Faster Thinking

Five electric drives

Route 57 spans 2,500 miles of often dramatic British and Irish roads. Jess Shanahan recently became the first person to drive it in an electric car. Here are her highlights – and a bonus US drive 

Wicklow
1

R115 through the Wicklow Mountains, Ireland

This slice of heaven cuts through a lesser-travelled mountain range. It’s mostly a bumpy single-track road that probably favours brave cyclists more than motorists, but the views across valleys, waterfalls and moorland are breathtaking. And the downhill stretches, where you can see for miles, will bring a smile to the face of anyone with a nippy little sports car.

Car of choice: Mazda MX-5

Norfolk
2

North Norfolk Coast Road, England

If I ever need to get out of the office, this is where I go. The rolling hills give way to seaside villages and mudflats, meaning the roads and terrain are varied. It’s not the fastest drive – though there are sections where you can put your foot down – but it’s peppered with beautiful little villages and places to stop for a walk by the sea.

Car of choice: BMW i8

Hexham
3

Hexham to Alnwick via Scots’ Gap, England

I had no knowledge of this area before I started my Route 57 journey, but was blown away by the roads: long and wide, banked by rolling fields and ruins. I relished the instant torque of my electric car as I pushed it up and down the hills, speedily making my way towards Scotland.

Car of choice: Kia Soul EV

Scotland
4

A939 to Grantown on Spey, Scotland

While the A82 is the road most often applauded by petrolheads, once I discovered the A939 at the start of my drive between Aberdeen and Glasgow, I never looked back. It climbs high into the Cairngorms and calls to anyone with a hot hatch. Driving it in an electric car was fun (handily, there’s a car charger in Grantown), but I’m eager to visit with my lighter, sportier Abarth.

Car of choice: Abarth 500

Skyline-Drive
5

Skyline Drive, Virginia, USA

I drove this back in 2010 and still think about it. It’s a 105-mile stretch of road that follows the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The speed limit is just 30 mph, but that gives you a chance to look up at the turkey vultures soaring overhead and to keep your eyes peeled for black bears. Do this in a car that brings you joy at all speeds, but ideally also features the very American rumble of a V8.

Car of choice: Corvette Stingray Z51