The UK’s Top Road-Side Attractions

Posted on: 16 December 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Today’s network of roads across Britain offer views of sculptures, castles, fertility symbols and much more.

When many people think ‘road trips’, they may think of Route 66 or other well-known US highways – but Britain’s roads offer some phenomenal sights, from man-made art, to spots of incredible natural beauty.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of Britain’s first motorway on 5th December 1958, 50connect have announced the UK’s top 10 road-side attractions.

Whilst few sights graced motorists travelling on Lancashire’s eight-mile Preston by-pass when it was opened by Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, today’s network of roads across Britain offer views of sculptures, castles, fertility symbols and much more.

1) Stonehenge, Wiltshire

Where: Junction of A303 and A344/A360 Amesbury

Estimated to date back to 3100 BC, this UNESCO World Heritage site in Wiltshire is one of the world’s most famous prehistoric sites.

Stonehenge is composed of earthworks surrounding a circular setting of large standing stones.

2) The Angel Of The North, Tyne & Wear

Angel of the NorthWhere: A1 Gateshead

Designed by internationally renowned sculptor Antony Gormley, the sculpture sits on a panoramic hilltop site in Gateshead, where it can be clearly seen by more than 90,000 drivers a day.

As the name suggests, it is a steel sculpture of an angel, standing 66 feet (20 m) tall, with wings measuring 178 feet (54 m) across — making it wider than the Statue of Liberty's height.

3) Loch Ness, Scottish Highlands 

Loch NessWhere: A82 Inverness

Over 20 miles long, a mile wide and 700 feet at its deepest, Loch Ness is the largest body of water in Scotland.

Many believe the Loch is home to a world-famous monster, ‘Nessie’ – the first official sighting of whom was recorded in 565 AD.

The freshwater loch extends for approximately 37 km (23 miles) southwest of Inverness. Its surface is 15.8 metres (52 ft) above sea level.

4) Ben Nevis, Grampian Mountains

Ben NevisWhere: A82 Lochaber

Located at the western end of Scotland’s Grampian Mountains, the summit of Ben Nevis reaches an altitude of 4,408 feet – making this the highest mountain in Great Britain.

It attracts an estimated 100,000 ascents a year, around three-quarters of which are made using the well-constructed Pony Track from Glen Nevis on the south side of the mountain.

5) Clifton Suspension Bridge, Avon Gorge

Clifton Suspension BridgeWhere: A4 Bristol

Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Bristol’s Clifton Suspension Bridge opened in 1864. Over 11,000 vehicles cross the bridge, which spans the River Avon, every day.

The bridge is a landmark that is used as a symbol of Bristol and is a grade I listed building.

6) Harlech Castle, Gwynedd 

Harlech CastleWhere: A496 Harlech, Wales

Built by Edward I in the late 13th Century, this spectacular cliff-top castle in North Wales is a World Heritage Site.

Architecturally, it is particularly notable for its massive gatehouse and the castle was subject to several assaults and sieges during its period of active use as a fortification.

The seven-year siege of the castle, during the Wars of the Roses, has been memorialised in the famous song Men of Harlech.

7) Wembley Stadium, London 

Wembley StadiumWhere: A404 Wembley

Featuring 90,000 seats, the “new” Wembley Stadium, which opened in 2007, is the most expensive stadium ever built – costing an estimated £1 billion.

The iconic arch, which reaches a height of 133m at its highest point, is visible across London.

8) Tintern Abbey, Monmouthshire 

Tintern Abbey Where: A466 Chepstow

Founded in 1131, Tintern was the first Cistercian Abbey in Wales. In the late 18th Century, the ruined Abbey became a popular destination for artists and poets of the Romantic movement, including William Wordsworth.

Situated on the River Wye in Monmouthshire, it was only the second Cistercian foundation in Britain, and the first in Wales.

9) The Cherhill White Horse, Wiltshire 

Cherhill White HorseWhere: A4 Cherhill Down

Cut in 1780, the second oldest of the Wiltshire horses can be seen from the A4 Calne to Marlborough road. The horse was resurfaced with 160 tonnes of fresh chalk in 2002.

It is the third oldest of several such white horses to be seen around Great Britain, with only the Uffington White Horse and the Westbury White Horse being older. The figure is also sometimes called the Oldbury White Horse.

10) Cerne Abbas Giant, Dorset 

Where: A352 Dorchester

Carved in solid lines from the chalk bedrock, the Dorset giant is said to depict the god Hercules. This is one of the largest hill figures in Britain, measuring in at 180 feet high.

Also referred to as the Rude Man or the Rude Giant, the hill figure of a giant naked man on a hillside near the village of Cerne Abbas is best viewed from the opposite side of the valley or from the air.

Do you agree with our top ten? What would you include in your top ten? Have you visited any of the above road-side attractions?

If so, let us know by leaving a comment in the box below or share your thoughts with other readers in the 50connect forums.

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