M25 and A282

Officially named the London Orbital, nicknamed the "Road to Hell", and frequently derided as nothing more than a very big car park, this is London's outermost collar and one of the world's biggest ring roads. It could only be the notorious M25.

Despite all the hype, the M25 isn't even a full circle. The Dartford Crossing (comprising the Dartford Tunnels and the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge) over the Thames in the east and its approach roads are designated A282, because the first Tunnel was built in the 1960s as a local connection. A second tunnel was added, and because it was a dual carriageway, 1980s planners considered it eminently suitable for routing the M25 through. It remained A282 nonetheless, and has since been adorned with a bridge to double its capacity.

It's not just the biggest ring road in the world, it has other accolades. For example, consider the fact that this was the most expensive motorway Britain ever built, costing £909m at 1986 prices, or roughly £7.5m per mile. Since then it's had many times that amount of money spent on widening and other improvement works.

Since its opening in 1986, it hasn't exactly been cheap to maintain, with a cable stayed bridge to double up capacity at Dartford, countless widening schemes and now expensive things like Variable Speed Limits in desperate attempts to keep traffic moving.

The eternal question is: why is a simple ring road, a 360-degree bypass of a city, so badly congested? There appear to be three principal reasons. First, as a sweetener to locals along the route, junctions were dropped in all over the place. They allowed the road to be built, but allowed lots of local traffic onto what was intended as a long-distance route. It also means the road is now used by many commuters.

Second, it was meant to be the outermost of three or four ring roads for London (for which see the Ringways feature); not counting the inner ring road and South Circular, which are signed routes along city streets, it is currently the outermost of one and a half ring roads.

Thirdly, and partly for the reasons above, the demand for this road was so grossly underestimated that when it was finally completed in 1986, it was already out of date. Demand outstripped capacity within a few short years and ever since then it's been a long and expensive battle to make things move once more.

Tolls

The Dartford Crossing on the A282 between M25 junctions 31 and 1A is subject to a congestion charge. The road is monitored by cameras with automatic number plate recognition technology and all traffic using this road between 06:00 and 22:00 is liable to pay the charge. There are no toll booths or collection facilities on the road itself. The charge can only be paid online, by phone, or by setting up an account (which includes a small discount).

Enquiries about toll charges

Please direct all enquiries about the tolls to gov.uk. This is NOT the Dartford Crossing official website.

Vehicle class 06:00-22:00 22:00-06:00
Motorbike Free Free
Cars, motorhomes, minibuses £2.50 Free
HGVs and vans with two axles £3.00 Free
Multi-axle goods vehicles £6.00 Free

The prices above are intended as a guide only, and were correct at 10 April 2015. Please check the official website for up-to-date charges.

The charge can be paid online at the Dartford Crossing website, by phone on 0300 300 0120, or by setting up a Dart Charge account.

Start
Dartford
End
Thurrock
Passes
Swanley, Sevenoaks, Reigate, Staines, Heathrow Airport, Watford, St Albans
Length
118 miles
Open Junctions Section
Sep 1975 J23-24 South Mimms → Potters Bar
Feb 1976 J6-8 Godstone → Reigate
Feb 1976 J17-19 Maple Cross → Hunton Bridge
Dec 1976 J12-13 Thorpe → Egham
Apr 1977 J2-3 Dartford → Swanley
Nov 1979 J5-6 Sundridge Road → Godstone
Jul 1980 J5 Dunton Green → Sundridge Road
Oct 1980 J11-12 Chertsey → Thorpe
Jun 1981 J24-25 Potters Bar → Waltham Cross
Oct 1981 J13 Egham → Yeoveney
Aug 1982 J13-14 Yeoveney → Heathrow Spur (A3113)
Dec 1982 J29-31 North Ockenden → Mar Dyke
Apr 1983 J27-29 Theydon Garnon → North Ockenden
Dec 1983 J10-11 Wisley → Chertsey
Jan 1984 J25-27 Waltham Cross → Theydon Garnon
Jan 1985 J16-17 Iver Heath → Maple Cross
Sep 1985 J15-16 M4 → Iver Heath
Oct 1985 J8-10 Reigate → Wisley
Dec 1985 J14-15 Heathrow Spur (A3113) → M4
Feb 1986 J3-5 Swanley → Dunton Green
Sep 1986 J1a-2 Dartford Tunnel Southern Approach
Oct 1986 J19-23 Micklefield → South Mimms

