Home » QUIRKY ROUTES – THE ULTIMATE FESTIVE UK ROAD TRIP – Northern Edition
Are you a festive fiend or a grumpy Grinch? This season no matter what mood you’re in, escape the normal and take yourself and your loved ones away on a road-trip with a festive twist. With two routes on offer, one for the North of the UK, and one for the South, there’s something for everyone, adventurists, Christmas lovers, or cosy campers, to get you on the road this festive season. This Northern Route takes in some of the most spectacular natural wonders of the UK. From mountains to Lochs, this serene route explores the calmer side of the festive season, long walks, spectacular scenery and some well earned Christmas Peace.
How long does it take to complete the route?
The route has been organised to start before Christmas and end on New Years, but that is just a guideline. If you drove from start to finish it would take around ten hours, although we don’t recommend that! Each location is just the tip of things to explore in the local area, so take it at your own pace, make it your own, stop off to visit friends or family along the way and enjoy the festive spirit of these spectacular Christmas locations across the UK.
How much fuel will I use and how much will it cost?
A typical campervan will average around 20-35 miles per gallon which equates to about 4.39-7.69 miles per litre. To complete the whole roughly 362 mile long route, you’ll be looking to spend anything between £90-£180 on fuel, however, we always recommend setting aside an extra £50-£100 in your budget as there are some roads and rough terrain which may equate to a lower mileage per litre. RAC has a useful mileage calculator, so you can work out the cost for your specific vehicle.
York at Christmas is nothing less than a magical wonderland filled with Christmas lights, cobbled streets decked with holly, Christmas trees, garlands and wreaths in doors and windows, it may well be the most festive city in the UK. If you’re after a pantomime, a festive afternoon tea, or some unique shops, York has you covered. This winter wonderland is located just on the cusp of the Yorkshire Moors and Yorkshire Dales parks, perfect for blustery winter walks, to clear the body and soul after mince pies and mulled wine in the stalls and shops of the York winter market.
There are some great events in the Yorkshire Dales over the festive season. Christmas festivals pop-up in a variety of towns and villages across the dales. The village of Grassington is turned into a Dickensian Christmas village, and holds a Christmas market every year filled with local artists, as well as the Grassington Dickensian Festival. If the great outdoors is more your style, why not try one or all of the Yorkshire three peaks, Pen-y-Ghent (694 metres), Whernside (736 metres) and Ingleborough (723 metres), forming part of the Pennine range, these can be hiked one at a time for panoramic views and fantastic scenes that will blow away any winter cobwebs, just don’t forget your layers, it gets cold up there!
Witness the natural beauty of Malham Cove this Christmas, a limestone formation surrounded by scenic countryside and walking trails. This spot is famously shown in the Harry Potter movies, so why not spend the day walking around the local area, taking in the spectacular scenery and then tuck-up in your campervan with a Harry Potter movie night! A local band even set up at Malham Cove over the Christmas season to play live Christmas Carols, making this site a perfect mixture of Christmas and countryside.
Christmas and New Year in the Lake District is definitely a sight worth seeing. Not only is the natural splendour and beauty of the lakes enhanced by the winter frosts, but there’s plenty of Christmas events and activities on as well. Take in some of the local Cumbrian Christmas markets for delicious Christmas delicacies and handmade gifts for your loved ones. Festive dining experiences abound in the towns and villages around the lakes, with everything from Christmas themed afternoon tea, to a full blown Christmas Dinner! Treat yourself to a Christmas show with the Theatre By The Lake’s production of A Little Princess, see Santa in his Secret Underground Grotto at Honister or visit some real Christmas Trees at Whinlatter Forest.
Explore some of the UK’s prettiest and most idyllic villages with a trip to the North Pennines. The striking landscapes, quaint and vibrant villages, and not to mention the abundant wildlife are just the tip of things to see in this bountiful area. Visit the villages of Blanchland and Allendale for a quintessentially British Christmas spirit, be transported back to storybook settings with Christmas lights, independent businesses for Christmas shopping, cosy pubs, and traditional Christmas events. Allendale is host to the New Year’s Tar Bar’l New Year Festival, a centuries old New Year festival where barrels of Whiskey burn in the New Year!
Combine history with the holiday spirit by visiting Hadrian’s Wall and the nearby Roman sites in a unique wintry setting. There are a variety of trails for all abilities that take in not just the wall but the ruins of Roman settlements, try The Birdoswald Trail for a full day’s exploration or The Housesteads Roman Trail for a half day walk. What better time to escape the crowds and immerse yourself in the historic experience of walking along the wall?
