This can be the most expensive bit, but with a bit of perseverence and ingenuity, the cost can be minimised.
Hoverspeed http://www.hoverspeed.co.uk Dover-Calais Dover-Oostende (Ostend) SeaFrance http://www.seafrance.co.uk Dover-Calais P&O Stena Line http://www.posl.com Dover-Calais P&O North Sea Ferries http://www.ponsf.com Hull-Rotterdam Hull-Zeebrugge Euro Tunnel http://www.eurotunnel.co.uk Folkestone-Calais/Coquelles Stena Line http://www.stenaline.com Harwich-Hoek van Holland (Hook of Holland) FerryBooker http://www.ferrybooker.com Various Routes Ferry Sav£rs https://www.ferrysavers.com Various Routes
This is the tiring bit. There are essentially two routes to choose between, either using the A3 autobahn (let's call this the Northern Route) or the A8 (the Southern Route), although numerous variations are possible. The first part of either route will vary depending upon the port used.
Drive to Dunkerque (Dunkirk) along the E40. To use the Southern Route, head south along the E42 to Lille, Mons and then Namur. To use the Northern Route, carry on along the E40 towards Oostende (Ostend). Then continue as for the route from Oostende. (Ostend)
Drive past Brugge (Bruges) on the 31 until the E40 is met. Then continue as for the route from Oostende (Ostend).
Drive to Brussel/Bruxelles (Brussels) along the E40. The motorway skirts round the north side of the city. To use the Southern Route, take the E411 towards Namur. To use the Northern Route, continue along the E40 to Liege, Aachen and Köln.
Get onto the E25, and head for Rotterdam. Then continue as for the route from Rotterdam.
Either Head towards Dordercht and get on the E31. Head towards Gorinchen, Tiel, and then Arnhem.
Or Follow the E25 towards Gouda, and then the E25/E30 Past Utrecht and on to Arnhem.
Then Follow the E35 from Arnhem via Gelsenkchn, Duisberg and Düsseldorf to Köln.
Head south on the E41 towards Neufchateu, Arlon and Luxembourg (Luxemburg). Then there is a selection of possible routes past Saarbrucken, then Pirmasens and off the motorway to Landau and on to Karlsruhe. After that follow the A8 all the way across Germany - Stuttgart (stop off to see ARGE members here if you like), Ulm, AugsbergMünchen, Salzburg. If you want to stick with the motor rules then get off just before the border and drive through Salzburg - this is actually quite easy and not usually too busy outside the rush hour. Otherwise follow the A1 to Mondsee, the 154 to St. Gilgen, the 158 to Bad Ischl, the 145 to Bad Ausee over the Pötschen Paß.
The A3 autobahn runs from Köln all the way to the border with Austria, passing Siegburg, Limburg, Frankfurt, Aschaffenburg, Würzburg, Nürnberg, Regensburg, Deggendorf and Passau. In Austria, the autobahn continues as the Austrian A8. About 20 miles into Austria, turn off to Ried. From this point, the rest of the route is on much smaller roads, a welcome relief after endless motorways, and the scenery starts to become distinctly alpine. Follow the 143 via Eberschwang, Ampfelwang, Vöcklabruck and Gmunden, where the 145 is picked up. Follow the 145 via Altmunster, Traunkirchen, Ebensee and Weissenbach to Bad Ischl. You're nearly there now - only The Last Bit left to go.
Follow the 145 via Bad Goisern and over the Pötschen Pass. On descending from the pass, there are two turnings for Bad Aussee. The first turning, on the left, descends a very steep hill, and then crosses a bridge over a river. Carry on straight ahead after the bridge to reach the town centre. The second turning for Bad Aussee is to the right. At the bottom of the sliproad, turn right again to pass back under the 145 and follow the road into the town centre. Both routes meet up in the town centre at a peculiar three-way junction. There seem to be no obvious rules here, except not to bump into anything. Follow the sign to Gössl, passing immediately through a very narrow section of road with traffic lights to control the flow of traffic. The road crosses a river, and shortly after swings left and then right, around a blind corner, before leaving the town. After about 3 miles of pleasant meandering through woods and meadows, look out for Gasthof Staud'n'wirt on the left. Base Camp is in the field on the right, opposite the Gasthof.
This is getting to be a reasonably priced option, but gear still needs to find its way to Austria, and we need enough cars out there to ensure a free flow of cavers up and down the toll road.
Cheap flights are available to Munich and Salzburg. Salzburg is closer, but has fewer flights and may even be more expensive. The extra cost difference to Munich on the railways seems to be very little. In 2000, a return from Munich to Bad Aussee on the train was about 23ukp. (Note: In 2004, Ryanair were flying from Stansted to Salzburg for the princely sum of £5.99 plus airport tax (ö19.98 all in.)
The German railway website is excellent for planning journeys in both Germany and Austria. Remember to buy a ticket before getting on the train.
From Munich airport, there's a shuttle bus to the main railway station (München Hbf) from where you can take a train which stops at Attnang-Puchheim. Now follow the description below from this point.
Take a bus to the main railway station (Salzburg Hbf) and a train to Attnang-Puchheim. The train will probably be bound for Wein (Vienna). Change at Attnang-Puchheim and get on a local train to Bad Aussee. This train will probably be bound for Stainach-Irdning.
Train changes can be tight (only a couple of minutes); the platform numbers are given on the timetables on the station platforms.
Once on the train for Bad Aussee, you've got a couple of hours until you arrive. The journey is very pleasant, and the scenery improves as the journey goes on. Half an hour before Bad Aussee, the train skirts the edge of the large lake adjacent to the village of Hallstatt, visible across the water. The flanks of the Dachstein range can be seen from here. A short while later, whilst passing through a wooded valley after Obertraun station, you can catch a glimpse of the huge amount of water which pours from Koppenbrühlehöhle on the right-hand side. The train continues for a few minutes to arrive at Bad Aussee.
To walk to the centre of town, turn right out of the station and just follow your nose up the road. After about 20 minutes you'll reach the large "roundabout" junction in the centre of town mentioned above. You can try to ring Gasthof Staud'nwirt and get a lift to Base Camp; if not, you may be able to catch a bus from outside the Post Office, on the left just before the roundabout. Buses may also run from the station to the Post Office.
It's about three miles from here to Base Camp; to walk, take the exit of the roundabout to the right, following signs to Gössl. Now follow the route description given above for this section of road.
This is now pretty easy to arrange and has the advantage of allowing for stopping off en route - get an afternoon/evening Eurostar to Paris then the overnight sleeper train to Munich and you should get to Bad Aussee later that day. In the good old days apparently it was very tedious, even with a special Railwayman's Family Member ticket. However, now just check the routes and prices online using the seat61 website and/or the www.bahn.de German train website (select English at the start). Wookey highly recommends the bahn.de man you can phone in London for getting good deals.
This has been done twice, first by Dave Fearon in 1992, who took 9 days (return to UK only), and more recently by Brian Outram in a more leisurely 16 days (I think).