Exit list

Junction   Anticlockwise               Clockwise  
River or canal Thames
Dartford Crossing (Toll)
ANTICLOCK
A282
River or canal Thames
Dartford Crossing (Toll)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
4 lanes 4 lanes
1A
5.7 km
Erith
A206
Swanscombe
(A226)
A206 A206
(A226)
Erith
A206
Swanscombe
(A226)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
2 miles, 4 lanes 1 mile, 4 lanes
1B
7.5 km
A225 A225 Dartford
A225
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
  1 mile, 4 lanes
2
8.8 km
M25 becomes A282
London
Canterbury
A2 (M2 Link)
Dartford
A225
A2




A2
(M2)




A282 becomes M25
London
Canterbury
A2 (M2 Link)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes SignsSigns LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes SignsSigns
3 miles, 3 lanes 3 miles, 3 lanes
3
14.0 km
London
A20
Maidstone
Channel Tunnel
M20 Link
Swanley
B2173


A20

B2173


M20

A20
Maidstone
Channel Tunnel
Dover
M20 Link
London (SE)
Swanley
A20
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
4 miles, 3 lanes 4 miles, 3 lanes
4
19.6 km
Bromley
A21
Orpington
A224
(A21)
(A224)
Bromley
A21
Orpington
A224
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
4 miles, 3 lanes 4 miles, 3 lanes
5
26.3 km
Maidstone
Channel Tunnel
Dover
M26 Link (M20 Link)
Sevenoaks
Hastings
A21
M26

(A21)
Sevenoaks
Hastings
A21
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
5 miles, 4 lanes 5 miles, 4 lanes
33.8 km Services Clacket Lane Services Clacket Lane
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
6 miles, 4 lanes 6 miles, 4 lanes
6
41.5 km
East Grinstead
Eastbourne
Caterham
Godstone
A22
Westerham
(A25)
A22 A22

B2235
East Grinstead
Eastbourne
Caterham
Godstone
A22
Redhill
(A25)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
3 miles, 4 lanes 3 miles, 4 lanes
7
46.0 km
Gatwick Airport
Crawley
Brighton
Croydon
M23 Link
M23 M23 Gatwick Airport
Crawley
Brighton
Croydon
M23 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
3 miles, 4 lanes 3 miles, 4 lanes
8
51.4 km
Reigate
Sutton
A217
Redhill (A25)
A217
(A240)
A217
(A25)
Reigate
Sutton
A217
Kingston (A240)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
8 miles, 4 lanes 8 miles, 4 lanes
9
62.6 km
Leatherhead
A243
Dorking (A24)
A243

A244
A243

A245
Leatherhead
A243
Dorking (A24)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
5 miles, 4 lanes 5 miles, 4 lanes
69.2 km Services Cobham Services Cobham
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
2 miles, 4 lanes 2 miles, 4 lanes
10
72.5 km
London (SW)
Kingston
Guildford
A3 Link
A3 A3 London (SW)
Kingston
Guildford
A3 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
5 miles, 4 lanes 5 miles, 4 lanes
11
80.2 km
Chertsey
A317
Woking
A320
A317 A320 Woking
A320
Chertsey
A317
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
2 miles, 4 lanes 2 miles, 4 lanes
12
83.5 km
Basingstoke
Southampton
Richmond
M3 Link
M3 M3 Basingstoke
Southampton
Richmond
M3 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
3 miles, 5 lanes 3 miles, 5 lanes
13
88.8 km
Staines
Egham
A30
A308


A30
A30
A308

B376
Staines
Egham
A30
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
2 miles, 5 lanes 2 miles, 5 lanes
14
92.1 km
Heathrow Airport
(T4 and Cargo)
A3113
Heathrow Airport (T5)
A3113


