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Driving London To Exeter

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Sorry to bother you OT-ers with such a mundane query but I daresay there will be someone here who can offer advice. We're going to a funeral tomorrow in Exeter. It's at 2.45pm so we're going to leave SE London about 9am just to make sure we're there in plenty of time. The question is- which way to go? The AA journey planner reckons that going the 202 mile route down the M4, then joining the M5 north of Bristol, will take 4 hours. It looks a pretty circuitous route however. When I tasked it with finding me a route via the A303 (which I know well, as we have relatives near Yeovil), it reckoned that I should stay on until it becomes the A30; this would be 175 miles and a 4h09m journey time.

Years ago driving into Devon my dad would stay on the 303 until just after Wincanton and then cut across country, joining the M5 near Taunton. I daresay, however, that this was because we were headed for Ilfracombe; however I have heard bad things about the A30 being a traffic clogged nightmare, so wondered if it in worth avoiding?

Any advice appreciated. Getting the train is not really an option as there are four of us- looking at £140+ even for a slow ride on the West of England Main Line- £200+ to get an HST from Paddington. Petrol even in my rather thirsty V6 Mondeo will only be £75 I reckon. In the evening I'll definitely drive back via the 303 if only to keep myself awake! So it's only the trip down in the morning / early afternoon I'm worried about.

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Sorry for your loss.

I always found the m4/m5 route longer but quicker, especially in the summer where you can get stuck behind all the caravans heading to Cornwall along the 303. That said, it's out of season and there are roadworks / diversions on the m4 at Bristol at the moment overnight, which may spill over.

I'd say 303

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Thanks all.

Sorry for your loss.

Thanks- it's the wife's cousin who died of a (longstanding) heart condition aged 39, so it is pretty awful really; I didn't know him very well as he lived in Exeter. Apparently there's going to be a fittingly large turnout.

I always found the m4/m5 route longer but quicker, especially in the summer where you can get stuck behind all the caravans heading to Cornwall along the 303. That said, it's out of season and there are roadworks / diversions on the m4 at Bristol at the moment overnight, which may spill over.

I'd say 303

I was certainly leaning that way. As I said, I'm just wondering whether to stay on it all the way via Honiton and the A30, or whether to cut across and join the M5 near Taunton?

It could take you over an hour to leave London and get to the M4 depending on where in SE London you'll be departing from...

Catford. I did it early afternoon yesterday actually, dropping my mate off at Heathrow airport- we had a surprisingly quick run along the South Circular then up over Battersea Bridge, even the A4 was fine. Getting back was a bit more of a palaver...

To get to the M3 / A303 I'll just do what we've done since time immemorial, South Circular down past Wandsworth, then A3, M25. Clapham and Wandsworth can get a bit naughty traffic wise but it's basically a known quantity!

M27 is great until you get to the A31 in the New Forest. From there it's usually flagged as 2h 10m to Exeter.

I quite like the M27 (used to live in Southampton) but I reckon that would be an excessively circuitous route in the other direction (plus I once drove that way from Southampton to Yeovil, and it was a PITA, albeit that I was navigating more or less by dead reckoning in the pre-satnav era!).

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I can get from Gillingham (Dorset) to Exmouth in about an hour and fifteen. Without going mental.

And that includes noodling along the back road in to Exmouth rather than the A371.

Gillingham is 5-10 minutes from the 303.

There are bits of the 303 through the Blackdown Hills that resemble a B road however.

I wouldn't bother with the M5.

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Impossible to answer this perfectly. (I have done this trip LOTS of times)

A303 is best if traffic lightish, in worst conditions you will get there quicker via the M4 to Bristol then M5.

Roadworks on either should tip the balance in favour of the other.

As someone else said, if you go A303 don't bother with the M5, just drive on through the Blackdown hills.

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Thanks all.

Thanks- it's the wife's cousin who died of a (longstanding) heart condition aged 39, so it is pretty awful really; I didn't know him very well as he lived in Exeter. Apparently there's going to be a fittingly large turnout.

I was certainly leaning that way. As I said, I'm just wondering whether to stay on it all the way via Honiton and the A30, or whether to cut across and join the M5 near Taunton?

Catford. I did it early afternoon yesterday actually, dropping my mate off at Heathrow airport- we had a surprisingly quick run along the South Circular then up over Battersea Bridge, even the A4 was fine. Getting back was a bit more of a palaver...

To get to the M3 / A303 I'll just do what we've done since time immemorial, South Circular down past Wandsworth, then A3, M25. Clapham and Wandsworth can get a bit naughty traffic wise but it's basically a known quantity!