Discover the enchanting Kielder Forest, home to Kielder Water and Forest Park, where you can enjoy winter strolls and world famous stargazing on guided night time navigation walks. Experience the tranquillity of Northumberland’s countryside, complete with rugged moorland, historic castles, and world famous Northumberland starry night skies from the comfort of your campervan. With wreath making workshops, cosy pubs and cafes, and guided festive walks on Boxing Day and New Years Day, you won’t be short on things to do in this natural wonderland.
Edinburgh’s city centre is arguably one of the most festive, charming and fairy tale locations for Christmas. Christmas events run across the city throughout December and into January. There’s ice skating and Christmas markets and Edinburgh Castle is transformed into a Castle of Light for the annual magic and mystery spectacular. Why not take the whole family for a ride on The Polar Express in an immersive festive theatre experience. If you’re staying for a Scottish Hogmanay ‘New Year’, be sure to check out the Castle fireworks display, the Hogmanay Torchlight Parade or one of the many fun-filled events for New Year revels.
Spend an enchanted Christmas and Hogmanay at Loch Lomond, where you can drive through the majestic scenery to the serene loch for a festive break with a stunning winter backdrop. There are Hogmanay Festivities at local pubs and hotels for those looking for a spirited end to 2023, or relaxing campsites and lakeside hideaways away from the crowds for a more subdued, relaxed New Years, and for the bravehearts among us, why not top it all off with a frigid New Years Day swim in Loch Lomond itself?
Christmas Markets to Visit En-Route
A selection of the very best festive and Christmas markets in the North of the UK. Feast your eyes on these charming Christmas markets, filled with homemade gifts, tasty treats, live music, Christmas carols and much, much more.
When – November 16th – December 22nd
Where – Parliament Street and St Sampson’s Square, York
Times – 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM (Monday – Sunday)
When – December 1st – December 17th
Where – Cambridge Street and Market Place in Harrogate town centre
Times – Mondays – Saturdays: 10am – 7pm, Sundays: 11am – 4:00pm
When – December 1st – December 17th
Where – Carlisle City Centre
Times – Monday to Wednesday: 10am-6pm, Thursday: 10am-8pm, Friday and Saturday: 10am-6pm (bar closes at 8pm), Sunday: 10am-5pm (bar closes at 7pm)
When – 25 November – 22 December
Where – Princes St, Edinburgh EH2 2HG
Times – 10:00 – 18:00 (17:00 Sundays)
Location: 23 North Ln, York YO32 9SU
A beautiful, picturesque campsite just three miles from York’s historic centre. Pet friendly and family run, this is the place for kids and pets alike to enjoy. This peaceful site has great facilities and even a fishing lake for budding anglers.
Disabled Facilities | Fishing | Open Year Round | Toilets | W/C Disposal | Drinking Water | Family Friendly | Showers | Pet Friendly | Electric Hook-ups
Location: Austwick Settle, North Yorkshire LA2 8AE
A peaceful, picturesque, family-run campsite in the Yorkshire Dales. This little slice of heaven can be your winter haven. A great base for the Yorkshire Three Peaks and exploration of the local area.
Internet Access | Open Year Round | Shop | Toilets | W/C Disposal |Showers | Water Hook-ups | Pet Friendly | Electric Hook-ups | Family Friendly
Location: Wharfe Camp, Dowber House, Kettlewell, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 5HX
The perfect spot for peace and quiet, this adults only camping spot in the Yorkshire Dales is small but tranquil. With an abundance of hiking trails and the village of Kettlewell’s shops and pubs in walking distance, you can explore the wilds of the Yorkshire moors at your own pace.
Adults only | Shop | Toilets | Showers | Electric Hook-ups | Drinking Water
Location: Great Langdale, Ambleside, Cumbria, UK, LA22 9JU
With dramatic views across the Langdale Pikes, this campsite is a stunning and secluded spot. With a wide selection of pitches available it’s perfect for getting away from the crowds on your winter break.
Laundry | Open Year Round | Shop | Toilets | W/C Disposal | Drinking Water | Family Friendly | Showers | Pet Friendly | Electric Hook-ups | Family Friendly | Kids Playground
Location: Carterway Heads, Shotley Bridge, Consett DH8 9LX
A campsite on the cusp of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that is the North Pennines. This campsite is an ideal spot for exploration of the rugged beauty of this whole national park. With great facilities and shops nearby you’ll have everything you need for a Christmas trip!
Camp fires Allowed | Communal BBQs | Showers | Toilets | Pet Friendly | Electric Hook-Ups | Family Friendly
Location: Shield Hill, Haltwhistle NE49 9NW
A five-star campsite just one mile from Hadrian’s Wall. This campsite has it all, from hot tubs for wintry evenings, to play areas and even a petting zoo for kids big and small! Pet and family friendly, all are welcome in this beautiful campsite.
