From Roader's Digest: The SABRE Wiki
|Via:||Chepstow, Newport, Cardiff, Bridgend, Neath, Port Talbot, Swansea|
|Length:||119 miles (191.5 km)|
|Meets:||A40, A4151, B4231, B4228, B4293, A466, B4245, M4, A449, B4237, A4042, B4239, A467, B4487, A4232, A4161, A469, A470, A4119, B4488, A4161, A4050, A4232, A4226, A4222, B4268, B4524, A473, B4265, B4622, A4106, A4229, B4281, B4283, A4107, B4286, A474, A483, A4230, B4291, A4217, A4067, B4603, B4489, A4240, B4296, A4138, B4297, A476, B4310, A40, A484|
|Bridgend • Cardiff • Carmarthen • Chepstow • Gloucester • Neath • Newport • Port Talbot • Swansea •|
|Route outline (key)|
Highnam - Lydney
The A48 is a fairly quiet road- the only time it got anything like busy was when the Severn Bridge was closed for whatever reason - Gloucester represents the next point where the Severn can be crossed. However with the opening of the Second Severn Crossing nobody has to endure this detour any longer.
Which is a pity because the A48 is a nice run if you're not in a rush. It begins at a three-arm roundabout with the A40 near Highnam and makes straight for the west bank of the Severn. Just after passing Minsterworth the road and river are separated only by a wall for a couple of miles or so, which is used by people watching surfers on the Severn Bore.
As you travel south-west you drive up a small rise. I can't remember whether this is before or after Westbury (but I think it's before). Anyway, as you reach its low summit a marvellous view opens up of the Severn, suddenly doubled in width, and looping lazily away in giant curves towards the horizon. Pretty soon you can spot the Severn Bridge in the distance, and it disappears and reappears, growing ever closer, as you go on. I should imagine that the new bridge can be seen as well now.
Just after Westbury comes the only junction with another A-road along this stretch - a bog-standard T-junction with the A4151, which goes up the hill and into the Forest of Dean. For the next few miles the A48 squeezes between the big wide river on your left and the forest on your right. The A48 doesn't however actually enter the forest, just passes swiftly by.
At Lydney, at the Forest's southernmost tip, there's something new for the A48 - it's a bypass, single carriageway, running away south and east of the town. Currently there is a new roundabout under construction between the Northern turning into the town and the B4231 roundabout, due to a new housing estate being constructed. Also at Lydney the river has narrowed again a little. There used to be a spindly metal railway bridge over the river to Sharpness at this point, however in the 1950s a boat collided with it and it was demolished.
Lydney - Chepstow
The Lydney bypass complete with a level crossing rejoins the original route of the A48 at a roundabout near Aylburton.
From then until Chepstow the A48 is relatively straight. Between Alvington and Netherend the road dips down into a small river valley and climbs back up again to a dual carriageway past Netherend itself.
Then the A48 crosses rolling countryside passing through several small villages - Stroat, Wibdon and close to Tidenham where the road passes by the National Diving Training Centre at the disused water filled Tidenham Quarry and under a railway bridge.The A48 approaches Tutshill and the new route of the A48 running parallel to the Gloucester-Chepstow railway line and across a new bridge over the River Wye into Wales and Chepstow itself.
The A48 then climbs up and out of central Chepstow and meets the A466 at a roundabout - turn left (primary route) for the M48 at Junction 2 and the old Severn Bridge looking wonderful in white paint, and right for the wonderful journey along the Wye Valley to Monmouth.
Chepstow - Carmarthen
The A48 itself heads west parallel to the M48 and M4 motorways as a non-primary route towards Newport. Early proposals for the Severn Bridge showed the M4 ending at a roundabout on the A48 at Crick, but this idea was abandoned before it could be built. Instead, the A48 and M4 run in parallel to The Coldra (M4 junction 24) on the outskirts of Newport. On the hillside above the motorway can be seen the Celtic Manor Resort.
From M4 Jn 24 the A48 continues round the southern edge of Newport as a dual carriageway with roundabouts and signal controlled junctions. It crosses the Usk by means of a new bridge and passes adjacent to the famous Newport Transporter Bridge before becoming S4 at the Ebbw Bridge Roundabout and meeting the M4 again at Junction 28.
