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Best Driving route from London to Scotland?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Samuel88, 10 Jul 2019.

  1. Samuel88

    Samuel88 On Moderation

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    I need to drive to Edinburgh tomorrow, I've never driven that distance before, so am quite apprehensive. Google is telling me to go via the M1/A1 but a friend advised me to travel via the M40/M6/M74/A702. Which way is the best for a nervous driver?
     
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  3. telstarbox

    telstarbox Established Member

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    Where are you starting in London? If you're east of the centre I'd go up the A12 and M11, then at Cambridge the road will lead you onto the A1 (signed THE NORTH).
     
    Last edited: 10 Jul 2019
  4. Geezertronic

    Geezertronic Established Member

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    Your route from the M40 would take you down the M42 then M5 to pick up the M6 however I would personally avoid that like the plague at the moment because of the roadworks on the M5 so would go M42 towards the Airport/NEC then pick up the M6 North there, or even better the M6 Toll just a bit further on from there (for a price of course).

    That is if you choose that way
     
  5. cactustwirly

    cactustwirly Established Member

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    All much of a muchness really.
    Personally from London I'd take the M1/M18/A1, the M40/M6 avoids roundabouts, but is quite a long route and there could be lots of traffic.
    The A1 has lots of roundabouts at the southern end and it is quite slow.
     
  6. telstarbox

    telstarbox Established Member

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    Whichever way you go, I would keep Google Maps running as it will pick up any congestion and divert you accordingly.

    Good luck!
     
  7. Geezertronic

    Geezertronic Established Member

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    M40/M42/M5/M6 - once you start getting close to the M42 the traffic will be noticeable. If you carry on and join the M42 towards the M5 you hit the roadworks on the M5 North which are dire. If you go onto the M42 towards the Airport/NEC then you at least have a choice of sitting in traffic through Spaghetti or paying the money to go down the Toll
     
  8. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    A1 every time for me. The London end is arsey at rush hour, but so is every route at that time. Otherwise it’s quite a pleasant drive, and the change in road type for various sections means it’s a less boring drive. Nowadays there’s zero roundabouts from Huntingdon to Berwick. The section through Tyneside can be a bit hairy, but much less so than the M6 around Birmingham.

    I’d avoid M1/M6 at the now as there’s masses of roadworks at the moment - around Northampton on the M1 which goes on for many miles, and at least one set on the M6 around Coventry-Birmingham, IIRC more further north too.

    If you do choose M6 I’d definitely pay to use the toll road, it really cuts out a lot of hassle.
     
    Last edited: 10 Jul 2019
  9. thejuggler

    thejuggler Member

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    The single carriageway section of the A1 north of Berwick is a royal PITA. I try and avoid it.

    Another option is A1, A66, M74 then cross country, but it does depend where in Edinburgh are going.

    Whichever way remember its circa 400 miles. If you have never driven that far before be mindful of how long it is taking and have regular breaks. At best its about 7 hours, but can get into double figures depending on traffic.
     
  10. PeterC

    PeterC Established Member

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    I can't comment on the A1 north of Scotch Corner but otherwise I agree about it being nicer to drive. You also still have a few proper transport cafes on the route. If you like a classic rock 'n' roll soundtrack with your coffee there are also a couple of OK Diners.
     
  11. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    Personally I’ve never found the Berwick section too bad. After dual carriageway all the way from London it’s a welcome change in some ways, the only risk is being stuck behind a caravan, but it’s still quite possible to get a decent run through that section even at busy times.

    I’ve done London to Berwick in about 4 hours 15 minutes, albeit very early on a Sunday morning. In the absence of the roadworks south of Darlington (which I believe are now finally finished) a little bit more could be knocked off this. During the day it will of course be quite a bit more.

    The A1 also offers more frequent stopping opportunities than motorways. Nene Valley Railway, Piercebridge Roman Fort and Holy Island are good places to stop off and take a break, or Barnsdale and Penmanshiel tunnels if that floats the boat!
     
    Last edited: 10 Jul 2019
  12. Struner

    Struner Member

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    The A1 is of course partially dual carriageway, so you may get stuck behind a combine for a while :E
    & when you go by the A1, you can leave it at Newcastle to go by the Carter Bar. The A68 is a much grander way to enter Scotland. & I don't think there's much difference in time.
     
  13. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    As others have said, it depends whereabouts in London you are starting.

    However (and as @bramling mentioned) there are a lot of roadworks on the M1 (about 20 miles from MK to Northampton) and M6 (about 12 miles from Coventry to the M6 toll, and 18 miles from Stafford to Stoke), plus the M6 from Stafford to Knutsford is always very busy unless you are travelling very early/late or overnight. The M6 doesn’t really get easy until Preston, but from there to Gretna it’s a pleasure to drive.

    I would go A1.
     
  14. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    M1/M18/A1 although the m1 is always full of roadworks
     
  15. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    All these roadworks have made the M1/M6 route a complete pain in the arse at the moment. Recently I’ve taken to A1/A14 when heading to the north-west, although this doesn’t avoid the Coventry roadworks unfortunately. The A14 between Huntingdon and Rugby has proved surprisingly okay considering this road is quite notorious locally.

    Another pleasant route is M1 to Kegworth then A50 through Uttoxeter to Stoke, then join the M6 there. The M6 through Warrington is always bad, presumably as the Latchford viaduct is a bottleneck.

