Take a copy of the Michelin Eating Out in Pubs Guide, one long, bank holiday weekend, and the desire to combine calories with cornering. Where would you go? And what would you drive? Here are the Goodwood Road & Racing team’s humble suggestions…
If the pubs on this list offer the finest in food, comfort and atmosphere, then the wheels taking you there must surely offer the opposite. Nothing whispers relaxing, cross-country drive less than an Ariel Atom, especially in 3.5 guise (as tested by GRR wheelman Anthony Reid), so it offers the perfect counter-point to the cosy establishments we’ll be visiting.
But where exactly are they? With no windows or roof on the Atom, it’s the perfect way to enjoy a beautiful county I haven’t visited since gaining a driving licence: Cumbria.
Let’s start at the Drunken Duck Inn, Ambleside, in the thick of Lake District territory. It’s a quick breakfast before hitting the B5286 – a road which, from the looks of Google Maps, promises to be outstanding. The Punch Bowl Inn, just 18 miles away in Crosthwaite is the destination, and from there it’s a longer blast up the A592 to the George and Dragon in Clifton. Scrummy!
I’d be heading to the Moody Cow in Upton Bishop, Herefordshire, purely because I was drawn to the name (…which was probably in their thinking when they came up with it, so it worked on me at least). It’s a convenient coincidence that Herefordshire is well on the way to some great driving roads in Wales. The best road trips should always take you to new places, and I’ve explored little of South Wales – so that’s another tick for me.
A prod around the internet shows up the B4520 from Brecon to Builth Wells as a focal point for the drive – it looks like it has a great mix of wide open, well-sighted sweeping roads and more technically challenging, bumpy and undulating switchbacks. My car of choice would be one that’s designed for the gradients and cambers of the latter, and quick enough to be interesting on the former: a Lotus Elise in its purest S1 form with a modest 118bhp.
First of all, my pub of choice would need to be in Scotland. There are a few good reasons for this: The roads there are some of the best in the world, likewise the scenery and it is far enough away from Goodwood for me to really get to grips with my choice of vehicle before settling down for a gut-full of splendid game pie, ale and perhaps a wee dram of single malt. So, I’d go for the Taynuilt pub in…erm…Taynuilt, Argyll and Bute.
For this trip I’d have to forego the screaming rpms and twitching elbows of my colleagues’ choices and opt for a Bristol 411 Mk3. Few cars divide petrolhead opinion as the Bristol. Some consider them to be quite challenging visually and needlessly old fashioned, but a 411 is the epitome to me of a – cliché alert – gentleman’s express. Say what you will about the styling (and many do…), but what’s undeniable is the standard of engineering Bristol was capable of. Also, despite its size and power it isn’t what I’d call a ‘flash’ car and they’re surprisingly engaging when you get to an inspiring section of blacktop. If I may be permitted to quote LJK Setright who was led to subvert an old Rolls-Royce advertising slogan (at 60mph you can hear the ticking of the clock) and assert that ‘at a hundred mph in the Bristol you can hear a Rolls-Royce.’