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Me and my motorway

11:20 UK time, Friday, 31 August 2007

Motorways get an unfair press.

Look beyond the concrete, the congestion and the bad food, and feel the unbridled liberation of the open road.

Take the M2. On the outside it might seem like it merely links two dead-ends in Kent, connected to neither Dover nor London.

Far from it, says columnist Zoe Williams, writing in the Guardian.

motorway_bbc203.jpg"Start from London, to experience the full force: you cross the incredibly windy bridge over the Medway. There is a train bridge adjacent. Race the train!

"The countryside of Rochester unwraps itself before you like the credit sequence of a pastoral sitcom about vets.

"Slow down if you will, to wait for a big gust of wind, then put your foot down as you veer wildly from one lane to another."

To coincide with the start of The Secret Life of the Motorway on BBC4, the Magazine is appealing to readers for their own nominations of their favourite British motorway.

Send no more than 100 words using the comments form below, explaining why this stretch of tarmac provokes such affection from you.

Any pictures can be e-mailed to and must be entitled "motorways", with a description attached.

Update, day one: The M4.

Sara writes: Ever since I was a child living in Hertfordshire, the M4 has meant holiday to me. I’d go to South Wales, Devon, Cornwall or visit the long-distance boyfriend - in a car, camper-van, school coach or bus. Given the choice, it was always Membury services we stopped at. There was always an early morning involved. And wrinkled noses smelling fertiliser on the fields – arr, that be the Wes’ Coun’ry! I now live at the opposite end of the M4 in Bristol, and periodically visit my mother in Constable Country. It’s still my holiday motorway. And I still pop into Membury.

Update, day two: The M50.
Rob Falconer writes: I'd nominate the M50. It was one of the first in Britain, and yet seems to go nowhere. It's quite pretty, with views of the Malvern Hills and at least one nice bridge, but its only purpose seems to be to get people from Ross-on-Wye and its surrounding farms to the M5 to reach Birmingham. What was its point before the M5 was built? My theory is that it was a practice motorway, so that the constructors could work out how to edit out the interesting bits.

Update, day three: The M6
Lewis Graham writes: "The M6 north of Lancaster, at night, in a coach. Perhaps looking for the black shapes of the Cumbrian fells against a black sky, at other times experiencing violent weather that blocks even a view of the other traffic. Then, Carlisle services: light, warmth and tea. The M6 has taken you through."

Update, day four: The M62
Very fond memories of the 4am drive along the M62 from Manchester to Leeds where I worked as a camera assistant at Yorkshire Television. I'm pretty sure that I drove through every weather condition imaginable there. I always remember the 'England's highest motorway' signs just outside Oldham. I now live in Australia, and that motorway is a prime example of just how diverse and beautiful Britain, its countryside and its weather, is.

Update, day five: The M25
Will Nichols writes: "How can anything match the spherical beauty of the M25? Regardless of it being the 'London Orbital' there is so much more, Essex, Hertfordshire, Bluewater, Lakeside & Surrey. In one trip around the M25 you can drive through the beautiful Epping Forest, take in some serious shopping at Bluewater and then head to either Stansted, Gatwick or Heathrow to fly as far from the bright lights of London as possible. Then there's the best thing about the M25, if you miss your junction you know that you can always try again the next time round."

Update, day six: The M8
Ian Parris writes: "The M8 through Glasgow is an amazing feat of civil engineering, yet also a horrific memorial to blikered 60s utopian thinking. From 12+ lanes at the M77 across the 10-lane Kingston Bridge (which they moved whilst traffic was still flowing), the scary bottleneck at Charing X, back to eight lanes (on stilts!) before junction 15 - it should've been a beautiful bend around the lost inner ring road but lasts today as a tangled fist of lanes joining and leaving left and right. It's a rollercoaster ride (outside rush hour) and I love it."

Update, day seven: The M74
Kevin writes: "The M74 is empty lanes of open tarmac through the stark beauty of the Southern Uplands. Across heather-covered hills, beside soaring peaks dotted with sheep and squeezed into narrow valleys. As you head south it morphs into the M6 through the Lake District. Rarely is a motorway relaxing and enjoyable, but the M74 is just that."


  1. At 10:32 AM on 23 Aug 2007, Magazine Monitor wrote:

    Thanks for your many varied suggestions, which we will be publishing on the Magazine index (and as updates above) in the coming days...

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