Disabled Facilities | Internet Access | Laundry | Open Year Round | Shop | Toilets | W/C Disposal | Drinking Water | Family Friendly | Showers | Water Hook-ups | Pet Friendly | Communal BBQ | Electric Hook-ups | Camp Fires Allowed | Hot Tub | Kids Playground
Location: Charlton, Bellingham, Northumberland, NE48 1PE
Close to Northumberland National Park and a short drive to Kielder Forest Park, this fantastic spot is more than just a campsite. Remote and spacious, this is a perfect getaway location, with a bar and restaurant on site.
Showers | Toilets | Electric Hook-ups | Open Year Round | Family Friendly | Bar | Restaurant | Pet Friendly | Internet Access | Laundry Facilities
Location: 38 Mortonhall Gate, Frogston Road East, Edinburgh, EH16 6TJ
The closest campsite to the city centre, this is a great location for exploring the festive season in Edinburgh. Central, but still feeling like you’re in the countryside, this site has it all. With amazing facilities, you won’t be short on anything for your festive road-trip.
Disabled Facilities | Internet Access | Laundry | Open Year Round | Shop | Toilets | W/C Disposal | Cafe/Restaurant | Family Friendly | Showers | Pet Friendly | Electric Hook-Ups
Location: Tyndrum, Crianlarich, Perthshire, Scotland
This picturesque site is a stunning location in the Scottish Highlands and perfect for a festive getaway in a campervan. Surrounded by lush forests and a short drive to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, you’ll be perfectly situated for adventures and exploration.
Bike Hire | Disabled Facilities | Fishing | Internet Access | Laundry Facilities | Open Year Round | Shop | Toilets | W/C Disposal | Cafe/Restaurant | Family Friendly | Showers | Pet friendly | Electric Hook-ups | Camp Fires Allowed | Glamping Available
Whether you’re a regular campervan explorer seeking luxury or a complete newbie who doesn’t want to part with their home comforts, Django is perfect for you! Her indoor heated bathroom allows you to freshen up with ease after a blissfully tiring hike and plenty of storage for you to tidy away your outdoorsy gear and glad rags for those special dinner dates under the stars. And at the end of the evening you can look forward to collapsing in Django’s large double bed, fitted with extended sleeping pods for all the tall campers out there.
Located in Knaresborough, adventure is right on your doorstep with this all-electric campervan. You could explore the quaint little towns in the Dales with your family, swim wildly in the sea with that special someone or ride the action-packed cycle routes along the Moors (Indie even has a bike rack available as an extra.)
Located in Wakefield, Henry is ideally situated to explore the glorious Yorkshire Dales and Peak District, where every route is a scenic one and his many windows mean you will never miss out on an epic view. Converted in lockdown, Henry was designed with freedom, fun and flexibility in mind. Wake up in the morning in his cosy double bed, open up the rear doors and sip your coffee whilst basking in the fresh countryside air.
Located in Appleby-in-Westmoreland, Cumbria, this droolworthy 3 berth family camper is perfectly situated for all UK adventures. Thoughtfully and lovingly converted with comfort in mind, Skycamper has been equipped with all the benefits you’d want for an epic family holiday on the road, along with all the luxuries you’d desire from home. It’s wooden panelling and homely soft furnishings will trick you into thinking you’re camped up in your very own lodge in the mountains.
Xanthos is a fabulously colourful, quirky campervan for hire on the edge of the Lake District. He certainly packs a punch with beautiful bespoke birch ply storage at the side of, and underneath the pull-out double bed and in the super functional kitchen. The clever design of the pull-out bed means that there is a larger day to day living space to chill out in. Xanthos is super cosy with his dimmable warm lighting, blackout curtains and quality custom soft furnishings.
Located in the picturesque Lakeland village of Staveley, 10 minutes from Kendal. This off-grid romantic chateau on wheels is the ideal choice for you and that special someone. Bright and airy but equipped with heating, it’s perfect for a winter road-trip.
Ready for stealth off-grid adventures, this 3 berth pet-friendly campervan is located in the glorious Lake District neighbouring the Yorkshire Dales and Scotland. Named after its fruity friend, Bramble has been kitted out with some sweet decor and functional features including internal hammock hooks providing you with an alternative place to relax and unwind.
Nestled in the heart of Scotland, Luss is all geared up for wild adventures. Luss has been crafted with all types of adventures in mind, couples looking to explore in the great outdoors, a few friends looking to discover Scotland in style and small families wanting to take their holidays to new heights. Stylish and practical, Luss sleeps two in a fixed bed towards the rear and the bench-style seating can be easily transformed into an additional berth.
You won’t find a more stylish and modern campervan than Cat Bells, this stunningly designed long wheelbase van has plenty of space for up to 3 people to take a voyage into adventure.
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