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Cambridge to London avoiding large stations
Online route planners seem determined to have us do battle with monsters like King's Cross. These navigational nightmares can be daunting when travelling alone with limited sight, especially now that staff are in shorter supply and much information is displayed only on distant signage that assumes good vision.
I therefore have some notes on alternative routes avoiding these hubs. These are only my personal notes and I must disclaim all liability for inaccuracies, but I hope they're useful.
Coach to underground
National Express coach 010 to Victoria has also been known to stop at:
- Embankment (Zone 1): Good option. Coach stops outside underground station in both directions; if coming from Cambridge a road crossing is necessary but there are light controls and I've done it (the rotating cones usually work). Describe Online has HOWTOs for Bakerloo, District, and Northern. But check for closures. Typical journey duration from Cambridge Parkside: 95 to 115 minutes.
- Northern trains to the two main branches usually arrive alternately, so if you find yourself on a High Barnet train when you wanted Edgware (or vice versa) you can alight at any station and change from the same platform, unless you realise your mistake only after you've passed Camden Town, in which case on the way back you might want Describe Online's instructions for how to change platforms at Camden Town to get back onto the correct branch.
- Aldgate (Zone 1): Coach from Cambridge stops opposite underground station and there are light controls to cross the road, but I don't know how to find the stop for the coach to Cambridge, so this option might be suitable in one direction only. (Some online maps supposedly showing the exact location of the coach stop are incorrect.) Once you reach the underground station, Describe Online has HOWTOs for Circle and Metropolitan, and also instructions on how to change at Moorgate from Metropolitan to Northern (might be useful if Embankment's Northern section closes and/or you want the eastern loop)
- Mile End (Zone 2): Coach stops outside underground station, but I don't know about navigating the station itself. It serves only the Central, District and Hammersmith lines and I don't know any easy way of changing to other lines from these.
Typical coach times between Cambridge and Mile End: 75 to 105 minutes depending on time of day (late return coaches can be quicker but might not be at particularly convenient times)
- Might be useful if your destination is in the Mile End area though. For example if you want Grove Road, cross over from station, turn left and it's on the right. (I haven't actually tested this yet, but there are light controls just behind the toward-London stop and also at the large junction ahead of it. There are also buses somewhere.)
The terminal at Victoria is fine for changing coaches to elsewhere but it's a bit awkward for transferring to the underground (some street navigation is necessary).
Train to underground
If you're too late to make a coach booking, you might prefer train. It's typically more expensive, and not very much quicker: if you live closer to the coaches than the station, you have to factor in the extra time to get to the station and buy tickets, and as you're avoiding King's Cross you can't take the fastest trains (much as I like archaeology and museums, I'm not acting the opening scenes of "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade"---I get off trains when they stop
- Finsbury Park (Zone 2): Good option. This is a station on the King's Cross line that's smaller than King's Cross (don't get a non-stop train). Describe Online has instructions on how to change from train to Victoria or Piccadilly underground lines and how to change between Victoria and Northern at Euston. Typical journey durations: Cambridge station to Finsbury 80 minutes, Finsbury to Euston 7 minutes.
- Tottenham Hale (Zone 3) on the Liverpool Street line also connects with Victoria. Typical journey durations: Cambridge station to Tottenham Hale 55 to 70 minutes, Tottenham Hale to Euston 13 minutes. Navigation shouldn't be too difficult as there's only one underground line to worry about, although it does have two directions. I don't know any links to detailed instructions though.
Coach seats might still be available on the day, but there's no guarantee the drivers will even stop
at places like Embankment if they haven't been informed someone's booked to get on there, so if you haven't booked a coach and don't want to find the Victoria terminal (and you're not in an action film) then Finsbury Park or Tottenham Hale might be better.
All material © Silas S. Brown unless otherwise stated.