    I would *always* go A1 by default unless going to north wales or somewhere in the north-west south of Penrith.
     
  16. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    The road out of Newcastle is the A696.
    The A68 actually leaves the A1 not far north of Scotch Corner, is only a few minutes slower than the A696, and a rather more interesting drive than the A1M. And cuts out the congested and narrow bit from the Angel of the North to Scotswood Bridge as well.
     
  17. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    Although I’ve taken all of the routes mentioned from London to Scotland, reading this thread reminds me of the choices of route between Exeter and London:
    M5/M4 - efficient, all motorway, and soulless.
    A30/A303/M3 - More direct, more roundabouts, more to think about, way way more interesting and romantic somehow, Stonehenge, scenery, exciting.
    The Old London Road.
    Just like the A1... I’d probably do the A1 because it’s an interesting route and it’s a bit more interesting.
     
  18. GusB

    GusB Established Member

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    I've never driven south of the border, and I've no personal experience of any of the London-Scotland routes mentioned here, but last week I had my first motorway experience in over ten years when I had to drive to Edinburgh for a wedding. I hated it. I'd driven the same roads before as a younger, and probably more aggressive driver, but I just find the whole 70mph thing to be far too much these days. I'm happy to keep up with the traffic at 60mph on a single carriageway road, and if something slow gets in the way, that's just the way life is. On my return journey I ditched the motorway at Kinross and took smaller roads all the way back up north; the journey took almost twice as long than it would have done sticking to the main route, but I enjoyed the drive, and encountered far fewer a***h**** than I would have done on the trunk route.

    To the OP, my advice is to take whichever roads you're comfortable with, allow plenty of time for your journey and do take regular breaks to have some refreshment and stretch your legs a bit.
     
  19. 90019

    90019 Established Member

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    Given the last sentence, I'd say the M1/A1 is the better option.
    The North section is easier than the A702 if you're unsure or nervous, in my opinion - the single carriageway sections of the A1 are more open and less twisty than the 702.


    Having done lots of journeys both ways on both roads, I'd definitely recommend the A1 as it's a much nicer road than the incredibly dull M6.
     
  20. Heinz57

    Heinz57 Member

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    I'd suggest M1-M18 and catch the A1 near Doncaster. There has been a few works on the M1 recently, but along your route you'll only find them near Northampton. They only go on for a few junctions and if you travel at the right time they aren't too bad.

    The A1 out of London through Stevenage towards Peterborough has a lot of single carriageways and islands and it's a bit tedious.
     
  21. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    M1 roadworks is only 2 junctions... but it’s 20+ miles!

    There is no single carriageway on the A1 between the North Circular and Morpeth, and only 9 roundabouts in that distance; all of them south of Huntingdon (and 4 of those between Mill Hill and Borehamwood).
     
  22. Barn

    Barn Established Member

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    For confident drivers, once past Newcastle going North, how do the A1, A68 and A697 compare in terms of scenery and speed?

    If doing a return trip, which two of these options would you take?
     
  23. Struner

    Struner Member

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    A68 by the Carter Bar #1!
    & there are quite a few ways to get to the A68. Have a good look at the OS 1:50k map.
    & when they are not messing about on the otterburn range (every other weekend), make your way back (as it seems you're based in England) from Byrness on the A68 to Rothbury.
     
  24. EssexGonzo

    EssexGonzo Member

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    Personal view - A1 all the way if you're not in a rush. If you're willing to pootle at between 60 and 70mph, it's actually quite relaxing. The 4-lane M1 - whilst quicker - would be more intimidating as lane discipline is terrible and it does get busier.

    TBH, you can't really go wrong with the A1 all the way. As others have said, there are plenty if scenic diversions and Google Maps will always get you back on track. But the A1 quite literally covers your entire route. There are LOADS of places to stop.

    Also as some have said, M11/A14 is a good starting route if you're on the east side of London.

    Have a good trip!
     
  25. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    M6 has the super-scenic Shap, but I'd probably, if I wasn't in a hurry, choose the A1 for ease of driving.
     
  26. ian1944

    ian1944 Member

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    If you choose the A1 to past Newcastle, slower but quieter and more scenic alternatives to keeping on that road are A697 to Wooler then B6525 back to the A1 south of Berwick, or A697 to Coldstream then A6112 to the A1 at Grantshouse, or A697 to Carfremill then A68.
     
  27. MonsooN

    MonsooN Member

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    In my (not inconsiderable) experience of driving north/south, I find it's better to stick to the M1 rather than going up the M18 and A1. It's approximately 7 miles further, but you will inevitably get held up for longer than 7 minutes at the A1/M18 junction and then further up the A1 around Doncaster and Selby. The M1 between Sheffield and Leeds, on the other hand, is usually pretty free flowing.
     
  28. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    the constant M1 route always seems longer which is why I use the M18. Plus it lets you avoid the Meadowhell, if only to trade for the delay at the M18/A1 junction!
     
  29. Puffing Devil

    Puffing Devil Established Member

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    I'd take this a stage further and just let Google decide on the route.
     
  30. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    that is why people drive into the river at Stanhope in Weardale.
     
  31. Puffing Devil

    Puffing Devil Established Member

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    Would that be the closed ford that would not form part of a Google Maps route, but may have troubled some early satnav users who should, perhaps, not be out driving alone if they plunge their vehicle into an unsafe ford?
     

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