Bath to Heathrow on Friday afternoon


Jun 3rd, 2012, 06:20 PM
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Bath to Heathrow on Friday afternoon

We will be driving from Bath to Heathrow Friday afternoon before our Saturday morning flight back to the US. We've done this in the past and the traffic is dreadful. Any recommendations for detours, alternate routes, etc? Thanks in advance.
Alleycat0622 is offline  
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Jun 3rd, 2012, 07:33 PM
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Try this.

This allows you to set your date and time. You have a lot of choices on how you travel. I did fastest, then economical.

Economical had 73 miles on motorways vs. 85. Check the times for each of these options.

Play around with it and see what you come up with.
Rastaguytoday is offline  
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Jun 3rd, 2012, 10:26 PM
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Strongly disagree with the previous poster.

There's no computer-based solution to the poster's problem. The M4 is the only efficient route, and any alternative (especially the A4) makes traffic delays more, not less, likely.

Traffic eastbound on the M4 on Friday afternoons isn't "dreadful": the poster's either absurdly over-reacting to a 2 second slowdown, has naive expectations about driving conditions round Europe's biggest and busiest city or had a one-off bad experience.

Strategies include just putting up with it, avoiding hotels that need to turn onto the M25 at J4B (ie, those clustering round T4 or T5), driving from Bath early the following morning or ensuring you've got a paper atlas (£2.99 at any petrol station), have familiarised yourself with the RDS system on your car radio, keep the radio on and keep the system activated.

If you do hit a real delay, ONLY the paper-based alternative route the passenger devises when seeing or hearing about it from the RDS will help. Satnav alternatives are utterly counter-productive: they invariably have the effect of sending hundreds of cars simultaneously down the same country lanes.

Few pleasures in life are greater (or guiltier) than following the route your partner's guile has created while watching hundreds of the easily gulled bunched at a busy level crossing on the road they all followed at Ms SatNav's behest.
flanneruk is offline  
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Jun 3rd, 2012, 11:23 PM
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If there is a blockage on the M4 the alternatives (like the A4) also get blocked up.
ribeirasacra is online now  
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Jun 4th, 2012, 02:04 AM
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The locals know the routes including the alternatives so you aren't going to outguess them.

The other alternative - assuming your flight isn't too early and you can return the car - is to set off in the wee small hours of Saturday morning when traffic problems are unlikely.
alanRow is offline  
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Jun 4th, 2012, 03:29 AM
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There really are no good alternative routes to the M4. The obvious one is the A4, the old Bath to London road before the motorway was built, but that takes you through the congestion of Chippenham and Newbury, and still requires you to join the M4 just before Reading, one of the major heavy traffic spots on the motorway. However, the A4 does take you close to the prehistoric sites of Avebury, Silbury and West Kennet Long Barrow. Marlborough is a good place to stop for refreshments and shopping, and the A4 itself is quite a good road.

For speed and comfort, the M4 is better. On a Friday afternoon, the traffic is usually heavier going westwards, and especially around the M5 junction north of Bristol, where widening is now being carried out.
chartley is online now  
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Jun 4th, 2012, 09:17 AM
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@flanneruk, forgive me for overreacting. I did have one bad experience travelling from Bath to London, and many a dreadful Friday afternoon in traffic here in major East coast US cities.

@Chartley, love the idea of taking the A4 and leisurely making our way back to Heathrow. Marlborough looks delightful.
Alleycat0622 is offline  
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Jun 4th, 2012, 10:51 AM
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The A4 is a pleasant drive as far as Newbury. After that you are just driving slowly through built-up areas with many roundabouts. It is very tedious, with nothing much nice to look at. At least from the M4 you get to see some green fields and landscapes, and Windsor Castle on the skyline.

I'd suggest taking the A4 until it crosses the A34 and then getting on the M4 for the rest of the way.
julia_t is offline  
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Jun 4th, 2012, 02:58 PM
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it is not only locals know the alternative routes. I do to and I am in Spain!!
The A4 is not a good idea, even on a good day it will almost double the time taken (without traffic problems) When there are problems on the M4 it will take ...well for ever to clear.
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