ROAD TRIP

I’m writing this and thinking back one week. I had just woken up around ten hours after arriving in South East London. I had driven from the Scottish Borders to give our daughter and her cat a lift to enjoy a short break in Scotland. We waited until nine o’clock in order to miss the worst of the local school run traffic before setting off for the M25. As we approached the junction to join the orbital motorway, the radio brought us the news that one of the two tunnels at the Dartford Crossing was closed following an earlier accident; not the best thing to hear when Dartford is the only real option for getting to the north bank of The Thames, without a major detour. Thankfully the news was updated almost as soon as we joined the end of the queueing traffic, at least we knew that we were now heading towards two open tunnels.

Although we had a long journey ahead, at least we had no deadlines to meet. I quickly identified the silver lining to the cloud presented by this slow moving queue, at least I didn’t have to contend with this type of traffic on a daily basis. Once we got through the toll barrier and entered the tunnel, things started to go fairly smoothly. As we crossed the M11 to join it, we noticed another backlog of traffic below, but as that was heading into London it didn’t cause us to worry. After a very free-running drive up the M11 and on to the A14, we took our first stop at Cambridge Services. This gave us a chance for comfort breaks and breakfast, in my case a fairly un-Mexican tasting ‘Mexican MacDonald Burger Sandwich’, tasty enough but I wasn’t too sure about the description.

Shortly after leaving the service area we were on the A1(M) and soon into even lighter traffic. Whilst I always have the option of the M1 and even the M6, I do prefer the A1 route as I find it to be a more interesting journey with much more variety than many miles of dedicated motorway. Weather-wise, we fared fairly well until approaching South Yorkshire when it became a bit bleaker with rain and spray to drive through. The seem as we passed the cooling towers and coal heaps at Ferrybridge was particularly uninspiring, but we were soon into brighter weather as we turned off into Wetherby Services. I took this opportunity for a ‘powernap’, and to share a lovely M&S sandwich.

We continued to make good time as we proceeded up through Yorkshire, the overhead cloud cover meant that it was quite dull as we passed the ‘Angel of the North’ but shortly after a setting sun made a welcome appearance meaning that we were still able to enjoy the sight of the Cheviot foothills after leaving the A1 and driving along the A697 through rural North Northumberland. Then it was dark, and we were crossing the border at Coldstream. Ten minutes later we were in Greenlaw, twenty seven hours after I had left the previous afternoon. I always enjoy that journey, which is now quite familiar to me. I still think that my favourite option is to leave Scotland around ten in the evening, this allows me to enjoy very clear roads virtually all the way – and I find it rather special to be arriving in a city early in the morning as it is beginning to wake up.

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