|Service station Maidstone Services|
|in England at motorway M 20|
|<map lat="51.26629407070861" lng="0.6146886462402301" zoom="16" view="0" float="right" />|
Maidstone Services is a Motorway Services Area situated along the M20 in England, just south of the town of Maidstone. You can see what Maidstone Services looks like on Google Streetview.
Maidstone Services on Google Streetview
It is the only Services along the M20 between Dover and the M25 Ring surrounding Greater London. It is located at Exit 8 (which is huge roundabout) on the Northern side of the motorway. Many European cars (and some truckers, but there is not a lot of space for trucker, which would rather stops at the 'trucker Services in Ashford') stops at this Services which offers Restaurants area and Gasoline. The negative side is that it welcomes traffic going both ways (towards as well as from London). You simply need to ask around or show a sign just in case.
You can therefore catch a ride going into The Channel Tunnel which is 20 miles South or all the way to Dover crossing with the ferry.
When Frida and a friend were at Maidstone, it seemed more people going towards the Channel than going towards London were stopping there to get some food in the restaurant. If you are looking for a lift across the water, go in front of the restaurant and don't be shy to ask people for a lift.
Asking might be better than holding a sign because you'll be able to explain your situation and gain the driver's trust (since you'll need them to be willing to a. add you to their ticket free of charge b. not to say that you're hitchhiking, though this seems to be more important when entering the UK rather than leaving it).
Arriving by Train
Hitchhiking out of London can take a long time, so if you'd rather sleep in and waste some money you can get the train to Hollingbourne. I, Mooseling, just tried this and found it very easy. From London, the train goes past Maidstone Services just about a minute before reaching Hollingbourne station, so you basically want to go into the farm fields and follow the tracks back to the service station. Get out of the train, walk back along the platform and down next to the tracks. Just ignore the sign that prohibits this, but make sure nobody's watching. After about twenty meters there are gates in the fences next to the tracks, go through the one on the left and into the fields. Stay in the fields and keep following the tracks back away from the station. You'll need to cross a little stream and a couple fences, and after three fields you'll enter a little woodland. This surrounds the service station, just walk straight through it and you'll be there. I did it in the spring and it was very nice. I was tempted to stop and fly a kite.
Update 2022: If you don't want to "sneak down the platform", exit the train station on the side where there is a small building and a car park. Take the footpath infront of you that goes up a bit. After about 10 meters you come to two gates/stiles close after each other. Go through the first one, but instead of going through the second turn right into the field. When you come to the small stream you can walk along it for about 20 meters till you come to a metal gate and a crossing over the water. Keep to the right side while crossing the fields. You will have to climb two fences and the fences on the right are already a bit worn down by people who climbed them. The gates and fences are quite easy to climb. They are designed to keep cattles in and don't try very hard to keep humans out.
As of 2012 this is not a good place to hitchhike for various reasons - better stick to Maidstone. If anything changes, let us know!
A possible sneaky and cunning way to get to Dover - Exit Ashford Services and turn right on the roundabout, walk down the road for one minute and then turn left down Ashford Road. Continue to walk along Ashford Road for about ten minutes until you reach Sandling Road which will take you all the way down to a reasonable remote train station! This train station contains a pay-on-the-train system where you pay a little bit of your fare (we paid 20p) and the machine gives you your ticket and expects you to pay the rest when the conductor sees you - which he did not!! 1p fare from Ashford to Dover anyone!?