I quite like the M27 (used to live in Southampton) but I reckon that would be an excessively circuitous route in the other direction (plus I once drove that way from Southampton to Yeovil, and it was a PITA, albeit that I was navigating more or less by dead reckoning in the pre-satnav era!).

I'm nearby close to Forest Hill. Catford can be a nightmare all by itself!! There are some nice backroads around Clapham and Wandsworth but too complex to explain!

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If you are going through Wandsworth, instead of taking the a3 swing right at the fork and take the upper Richmond road onto the a316, which takes you straight into the m3 without having to divert down to the m25

And as already said once you are on the 303 you may as well stick with it

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I'm nearby close to Forest Hill. Catford can be a nightmare all by itself!! There are some nice backroads around Clapham and Wandsworth but too complex to explain!

Heh- well in theory I should know them as I'm supposed to be doing the taxi knowledge! In practice not so much :rolleyes:

I work as a bus controller and several of our routes go round there so I know a few common diversions off the map, whether I could find the roads in my car I don't know. Anyway, the joy of owning a Satnav IMO is that if you get fed up with sitting in traffic you can just strike off down a side road and then let it recalculate a route for you!

Catford as you say can be a PITA but I know all the stunts, it's just crossing the railway lines that can be unavoidably slow. If it's really bad I just go via Sydenham. Years ago they proposed to build a new road across the sports ground; I can't remember how it would have linked up with Brownhill Road, but it would have avoided the one way system somehow. Anyway nothing seems to have come of it :rolleyes:

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I spent three years as a student in Exeter, commuting between there and home in south-west London. After a lot of trial and error, I came to the conclusion that the best compromise between keeping the miles down and not taking too much time on slow roads was:

A3 Wimbledon to Hog's Back junction

A31 to Farnham

A287 to the M3

Just past Andover, A338 to Salisbury

A354 to Dorchester

A road without a number on Google Maps from Dorchester to Honiton

A30 to Exeter.

However, this was during the time of the Swampy roadworks on the A303 (late '90s) and some pretty major roadworks around Sparkford and Stonehenge, too, meaning that the A303 between Andover to Honiton was to be avoided. It may be a lot better now.

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I spent three years as a student in Exeter, commuting between there and home in south-west London. After a lot of trial and error, I came to the conclusion that the best compromise between keeping the miles down and not taking too much time on slow roads was:

A3 Wimbledon to Hog's Back junction

A31 to Farnham

A287 to the M3

Just past Andover, A338 to Salisbury

A354 to Dorchester

A road without a number on Google Maps from Dorchester to Honiton

A30 to Exeter.

However, this was during the time of the Swampy roadworks on the A303 (late '90s) and some pretty major roadworks around Sparkford and Stonehenge, too, meaning that the A303 between Andover to Honiton was to be avoided. It may be a lot better now.

It is. As long as the Blackdown Hills farmers aren't harvesting or silageing!!

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If you are going through Wandsworth, instead of taking the a3 swing right at the fork and take the upper Richmond road onto the a316, which takes you straight into the m3 without having to divert down to the m25

And as already said once you are on the 303 you may as well stick with it

I think you mean take the right fork onto the a205 south circ then drive through putney, roehampton, east sheen then turn left onto the a316 near mortlake/kew..

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I did this about 2 weeks ago, similarly on a week day around the same time.

I went via the A303 and stayed on as it became the A30. For me it is the straightest route. I don't think I'd bother with it during the busy summer period but on a week day it was absolutely fine, not a single hold up all the way down.

I'm over in Nunhead, so went the Clapham, Wandsworth route you mentioned. It really depends on the M25, if you could guarantee the M25 would be clearer it would almost save time getting on it at Junction 4 near Bromley and going that way round, depends where in Catford you are (although wouldn't make a huge difference). It took well over an hour just to get from Nunhead to the M25, from there it was all plain sailing.

With regard to your afternoon trip via the M4 via Battersea Bridge, total different kettle of fish in the rush hour and would be the worst option IMO.

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Heh- well in theory I should know them as I'm supposed to be doing the taxi knowledge! In practice not so much :rolleyes:

I work as a bus controller and several of our routes go round there so I know a few common diversions off the map, whether I could find the roads in my car I don't know. Anyway, the joy of owning a Satnav IMO is that if you get fed up with sitting in traffic you can just strike off down a side road and then let it recalculate a route for you!

Catford as you say can be a PITA but I know all the stunts, it's just crossing the railway lines that can be unavoidably slow. If it's really bad I just go via Sydenham. Years ago they proposed to build a new road across the sports ground; I can't remember how it would have linked up with Brownhill Road, but it would have avoided the one way system somehow. Anyway nothing seems to have come of it :rolleyes:

Ok ok I give up here it is!

