From Roader's Digest: The SABRE Wiki
|From:||near Sutton Scotney, Hampshire (SU432382)|
|To:||near Five Ashes, East Sussex (TQ554239)|
|Length:||78.1 miles (125.7 km)|
|Meets:||A3, A22, A23, A24, A26, A29, A31, A34|
|Former Number(s):||A341, A342, B2102, B3420|
|Now part of:||A31, B2102, B3049|
|Petersfield • Uckfield • Winchester •|
|Route outline (key)|
The A272 is an epic trek through parts of Hampshire and Sussex. With the A27 and M27 attracting long distance traffic the A272 has never warranted any major upgrades, and traffic levels throughout are fairly reasonable. This road is notable for having an entire book dedicated to it: "A272: An Ode to a Road" by Pieter Boogaart, which became something of a minor cult and even inspired a TV programme. According to Mr Boogaart, the significance of the road is that it once connected England's Ecclesiastical capital, Canterbury to its political capital, Winchester.
Section 1: Sutton Scotney - Winchester
The A272 starts on the A30 between Sutton Scotney (on the A34) and Stockbridge. The A30 is dead straight here and the A272 also is what with being part of a Roman Road. The Roman Road continues North of here, first as the B3420 then as a byway. The ends of the B3420 and A272 have been diverted slightly from the lines of the Roman road, to stagger them presumably for safety reasons. Heading South on the A272, after a few miles a roundabout is reached, part of an interchange with the A34. From here the A272 multiplexes with the A34 down to M3 J9 and then in its own right down the link road running parallel with the M3 (the number of this road is debated - but most maps do claim it to be the A272). It then takes a left at a roundabout to multiplex for a short while with the A31. All in all this is actually quite a short section of A272 followed by a lot of multiplexing to connect it to the main bulk of the road.
Section 2: Winchester (A31) - Petersfield (A3)
The A272 resumes at a T junction on the A31 to the east of Winchester, heading in a sufficiently different direction that it's difficult to see why the same number is used for the two bits. Some lovely sweeping curves, and a fantastic view to the South from Cheesefoot Head, as the road is now up in the South Downs. After some more great driving, the road comes close to Cheriton; turn off on the B3046 here for the famous Flower Pots inn. The A272 continues through the tiny village of Bramdean to a signal controlled crossroads with the A32 at the West Meon Hut. The West Meon Hut is the name of the pub; there's also a petrol station here but that's all. The village of West Meon is a couple of miles South along the A32. Were it not for this junction being in the middle of nowhere it would have likely had a roundabout (or even a mini-roundabout) as most the other major junctions on this road do.
East of here, there's some more great driving. The road goes under a rail bridge, for the dismantled Meon Valley line, then some more lovely sweeping curves, then a fun bit with some tighter curves as it heads downhill through woodland. Then there's a left turn at the hamlet of Langrish shortly followed by a tight right. Soon the road enters the uneventful village of Stroud and then we reaches A3. There's a roundabout under the A3 here. Straight on would take us into the middle of Petersfield, and the A272 once went that way, but since the bypass opened, the A272 has multiplexed with the A3 along it.
Section 3: Petersfield (A3) - West Grinstead (A24)
The A272 multiplexes with the A3 for a couple of miles, and turns off at the next junction, a trumpet for our grand road. There are two lanes Eastbound on this short stretch of road, which crosses the railway (Portsmouth to Waterloo line) before ending at a small roundabout just north of Petersfield. Right from here heads into the middle of Petersfield but the A272 heads left. The road is primary here for the first time.
This heads through the village/suburb of Sheet, then up the hill, and becomes dual. This is the old route of the A3 and was dualled before they realised they needed a completely new alignment to bypass Petersfield, Liss and Liphook properly. No sooner does the dualling start than the A272 TOTSOs right through a gap in the central reservation. Straight on becomes the B2070. Trumpet interchange and right hand turn through a central-reservation within the space of a mile pretty much sums up the variety of the A272.
