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Crazy to drive in England?

I'm going over to London in the beginning of July and was planning on renting a car for a day to head over to the Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath. Someone who is from England, however, told me that he definitely wouldn't even consider driving there at all, and that it would take extremely lengthy amounts of time, so one day to get to those destinations alone is overachieving by a longshot.
Someone else told me that they did the same trip no problem, but it was many years ago.

Has anyone done this before? Or can anyone confirm if he's right?

Posted by
658 posts

It's possible.

( hey I once drove between Madrid and Malaga in four hours dead )

It will mean an early start and a late finish and you'll need to use a lot of motorways and keep your foot down.

Head to Windsor via the M4 / A4. Allow no more than two hours. Take the M4 back to the M25 and swing a right towards the M3. Hit the M3 hard and fast and gun it to the A303 Andover turnoff. Follow the A303 to Stonehenge. Allow 2 hours and a sandwich and overpriced drink for lunch. Take the A360 north and take a left at Shrewton. Join the A36 after about six miles. Turn right and follow signs for Bath. Get to Bath for mid to late afternoon. Try and see the city in a couple of hours and get something sumstantial to eat. Take the A46 north out of Bath and head for the M4. Swing a right onto the M4 and thunderfoot it back to London.

It can be done but I'm not responsible for any speeding tickets you pick up. Most roads between Stonehenge, Bath and the M4 are two lane only. They're busy

Posted by
1455 posts

Rebecca, just be careful when you rent a car in London. One person posted about the "Congestion" fee and his rental company didn't provide the permit for that. The person ended up getting a fine for not having it.

For Windsor Castle, I was able to take the tube and bus there without problems. I think you can also find a way to go to Stonehenge and Bath.

Have you looked into Megabus? They travel from London to Bath. Its very economical (as low as 1 pound!)

Posted by
3428 posts

Rebecca- there is NO NEED to drive in England. Especially for Windsor and Bath and you can get to Stonehenge by bus from Bath. Trains are easy to use and not as expensive as many think. Plan ahead and take advantage of special rates or get a BritRail pass! Windsor trains leave from Paddington every 20 to 30 min and the trip is just over 20 min. It is a great day or 1/2 day trip. The Windsor castle is our favorite. Bath takes about an hour or a little longer. It is also a great day trip. You can incorporate a bus trip out to Stonehenge. Or take a bus trip (Evans Evans is one company) that does both Bath and Stonehenge. They also do bus trips to Windsor, but the train is much easier and gives you much more flexibilty for shopping, etc. in Windsor.

Posted by
18 posts

I am currently an american living in the general London area. I am only 20, and yes I do drive here! I just did the drive to Windsor last weekend and itwas VERY easy. I have also driven to Stonehenge which was again...very easy. I have been to bath but I wasn't the one driving. And I will say it again...its an easy route. I know you can get google maps, but here is the website the people around here use and find most helpful/reliable when planning their route.

Parking at Windsor castle was about 11 pounds! I was there for most of the day. You would probably need an 8 pound ticket. Still, it's expensive. Also I'll remind you that gas is roughly 9 bucks a gallon over here.

Lastly, if you are going all the way to bath, I would suggest dropping into Lacock first--not much out of the way and a very nice place to visit. You hit it about 30 minutes before you get to Bath.

Posted by
18 posts

Ahh another thing. Avebury stone circle is on route to Bath, and many people (myself included) think that it is better than Stonehenge. look it up, but it is bigger, older, and you can go right up to the stones and touch them. Also, as if you need more places to see, I will just suggest that another (roughly) 45 minutes puts you in Wales at Chepstow castle with Tintern Abbey nearby. I visited both those sights and thought they were great. But I would only recommend that if you have enough time. Just a thought!

And trust me, if I can drive here, anybody can! Just be careful on the back country-lane roads because they get a bit scary. I know I drive them every day. But you shouldn't have a problem. Oh one more thing, if you do stonehenge, allow extra time for traffic, it always jams up there because there are too many cars and not enough road space! hope this helped. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
16 posts

Two years ago, we took the train to Bath and picked up our car there. From there, we drove through Wales and then back through northern England. We survived quite nicely and we're getting ready now for an Ireland drive. By the way, I do agree with the sentiment that Avebury is more interesting in many respects than Stonehenge.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you all so much for your replies. They have been extremely helpful!

Posted by
2783 posts

No, you are not crazy to drive in England. I would suggest that you pick up the car outside of London. I would suggest picking it up in Slough which is close to Windsor.

Posted by
208 posts

Rebecca - I've driven to Windsor before. It was very easy. Consider picking up the car at Heathrow (which is what we did) and rent it ahead of time. Don't forget to get an automatic! Just have a good road map and a good navigator!

Posted by
261 posts

It will be tight. We drove from London to Windsor. Picked up our car near Victoria Station. Getting to Windsor is easy, BUT the traffic from the motorway was horrible due to Legoland. The drive to Stonehenge is easy from Windsor. You might consider a side trip to Salisbury to see the cathedral and town. Getting an automatic is a good recommendation. Driving on the right side of the car is odd, but shifting with your left hand is even stranger.

Posted by
518 posts

I've driven in England and am getting ready to do so again in July. I definitely would not drive in London. We're renting our car at Gatwick airport, but any convenient location outside the city would be fine. Once in the driver' seat on the right, it seems correct to drive on the left. An automatic is definitely a good idea. By the way, all the pedals, turn signal, etc. are exactly as they are here -- just transplanted to the right side of the car. On the motorway (freeway), remember that slower traffic and exits are to the left. If you back out of a parking space on a nice quiet road, remember to head out on the left side. That can be tricky, especially if there is no traffic to remind you. Roundabouts are a cinch. The B roads can be tricky. They are sometimes just one lane with 2 way traffic and pullouts for passing. We made it fine. Just buy the CDW insurance and have a great time. I actually had a lot of fun the first time.