I’ve never driven the entire length of one motorway in one go before. Well actually that’s not entirely true – I’ve driven the length of the M55, but it’s not that long so it hasn’t really fixed itself in my mind as memorable. The M4, on the other hand is a major trunk road, and therefore, I feel, to drive its length in one go must be something of an achievement.
On the way to Wales we picked up the motorway at junction 2 and I didn’t drive it all, so it didn’t count. But on the way back I drove the whole lot, beginning to end. Largely this was because the photographer I was with absolutely terrified me on the journey over to Wales on his two hour driving stint by playing fast and loose with the lane markings, treating them as rough guidelines pointing him in the direction of travel, rather than boundaries to stay within for purposes of safety and order. So I made sure I drove the whole way back, because as far as possible I’d rather be responsible for my own death if I can, than die at the hands of another.
There is a whole website devoted to motorways and other public routes and the good people there described the M4 as: ‘Easily one of the most varied motorways in Britain, from urban chaos in west London and Heathrow Airport, out through the rolling hills of Gloucestershire, across the Severn Estuary and through industrial South Wales.’
In fact it amazed me how many people have houses alongside this motorway at both the London and the Swansea ends. And the bridge. The bridge is an awesome sight – the suspension wires forming a sail-like structure so it looks like a ship made to float on the air.
I drove the length of it in four hours. Four hours to traverse the country, four hours from the capital to the heart of the South Welsh countryside, to the coast, to the west.