The M25 is the last place many of the capital’s residents and commuters would want to spend their day off, but sightseeing trips around the London Orbital are proving to be an unlikely hit with tourists.
Two coach companies are now offering tourists the chance to see London’s attractions from Britain’s least-loved road for as little as £15.
London-based Premium Tours is promoting the M25 as the capital’s answer to Route 66 in the US and has been planning the trip around the motorway for months.
But it now faces competition from Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company, which will begin its journey in Worthing before picking up passengers in Hove and Brighton en route to the London Orbital.
The Brighton firm will offer a commentary “covering interesting facts about the motorway’s evolution” as it makes the journey around the 117 miles of the M25, which would take one hour and 40 mins to cover at an average speed of 70mph.
Roger French, a spokesman for the company, said: ‘It goes through six home counties and you get a whole taste of the variety of London. In Essex you come to Epping Forest and coming round by Heathrow you see the planes coming in to land.”
French added: “It’s selling well to our main market, women in their 60s, but we’re also seeing a lot of interest from ‘geeky’ males.”
The Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company originally planned to begin the tour on October 11, but it has now added an earlier date on March 22 for “those that can’t wait that long”.
Meanwhile, Premium Tours will run a number of trips during the Olympic Games, when regular tours around the capital will be suspended. The coach company is planning to run an ‘alternative marathon’ on August 5, the day of the Olympic women’s marathon, offering tourists the chance to travel around the M25 in a vintage Routemaster bus.
Among the views people can enjoy on the trip will be Wisley Gardens, Waltham Abbey and Heathrow airport’s Terminal 5.
Despite the popularity of the London Orbital trips among tourists, AA president Professor Edmund King doubts regular users of the motorway will welcome visitors.
King said: “I’m not sure regular M25ers will welcome the addition of coach loads of tourists gawping at their misfortune.”
He suggested highlights could be “waiting in queues at the Dartford Crossing, or perhaps having a Welcome Break at South Mimms.”