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driving from London to york

Where is a good place to stop between London Gatwick and york? We are arriving in the morning and are afraid we will be too tired to make it the whole way.

Posted by
1829 posts

If you are going to use the most direct route ie the A1/M motorway have a look at Stamford in Lincolnshire, which is about halfawy to York. It is a pretty and well preserved small country town that has been used as a backdrop for period dramas.

http://www.stamford.co.uk/index.shtml

A good place to have a bite to eat and a stroll around to stretch your legs. Have not been for a while so can't rec a place to eat but there are plenty of pubs/cafes in the town centre.

Posted by
3428 posts

You could consider the train instead of driving. You still get to see the countryside, but can rest and let someone else 'worry'. We love the train ride between London and York.

Posted by
75 posts

We too took the train from London to York. Great way to travel if a little tired. You can pick up a car, if needed, at the York Rail station. Hertz has an outlet there. There might be other car rental places in or around York.

Posted by
3 posts

Taking the train is a great idea but for us the cost was a bit too much. I checked the train, it was 360 GBP as opposed to our car rental for a week at 184 GBP. I think our discount with Hertz through Delta was very good.

Posted by
9110 posts

Not to disagree with Linda, the local expert, but I think using the M1 is faster and it's only about a four hour drive (depending on the mess going around the west side of London on the beltway). If you need to stop, Market Harborough is interesting, only a few minutes off the track, and almost halfway.

Posted by
3428 posts

Paula - you should be able to get a much cheaper train ticket! The fare you quoted seems like it must be a "walk up/day of" fare. You can usually get much better fares about 3 months prior. You do have to commit to a specific day/time of travel. Remeber that gas(petrol) is VERY VERY expensive in the UK. Parking is scarce (especilly in cities like London and York) and expensive, too. London has areas that even charge a "congestion fee". Also, there are fees for picking up in one place and dropping in another.

Posted by
9110 posts

Don't know when you're going, but pick up at Gatwick and drop at York for an arbitrary week in February was just spot-checked on kayak.com at 154 GBP. You might give them a try. My experience has been that arline "deals" are not.

Toni's right on the drop off fee, Gatwick to Gatwick would have been about sixty bucks less.

Posted by
359 posts

Paula, the price you quoted from London to York has to be a walk up, same day price. Just checked and in mid-March can do the trip one-way for under 20GBP. I've done it each of the last 2 years and never paid more than 35GPB when ordering by internet well in advance and picking up tickets from the machines at Kings X Station in London.

I don't know if you can do Gatwick to York without coming into London but it's an easy connection into town if you can't. I use Air Canada, Vancouver to Heathrow, arriving as late as 1030AM and generally buy the train ticket for departure between 1:30PM and 2PM which gets me into York around 4PM. I've always had time to kill at Kings X regardless of whether I take the Tube or HExpress/taxi from the airport.

Unless you have some place off the beaten path you really want to visit enroute, I can't imagine driving London to York in lieu of train.

Posted by
1829 posts

"Not to disagree with Linda"

No problem but the rule of thumb is that the M1 is best used to travel to the Midlands and the first part of the journey to the North West. The usual route for the more easterly destinations in the North and the North East is the A1(M). Apart from that, the M1 is notorious for trafic delays (two northbound lanes closed as I type, 10 am, because of an accident at about 4am this morning).

However, although I limited myself to answering the original question I agree with others that the train, using tickets bought in advance, would be a better choice.

Posted by
264 posts

Paula,

I am going to make a couple assumptions as you don't say a lot about your trip

a. You are spending your time in York
b. You are making a one-way trip
c. You are experienced and know your body w/ respect to jet lag

With that said

  1. Try to take the train if possible. I agree with others you should be able to find something affordable. You can train Gatwick-London for about 8 quid and I would think you could find something around 30-40 quid to York very easy. The only disadvantage would be you have to be at Kings X at a certain time.

You should be able to get around York walking and busing. Remember you will pay for gas and parking

  1. I am an M1 person. I agree with Linda the A1(M) is more direct, maybe quicker; however, you have changing speeds, traffic cameras, and less lanes. Coming jetlagged I would much rather get on a road and just go 70 straight up

  2. To answer your ? specifically - East Midlands Airport is at J23A on the M1- A little over halfway. There are hotels there. I am assuming you are looking for a place to crash and not a tourism opportunity. With that said most services on the M1 have a "Travelodge" type place that would probably give you the flexibility not to have to reserve and play things by ear.

Posted by
9110 posts

Mike, thank you for supporting M1. Agreed upon sum with be mailed as soon as mom gives me my allowance (hope I have enough since I'm in debt for some breakage).

Here's the car vs train scenario that wrenches my gut when dual pricing is a factor:

Case 1. You allow whatever you think is sufficient time to make train connection, make it okay, and all is fine.

Case 2. You allow whatever you think is sufficient time to make the train connection, but don't make it okay. Now you're out the advance price and have to pay the walk-up price as well.

Case 3. You allow a really, really big time gap so you're absolutely, positively sure to make the good deal train connection even if the flight is totally screwed up and arrives hours late. Then, of all things, it arrives on time. In the time you spend standing around tapping your toe, you could easily have driven to York and been well into your cups.