Airport
Heathrow Airport
(T4 and Cargo)
A3113
Heathrow Airport (T5)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
2 miles, 6 lanes 2 miles, 6 lanes
15
95.0 km
The WEST
Slough
Reading
London (W)
Heathrow Airport (T1, 2 & 3)
M4 Link
M4 M4 The WEST
Slough
Reading
London (W)
Heathrow Airport (T1, 2 & 3)
M4 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
5 miles, 4 lanes 5 miles, 4 lanes
16
103.0 km
Birmingham
Oxford
Uxbridge
London (W)
M40 Link
M40 M40 Birmingham
Oxford
Uxbridge
London (W)
M40 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
6 miles, 4 lanes 6 miles, 4 lanes
17
110.5 km
Maple Cross
(A412)
(A412) Maple Cross
Rickmansworth
(A412)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
2 miles, 4 lanes 2 miles, 4 lanes
18
112.6 km
Rickmansworth
Chorleywood
Amersham
A404
A404 A404 Chorleywood
Amersham
A404
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
4 miles, 4 lanes 3 miles, 4 lanes
19
116.4 km
(A41) Watford
A41
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
  1 mile, 4 lanes
20
118.6 km
Hemel Hempstead
Aylesbury
A41 Link
A41 A41

A4251
Hemel Hempstead
Aylesbury
A41 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
3 miles, 4 lanes 3 miles, 4 lanes
21
122.8 km
The NORTH
Luton & Airport
M1 Link
M1 M1 The NORTH
Luton & Airport
M1 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
1 mile, 3 lanes 1 mile, 3 lanes
21A
123.8 km
Watford
Harrow
A405
London (NW)
(M1 S Link)
A405



A405



St Albans
A405
London (NW)
(M1 S Link)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
5 miles, 4 lanes 5 miles, 4 lanes
22
129.7 km
St Albans
A1081
B556

B556


A1081
St Albans
A1081
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
3 miles, 4 lanes 3 miles, 4 lanes
23
134.0 km
Hatfield
A1(M) Link
London (NW)
A1 Link
Barnet
A1081
Services South Mimms


A1

A1081
A1(M) Hatfield
A1(M) Link
London (NW)
A1 Link
Barnet
A1081
Services South Mimms
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
3 miles, 4 lanes 3 miles, 4 lanes
24
138.2 km
Potters Bar
A111
A111

A1005
A111 Potters Bar
A111
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
6 miles, 4 lanes 6 miles, 4 lanes
25
147.2 km
Enfield
Hertford
A10
A10 A10 Enfield
Hertford
A10
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
4 miles, 4 lanes  
148.0 km Holmesdale Tunnel Holmesdale Tunnel
  4 miles, 4 lanes
26
152.7 km
Waltham Abbey
Loughton
A121
A121 A121 Waltham Abbey
Loughton
A121
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
4 miles, 4 lanes  
157.3 km Bell Common Tunnel Bell Common Tunnel
  4 miles, 4 lanes
27
159.8 km
London (NE)
Stansted Airport
Harlow
Cambridge
M11 Link
M11 M11 London (NE)
Stansted Airport
Harlow
Cambridge
M11 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
8 miles, 4 lanes 8 miles, 4 lanes
28
172.4 km
Chelmsford
A12 Link
Brentwood
A1203
A12

A12

A1023
Chelmsford
Romford
A12 Link
Brentwood
A1203
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
3 miles, 4 lanes 3 miles, 4 lanes
29
176.8 km
Romford
Basildon
Southend
A127
A127 A127 Basildon
Southend
A127
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
6 miles, 4 lanes 6 miles, 4 lanes
30
185.3 km
Thurrock (Lakeside)
Tilbury
A13
Services Thurrock



A13



A13
Thurrock (Lakeside)
Tilbury
A13
Dagenham
South Ockendon
(A1306)
Services Thurrock
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
1 mile, 3 lanes 1 mile, 3 lanes
31
186.7 km
A282 becomes M25
South Ockendon
Dagenham
A1306
A1306

A1090




A282
CLOCK
A1306



M25 becomes A282
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes SignsSigns LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes SignsSigns
Routes

Picture credits

With thanks to John Morgan, James Wharton, Paul Chu, Tony, Shiv, Marten Runge, CJ, Robin Burnett and Paul Berry for information on this page.