The A272 continues as a nice fast single carriageway, until we reach the pretty village of Rogate, where it's rather narrow. Then a few miles further on there's a bridge that's only wide enough for one lane, so has traffic lights. Beyond there is another fast stretch, across Iping and Stedham commons, until we get to the outskirts of Midhurst. The road reaches the A286 at a mini-roundabout and turns left, multiplexing with it along the narrow High Street. Leaving the town it crosses the River Rother and now reaches the village of Easebourne. The A286 turns left here at a mini-roundabout, and the A272 goes straight on for a while, before turning sharply right and climbing out of the village.
This is another fast stretch of road, with three short dualled sections. The road passes through Tillington and then heads down into Petworth, along the southern edge of Petworth Park. The start of the A285 is a right at the mini-roundabout; the A272 turns left and heads through the tiny narrow streets of Petworth. Here there is a one-way system, eastbound heads past the church, westbound through the market square. Through Petworth the road is so narrow and twisty that HGVs are directed along improved unclassified country lanes outside of Petworth that avoid the town centre. The A283 multiplexes for the entire one-way system and then the roads jointly head north to a mini-roundabout. The A283 then continues north, with the A272 heading east again.
The route beyond here heads slightly more north than it has been up to now. After one longish straight, it's quite curvy with no decent overtaking opportunities. Wisborough Green is a pretty village with, as its name suggests, a large village green. The road along the side of the green is unclassified but is signposted for Cranleigh, i.e. cutting the corner off onto the B2133. Meanwhile the A272 continues, multiplexing with the B2133 over the River Arun. The bridge here is barely wide enough for two cars to pass yet has no indication of priorities, or better still, traffic lights as were encountered earlier. It then meets the A29 on the Billingshurst bypass.
The Billingshurst bypass is fairly new and carries the A29 around to the west of the town. The A272 still has to go through the middle - even though the A272 is primary here, and the A29 isn't. Crossing the bypass there is immediately another small roundabout. Beyond there is a mini-roundabout on the old A29, where the road turns left. After a short distance the A272 turns off right, squeezing between two buildings.
Coming out of Billingshurst and the road heads more south for a while, back towards its original latitude. There is a hump backed bridge over the Arun Valley line. Next there is a junction with the B2139, a crossroads, where the other road (B2139 heading into unclassified) has priority. The road then heads mainly straight to the Buck Barn traffic lights on the A24.
Section 4: West Grinstead - Bolney (A23)
This is probably one of the busiest sections of the A272 as it links the A24 and A23 and does so with less hassle than either the A264 further north or the A27 to the south. The junction with the A24 is a traffic light controlled crossroads, only the second so far. There's also a petrol station at the junction. The next section is actually signposted to Brighton for traffic coming South on the A24. The road from here is narrow, with large hedges on either side, but fairly straight. There are a few buildings at one point, but very few. However, the speed limit has been reduced from NSL to 50 for apart of this section due to poor sight-lines and a number of accesses.
The road meets the A281 in Cowfold at a mini-roundabout. It is the main road through the village, and A272 traffic has to turn right here and multiplex with it for a very short distance to another mini-roundabout. Heading east again, with the village green on the left the road soon leaves the village and there's some more straight rural road before reaching Bolney. While there are a number of buildings on the A272, the main part of Bolney village is off to the left. There is an uncontrolled turning on the left for the A23 North. This is numbered as a spur of the A272. It goes for a hundred metres to a small roundabout where there is a minor road into Bolney (which is also the old A23), and slip roads for the Northbound A23. If you don't take that turning, you very soon go under the A23, and reach another roundabout, which has the slips for the Southbound A23. The east side of this junction has wonderfully long slip roads, the west side ones are very short and tight as there is a wood and a pond that got in the way when the junction was rebuilt.
Section 5: Bolney - Five Ashes
The roundabout with the A23 southbound slip road is left behind. We’re in rural West Sussex and trees soon appear on either side of the road. After a mile and a half we get a 40 mph limit for the village of Ansty. In the village centre there is a mini roundabout where we fork left. The right turn is the B2036 towards Burgess Hill. On the junction is the inviting looking Ansty Cross pub, now sadly closed and advertised for sale as business premises. After a very short distance we get our NSL back.
A further half a mile and we reach a roundabout. The left fork is the former route of the A272 through the village of Cuckfield. It is now designated as the B2036 into the village. We take the right fork S2 bypass, which is straight and wide. 60 mph is very comfortable here and overtaking easy on the straight. This bypass is about a mile long. We now meet at former route again at another roundabout. This is the left turn and is now listed as part of the very short B2184. The A272 turns right. At this point is the start of another 40 mph limit as the outskirts of Haywards Heath are reached.
