From Roader's Digest: The SABRE Wiki
London - Bagshot
The A30 starts its trek to Cornwall in a fairly uninspired fashion, as a congested dual-carriageway, infested with traffic lights and speed cameras. It leaves the A4 at Henlys Roundabout, just west of Hounslow, as the 'Great South West Road'. Within a mile, it has already crossed the A312, and from here to the junction with the A315 at Bedfont Lakes, the road is dominated on both sides by Heathrow's Terminal 4 and its ancillary services and businesses, such as courier, catering and car hire companies. Just after Hatton Cross tube station, you pass under the flightpath for the Southern Runway, which can be very alarming when a 747 passes right over the roof of your car. Just after the partial trumpet intersection for Terminal 4, the speed limit changes from 40 to 50, but there are still cameras every mile or so.
At Bedfont Lakes, the A30 becomes London Road for the first time. Still a dual-carriageway, it first passes Ashford Hospital and then Staines Reservoir. This section was originally a Roman road, and is fittingly, completely straight. At the Crooked Billet roundabout, the present road leaves its traditional path for the first time. Whilst the original route takes the A308 through Staines town centre, the Staines bypass curves away towards J13 of the M25 through the middle of a 'hamburger' roundabout.
At Staines Moor roundabout, there is a filter for traffic continuing west on the A30, as well as, perhaps more importantly traffic heading towards the southbound M25 and the M3. At this point, there are 12 lanes of traffic, with 2 lanes each way being used by the A30. The road loses its primary status here as well. After crossing the River Thames, there is a tight loop, known as 'The Glanty', which runs into the Runnymede Roundabout.
Runnymede is, of course, famous as the site of the Magna Carta in 1215, and further details can be found here.
After the roundabout, the road runs around Egham on the bypass, and at the Eclipse roundabout, climbs up Egham Hill past Royal Holloway College. As the road skirts the southern edge of Windsor Great Park and passes Savill Garden, there is the first feeling that London is being left behind.
At the junction with the A329 in Virginia Water, the Wentworth Estate begins on the south side of the road. Famous for holding the European PGA Championship and The World Matchplay Championship, Wentworth's West Course is one of Britain's finest golf courses. Passing through Sunningdale, the road skirts the Berkshire border and just after passing north of Windlesham, the A322 is reached at a partial, albeit elongated, cloverleaf.
Original Author(s): mistral
Bagshot - Bullington Cross
After crossing the A322, the road descends into Bagshot before climbing for a mile and a half up to the 'Jolly Farmer' roundabout on the eastern edge of Camberley. The entire section from Egham to Blackwater is single carriageway apart from 1/2 mile at Camberley Fire Station and in Camberley but in many places has lanes that are wide enough to be suitable for overtaking. The road skirts the northern edge of central Camberley, and as you approach 'The Meadows' roundabout with the A321, you go past the Sandhurst Military College. This roundabout straddles the Surrey-Berkshire border.
Crossing the Reading to Guildford railway line at Blackwater, the road enters another new county; Hampshire. Now, very much a secondary route, it passes Blackbushe aerodrome, which has some of the biggest car auctions in the south of England. For the next ten miles, the road is mostly single carriageway, but with short stretches of dual. After Hartley Wintney, there is definitely a feeling of being in the countryside, but this is a short sensation, because after the junction with the A287 outside Hook, you are already in the outskirts of Basingstoke.
Running to the south of the town centre, there are a few roundabouts and a couple of junctions with the M3, but the dominant feature is the phenomenal amount of traffic.
The original route through the centre of Basingstoke is easily traced, but often contested. From the M3 junction, the old road would have climbed London Road into the centre of town, following the pedestrianised London Street to the Market Square, then leading out via Winchester Street. At Winton Square, the road bears right, with a TOTSO to stay on the Winchester Road; the natural route leads to Sarum Hill and out to the B3400 across the Test Valley. If this route is followed naturally, it carries us through Overton, Whitchurch and Andover, before becoming the A343 to rejoin the current A30 just east of Salisbury. This is obviously an ancient route and was indeed the A30 until 1933.
