Monthly Archives: June 2015

Summer Drives: What the UK Can Offer You

Now we’re entering the summer months we get to enjoy warmer weather and sunshine. More to the point though, it’s the perfect time for going for a drive and enjoying the sights and sounds on offer on our shores. The UK has a wealth of great routes to take which are made all the better by the summer weather; particularly if you have a convertible. So to give you some ideas, here are a few of the best from the British Isles.

The North – The A59, North Yorkshire

The best section of this road takes you from the very west of North Yorkshire through to the city of York in the heart of the county. The already impressive North Yorkshire Moors are accentuated by blooming summer flowers and the mixture of winding country and Roman roads take you through some quaint towns and villages along the way. Harrogate and Knaresborough are well worth a visit.

The South – The A272, West Sussex

The A272 is another stunning summer drive in the country which crosses the beautiful South Downs National Park. There’s also a wealth of stops along the way including some quintessentially English towns like Petersfield and Midhurst. Both of which are home to lots of historical sites and welcoming local attractions.

The East – The B1153, Norfolk

A great option for car lovers, this road takes you through the Norfolk broads and passes the HQ of motoring company Lotus on the way. It’s the road itself which really makes this a top trip as it’s basically one long picturesque country view, complete with easy corners and straights. Be aware though that as a B road, you’re likely to encounter farm traffic.

The West – The Black Mountain Pass, Wales

This road is considered to be one of the best in Wales and as its name suggests it passes over the Black Mountain range of the Brecon Beacons. As you would expect there are some breath-taking views, particularly from the higher altitudes; the road’s peak point being 1,617 feet.

So providing your car is in full working order and you’re covered for any eventualities, all you need to do is choose a route and enjoy a drive in the beautiful English summertime.

Biodiesel: The Future of Fuel?

In 2008 the UK Government introduced ‘The Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO)’ which is ‘intended to deliver reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from fuel used for transport purposes by encouraging the supply of renewable fuels’. Such reductions apply to all road vehicles and non-road mobile machinery and are in place to help ensure the country meets EU targets including the ‘Renewable Energy Directive’.

Now in the seventh year of its application, recent studies have shown that biodiesel accounts for half of the ‘1,356 million litres’ of renewable fuels that have been supplied so far. This would suggest that biodiesel could be a viable option to meet future demand. So what exactly is biodiesel and how is it used in the UK?

Biodiesel Explained

In a nutshell, biodiesel is fuel made from converting substances including crops, vegetable oil, cooking oil and animal fats into a form of diesel. This is done through a process called ‘transesterification’ where other chemicals are added to make the biodiesel appropriate for use in vehicles. You can find out more about the scientific methods here.

How does it Help Meet Emissions Targets?

While you still get some emissions from burning biodiesel, these are far lower than typical fossil fuels. Equally, biodiesel is considered ‘carbon-neutral’ rather than carbon free because the C02 it creates is balanced out by the amount absorbed by the crops used to create it. Also it is far less harmful than normal diesel and biodegrades much faster.

How Easy is it to Find?

Biodiesel is more readily available than you might think. There are already several established biodiesel producers in the UK and demand is continuing to grow. In this article for Biodiesel Magazine for instance, it shows how one firm, Greenergy, recently expanded their operations to ‘meet more of its obligations domestically’. There’s also a number of biodiesel filling stations nationwide, details of which can be found here.

Options for your Vehicle

Standard diesel engines built after 1993 can use biodiesel ‘without negative impacts to operating performance’ according to Biodiesel.com. The site’s FAQ also details some of the minor modifications that can be made to older vehicles and with a little research you can also find cars manufactured especially for biodiesel use.

While they might be more beneficial for the environment, remember alternative fuel-powered vehicles aren’t indestructible. So if you are considering investing in converting, or purchasing one specifically for biodiesel, then be sure you also have the right insurance and breakdown cover in place as well, just in case.

Advice for Safe Driving on Country Roads

If you’re planning on making the most of the Great British countryside, you first face the task of driving to your chosen destination. Some of the most beautiful landscapes in the UK such as the Lake District and the Yorkshire Moors are also some of the most remote. This means that in order to reach them, you might need to tackle some tricky country roads.

To ensure you get to enjoy the idyllic outdoors, what follows is some useful advice specifically for driving on country roads and lanes.

Research the Roads

First of all, plan your route but do some research into what the roads are like on it. Remember that some of these can be very old and in some cases not as well-maintained as urban and city roads. Equally, on the most part they will be single lane and can feature very sharp bends and steep inclines that wind through the fields and hillsides. What’s more there may be potholes or loose sections of track which can damage your vehicle if you don’t drive over them appropriately.

Drive with more Caution

With the above then comes the recommendation that you simply drive with more caution. While the National Speed Limits will apply, this doesn’t mean you can do a flat 60mph. Slow down and give yourself more time to break to handle the bends, surfaces and hills. For added security you should also have breakdown cover in place, should you encounter any issues.

Be Careful of Wildlife

Another factor to consider is the wildlife that might find its way onto the roads. There will be road signs to indicate if there might be animals or livestock in the area, but there’s the risk smaller creatures may run out in front of you. Again, driving more cautiously helps but try your best not to swerve too drastically as this poses a danger to other cars.

Expect Slow Moving Vehicles

There can also be a number of slow moving vehicles on country roads. Farm traffic (tractors and combine harvesters) and caravans are common examples you might encounter. Whatever the situation though, be patient and don’t perform any dangerous overtaking manoeuvres.

Look at the Weather Forecast

This is something you should check before any car journey but the weather on higher country roadways in particular can be extreme. When you combine these conditions with the above factors, the sensible option is to travel when the weather is clear and dry.

So with all of this advice in mind, you can get ready to hit the roads and safely travel to your beautiful, scenic UK destination.