From a previous posting, it looks like there is more than one way to get from Heathrow to our destination at Oakham. According to Google maps, we travel via M25-M1-A421-A1-A606. We have a GPS and we can customize the route if there is a better one! Thank you!
That is one of the most obvious routes, but be aware that the A421/A1 junction is the 'Black Cat Roundabout' which can have heavy queues. The A1 north of there is rather variable in quality; in part a low spec 1950s dual carriageway with bends and tractors emerging and later a four lane motorway. An alternative would be to carry further on the M1 and get off at Northampton on the A45, take the A43 to Kettering and then the A6003 to Oakham. This is actually shorter, but the roads aren't as fast past Northampton.
To elaborate on Marco's excellent answer, he has similar concerns to mine. The A1 really does have in and out running. Then again, the route from Northampton has a narrowish stretch of busy single carriageway (one lane each way) between Lumbertubs (I just put that in not only because it is a valid landmark, but also because I just LOVE saying Lumbertubs) and Kettering. You then get on the westbound A14 one exit as the A43 runs contiguously. Then heading north on the A43 until it goes right to Geddington and the A6003 continues to Oakham. It is well marked, although in the 3 miles of road works to move one roundabout (yes, 3 miles of roadworks to move ONE roundabout and it has taken years!!! - but Nigel's not frustrated every time he has to drive on the ^*&&% thing!!) OK, deep breath ... ok .... I feel better now. OK, in the roadworks the speed is is reduced to 50 and 40, and still fairly well signed. If you are there off peak there will be little if any delay, just don't do it at going home time. The road will lead you north through Rockingham and Uppingham on the way to Oakham. Its actually the way I would pick. The scenic views as you leave Kettering and Corby behind and descend to the Welland Valley are gorgeous.
Thanks, guys, for the great specifics on the route. The husband, who is determined to be the driver, will appreciate a less crazy route with busy roundabouts - which could pose the biggest challenge for Americans fresh off the plane. I had to laugh, Nigel, at your frustration. Of course, that sort of thing (frustratingly long construction projects) NEVER happens here!
You can't escape roundabouts in the UK. I put Heathrow to Oakham in a route planner and as well as the above routes it threw out the idea of carrying on the M1 until Leicester (J21A), the A46 and A607 to Melton Mowbray and then the A606 to Oakham. At first I thought this completely loopy since this takes you quite a way north and west first and is somewhat longer. Considering it again it might not be quite so silly and could give you a chance to stop in Melton as your other plans don't go near. But if you don't want to stop enroute (especially after the flight in) and get to Oakham ASAP then there probably isn't any merit in this.
Actually, Marco, I managed to add Melton Mowbray to another day but going through on the latest route you proposed could be an even better solution. BTW, I was sure hoping for a little input on my question regarding whether to skip Lincoln/Doddington and focus that day more on the area around Cambridge - of which you and Nigel speak so highly.
I haven't weighed in into the Lincolnshire / Cambridgeshire debate because I know nothing about Lincolnshire. As many years as I have been not tons of miles from Lincolnshire I have never been there. I just never get out of the area to the south. I haven't looked at the recent Melton Mowbray suggestion but from memory that will take you near or through Leicester - a difficult town for me to drive through because there is always a lot of slow traffic - and Melton Mowbray. Melton Mowbray is in no way a village, it is a large town with its own traffic problems. It is the home of Melton Mowbray Pork Pies, and within the Stilton area. It has never done much for me, but may be paradise for others. That route would really be much further west and much further north than a direct route to Oakham. But you pays your money and takes your choice....
Okey dokey, Nigel. Points well taken. I wondered why you hadn't offered an opinion on my other posts. I was waiting with baited breath! If you have never felt the urgent call to go to Lincoln, I think I've got my answer. We would rather tootle around smaller burgs than deal with cities. Thank you!
I have no opinion on Lincoln either ... As to the A46 round Leicester it is 2/3 lane dual carriageway and skirts around the west and north and rarely has any queues. As someone who lived 20 years in Leicester I would caution anyone against cutting through the city but this route should be relatively straight forward. Melton is about the same size as Market Harborough. Yes it is best known for pork pies and stilton. Main Market day is Tuesday, which is either something to go for, or avoid, depending on preference.
Thanks, Marco. It sounds like we have some excellent route suggestions. Melton Mowbray is still on our list for a potential visit but we've decided to drop Lincoln.