A further quarter of a mile brings another roundabout. The right turn here being the A273 towards Burgess Hill again. This was to have been the start of a developer-funded relief road, which has been held up by a dispute between the developer and Network Rail over who should fund the crossing of the railway. However, construction has now restarted and the road should be finished by 2015, meaning the route will no longer pass along Haywards Heath's main shopping street. Turning left we shortly get a 30 mph limit for Haywards Heath. Just before the town centre we see a no entry sign, as there is a one-way system over the railway. We pass a couple of light controlled junctions (the second is the junction with the B2028 leading to Haywards Heath Station). Bearing right here and then quickly left at the next lights re-unites us with the westbound A272. At another roundabout the left and right turns are the B2112. Presently there is a mini roundabout with a local road.
Eventually the town is left behind and we get a 40 limit followed in another third of a mile by a 50 limit. Next we come to the village of Scaynes Hill, which gets a 30mph limit. As we leave the village the road drops down the hill. We get our NSL back and the westbound route gets an overtaking lane coming up the hill. Eight and a half miles from the A23 and we see the sign for East Sussex. After a further mile and a half the village of North Chailey is reached. It has a 40 mph limit attached. In the village are two mini roundabouts. These form the staggered junction with the non-primary A275. Unusually for this route, the road is without much of a bend for this section. We get our NSL back but soon are reduced to 40 mph again at the village of Newick. Actually most of the village is to the south of the road here and it's back to NSL after three quarters of a mile.
Next up is the sign for Piltdown. Infamous as the sight of the discovery of ancient human remains, thought for many years to be the "missing-link" between humans and apes, but shown in the 1950s to be faked by its discoverers. The Piltdown Man Inn still bears testament to the findings. Piltdown itself is not much more than a hamlet and has a 50mph limit.
Back to the open road and NSL limit. Presently there is a sharpish bend to the right together with a 35mph advisory posted. We then come to a roundabout junction with the A22 Purley to Eastbourne route. This is called the Batts Bridge Roundabout. Here the former route of the A272 is diverted again. Formerly it would have continued into the village of Maresfield. That route is now unclassified. Since the A22 was given an S2 by-pass of this village, we follow the A22 to the south. After slighly less than a mile we reach another roundabout (the Blackdown Roundabout) where the A26 from the north comes in from the left. We now turn left to multiplex with this route. After another quarter of a mile we reach our third roundabout in as many minutes (Butletts Roundabout). The left turn is the former route of the A272 from Maresfield, straight on is the A26 to the north, so we turn right and end the multiplex. At this point we lose our primary status and to add insult to injury immediately have a TOTSO with an unclassified road, turning left. This junction, like the one with the B2070 is a relic from when the more minor road used to be the more major on, in this case the A22 through Uckfield.
Half a mile further on is a traffic light controlled crossroads, the other road being unclassified. A further mile brings us to the village of Buxted with a 40 mph limit and its railway station on the Uckfield line. The village merges into that of Pound Green. Once through here we get our NSL back. The last village en route is Hadlow Down. And another 40 mph limit. On the right here is the rather attractive sounding Wilderness Wood. Back to NSL for the last 1.1 miles of the route. Here the road ends at a T-junction with the A267. The road doesn't actually make it to Five Ashes, this being on the A267.
The A272 originally started in Winchester. It later took over part of the A341 to reach the A30 at Stockbridge before being changed to its current route. Would have also run through Winchester on its own route, with the A31 out of Winchester running slightly further north. Ran through Petersfield before the A3 bypass. Various bits of straightening and widening have taken place between Petersfield and Petworth. Slight realignment at Billingshurst to accommodate new bypass, used to run where the footbridge across the A29 now is. The only major bypass of its own is at Cuckfield, old route is South Steet and Broad Street. From the site of Piltdown golf course, the original A272 took a narrow and winding route along now unclassified roads to Uckfield before heading out of there on the now B2102 ending at the then A265 at Blackboys. In fact the A272 now mainly follows the route of the old B2102.