The highs and lows of toll charges in the UK


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Driving is an expensive business and it's not helped when you factor in the potential number of toll charges you face if you're travelling around the UK, or even just commuting.

From the M6 toll, to the London Congestion Charge to the Severn Bridge - it seems we can barely set off without some toll charge being extracted from our begrudging grasp.

Of course, there are alternative routes if you are determined to avoid coughing up but these routes are often more congested and can add a fair amount of time onto your journey.

In the case of the M6 Toll, there's a clear alternative in the 'ordinary' M6, plus the nearby major A-roads. Much the same applies for the Severn Bridge crossing - many motorists heading from England to Wales are prepared to take a detour via Gloucester to avoid the toll.

But there are a couple of toll bridges down south that offer such gorgeous views that we're sure you won't mind putting your hand in your pocket - and you won't even have to dig deep.

The Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol is a majestic bridge dominating the skyline as you enter the city, and you can take in the spectacular views for just £1.

Another toll bridge is the Penmaenpool toll bridge in the heart of Snowdonia. The Victorian, Grade II listed wooden bridge spans the Mawddach river at Gwynedd and costs just 60p to drive across or 20p if you're on foot. Children go free.

The London Congestion Charge is one fee you probably won't be able to avoid if you're driving around London, but there are some exemptions to the rule - the £10 a day on weekdays rule, that is.

Eco drivers who make their way around in an electric or ultra low emission car or van (tech bit: one that emits 75g/km or less of CO2 and meets the Euro 5 emission standard for air quality) go free.

Blue Badge holders in the European Economic Area are also eligible to register for a free pass even if they don't own a vehicle or drive themselves.

While toll charges for roads, bridges and even tunnels (Newcastle) are found throughout England and Wales, there are currently no toll roads or bridges in Scotland.

Toll stress

Toll truths...

  • There is more than 244, 820 miles of paved roadways for driving in the UK
  • There are 23 tolls in the UK. Of these, 18 are river crossings, the other 5 are road tolls and congestion charge zones (May 2013)
  • The Clifton Suspension Bridge, which spans the picturesque Avon Gorge, is a Grade I listed structure
  • The Humber Bridge held the record for the world's longest single-span suspension bridge for 16 years from its opening in July 1981; it was knocked off the top spot by the Great Belt Bridge in Denmark in 1997
  • The Second Severn Crossing took 4 years to build at a cost of £330 million
  • The M6 toll is the UK's only privately owned toll road (it will be given to the Government in 2054)
  • Before the Tyne Tunnels in Newcastle were built, a proposal was put forward in the 1920s for a tunnel between North and South Shields that would carry high-speed electric monorail cars
  • Skye Bridge in Scotland used to be a very expensive toll bridge - the cost of crossing was the highest toll per metre in Europe. The toll was so unpopular that citizens of Lochalsh and Skye formed a protest group called S.K.A.T (Skye Bridge Against Tolls). Members refused to pay the tolls with some even ending up in jail! Their efforts resulted in the abolition of the toll in 2004
  • Penmaenpool toll bridge, Snowdonia, was listed for sale on Rightmove last year for £350,000. The asking price included the wooden toll bridge, keeper's cottage, toll office, store and a strip of road. It is family-run and local villagers man the toll
  • The Severn Bridge is more expensive to cross than the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Golden Gate = roughly £4.20, Severn Bridge = £6.40
  • The Durham Congestion Charge was Britain's first area toll and covers a very small patch - Saddler Street and Market Place. It was introduced in October 2002, while London's Congestion Charge started in February 2003

The Severn Bridge, Chepstow

The Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol

The Humber Bridge, Yorkshire

Penmaenpool toll bridge, Snowdonia

Skye Bridge, Scotland

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