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Thread: M4/M5 or M3/A303 to Cornwall?

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    Default M4/M5 or M3/A303 to Cornwall?

    Hi all,
    I'm looking for a bit of travelling advice. Taking the youngsters to the Cornwall LPJS in Bude next weekend and have been perusing the map. The trouble is I get differing 'best route' depending on which website / sat nav I consult.
    I don't really know the roads at all, so am I better going the longer motorway route - will I get caught up getting round Bristol, or is it better to take the shorter, more direct route on the A303 / A30. How much of this is dual carriageway and national speed limit, or is it stop-start roudabouts and getting stuck behind lorries? I hope to be travelling from the M25 during the morning on a Friday.
    Also, anyone got any ideas on how long this is likely to take, and any other advice on local routes to Bude from the A30?
    Thanks folks!
    Touché Away!!!

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    I would tend to use the motorways if starting from northwards of London, and the A303/A30 if from the south of London. A303 is a pretty good road - dual carriageway without much in the way of roundabouts, but I haven't been down to the A30 for years.

    Whichever route you decide on, you can guarantee that will be the one which gets snarled up on the day.

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    I THINK that the people I know in Taunton (which is "on the way" to Cornwall) TEND to use the A303/M3 to get to London... hopefully someone will post to confirm or deny that...

    Boo
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    Thanks.
    Well I'm coming from junction 28 on the M25, so it's basically right round the other side. That makes it half -and-half, so I can come from the north or south! (Oh, and how many times have I decided on one way round when heading to M3 only to find a major jam in my way and wishing I'd gone the other way round! )
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    Quote Originally Posted by Touché Turtle View Post
    Thanks.
    Well I'm coming from junction 28 on the M25, so it's basically right round the other side. That makes it half -and-half, so I can come from the north or south! (Oh, and how many times have I decided on one way round when heading to M3 only to find a major jam in my way and wishing I'd gone the other way round! )
    Family (who live in Ipswich) were visiting last week said they thought that going around the South side was the SLIGHTLY quicker way to the M4 (assuming not too much of a bottleneck at the bridge/tunnel...). The M3 is a couple of junctions South of the M4, so might make even more sense to go South. BUT, as you say, "s*ds law" always has a lot to do with the actual time it take...

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    Going 'south' on the Road to Hell might be a better option at present given the security status. The Heathrow junctions may well be clogged, beyond their usual dreadful standard, and it is not the most picturesque location.

    If you take the M3/A303, Fleet Services isn't bad for a stop. Solstice Park on the A303 is another convenient stop point and finally Exeter Services. That should hopefully be enough to cover any needs.

    Also by taking the south route on the M25, if you have been in traffic for a while there is always Clackett Lane services. I remember too many long journeys as a child, and too many hedgerows,...
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    I'm actually driving down to Cornwall from Oxford today (and travel down a fair bit), and although the M4/M5 can be quicker, I'll be going via the A303. The M4/M5 junction and down past Bristol can be very, very busy, and I've lost track of the times someone's nearly driven into me.

    The A303 changes quite a bit from dual carriageway to single lane quite a bit, which can cause traffic jams, but if you are travelling earlier in the day (I'm taking the afternoon off, although still expecting to get caught!) it's not too bad.

    And the M3 isn't too bad earlier on either - just avoid it at rush hour at all costs!

    Time-wise - when going between west London (Richmond/Isleworth) and Newquay I used to give myself 5 hours. Even when stuck on the A303 behind a tractor and people staring at Stonehenge I never needed all of that.

    Hope that's of help!
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    Thanks everyone, it looks like the consensus of opinion so far is the M3 / A303 option via the south M25.
    That's what my sat nav recommended, but not google maps.
    Any further suggestions or helpful hints gratefully received. (won't be on here now til Saturday evening though, just off to Stoke for junior's assault on the U11 girls tomorrow.... isn't all this travelling wonderful!)
    Touché Away!!!

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    That's what my sat nav recommended, but not google maps
    I've used the A30 route, from SW London to Exeter = 3 hours (11pm departure). Beware of 50mph speed limits with cameras, but even so quicker than using M4. Googlemaps recommends this route from SW London.

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    I went from Windsor to Plymouth via M4/M5 at about 2pm on a Sunday, traffic was fine, took about 3hr30min due to torrential rain. Friend went from Plym to Windsor at about 6am on a Tuesday via A303/M3, took 2hr30min. As said before, you can guarantee you will go the wrong way!!
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    I have been using the M3/A303/A30/M5 route since 2000 almost every weekend (only until Devon - but that is most of the way....) and I can give the following (I hope helpful) hints.....
    (1) The A303 is the most direct route and can be the fastest BUT
    (2) There are often traffic jams, especially at Peak hours (I normally go Friday afternoon - but it is not unknown to be busy other times)
    (3) The worst black spot is just before Stonehenge when the dual carriageway goes to a single until after Winterbourne Stoke and you would have driven by then about an hour and a half from London - although there are strawberries on sale by the layby....
    (4) The motorway route (M4/M5) is more predictable but can make you very tired...
    (5) The dual carriageway does go to single often (but on average you will get dual carriageway signposted for about an average 2 miles after a single - still quicker than motorways and less tiring) but the worst bit is just before you hit Devon - there are often ambush-tractors or Tesco delivery trucks which cannot climb the Blackdown Hills at more than -1 mph...
    (6) Stop at The Lamb at Hindon - just 1 mile off the A303 and well signposted, a lovely pub, but make sure you get there at meal times or you will only get a drink.
    (7) I know Tigger hates the 303 - but I suspect this is because he goes at a zillion mph !!

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    A30 is a very good dual carriageway. A word of warning - the roadworks that were on goss moor are due to end this weekend - so don't use roundabouts as landmarks - they are all disappearing.

    Not sure which junction for Bude - only really use the A30 as far as Okehampton.

    Definitely use M3/A303 unless coming from the north.

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    Default Short Cut

    Try this if you want to avoid all the hassle of the A30 - Not long before the A303 joins up with the A30, take the turn off on the right where it is signposted to Taunton and the M5 along the A358.

    It's only 12 miles of single carriageway, but with plenty of overtaking spots - mind out for the speed camera in the speed limits though. Taking a short bit of slow road gets you to the motorway hopefully beyond any hassle and a clear route to the south west!

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    Quote Originally Posted by randomsabreur View Post
    A30 is a very good dual carriageway. A word of warning - the roadworks that were on goss moor are due to end this weekend - so don't use roundabouts as landmarks - they are all disappearing.
    Definitely take note of this - I was down in Cornwall last weekend, the driver (none of us knowing the A30 well) was a tad confused at the Sat Nav telling him what exit to take at non-existent roundabouts!

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    Thank you all for your help.
    I've decided to do the drive in two halves, so we're leaving after school today and getting as far as the other side of the M25. B&B tonight, then finish the journey via the A303 / A30 tomorow. I'll be keeping my eyes open for speed cameras, tractors, strawberries, disappearing roundabouts, slow lorries, services, caravans, Stonehenge and traffic jams!
    I'l report back on my return in about a week. (As long as the weather isn't too bad and we don't give up and come home after two days )
    Touché Away!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by GKB View Post
    I(6) Stop at The Lamb at Hindon - just 1 mile off the A303 and well signposted, a lovely pub, but make sure you get there at meal times or you will only get a drink.
    This is a nice pub no doubt, but has to fall in the expensive category for pub food.
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