Hitchhiking in England

Hitchhiking in England is…hitchhiking4

a) a jolly good time
b) illegal, but the cops are too polite to fine you
c) impossible with backpacks in those tiny cars
d) get off the road you bloody American Wanker!

We had our first encounter with British “traffic police” the other day. It was a jolly good time! They were so sweet. Steve, the older gentleman, even took photos with us. In fact, the cops were so nice, they were apologetic.

tom hitchhiking the slip road bristolHere’s how we got caught: the “slip road” (British on-ramp) shoulder was completely blocked off by traffic cones. Not to be discouraged, East Cackalacky took one of the cones and moved it off to the side so passing cars would have a thin slice of onramp to pull onto. We’d already walked 3 miles, we didn’t want to walk more…

Unfortunately, the only car this attracted was the traffic police. Which turned out to be something out of a British comedy skit.

Cops pop out of the car. We’re a wee bit nervous. He begins his cop speech:

sharmini and the English cops hitchhiking Bristol“Don’t worry. You’re not in trouble or anything. But you’re not going to catch a ride out of here. Well, technically you’re not supposed to be down here. It’s okay, you’re not in trouble. We just wanted to tell you, you should try hitchhiking out of the roundabout. Because cars, when they’re coming down here, they’re accelerating. So if they were to stop it would be bumper-crash! and that would be not good. So you might want to try the roundabout. It’s rather dangerous down here anyway. But, I know you don’t think it, they’ll stop for you in the roundabout. Yes, the sign is quite good. What are your names? Nice to meet you I’m Brian and this is Steve. And where are you folks from? Oh, how nice! And are you liking England so far? Yes, I suspect you’ll get a ride out of here there’s lots of traffic coming from the Cribbs Causeway. A picture? Oh well, yes, let’s do! We should have a picture. Careful, Tom, don’t lean that bag up against the edge, it might fall in traffic. Alright, that’s better. Right, well you have a pleasant trip. It was nice chatting with you!”

Let me just re-iterate that that was a cop’s speech! How the English enforce law, I have no idea. The cops are way too polite! But so sweet. It was quite a pleasure to talk to them. In fact, we suspect they just came to have a chat with us because they wanted to see what we were up to. Oh lovely.

When you can find a spot to hitchhike from, hitchhiking in England is rather easy.

However, there’s a lack of slip road shoulders and stopping areas near the freeways. And the major backroads don’t seem to have any shoulders. So that’s disappointing.

The other difficulty is the roundabout that precedes the motorways. I don’t care how nice the cops are, how the hell are cars going to stop in a roundabout?

tom hitchhike england bristol stupid american to birminghamhitchhiking5

But, as in all other things in England, the people are so nice. And polite. As we were waiting for a ride out of Bristol the other day, English drivers kept throwing their arms up in apology when we made eye contact with them. Sorry, not going this way. Well, how nice of you. Way nicer than the American angry honk.

So, it’s possible to hitchhike England! They recognize the thumb sign, they pick you up even though there’s barely space in the tiny cars for two travelers, two backpacks and a guitar.

Same-same, but different.

If want to hitchhike England, you’ll have to walk.


2 thoughts on “Hitchhiking in England

    • Poor Crudbot. We had a talk with him explaining that we couldn’t buy him a ticket to London and he would have to make it on his own in Pennsylvania. Hopefully he’s not causing too much trouble back home. It’s okay, though, we’re going to meet up with his English cousin, Sir Crudbot, soon!

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