ADVERTORIAL • October 2022
Feeling the need for some downtime before the Christmas rush? Here’s our pick of the world’s best road trips to relaxation destinations. Whether you’re looking to practice your meditation skills or cosy up in a pub with a good read, these routes will have you itching to take off
Hill Top House in Cumbria, home of Beatrix Potter
A road trip for literature lovers
Lake District, UK
A literary tour of the Lake District offers the chance to stop and read in countless beamed pubs, as well as visit the homes of the many authors who have been inspired by these rolling green – or, in December, possibly white – hills. Start at Hill Top House, the 17th-century fell cottage where Beatrix Potter scribbled Peter Rabbit, before driving 22-minutes to Coniston Water. Here, enjoy a bracing walk followed by a hot chocolate in the café at Bank Ground Farm, which provided the inspiration for Holly Howe Farm in Arthur Ransome’s classic children’s yarn, Swallows and Amazons. Another 35 minutes in the car will reveal Dove Cottage, the home of poet William Wordsworth, who called Grasmere “the loveliest spot that man hath ever found”.
A road trip for foodies
Adelaide Hills, Australia
Wander through the many stalls of Adelaide Central Market before enjoying a lunch of Australian charcuterie at Lucia’s. This little slither of Italy opened in 1957 and is still run by the founder’s grandchildren. Hop in your car and drive 20 minutes into the Adelaide Hills under a canopy of oak and beech trees planted by the first European settlers in the 1850s. Stop to pick strawberries at Beerenberg Farm, which has been in the same family since 1839, before heading to The Summertown Aristrologist for small plates made from vegetables grown in its own kitchen garden. Evenings in the hills can be cool, but there is no cosier spot for dinner than Lost in a Forest, a pizzeria in an old chapel with a wood-burning fire. Dreamy.
A road trip for mindfulness masters
The Shikoku Pilgrimage runs around most of the island of Shikoku, making for a road trip characterised by soothing vistas of the Pacific Coast. This circular route is dedicated to the founder of Shingon Buddhism, Kōbō Daishi, and links 88 historic temples. Temple number 1 at Ryōzen-ji in Tokushima is a magnificent two-tiered pagoda with a carp pond, while Temple 45 Iwaya-ji is a small cave that can only be reached by a winding trail through a forest, perfect for giving walking meditation a try. As silence is customary, each temple presents an opportunity for mindfulness practice: smell the incense, listen to the chanting and become immersed by Japan’s most sacred island.
The town of Baden-Baden, Germany
A road trip for spa seekers
Germany and Czech Republic
This six-hour drive is part of a longer Unesco route called The Great Spa Towns of Europe, which links 11 places whose thermal waters have been famous for their healing powers since Roman times. Start beneath the blue dome of Friedrichsbad in the town of Baden-Baden, on the border of Germany’s Black Forest, and continue in the carriage tracks of countless European aristocrats to Karlovy Vary, a candy-coloured Czech hill town. Choose from one of 60 treatments on Elizabeth Spa’s vast menu before heading on to your final stop, Mariánské Lázně. Hike through the forests of West Bohemia prior to rejuvenating tired muscles in Reitenberger Spa Medical’s salt cave.
The famous Thakhek Loop in Central Laos
A road trip for happy snappers
Emerald rice paddies, rivers waded by water buffalo and epic limestone mountains – the Thakhek Loop, also known as the Kong Lor Loop, is a four-day trip around Laos’ Khammouane Province that could practically have been created with keen photographers in mind. Head east out of Thakhek into ‘cave valley’ and onto Thalang, gateway to the Nakai-Nam Theun National Park, one of Southeast Asia’s most pristine wildernesses. Float in the natural rock pools of the Cool Spring, before going on a boat tour in Phontan in a raft made from the external fuel tank of US bomber planes dropped during the Indochina War – now that’s a photo opportunity if ever we heard one. Finally, glide through the underground river of Kong Lor Cave on a traditional longtail boat before returning to Thakhek.
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