Blog : What are you going to do when the lockdown is lifted?

The matter of how close we are to the end of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is clearly still open to debate right now. However, one thing we can all agree on is that we’re all hopefully looking forwards to the end of the social and travel restrictions, and being able to do some of the things that we took for granted before 23 March 2020.

At the moment, we’re in the slightly ambiguous no-man’s land between ‘lockdown’ and ‘freedom’, with a set of rules loosely applied and lots of people interpreting what going out for exercise actually means. So, for now, we’re not quite in that area of being able to do what we want when we want, and that’s leading to frustration. I’m minded to play safe and still limit my travel to more essential journeys – the safety of everyone comes first, clearly. But my eyesight’s good, so there’s no need to head out to Barnard Castle at the moment. Ahem…

Anyway, for many of us petrolheads, getting out in our cars for pleasure is a luxury that we’ve gone without for too long, and I’m sure there are many of us who are absolutely itching to get out again as soon as we can. The simple pleasure of getting in and taking your car for a drive is one that you can’t beat. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to take my cars to many interesting and varied places over the years – mainly in Europe (above), but increasingly in the UK – and, over the past few days and weeks, the pang of being able to go back for some good old-fashioned road trips is getting increasingly strong.

Audi 80 carburettor

I know I’ve been getting my current smoker, a 1982 Audi 80 CL into some kind of shape for classic events or pleasure drives which I hope we can go on later this year. That’s meant servicing the old girl with some fresh oil, filters and a tweak or two of its Weber carburettor (above). This has been surprisingly therapeutic as the lifting of restrictions hove closer into view putting right all those nagging little issues – and there are many…

I’ve seen some amazing jobs completed over the past few weeks by enthusiasts on their cars – and never have I seen so many clean and polished cars! What have you done to your cars during the restrictions?

Then there’s going places. I’ve really missed getting out and driving for the sheer pleasure of it. The good news is that you don’t have to go far, and certainly don’t need to go abroad, to enjoy some amazing roads once lockdown ends.

The excitement of getting on a Ferry at Dover and heading for France or driving north as far as you can is hard to beat – but non-essential overseas travel is still a little way away yet. Luckily, you don’t even need to travel to enjoy your car. A couple of years back, I got up at 3.30am just to drive my Citroën GS through the Lake District at sunrise on the longest day of the year (above, image taken at 4.23am) – it was one of the nicest drives I’d enjoyed in many a year. Empty roads, birds singing and no particular agenda… Simple pleasures – and lovely stuff. Who says road trips need to be long and expensive?

However, heading north is pretty much unbeatable. A trip to Scotland last year in a Peugeot 508 is up there as one of the best I’ve been on – and this from a from a die-hard fan of the Alps. Getting there is pretty special, and magical once you’ve arrived. I took the B7076 and B7078 through the Borders (below), and headed for Edinburgh and beyond. If you’re wondering why I’d take a B-road and not the motorway, then I guess you shouldn’t be reading this blog. This one is special, though, mainly because these B-roads are formed of the old A74, which was replaced by a new motorway from the 1990s to 2010s. What’s left is a fantastic, open, sweeping B-road that only the locals (and some bikers) use – try it the next time you’re there.

A trip North and you get views like this

North of Perth, then took one of General Wade’s Old Military Roads (below) through the Grampian mountains. If you’ve ever found yourself heading to Inverness and stuck on the incessantly speed camera-controlled A9, you’ll have found the experience utterly depressing (although, as it’s been pointed out to me, here it was probably a necessary evil, given the road’s terrible safety record), so I would highly recommend these roads as a way of avoiding the grind of the A9 while experiencing some of the most amazing scenery known to man.

Beyond Inverness, there’s little but beautiful rolling scenery as Caithness and the North Coast 500 beyond that. You’re going to have to stop over, and that involves hotels and expense, but there’s nothing stopping you packing a tent and camping. Trust me, there are plenty of places you can camp and not be disturbed. I’m already getting excited at the prospect of doing something like this as soon as I can.