Returning to the current road, a TOTSO just before junction 7 of the M3 takes us onto the two mile A30/A33 multiplex at Dummer, the A33 carrying straight on to Popham, whilst there is a right hand TOTSO for the A30. After spending 40 miles in the shadow of the M3, we now join the road which has usurped the main road status of the A30 in West Hampshire, Wiltshire, Somerset and East Devon: the A303.
The A30 now multiplexes with the A303 for the 5 miles to Bullington Cross, before heading south to Sutton Scotney and Stockbridge. The original route was more direct, veering left at Micheldever station, but that section is now unclassified. The A303 route is dual carriageway, albeit quite twisty and with short slip roads at the junctions.
Original Author(s): mistral
Bullington Cross - Yeovil
After its short multiplex with the A303, the A30 starts again as non-primary, running parallel to the A303 all the way to Yarcombe in Devon. This section begins at the Bullington Cross junction with the A303 and A34. The junction was built to avoid the local Bullington Cross Inn (now sadly closed and demolished) and so has a rather unusual shape - see map. From Bullington Cross the A30 briefly takes the original route of the A34, past the village of Egypt and then into Sutton Scotney, where it meets its original route at a roundabout. It continues over the current A34 along a dead straight section, where it meets a disconnected section of the A272 (not the original route, which ran along the B3049 to Stockbridge; my map marks it as a Roman road - it was the A342 until 1933 when it was downgraded to B3420 owing to the rerouting of the A30.
At Stockbridge the A30 is joined by the A3057 at a roundabout, where it turns left for a brief multiplex. At the next roundabout the road continues right over the River Test, then to a short dual-carriageway section around Meon Hill where the original route went straight over the top. Another straight section continues across the Hampshire/Wiltshire border, past the original Haynes Garage to the A343 junction at Lopcombe Corner. The A343 from Andover was the original route of the A30. At Winterbourne Down the road has a short dual-carriageway section through a cutting, then it runs to a roundabout at St Thomas's Bridge on the outskirts of Salisbury, where it's joined by the A338. It crosses the River Bourne and goes through two more roundabouts, continuing through the district of Bishopsdown. As with all the roads on the approach to the centre of Salisbury, this road can become rather congested.
Around the centre of Salisbury there's a fairly old dual-carriageway relief road, which serves its purpose rather well – it's a pity the approaches to it are all so clogged up. A30 traffic turns right at the first roundabout for a multiplex with the A36. Once upon a time the A30 was considered more important than the A36 and this road was numbered A30, but it's been the A36 for many years now. The A36 continues round the relief road and out to the nearby town of Wilton – famous for carpets, and less famous for being the name from which “Wiltshire” was originally derived.
Here the A30 leaves again at a roundabout, running parallel to the railway line for a short distance. At Barford St Martin it swings round to the left, with the B3089 continuing straight ahead. The next stretch runs through the villages of Compton Chamberlayne and Fovant, and through Swallowcliffe and Ansty along the edge of Swallowcliffe Down and White Sheet Hill. At Ludwell it crosses the River Nadder, shortly after which it crosses the border into Dorset. It meets the A350 on the outskirts of Shaftesbury, at another roundabout where the road turns right for a short multiplex round the town centre. At the next roundabout the A30 turns left, heading out along the “Sherborne Causeway”.
It passes though East Stour, then over the River Stour to (naturally) West Stour. At Henstridge it crosses the A357, then it runs past Toomer Hill to Milborne Port. After crossing the railway line it comes in to the town of Sherborne, famous for its school and castle. After the junction with the A352 the road becomes dual carriageway for most of the four-mile journey to Yeovil. This ends at a roundabout right on the Dorset/ Somerset border, where the road crosses the River Yeo. After entering Yeovil it runs along a dual-carriageway relief road round the town centre, where it multiplexes with the A37 for a short distance. Then the A37 turns off towards Dorchester, and the A30 continues straight ahead.
