While heavy rain made driving conditions hazardous on Friday, the Environment Agency and AA urged drivers to be "flood-aware" as a survey showed that, despite the wettest winter on record, more than two-thirds of men and half of women would still risk driving through flood water.
Ten scary British drives
M25 reopens after giant pothole caused traffic chaos
You may have to pay a toll of £1.50 to cross, but it's worth it for the thrill of driving the 2km of the world’s sixth-longest suspension bridge. The dual carriageway is suspended some 30 metres above the estuary by cables made of 71,000km of wire, and in high winds it can sway sidewards up to 3m. Even so, over six million vehicles cross in perfect safety each year, and the trip does afford stunning views. (Just don’t forget to keep your eyes on the road too.)
There's a notorious stretch of road straddling Sussex Several where several drivers say they have encountered a mysterious girl in white. Each time, the ghostly figure steps in front of the car, giving the motorist the impression he has run her over, only to then disappear into thin air. On one occasion, a panic-stricken driver even covered the girl's body in a blanket before fetching the police. On his return, she'd vanished, leaving the blanket behind. Many believe the apparition is a woman named Judith Langham, who was killed in an accident on the road on her wedding day in 1965, while still wearing her white dress.
This road in the west of Scotland has the greatest ascent of any in the Britain, rising from sea level at Applecross to a height of 626m within the space of about five miles, with gradients of around 20 per cent. The route was originally used by cattle drovers, and was surfaced only in gravel until the 1950s. A sign at the bottom warns learner drivers not to try their luck, and the tight hairpins and narrow single-track sections are slightly hair-raising even for experienced motorists.
Junction 6 on the M6 at Gravelly Hill, Birmingham, was likened to a plate of spaghetti from the moment it was opened in 1972. Just the sight of the complex of intertwined carriageways is enough to make your palms sweat on the steering wheel. The interchange as a whole covers some 30 acres and serves 18 routes over five different levels (supported by 559 concrete columns). Given the immense cost (not to mention the reputation), it's remarkable that numerous other spaghetti junctions have since been built across the world, from Canada to South Africa to Australia.
Steep climbs, followed by twists, dips and a 180 degree hairpin characterise this spectacular route through the Brecon Beacons National Park. The road connects Llandovery with Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, reaching a height of 493m at Foel Fawr and providing stunning views along the way. It’s popular with wannabe rally drivers at weekends, so best to pick a quiet weekday if possible. Additional hazards to watch out for are the 50-foot drops below some of the more severe bends, mobile speed cameras (cunningly hidden), and stray sheep with a deathwish.
The A537 between Macclesfield and Buxton is officially the most dangerous individual road in Britain, based on the number of serious collisions. Known as the Cat and Fiddle, it has all the ingredients for driving disaster: punishing bends, steep drops from the highway, and dry-stone walls or sheer rock face for almost all of its length. Most crashes on this 50-mph single carriageway happen at weekends during the summer in dry, daylight conditions – a popular time for tourists, whose eyes are presumably fixed more on the scenery of the Peak District National Park than on the tarmac in front of them.
Driving on Scotland's busiest motorway through central Glasgow (between junctions 13 and 21) presents numerous white-knuckle challenges. The 10-lane Kingston Bridge funnels motorway traffic alongside local traffic (with no hard shoulders). As you approach the bridge from the east, the M73 and M80 join the M8 and five lanes are merged into two within the space of two miles; unsurprisingly, this section is often gridlocked. At junction 17, the slip road from Glasgow’s Great Western Road forces motorists to feed into the fast lane of the M8's eastbound carriageway. Worse still, many of the signs along the route are confusing or last-minute. When you've finished you may need some tranquilizers.
The mere name of a road can sometimes be enough to fill you with dread, and perhaps Gallows Hill in Lancaster is the most sinister of all. The name reminds visitors today that this was place of execution of a group of 12 witches – the so-called Pendle Witches – who were condemned to death in 1612 for murdering ten people by witchcraft. Other scary road names in Britain include Ghost House Lane (Beeston, Nottinghamshire), Headless Cross Drive (Redditch), Broomstick Lane (Botley), Black Cat Drive (Northampton) and Ducking Stool Court (Romford).
Britain’s steepest road is a minor road between Eskdale and the Duddon Valley in the Lake District, which climbs to a height of 393m at the top. Along the way are a series of brutal switchbacks, which test the mettle of even the most experienced drivers. Heavier vehicles are warned against using the pass, especially as the tarmac has worn smooth in places. Moreover, the pass can be closed for periods during the winter months when ice makes the hairpin bends more treacherous still.
During World War II, the British army used this terrain for tank training, and soldiers used to drive ammunition trucks full of high explosives over the pass. You might want to spare a thought for those plucky fellows as you lurch towards the top, scraping your gears as you go.
This madcap junction features five clockwise mini-roundabouts arranged around a sixth central, anti-clockwise roundabout. No wonder it freaks out so many motorists – you're not sure which way to turn. While pretty much the same configuration has been in place since it was built in 1972, its safety record has proved surprisingly good ... though that's probably because traffic moves too slowly to do any real damage in the event of collision. Despite being regularly voted one of Britain's worst junctions, the Magic Roundabout has since been reproduced in similar form in Colchester and Hemel Hempstead.