Where: North West England. A686
How Long: Approx 35 miles
Added: 16 September 2011
Named as ‘One of the Greatest Drives in Britain’ by the AA, The A686, which runs from Penrith, through Alston (across the ‘roof’ of England) and down onto the A69 just after Haydon Bridge, is very popular particularly in the summer with bikers, and is great fun to drive.
You start from the roundabout linking the A6 and A66 on the outskirts of Penrith close to M6 Junction 40. From here you drive through a fairly flat forest, to Langwathby, crossing an unattractive ‘temporary’ single track, metal frame bridge that has been in place for 30+ years. It was supposed to be replaced for the Millennium, but never happened.
Through the pretty villages of Langwathby and Melmerby. From there the road climbs to Hartside Summit, all 1904ft of it! There is a cafe is on the summit which provides a good stopping place.
From there down into Alston, the highest Market Town in England, which has a nice Market Place, and a rather steep cobbled road, which, can be trecharous in winter.
From here, heading out of Alston, you can see why it is one of the greatest drives as the road commands some spectacular views. Driving down some very steep gradients with some interesting old signs and milestones until the road reaches the A69 at a very poor junction just east of Haydon Bridge.