Essex Travel - Getting There


Getting to Stansted, Harwich or just getting across London from Heathrow or Gatwick, with or without your own bike, is going to involve one or more of:

The overview map below shows the principal options.

Planes

Flying to this part of England from outside Europe, there are two obvious arrival airports:

If you are flying from within Europe then the options include flying to the two above and:
  • Stansted, the nearest airport to the route, which many overseas airlines fly to
  • Luton which also has many flights, but fewer budget ones
  • London City

There are many sources of cheap flights but we have found that cheapflights.co.uk offers consistently low prices.

If you are flying with your bike, check the airline's terms of carriage - see our Bikes on Planes section, many budget airlines disclaim liability for bicycles - and your travel insurance. We don't recommend transporting an expensive bike by plane. Also, choose a direct flight wherever possible, as the more your bike is handled, the greater the chance it will be damaged.
 
Advice on packing your bike for a flight is to be found in the Guide.
 
Don't forget to book an airport car park in advance, it will be much cheaper than just turning up. Purple Parking has better coverage than most, with car parks at over 20 UK airports.

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Trains

If you are travelling from within the UK the exact route will be best found by consulting websites such at thetrainline and National Rail.  If you are coming in via Eurostar to St Pancras International then pop next door to Kings Cross station, keeping an eye out for Harry Potter's half trolley stuck in a wall on platform 9. Kings Cross to Cambridge is a direct service, but to Stansted Airport requires one change. Direct trains to Stansted run from Liverpool Street.

If you do decide to travel by rail then take advice from:

  • The Man in Seat 61 gives by far the best, independent explanations of all things rail-related and we recommend that you check out his views on bike travel.
  • Travelling with a bike inside the UK is relatively easy, as most trains will carry bicycles as long as there is room (avoid commuting times and travelling in a large group of cyclists) and for free, but advance reservations are sometimes required.
  • For information, train times and ticket purchases, we find that trainline is better than most of the other commercial sites.
  • For unbiased information, we again recommend The Man in Seat 61. Note that the London Underground (the Tube) does not take bikes, unless they are bagged and do not look like bikes.
  • The official guide to the various rules on the wide variety of train companies in the UK is held at the National Rail site.
  • Crossing the Channel by train means using Eurostar. Tickets can be ordered from trainline.
  • Tandems are tricky things to transport, they are just too long. If you are tandem riders, you will need to do more research on the transport possibilities or, more simply, hire a tandem when you get to Essex.
  • Our Bikes on Trains article should be useful reading
The map below gives you an idea of where the ferries and the relevant airports are.

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Overview map

Airports (yellow numbers)

  1. Stansted
  2. Luton
  3. Heathrow
  4. London City
  5. Gatwick

Essex travel key points

Ferry ports (blue letters)

  • Y: Hook of Holland
  • Z: Zeebrugge
  • H: Harwich
  • C: Calais and other northern coast ports
  • X: Dover and other Kent ports

Bike route

The green dot.

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Ferries

There are many ferry options from the UK and the Republic of Ireland. This trip is designed for easy access from the east of the UK so the most useful ferries are:

  • Eire
    • Rosslaire to Fishguard
    • Rosslaire to Pembroke
    • Cork to Swansea
    • Dublin to Holyhead
    • Dublin to Liverpool
  • South Eastern England
    • Calais or Dunkerque to Dover
    • The Hook of Holland to Harwich
    • Ostend to Ramsgate
  • Eurostar
    • Lille, Paris or Calais to St Pancras

 

We like travelling by P&O and DFDS Seaways and booking direct often gives you a good price. For other routes we have found Direct Ferries to be a reliable ferry booking agent.

If you want to take your car in the tunnel under the Channel then use Eurotunnel.

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Driving

The rules vary by country and you should double check current requirements before setting off. If you are a member of a motoring organisation, it should be able to provide up to date information, as should the national tourist board web sites, or see here. At the time of writing, the basic requirements for the United Kingdom are:
  • drive on the left
  • carry your driving licence, vehicle registration documents and certificate of insurance
  • display a country of origin sticker (D etc) on the back of the car
  • use mobile phones only with "hands free" kit
  • failure to keep control of the car is taken very seriously, so the driver should not be eating, drinking etc
  • children should sit in the back
  • all passengers should wear seat belts
  • alcohol limited to less than 0.8 mg/ml (0.5 mg/ml in Scotland)
Fines are normally levied by post and must be paid in sterling.

For further details see the EU overview and the UK government's Highway Code.

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