Original Author(s): Guy slightly amended by BikerPaul
Yeovil - Exeter
After leaving a multiplex with the A37 skirting Yeovil town centre, it runs as a fairly quiet, gently undulating road through the villages of West Coker and East Chinnock. The A3066 branches off near Haselbury Plucknett, and then we come into the town of Crewkerne. This is a fairly nondescript South Somerset town. Here the road crosses the A356, and makes a couple of sharp turns to continue on its way out westwards. A few miles later you pass the wildlife park at Cricket St Thomas, a village that to people of a certain age that will always be associated with 'To the Manor Born', an early 1980s TV series that starred Penelope Keith. The road then continues to Chard, where it crosses the A358.
Apparently the original coaching route to Honiton continued along a now unclassified road via Stockland, and across Stockland Hill. This seems like an unsuitable place for a two-digit A-road and indeed the A30 has always had its current route around here. Certainly the milestones in the area suggest the A30 has been the commonly known and the turnpike route for over 200 years. Anyway, the route now continues rather north of that road, to cross the Devon border just before Yarcombe.
A couple of miles past here, the road dramatically changes character. To all intents and purposes it's a different road - the main London-Exeter trunk road. This section starts at a TOTSO with the A303 (single-carriageway here, though recent plans have been mooted to upgrade it). Traffic merges into the main road from the left, and the next section is more or less straight, down through the village of Monkton. Then there's a junction with the A35, where the Honiton bypass starts. This is a fairly old section of dual carriageway, opened Dec 1966 —I can't remember a time when it wasn't there. After that, though, there's a much more recent section of (continuous) dual carriageway, completed Feb 2000, which has gained infamy in two ways. First, it was one of the roads that "Swampy" tried to stop in the 1990s, and second, it had a reputation as being one of the noisiest road surfaces in the country. Balfour Beatty apparently used some new material for the surface, and you could see signs along the road complaining about the noise. It has multi- grade junctions near Fenny Bridges, Fairmile, West Hill and Exeter Airport. Finally it joins the M5 for a multiplex at junction 29 — the original road through Exeter is now downgraded to B-road status. When originally built, this junction was free-flow and allowed access from the A30 to southbound M5 and the corresponding return journey only. Dualling the A30 led to extra slip roads being built, so more movements are possible but it's no longer free-flow.
Original Author(s): Guy slightly amended by BikerPaul
Exeter - Redruth
As the A30 approaches the M5, most of the traffic gets into the left hand lane to take the multiplexed section via the southern end of the motorway. The old route carried straight on through the centre of Exeter. This has now become the B3181 and it passes the St. Luke's Campus of Exeter University and the Heavitree site of the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. Becoming the B3212, it takes Western Way towards the Exe Bridges and out towards the junction with the new route running around from junction 31.
The A30 is no longer the poor relation, playing second fiddle to any other roads. For 111 miles, from the end of the M5 to Penzance, it is the main road to and then within Cornwall. Sweeping away to the west, the A30 is now a tremendous road. It is now a grade-separated dual carriageway for over 70 miles, with the road becoming single carriageway again at Temple, halfway between Launceston and Bodmin. In contrast, in 1976, the only sections of dual carriageway between Exeter and the Far West were the Launceston and Bolventor bypasses.
The old route through Tedburn St. Mary and Cheriton Cross is now unclassified but well worth driving, whilst the new has equally fine views of the north of Dartmoor. Between Crockernwell and Merrymeet, and again from South Zeal to Meldon, the road forms the northern boundary of Dartmoor National Park. The Okehampton bypass curves high over the northern moorland to the south of the town, crossing the A386 from Bideford to Plymouth at the western end.
