On a quest to find the country's most glorious roads, Annunciata Elwes is wowed by The Atlantic Highway.
Few roads pass through the misty, mythical past in quite the same way as the Atlantic Highway, a salty stretch of the A39 that trims the craggy edges of Devon and Cornwall between Barnstaple and Fraddon.
With the vast, dazzling ocean ever in sight on what truly earns its spot among Britain’s most scenic drives, it takes in cliffs, beaches, coves, lighthouses, barley fields, rolling pasture, picturesque towns and wind-bashed landmarks such as Tintagel Castle, stronghold of Cornish kings, tryst for Tristan and Yseult and site of King Arthur’s conception.
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Quite a few centuries younger, Bude Castle is also en route, as is the pretty fishing village of Port Isaac, where Doc Martin was filmed.
Towards the end of the Atlantic Highway’s 70 miles, drivers can stretch their legs on the South West Coast Path as it wraps around the cliffs from just north of Newquay towards Park Head, and wonder at how the scene might have changed since the giant Bedruthan hopped across the bay using musseled-up granite stacks as stepping stones (now known as Bedruthan Steps).
The Volvo V90 Cross Country is a refreshingly different 4x4 estate–more comfortable and longer legged than its teutonic rivals, it’s