Having spent most of my adult life in the airplane driving business and thus having experienced just about every known mechanical and weather problem, the known-in-advance price of a car coupled with its being available for a flexible departure time would be mighty appealing.

Posted by
4555 posts

Eli...then there's Case 4....you're too tired to make the drive after a long overseas flight....

Posted by
970 posts

Paula, I side with the others who are urging you to take a train.

London is a huge metropolis. Gatwick is about 25 miles on the south side. Picking up a rental at Gatwick after an overnight flight (especially if you are flying straight through from BC), driving around London, and on up to York is asking a lot of your brain and your body.

Better idea; Go from Gatwick to King's Cross Station (where the York trains depart). Get there by cab (really, really expensive), train from Gatwick (probably the cheapest), or book a car and a driver. That last option is probably the most cost effective. The train will be cheaper, but you will then need to catch a cab to King's Cross or haul your luggage around on the Tub (doable, but unpleasant and tiring. There are stairs in those Tube stations.)

A car and driver will meet you at Gatwick and take you to King's Cross. You can nod off for the hour-plus trip. (I've used Just Airports with no problems.)

If you can commit to a train at a specific time on a specific time and buy in advance, you should be able to spend at least an order of magnitude less on a ticket. Buy them online with a credit card as soon as you can. You acquire your tickets at the station by putting the credit card into a machine and keying in the magic number sent to you at purchase time.

Give your enough slack time to deal with a late flight, slow traffic getting to King's Cross, as well as time getting your tickets and finding your train. (King's Cross is big.)

Search this forum for threads about buying the train tickets online.

National Express (Google them) also runs buses from Gatwick to York. They take 7-8 hours, with a long wait en route in the London suburbs.

The King's Cross-York train takes about 2-1/2 hours. The York station is about a 10-minute walk from the center of York, or a very easy cab ride to your hotel. Do not drive in York. It was laid out about 1500 years ago; much of the city center is pedestrian-only.

Posted by
970 posts

And the very best solution, Paula, is to just plan on spending the first night in London and catching the train to York the next morning, after you have recuperated a bit.

Posted by
27437 posts

May I kindly correct a couple of misapprehensions here, please?

First, let the lady decide.

Train, look at the scenery, doze off, stress on a connection, schlep luggage, maybe faster, no wheels on arrival.

Car, air conditioning if you bought it, privacy, go at your own speed, stop at interesting things, traffic on the M25, can get tiring, interesting scenery, door to door.

For me, and I live here, they're pretty much a push.

Second, Gatwick to Kings Cross doesn't necessarily mean changing or stairs. Don't take either the Southern or Gatwick Express trains to Victoria and change for the Victoria Line to Kings Cross. That would involve LOTs of unavoidable stairs. No, take the First Capital Connect direct between the two. Not as nice a train environment as the other two, but no changing. Lifts to go up to the trains.

(more to come in the next post which didn't fit)

Posted by
27437 posts

(continuing from the previous post)

Third, no you don't drive through London. You go around on the M25. If you go clockwise you'll pick up delays around junction 18 for roadworks, between the M40 and the M1. If you go counter clockwise (called anti-clockwise here) you may pick up delays around the Thames Crossing, and probably somewhere around junction 28ish for roadworks.

If you use the M1 (given a choice, I wouldn't - A1(M) much better) you will also probably pick up delays around Luton as they have rolled out more roadworks there and around Milton Keynes.

If you choose the A1(M) and you have some time, you could run up the M11 and have a look at Cambridge. You are right back onto the A1 after that.

I also agree that Stamford is a wonderful place to stop. In the centre of town is a Pizza Express and an Ask, both of which will be happy to refresh you after the drive from Gatwick and around the M25.

Also good for Stamford is the beautiful golden stone construction, reminiscent of the Cotswolds. If you're not going to the Cotswolds, have a look at Stamford and the area around there.

I don't believe the train is a slam dunk in this case.

(donning steel helmet as I expect flak)

Posted by
970 posts

Thanks, Nigel, for the info about First Capital Connect. It's good to know these things.

Posted by
3 posts

I want to sincerely thank all of you who replied to my cry for help on this subject. It is amazing to me that so many of you took the time and care to think this through and help me and my husband. It was all noted and duly thought through and in the end we opted for the car. Renting the car was a nightmare at Gatwick - hard to find the trailer like 'office' for Hertz and the poor worker was alone and we were waiting for at least an hour and a half. However, once we were off, we drove straight up the A1 (of course going around London on the M25) and when we got tired, we just stopped at the many services stops, sent emails home of our safe arrival on the Mona free wifi and drank Costa coffee and got groceries from M&S shops. Those services were amazing. Then we would proceed towards York. Once or twice we stopped to nap. We were tired but the different side of the road and the manual shift kept the driver awake.

We were glad to have a car and only a car to deal with, I think for us the transferring and all the hassel of the train would have been harder than sleep deprivation. And, of course, it was great to have the car there.

So, thanks for all the good advice and information. You all are amazing and I hope others help you as you helped us.