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Help with driving route to Bath

Idaho Falls, Idaho
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Help with driving route to Bath

We will be driving from Newchapel, Surrey, just east of Gatwick airport and will be leaving about 7:30-8:00 am on a Wednesday. I have checked ViaMichelin road map for routes; one takes the M25-M3-A322-M4 to Bath, 2 hr 17 min. The other via Stonehenge, M25-M3-A303 to Bath, 2 hr. 27 min. I have heard horror stories regarding the M25, though. We would like to get to Bath as early as possible as we will only have Wednesday to visit (we will spend the night, so maybe a little time the next morning) Stonehenge is not a "must see" for us, but we don't want to be stuck on a freeway for hours if we can take back country roads that will get us there in about the same amount of time. Any suggestions on which route? This is a first time trip to UK and being from Idaho, are not used to heavy traffic!

Thank you in advance for any help!

Stanley, Falkland...
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1. Re: Help with driving route to Bath

Travelling on a weekday, then you will be hitting about the busiest part of the M25 at the busiest time of day.

It shouldn't be a horror, but it will be 'steady'. Personally, I'd wait till after 9am, and let the commuters get where they are going.

The back roads will be busy too. South-east England is congested. Average speed will not be much more than 40mph, if that. However, they will be a lot prettier.

Try viamichelin again, select 'options' and click on 'sightseeing'route. This will avoid the motorways and take you along the A25, which is lined (between Dorking and Guildford) with loads of very pretty villages.

One very very very pretty and historic village worth stopping at is Lacock, not far from Bath.

Upminster, United...
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2. Re: Help with driving route to Bath

If you want to avoid motorways

A23 - A272 (past Winchester) - A303 (Stonehenge) - A36

140 miles compared to 130 miles M23 - M25 - M3 - A303 - A36

The last 40 miles is the same for both routes. The difference between the first part (to Stonehenge) will take about 1:40 by motorway, even on a bad day and at least 2:30 by "back" roads.

As for M25 horror stories, it is rare to be stationary. They are just us Brits moaning because we can only do 30 mph when we would rather be doing 80.

UK
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3. Re: Help with driving route to Bath

The M25 including the bit you'll be on, will be stop start at that time. I think you'll just have to put up with it and then I'd go via Stonehenge so you can see it, plus its a prettier route.

The first, A322 route, you will encounter a lot of commuter traffic and built up areas (it passes right by where I live so I am speaking from experience, you will hit congestion at multiple places), so I think it will be slower anyway, and even if its not, the second route gives you more countryside AND Stonehenge.

No contest as far as I am concerned.

Idaho Falls, Idaho
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4. Re: Help with driving route to Bath

Thanks so much, peterscot, Mr. Cellphane and joeintheuk for your help. Decisions, decisions, but it sounds like the country roads will be worth the extra time. Is the ViaMichelin map close to being accurate with the time allowance? Meaning, is it reasonable to reach Bath by one of these back routes within about 3 1/2 hours? (Dorking, Guildford, Basington, Newbury... or A23-A272 (Winchester)-A303-A36)

And we will plan to see Lacock after we leave Bath-it looks beautiful! Thanks!

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5. Re: Help with driving route to Bath

"Is the ViaMichelin map close to being accurate with the time allowance?"

Its all extremely dependent upon time of day and at this time you will hit some traffic. The more towns you pass through the slower obviously. I hope you have or will be hiring a sat nav? Even if not to follow a route, it will help confirm you are on route, and give you a lot more flexibility in detours, either deliberately or not, and avoid huge arguments with the 'navigator' :-) Don't underestimate how poorly signposted many of our roads are.

FWIW, I have just set my sat nav to plan this route, completely avoiding motorways, and it says 3.5 hours (140miles). But you'll be going partly on motorways (faster) but at rush hour (slower) so one will probably cancel the other out so that seems like a reasonable estimate.

Idaho Falls, Idaho
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6. Re: Help with driving route to Bath

joeintheuk - I appreciate your help with this and know we will enjoy our travels in the UK! 8-)

Budapest, Hungary
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7. Re: Help with driving route to Bath

Have you thought of taking the train to Bath from Gatwick and hiring a car from Bath ?

Idaho Falls, Idaho
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8. Re: Help with driving route to Bath

RomanCitizen - Yes, but we are coming in on the Eurostar on Tuesday, getting off in Ashford where we are renting a car. We wanted to see several of the estates/castles in the Kent area before going to Bath and are also visiting the LDS (Mormon)temple in Newchapel, which is why we will be leaving Wed. morning from Newchapel to go to Bath. (will be spending Tuesday night in Newchapel) I would prefer to take a train, but my research showed it would be a bit difficult getting around the Kent area with public transportation for the day and then on to Newchapel, so we decided just to drive.

Thanks for your inquiry and if you have any other driving suggestions, all are welcomed!

berkshire, england
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9. Re: Help with driving route to Bath

Personally I would go with Joe's plan of A25 rather than head down to the A272. Most of the route proposed via A272 is via country roads, and there is a danger of losing an inordinate amount of time stuck behind tractors, sat at lights in town centres etc.

I would A25 > Guildford, but would pick up A3, A31 - Aldershot - A287 back to M3 then follow the A303 route. That gives a good mixture of country roads and dual carriageways. However, I don't think you'd save a lot of time by missing the M25. Yes, it will be busy, but it is usually moving.

If you could adjust your timings by an hour either way you should have no major problems with traffic (ie clear the M25 by 7.15, or don't get on it until about 9.00)

10. Re: Help with driving route to Bath

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