At Clapham Common turn right up Nightingale Lane and follow it past Wandsworth Common. Then turn right at Trinity rd and left at Windmill rd. Then right at St. Anne's Hill then left at Swaffield rd. Keep going straight onto Kimber rd then right onto Merton rd. At the roundabout take the 2nd exit onto Buckhold rd but almost immediately turn left onto West Hill rd. Keep followinf that all the way and you will miraculously come to the A3 having avoided Clapham and Wandsworth. Either turn left or carry straight onto Portinscale rd. Turn right onto Keswick rd and you hit the a205 south circ having again avoided Clapham and Wandsworth!

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Catford as you say can be a PITA but I know all the stunts, it's just crossing the railway lines that can be unavoidably slow. If it's really bad I just go via Sydenham. Years ago they proposed to build a new road across the sports ground; I can't remember how it would have linked up with Brownhill Road, but it would have avoided the one way system somehow. Anyway nothing seems to have come of it :rolleyes:

Catford is a nightmare, as you say because of the limited way to get over the railway lines. I used to drive from Wandsworth to Eltham daily and on the whole it was OK (just OK mind you) but the worst part was getting in to and out of Catford.

I had a few little rat runs which helped, saved a bit of time, but I much prefer moving so would rather feel like I'm getting somewhere rather than crawl for hours on end.

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Replying to the original post, M4/M5 every time UNLESS you have an excessively thirsty vehicle. Once you are on the motorway system you can usually average 60mph or more which is a mile a minute. Try doing that on the 303! Over 25 years of traveling between Berkshire and Cornwall taught me to stay on the blue roads.

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Looks like I'm all set then. I'll check the traffic reports before we leave. I knew OT would come up trumps, many thanks to you all :wub:

Sherwick, I'm just heading downstairs to check out your route on my big wall map of London!

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Sorry to bother you OT-ers with such a mundane query but I daresay there will be someone here who can offer advice. We're going to a funeral tomorrow in Exeter. It's at 2.45pm so we're going to leave SE London about 9am just to make sure we're there in plenty of time. The question is- which way to go? The AA journey planner reckons that going the 202 mile route down the M4, then joining the M5 north of Bristol, will take 4 hours. It looks a pretty circuitous route however. When I tasked it with finding me a route via the A303 (which I know well, as we have relatives near Yeovil), it reckoned that I should stay on until it becomes the A30; this would be 175 miles and a 4h09m journey time.

Years ago driving into Devon my dad would stay on the 303 until just after Wincanton and then cut across country, joining the M5 near Taunton. I daresay, however, that this was because we were headed for Ilfracombe; however I have heard bad things about the A30 being a traffic clogged nightmare, so wondered if it in worth avoiding?

Any advice appreciated. Getting the train is not really an option as there are four of us- looking at £140+ even for a slow ride on the West of England Main Line- £200+ to get an HST from Paddington. Petrol even in my rather thirsty V6 Mondeo will only be £75 I reckon. In the evening I'll definitely drive back via the 303 if only to keep myself awake! So it's only the trip down in the morning / early afternoon I'm worried about.

Depends if you start hitting bottlenecks around Stonehenge / single carriageway roads...The A30 runs parallel to the 303, could be another option, or you could go M3 to Southampton, on to Dorchester, then take the A35 to Exeter...

Arseing around Wincanton's B-roads can be fiddly...You'd probably though the likes of Long Sutton, Langport, etc...getting stuck behind something can really bugger you up..

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Aren't the Wilts/Somerset A roads a forest of speed cameras with 30mph zones every few miles as you enter one village after another?

Would do the motorways personally and leave before 9.

Off the top of my head, the main ones on the 303 - one by Amesbury Services, one going up a hill, just out of Winterbourne Stoke (I think), one just out of Sparkford..then one on the Ilminster bypass (near the end)...

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Looks like I'm all set then. I'll check the traffic reports before we leave. I knew OT would come up trumps, many thanks to you all :wub:

Sherwick, I'm just heading downstairs to check out your route on my big wall map of London!

If you pass some large stones and a field of pigs you are on the right road. ;)

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I've been driving Gillingham-London for 10 years.

This time of the year, with no holiday traffic to speak of, provided you avoid Stonehenge around 4-6 pm you won't have any grief.

Coming back, avoid Sunday from 3pm to 7pm. Thats where it starts backing up heading east at Stonhenge.

On a normal day i get to Gill in hour from the start of M3/A303 junction.

I will be doing the same tomorrow at around 1.30, i think i could do it with my bloody eyes closed now to be honest.

All because London property prices are ******ING INSANE!!!!

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