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Road trip London - Lakes District GB

Bali, Indonesia
Level Contributor
3 posts
3 reviews
5 helpful votes
Road trip London - Lakes District GB

Hi, my husband and I are travelling to London End of September and wanted to drive to Lakes District via Cotswold. However, we want to take B roads and NOT main Highways (Freeways) Can you suggest where we can find B road maps. Or should we travel by train. Its just that we wanted to see little towns along the way. Thank you

United Kingdom
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4,286 posts
30 reviews
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1. Re: Road trip London - Lakes District GB

How long have you got for the journey? What do you want to see/do on the way?

Your plan may be a good one if you plan to take 5 days or a week for the journey, stopping and looking at places, walking in the countryside, along the way.

If you just want to get there, take the motorway.

Heathrow to Windermere via Chipping Camden is about a 5 hour drive by the fastest way according to the RAC routeplanner:


It shows all the roads if you zoom in, though it's hard to read.

B roads are sometimes empty, but are sometimes as busy as A roads. There are also unclassified 'C' roads as well - these are the winding country lanes.

Avoid motorways, using A and B roads and it becomes an 8 hour drive before stops

Using only B roads will probably take a bit longer than that! This is using the most direct route available. If you had diversions through scenic places, it'll obviously take longer.

The most detailed maps are the Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 ones, or 1:25,000 if you plan to do any walking. You can see these on the web in several places, or buy paper copies if yuo stop in an area.



Zoom in far enough and you first see the 1:50,000 maps, and then the 1:25,000 which show every hedge and fence

Where do you plan to collect the car? I'd try to collect it from somewhere as far out of central London as you can.

Rutland, United...
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10,265 posts
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2. Re: Road trip London - Lakes District GB

I would factor in to your budget the cost of a sat nav, bought in advance, as I understand renting a car with a sat nav is expensive. Meanwhile, buy from Amazon or eBay a road atlas of GB which will show all the roads in the country. It should cost less than £10 plus the cost of postage. Look out for one which shows scenic routes; I believe the AA Road Atlas does this.

The merit of a paper atlas over maps on electronic devices is that you get to see in detail a much broader area making route planning easier.

United Kingdom
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8,155 posts
81 reviews
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3. Re: Road trip London - Lakes District GB

I'm wondering if the terminology has got confused? We don't use the term "freeway" in the UK. Our categories broadly go:

Motorway (labelled with M - eg M1 and A1(M) coloured blue on most maps)

Trunk (labelled A and coloured green on maps - usually dual carriageway)

Major (labelled A and coloured red on maps - usually single carriageway)

Minor (labelled B and coloured brown on maps - usually single carriageway)


Martin C & Beauchamp have already given advice on map sites & atlases - these colours are those you'd expect to see on there.

Motorways and dual carriageways have a maximum speed limit of 70mph; other roads 60mph - all subject to lower limits as signed etc. Motorways and trunk roads are the ones that tend to by pass town centres - if you want to see smaller places the red A roads would probably suit as well as the B roads.

Suffolk, United...
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for Kefalonia
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4. Re: Road trip London - Lakes District GB


The 1:25000 Ordnance maps cannot be beaten. However you would need so many if you tried to use them for your whole route it would be impractical. Even the 1:50000 maps you would need about 15 of them costing about £8 each.

For route planning I would suggest one of the AA maps. See link.


This map in particular caught my eye.


Many shops/petrol stations/supermarkets sell them cheaper than the AA.

To see how interesting a particular town village is try googling "visit(name of town)"

Have a great time


Edinburgh, United...
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16,598 posts
65 reviews
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5. Re: Road trip London - Lakes District GB

You could buy a good roadmap while you're in London - they're usually about £1.99 in cheap bookshops like The Works!

Level Contributor
6,246 posts
14 reviews
31 helpful votes
6. Re: Road trip London - Lakes District GB

I don't think you mean "B" roads, in the UK a "B" road is a poor third class of road.

Our main roads are Motorways (what you call Freeways)

The next best roads are "A" roads, and while some of these are good wide roads, some of our "A" roads are not very good and zig zag there way through towns and villages.

The next best (worst) roads are "B" roads and these are often narrow winding roads that you only really take to get to a persons house or farm.

So if you wanted to go from London to the Lake District via B roads it would take you about a week.

And to be honest even taking A roads would be a horrible journey, probably going through many towns and villages and stopping at roundabouts and traffic lights.

And driving from London to the Lake District by motorway is also not nice. Many lorries use our motorways (much is delivered by lorry in the UK) and it would probably take you the best part of the day, stuck on our motorways.

If I am going to be honest, driving almost anywhere in the UK is not much fun, we are a small country, with a 60 million population, with more cars and lorries than the roads were ever designed for.

Your best bet is to go from London to the Lake District by train, and then enjoy some of the small villages in the Lake District.

Wales, United...
Destination Expert
for Bargain Travel, Cruises, Swansea, Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Neath, Port Talbot
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7. Re: Road trip London - Lakes District GB

I agree with taking the train straight to the Lake District and then using a car to explore the area when you are there. The towns and villages there will be no less pretty than those you could see on the way, or in the Cotswolds, and you won;t have to negotiate Britain's road system to get there.

If you did want to drive, then it will be a long trip if you avoid the motorways. you can stop on the way, in fact I'd recommend you take your time and have a few stops on the way up to the Lake District, but then you'd probably encounter more hassles such as congestion, parking trouble, and strange one way systems.

Overall, I think you'll be better off by train.

Aubrey, Texas
Level Contributor
11,869 posts
202 reviews
355 helpful votes
8. Re: Road trip London - Lakes District GB

I think you mean you just don't want high speed motorways. I wouldn't call B roads poor quality but they tend to meander about the countryside. That's fine if you have plenty of time (and patience). Some desireable places to see like Chipping Campden can only be reached by B roads. However gettting to others, like going from Stow-on-the-Wold to Moreton-in-Marsh, is more easily and quickly done using the A road.

The only maps I've used on many driving trips around Great Britain is the AA Road Atlas. The scale is sufficiently large to show A and B roads. The last few trips I've found GPS to be very useful. It takes a load off the navigator, too.

For planning online I prefer www.viamichelin.com over www.theaa.com because of full screen and tourism options. Both can be set to avoid motorways, as can a GPS.

9. Re: Road trip London - Lakes District GB

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