The A48 continues west through suburban Newport, meeting the M4 again at Junction 28. The junction 28 roundabout used to be the terminus of the M4 until the 1970s when the extension west was built. To the south of the roundabout is Tredegar House.
Now the A48 runs parallel to the M4 through the village of Castleton, and then alongside the A48(M) to St Mellons on the outskirts of Cardiff. Whilst there have been occasional short lengths of dual carriageway, from here through eastern Cardiff the road takes on the characteristics of an urban dual carriageway, with grade separated junctions. The road passes to the north of the city centre now (the old A48 is now the A4161) Eventually it crosses under the A470 at the bottom of a 3 level stack roundabout.
Continuing westward, the road standard reduces to an urban single carriageway road, passing the usual mix of light commercial and residential properties.
At Culverhouse Cross, on the western fringe of Cardiff, the A48 passes over the A4232. Indeed, whilst historically, the A48 was the main road in Cardiff, it has largely taken a back seat to the A4232 as it is this road which provides the link to the M4.
The A48 becomes very rural in character from here –- and with the advent of the M4, carries much reduced levels of traffic. We pass through a series of villages (Bonvilston, and St Nicholas) with thatched cottages and window boxes (you get the picture) before arriving at St Hilary and the Cowbridge Bypass (about two miles of grade separated dual carriageway in the middle of nowhere).
The bridges on the Cowbridge bypass have slightly unusual parapets. Instead of the 3 parallel rails normally seen on bridges, we have something that looks like a very beefed up pedestrian guard rail. As each carriageway has its own bridge, you can look through 3 sets of vertical lines –- the effect is quite striking.
The A48 continues west towards Bridgend on a single carriageway Roman Road alignment (i.e. straight). These days the A48 passes south of Bridgend, but presumably used to go right into the middle of town along the present A473.
South of Bridgend, the A48 passes under a Steel Girder bridge which used to have FERODO written on the side – presumably it still does but it’s a long time since I’ve been through there.
West of Bridgend lies the Stormy Down section of the A48. Here the road is dual carriageway, but one carriageway is obviously much newer than the other. One minute you are below the other carriageway, the next minute you are above it, but only for a few seconds because you dive down again. Stormy Down is quite an appropriate name.
We cross over the M4 again now, before continuing north west towards Pyle and the big roundabout with the turning for Porthcawl (and its funfair).
And so, onto Margam, with its castle and country park, then Port Talbot and its steel works on the left. We cross over the M4 again at junction 38, then down the hill on a dual carriageway to Junction 39. At one point the M4 was the A48(M), and it took the A48 round Port Talbot to Baglan. These days the A48 once more runs through the centre of town, passing under the 'other' elevated section of the M4 towards the old Briton Ferry Bridge. This bridge is now largely superseded by the M4, and indeed, once you’ve crossed it, the A48 multiplexes with the M4 as far as junction 44. Built as the A48 in the 1960s, this road was converted to motorway in the 1990s. However, the original A48 ran north from Briton Ferry to Neath (now A474), then west to Skewen and Morriston (A4230), on the northern fringe of Swansea.
The present A48 resumes at junction 44, running through the town of Morriston, very close to that elusive duplicate, the B5444. On your left, as you approach Llangyfelach, you will see the large DVLA building looming on the skyline, next to the crematorium.
The A48 turns north at a roundabout in Penllergaer, and continues to play second fiddle to the M4 through the villages of Pontlliw and Pontarddulais before arriving at the end of the M4 (Junction 49). Here the road takes on dual carriageway status and carries on with some pride along an alignment built in the late 1980s to Carmarthen. The old road ran through some pretty little villages, but the most noticeable sight was the steep hill at Nantycaws just to the south of Carmarthen. Here, the road drops down a very steep gradient (1 in 4) before climbing back up an equally steep hill. You didn’t want to get stuck behind anything there. These days, the A48 takes a more gentle course, but you can still see the old road ahead of you at one point.
Over the years the end-point of the A48 has moved, as new roads have been built in and around Carmarthen. Today it ends at a roundabout junction with the A40 and the A484 at Pen-sarn just south of the town itself and before the modern Pont Lesneven crossing of the Tywi.