second can cause a serious accident, and whilst many are aware of its being a crime, countless motorists are still caught with their phone in their hand. In fact, the DVLA reported that almost 16,000 drivers received points on their licence for using a mobile phone between March and August last year.

3. Take Care of Your Car

Many motorists will avoid car maintenance, including the most basic self-check-ups, and will only address any needs once it turns into a problem. Simple routine inspections, such as checking the tyre pressure, the oil level and the lights, can easily save drivers from an expensive bill down the line.

However, countless drivers still neglect to examine their car and ensure it’s in full-working order. In fact, our recent research found that 1 in 5 drivers ignore their manufacturer’s recommended schedule, whilst 3 in 10 will wait for up to two weeks or more before dealing with a check engine light. Offering a vehicle more care and attention can only save money over time and extend its life.

4. Don’t Idle with Your Engine Running

Another great habit to break this year is idling with the engine running. The awareness and discouraging of this habit has risen recently, particularly in London; motorists will now be fined £80 fine if caught idling in Central London, and the City of Westminster introduced a #DontBeIdle pledge to reinforce the capital’s commitment to improving air quality. Not to mention, leaving the engine running is technically illegal; according to Rule 123 of The Highway Code, ‘You must not leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road.’

Despite this, countless drivers are still guilty of this habit on a daily basis, particularly during the school run. Indeed, idling for 10 minutes with the engine running on every school day will equate to 1,520m³ of excess fumes a year, which is enough to fill two Jumbo Jets. Even 5 minutes of idling will fill an additional 23 shipping containers with fumes per year!

5. Take a Break

One of our recent surveys found that half of UK motorists will only take a break after 3 hours of driving. This is a worrying statistic considering that the Highway Code recommends a minimum respite of 15 minutes after just 2 hours on the road.

Taking regular breaks when travelling long-distance is imperative as the driver will inevitably grow tired, affecting their awareness and increasing the chances of collisions. Even if it’s just pausing to stretch the legs; it’s an opportunity to take a break from the road and refresh. So, as well as vowing to be more active this year, remember to take some healthy breaks too!

The Roads to Hell? The UK’s Top 5 Haunted Roads

Halloween is here! A time for pumpkin carving, face painting and trick-or-treating. However, we should not forget the core of what this evening is all about, namely a celebration of the dead. As such, to commemorate all things scary, we have researched into the paranormal history of the UK’s roads to find the top 5 scariest drives. So why not take a ride down these routes yourself, if you dare…

Andrew Jervis, Co-Founder of ClickMechanic, said: “Suspicious circumstances have occurred on all of these roads. If you do decide to visit them, take care when travelling on new routes and be prepared for any unexpected hazards… Happy Halloween!”

1. Here Comes the Bride – Blue Bell Hill, A229

On 19th November, 1965, a young bride-to-be was killed on the eve of her wedding. Whilst returning from her hen party, Suzanne Browne and two friends were killed in a car accident on Blue Bell Hill; she lost control of her Ford Cortina and collided with an oncoming Jaguar.

Ever since, there have been over 50 reported sightings of the 22-year-old bride on the roadside. Some drivers claim to have given a young woman a lift, and upon dropping her off or whilst still in the car, she disappears. In 1992, three drivers also reported hitting someone who ran into the road at night, but there was no evidence to be found. She has gained quite the ghostly reputation in Kent.

2. Hairy Hands – Dartmoor, B3212

From the early 1900’s, travellers on the B3212 between Postbridge and Two Bridges have reported unusual sightings, both on the road and in the car. Whilst travelling, they suddenly lose control of their vehicle and are unable to force the locked steering wheel back towards the road. To make matters more eerie, in the heat of the moment, they notice a pair of dismembered hands hanging onto the wheel, driving the car off course.

The ‘Hairy Hands’ of Dartmoor are known to have thrown cyclists, ponies and coaches off the road along this stretch. In 1921, a doctor from Princetown was killed when his motorcycle and side car were thrown off the road with his two children on board. In 1924, a young couple also claimed to encounter the hands. They were camping in their caravan near the road when the woman was awoken by a hairy hand crawling up the window. It disappeared however, after she made the sign of the cross. To this day, drivers report seeing the hands during their violent struggles on this road.

3. Defying Gravity – Electric Brae, Scotland

The Electric Brae is a suspicious hill in Scotland, where your car appears to roll the wrong way when the engine is switched off. Visitors have flocked to the site for decades to witness this inexplicable force for themselves; to stand by as the car creeps uphill. The area was originally thought to be haunted by witches, but it was later believed that vehicles were being influenced by magnets or electric forces in the environment, giving it its so-called name of Electric Brae.

The phenomenon has, more recently, been revealed as a simple optical illusion, thanks to the position of the horizon. The landscape simply appears to form a slope, meaning the Electric Brae is actually a ‘Gravity Hill.’ Despite this discovery, the road still makes this list thanks to its popularity and paranormal history. The council has even added a lay-by on the hill to prevent visitors from testing the illusion in the middle of the road!

4. Paranormal Activity – The Kinmount Straight, A75

Renowned for being the ‘most haunted highway’ in Scotland, the Kinmount Straight has a reputation for paranormal sightings which have been consistently reported for over 50 years. In fact, one notable incident occurred in 1962, when brothers, Derek and Norman Ferguson, witnessed a hen fly into their windscreen and disappear on impact, followed by an array of other animals including cats and dogs.

Long-distance lorry drivers, in particularly, have also reported traumatising experiences when passing through the A75. One even quit his job after waking up in the night to discover what looked like an endless parade of people passing by. To make matters more unnerving, a number of motorists have also admitted to accidentally knocking down people who suddenly appear in the road, only to find no bodies on inspection! This is indeed a road to avoid in the later hours if you’re afraid of ghostly activity.

5. Double Trouble – A21, South London

It may not appear particularly sinister or ghoulish, but a reoccurring incident continues to take place on the A21. Whilst driving where the new dual carriageway intersects with the Old Gracious Lane, numerous motorists claim that the road ahead disappears entirely, only to be replaced by a false road which leads the car to the right. Ghost hunters have blamed this phenomenon for several fatal head-on collisions.

Some say it’s the ghost of Gracious Lane, taking revenge for being split by the new road. Indeed, an old woman with white hair, wearing a fawn coat has also made a few appearances on this road. Strangely, drivers on both sides of the carriageway believe they have knocked her down at the same time, but can find no evidence of a body on the road. Supposedly, an older woman was killed in the same area back in 1959 and now, for some reason, every re-appearance affects two drivers at once.