Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Snarling at the Junction

Still very busy, so, in honour of today's Grand Prix, a reprise of a post from the archives...

For those fortunate enough never to have passed through the abomination that is Junction 10 of the M40, and all who have ever sped by and wondered about the seemingly endless queues, there is a full explanation here, which can easily be simplified - essentially everyone gets in everyone else's way. A lot.

"Slip road" - the term was devised to suggest a seamless transition onto the new-fangled motorway (where a smiling AA man will salute when he sees your radiator badge - happy motoring!). How different from the daily situation at Junction 10, where  anyone going anywhere has to negotiate a sinuous maze of roundabouts and sharply-curving bends, impeded by virtually everyone travelling in the opposite direction.

And this, let’s not forget, is one of the main access routes to Silverstone, Britain’s flagship Grand Prix circuit. While the important racegoers are flown into Kidlington and taken by helicopter to the circuit, the rank and file coming up from the South sit in increasing tailbacks on the M40 and wonder why they bothered.

Between them and the A43 are three roundabouts which, even in normal traffic, can generate queues of several hundred yards given the slightest delay. 

The first roundabout, where virtually all northbound traffic must turn right, has a camber so extreme that HGVs topple over on a regular basis - assuming, of course, that they have managed to graduate beyond the customary crawl. This spews you out towards the second, where you are stuck in a mass of jammed traffic and have to rely on clairvoyance to select the correct lane to approach the third. 

Here, in defiance of all logic or common sense, the streams of north- and southbound traffic cross at a single point. Oh, and that point is at the bottom of a slope with a slip road temptingly close at hand, so there is a very real possibility of heavy lorries ploughing straight ahead regardless of oncoming traffic.

One can only conclude that the whole arrangement was designed by a civil engineer who cycles to work (doubtless in sweaty lycra and a filthy temper) and has a serious grudge against motorists in general and motorsport fans in particular.


  1. Maybe, JH, maybe, but for this particular journey it would take far too long.

    As for public transport, while into or out of London is relatively easily accomplished, the routes across this part of England are notoriously nigh-impossible, as Bill Bryson found:

    'Milton Keynes takes some getting to from Oxford, which is a little odd because it's only just up the road. I selected it as my destination on the basis of a quick look at a road map, assuming that I would, at worst, have to take a train to Bicester or some such place and then another from there. In fact, I had to go all the way back to London, catch an Underground train to Euston and then finally a train to Milton Keynes - an overall journey of perhaps 120 miles in order to travel between two towns about thirty miles apart.'


    By coincidence, the route by car would have included leaving the M40 at Junction 10, so, even by road, the journey is not necessarily trouble-free.

  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stagecoach_bus_route_X5

    Best regards

  3. Thanks, NS - it presumably wasn't around when Bryson did his tour, and it certainly sounds a far cry from the grubby coaches that connected Oxford and Cambridge (via the back end of Luton) in the distant days of my youth.

    However, its route, while avoiding Juntion 10, crosses the M40 at Jiunction 9 (which is often pretty grim) and, even worse, is likely to be ensnared by the queues for Bicester Village.