So, if you’re thinking of doing something like this once restrictions are lifted and it’s safe to do so, where are you thinking of going, or where would you recommend AROnline‘s readers should take their cars for a drive? Or what other things are you looking forward to doing after lockdown? I’d love to hear what you’re going to be driving and what your thoughts are, as well as hints and tips…

Peugeot 508 on the Old military road

Oh, and you don’t need a swanky modern car as Alexander Boucke’s trip from Land’s End to John O’Groats in his lovely Vanden Plas Princess 1300 (below) clearly demonstrates…

Vanden Plas !300 (ADO16) in Scotland

Keith Adams

10 Comments

  1. Last Monday was the Memorial Day holiday in the USA. I did a 3 1/2 hour drive of about 150 miles in my 2014 Ford Focus from my suburban NJ home into nearby NY State on highways and fun to drive country roads, some I can’t recall ever being on before and small towns. I had lunch in my car from a Burger King drive up window, I didn’t get out of my car until I got home. This was shorter than my usual holiday weekend 1-day drives which are closer to 250 miles but still satisfied my bug to get out of the house, away from my computer and being remained of the pandemic.That there were fewer people on the road helped too, especially in the normally congested areas of some of my route.
    I have been very fortunate to do a lot of driving in the UK including some of the areas the author note in this article as well as scenic areas of the USA, Ireland, Australia and NZ. I still have that need to escape into a car and just enjoy the ride for my sanity and enjoyment.

  2. As the lockdown for the Vulnerable, which i am in has been extended to at least the end of June, its looking like July at the earliest – but once it is, DAY ONE, will be getting the Bentley out of storage and taking him for a nice drive, a lovely Pic-Nic in an area that no one really goes to, more driving around villages and towns to enjoy the weather – which will hopefully be good, and then home, day two, will be the same but in the Mustang, and then after that the 2 LR cars will get there turn…..

    I am so bored i cant wait.

  3. I reckon next year, when hopefully all of this is behind us and things get back to normal, will see a massive surge in people driving long distances, doing things they couldn’t do this year and hopefully a huge boom for British tourist areas as people are still wary of going abroad.

  4. Well I did a short run from house to Burnham on crouch then back a long way round the country lanes the first weekend we was allowed to travel to exercise. It was the first time in the car for a few months, and the roads were loverly a bit like a Sunday afternoon when I was a kid. Shame that bikers had decided to all turn up, park their bikes in the high street and stand around looking at them! Thankfully most people were sensible and kept their distance, but with restrictions getting loser you can imagine that we may be back in lock down sooner as people let their guard slip.

    • I had a ride from Whitehaven to Keswick and back on the A66 three weeks ago and it was like going back to the seventies, when the new A66 was opened, with less than half the number of vehicles on the road and being able to keep a steady, decent speed. Also being able to overtake a tractor was brilliant as normally you can never get past and they cause massive congestion.

  5. Here in North Norfolk the lockdown ended a month ago, the Government just didn’t tell us.
    Sunny weather coincided with the school half term holidays, even if there is not much school, and the public flocked to the beaches en masse, regardless. The lockdown was broken here without the encouragement of various self centred government advisors. With a large elderly population here we need all of God’s help as Covid 19 has not peaked here.

    • Oh Southend just down the road has been the same with tons of people down the front – even the BBC kept showing pics with locals blaming londoners. But as my wife said going to and from work, there was not huge amounts of traffic so I think there was a lot of locals or they came down on the train

      • I’ve been using the car once a week for essential shopping, to keep the battery happy more than anything. Looking forward to running over to see mother on the Wirral, even if we have to stay in the garden.

  6. I’ve managed to do the same amount of driving as normal while food shopping, & occasionally getting things for my Sister in law & parents.

    When I can I’ll be hopefully seeing my Brother & Sister’s family, along with friends.

  7. Talking of road trips I had to drive from home (near Cirencester) to Liverpool on business a couple of years ago. I’d arranged with the hotel I would be very late arriving and then left at 8 in the evening and drove all the way there on ‘B’ roads. It was a cold but beautiful night but with heater full on in the V6 Alfa 916 Spider (roof down of course) it was a night to remember!
    Right now we are enjoying a permitted trip to the ancient Ridgeway (only 20 minutes from home) in the MG or the Wolseley to walk the dog. Of course being older cars they find their way to completely isolated spots where as all the modern stuff can only follow ‘car park’ signs. And then of course, because they think the police won’t bother with them in the current situation, we have to step aside to let a couple in a Puegoet 206 drive down it – illegal for the last 30 years or so. Bless ’em!

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