Yorkshire is one good-looking county – there’s no getting away from that fact – and what better way to enjoy its sights and sounds than from the comfort of your own car?
Like all good road trips, it starts with a great route, and we’ve done the legwork for you. Grab a couple of your favourite people, or maybe just plan your perfect playlist, and you’re good to go.
So whether you’re a native to the White Rose county, or you’re just a visitor looking for a recommendation, check out our picks for the Yorkshire’s most scenic roads below.
Hawes to Thwaite, Cliff Gate Road
Start at: Hawes, DL8 3NT
Finish at: Thwaite, DL11 6DR
Distance: 7 miles
Stop for a cuppa at: Simonstone Hall
As roads go, this one’s pretty famous, thanks to its starring role in Yorkshire’s hosting of the start of the Tour de France in 2014.
Cliff Gate Road – aka ‘Buttertubs’ due to its interesting history – winds up and out of the Dales town of Hawes, climbing continuously before reaching its summit. Helpfully, there’s a small parking area at the top, perfect for setting down to enjoy the incredible panorama of dramatic Dales countryside.
Helmsley to Stokesley, B1257
Start at: Helmsley, YO62 5BL
Finish at: Stokesley, TS9 5NY
Distance: 19 miles
Stop for a cuppa at: Rievaulx Abbey Cafe
Travelling from south to north straight through the heart of the North York Moors National Park, this is a road for the driving purists.
It’s the longest route on this list, but it’s worth seeing it through to the end. An engaging variety of sweeping bends and tight turns means you can really enjoy the art of driving, plus there are fantastic views across the moorland to keep you busy on the handful of longer straights.
Hawes to Ingleton, B6255
Start at: Hawes, DL8 3RD
Finish at: Ingleton, LA6 3DL
Distance: 17 miles
Stop for a cuppa at: Settle-Carlisle Visitor Centre at Ribblehead Station
Starting at Hawes once again, this route instead takes you south-westwards, and towards the neighbouring county of Lancashire, though you needn’t journey quite that far.
There are stunning views the whole way, of course, but the real pièce de résistance is about two-thirds of the way into the route.
The Ribblehead Viaduct paints an iconic image right across the valley floor, carrying the famous Settle to Carlisle Railway on its back. There’s no other option – you simply have to stop to take a photo for the ‘Gram.
Pickering to Sleights, A169
Start at: Pickering, YO18 7DP
Finish at: Sleights, YO22 5EH
Distance: 17 miles
Stop for a cuppa at: Lockton Tea Rooms & Gallery
The A169 has two defining features. Firstly, the bleak openness of the moorland that the road cuts through, passing the lonely RAF Fylingdales as it pushes northwards.
The other feature is the curiously-named Hole of Horcum, which sits just to the west of the road. It was formed when Wade the Giant scooped up a handful of dirt to aim at his better half during a heated argument – or so the story goes.
Pateley Bridge to Grassington, B6265
Start at: Pateley Bridge, HG3 5BD
Finish at: Grassington, BD23 5LB
Distance: 10 miles
Stop for a cuppa at: Toft Gate Barn Café
See the Yorkshire Dales from a slightly different perspective with this route that begins in the Nidderdale AONB and ends in the small but picturesque town of Grassington.
Rather than the dramatic peaks and troughs of the western half of the Dales, you’ll see vast open countryside that rolls endlessly away in every direction you look. There’s heather, wind-swept grasses, and a road that just keeps going and going. The perfect subject for a Sunday afternoon jaunt.
Holmfirth to Woodhead Reservoir, A6024
Start at: Holmfirth, HD9 7AX
Finish at: Woodhead Reservoir, SK13 1JA
Distance: 8 miles
Stop for a cuppa at: The Fleece at Holme
This one’s an absolute classic. Head out of Holmfirth – spiritual home to Last of the Summer Wine – through the villages of Holmbridge and Holme, and upwards on to Woodhead Road.
The route climbs quickly, and soon comes up on the Holme Moss Transmitting Station, with a handy car park on the opposite side of the road. Stop here for a frankly jaw-dropping view back towards Huddersfield and all of Kirklees beyond.
Carry on the road as it descends, and the scenery changes into an intriguing green blanket that smothers a rugged, valleyed landscape.
As you reach the foot of the hill, the landscape changes again, now a valley floor filled with water. That’s Woodhead Reservoir ahead, which means you’ve arrived in Derbyshire. Turn right for Manchester, and left for Barnsley!
Staxton to Driffield, B1249
Start at: Staxton, YO12 4SB
Finish at: Driffield, YO25 6PX
Distance: 15 miles
Stop for a cuppa at: Costello’s Bakery
The Yorkshire Wolds are one of the lesser known sights this region has to offer, but that doesn’t mean they’re worth any less of your time.
If you’re looking for a taste of quintessential Wolds scenery, this little route down to Driffield is perfect. Expansive rolling countryside full of colour and long distance views makes the B1249 a great shout for a weekend dart.
Huddersfield to Rochdale, M62
Start at: Huddersfield, HD3 3XA
Finish at: Rochdale, OL16 3SA
Distance: 14 miles
Stop for a cuppa at: The Rams Head Inn at Denshaw
We’re rounding out this list with a bit of a curveball. It might not be much to look at itself, but this section of the M62 takes in some stunning Pennine scenery.
Join at junction 23 and head westbound on the carriageway, following signs for Rochdale. The motorway jinks past a large reservoir on the left, before east and westbound carriageways diverge soon after.
Between the two sides of the carriageway is Stott Hall Farm, the custodian of which reportedly refused to be moved when the roadbuilders rolled in. In reality, it was more a case of avoiding a patch of soft land, but why let the truth get in the way of a good story? Anyway, it’s a curious sight, and one worth ticking off the bucket list.
Continue past the farm and the road rises to reach the M62 Summit just after junction 22, which – at 1,221 feet above sea level – is also the highest point on the UK’s motorway network. A great bit of trivia for that pub quiz you sometimes go to.
The roads and routes listed in this article are presented purely on the basis of enjoying the views from them. JCT600 does not condone irresponsible driving, and encourages all drivers to use public roads in a respectful, sensible manner at all times, with due care and attention to fellow road users.