Even though it is, or perhaps because it is, an excellent road, there are speed cameras every so often. As the road moves west away from Dartmoor, the character of the scenery changes dramatically. Bleak moorland becomes green farmland again for the last few miles of Devon, and then just after Lifton, the A30 enters its eighth and final county, Cornwall. The crossing of the Tamar is not very dramatic, and three miles later, the road passes the junction with the A388. Even though we're now in Cornwall, it's still 80 miles to Land's End.
The road starts to climb again, with a summit of 819 feet between Five Lanes and Bolventor. The highest point of the road on the Dartmoor section is a mile west of Merrymeet, where it tops out at 939 feet. Whilst Bodmin Moor does not have the scale of Dartmoor, it is nevertheless very beautiful scenery and after the short break in the dual carriageway at Temple, the road continues towards the junctions with the A389 and the start of the A38.
Beyond Bodmin, the A391 leaves to the south towards St. Austell, taking traffic for the Eden Project, For the next 8 miles the A30 is on a new (2008) dual carriageway alignment, bypassing the village of Victoria and the 'Iron Bridge' which carried the railway over the road, was susceptible to bridge strikes. The bypass travels to the north of Goss Moor, whilst the old route is now a cycle route. At Indian Queens, the road rejoins the older (1995) alignment. There is a grade separated junction with the A39 north to Bude and Barnstaple, which is known widely as the Atlantic Coast Highway. This is also the junction with the A392 to Newquay which multiplexes with the A39 for about a mile.
The road is multiplexed for 5 miles with A39 to the Carland Cross roundabout. The Carland Cross to Three Burrows is single carriageway, before the resumption of dual-carriageway at the start of the Redruth/Camborne bypass. This part of Cornwall is one of the poorest parts of Britain. In the past, this was the heart of the tin mining industry, and is a long way removed from the traditional Cornish image of beaches, seafood and cream teas, despite being only 4 or 5 miles away from the Atlantic coast.
Original Author(s): mistral, slightly amended by BikerPaul
Redruth - Land's End
The Redruth-Camborne section serves to remove traffic from both slowly spreading towns, whilst also superseding the original Redruth by-pass, long past its usefulness to the increasing volumes of traffic. This original relief road (now numbered A3047 and built to take the A30 in 1939) followed the line of the hills it traversed and even featured its own multilevel junction with the B3300 at Tolgus Mount. A roundabout now dissects the road at the northbound on/off lanes junction although everything else including the original bridge remains in place otherwise.
At the end of the Camborne bypass, the road becomes a single carriageway until just east of Penzance. Whilst the road and its immediate surroundings are of little interest, in either a roads or a scenic sense, there are some treats just off the road. There are lovely beaches north of Hayle, whilst north of St. Erth lies the picturesque little town of St. Ives. Although St. Ives has many attractions such as a branch of the Tate Gallery, it does have horrendous parking problems during the summer.
The road then returns to its original alignment through Canon's Town and Crowlas and does so until the roundabout with the A394 Marazion Bypass and the local road to Marazion, situated on Mount's Bay. Just off the coast sits St. Michael's Mount, a small rocky island, now run by the National Trust.
The A30 becomes a dual-carriageway for the short run into Penzance, and just after passing the heliport, it reaches Branwell Lane roundabout. The first part of the old A30 through the town is re-numbered as B3311 whilst the newer route takes a single carriageway bypass opened in 1989 around the back of the town. Penzance is home to two great gardens, Trengwainton and Trereife. As there is hardly ever any frost or snow in this area, they are able to grow plants which cannot be grown anywhere else in Britain.
At the Mount Misery roundabout the A3071 to St. Just and Cape Cornwall leaves. The primary status of the route is lost and the A30 becomes a glorified B road. It commences an eight-mile stretch to Land's End. This, as England's most westerly point, is a fitting end for, what is still one of Britain's most important roads. Arguably, the area has been spoiled by the construction of a theme park. However, it is still worth a trip just to see the sunset, which is truly spectacular.
Original Author(s): mistral
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