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Road Facts and Figures

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This page is an attempt to provide details of the longest, highest, etc. classified roads in the British Isles. References to 'Great Britain' below exclude Northern Ireland, which is treated separately.

This page is still a 'work in progress' and updates / corrections are more than welcome.

Contents

'Motorable Roads'

According to the Ordnance Survey, there are approximately 321,000 miles of 'motorable', roads in the UK. The precise definition of this is unclear, but probably relates to public highway suitable for/passable by motor vehicles.

Longest roads

Non-motorways

Great Britain

  • The A1 is the longest classified Road in GNB at 396 miles from London to Edinburgh.
  • The A38 is the longest 2-digit A-road in GB at over 309 miles from Bodmin to Mansfield.
  • The A361 is the longest 3-digit A-road in GB at 195 miles from Ilfracombe to Kilsby.
  • The A1101 is the longest 4-digit A-road in GB at 53 miles from Long Sutton to Bury St Edmunds.
  • The B6318 is the longest B-road in GB at 61 miles from Heddon-on-the-Wall to Langholm.

However, none of the A-roads are continuous as they either have a non-dominant multiplex, or motorway (eg A1(M)) sections, or both.

  • The longest A-road wholly in England is the A38.
  • The longest A-road wholly in Wales is the A470 at 185 miles, closely followed by the A487 at 174 miles.
  • The longest A-road wholly in Scotland is the A9 at 279 miles, with the A82 coming a distant second at 175 miles, and the A836 is the longest 3-digit route at 125 miles.

British A-roads over 100 miles long

Rank Number Distance Rank Number Distance Rank Number Distance Rank Number Distance
1 A1 396 miles 11 A34 199 miles 21 A52 146 miles 31 A66 115 miles
2 A38 309 miles 12 A361 195 miles 22 A14 137 miles 32 A85 115 miles
3 A30 284 miles 13 A470 185 miles 23 A4 130 miles 33 A11 110 miles
4 A6 282 miles 14 A47 179 miles 24 A12 129 miles 34 A61 107 miles
5 A9 279 miles 15 A82 175 miles 25 A832 126 miles 35 A59 106 miles
6 A5 270 miles 16 A487 174 miles 26 A836 125 miles 36 A449 105 miles
7 A40 256 miles 17 A10 161 miles 27 A19 124 miles 37 A838 104 miles
8 A41 222 miles 18 A49 158 miles 28 A57 122 miles 38 A27 103 miles
9 A46 205 miles 19 A483 155 miles 29 A48 119 miles 39 A96 102 miles
10 A39 204 miles 20 A90 149 miles 30 A259 117 miles 40 A614 100 miles

Ireland

  • The longest N road in Ireland is the N59 at 298 km
  • The longest A-road in Northern Ireland is the A2 at 237 miles
  • The longest R road in Ireland is the R445 at 168 km
  • The longest B-road in Northern Ireland is the B2 at 57 miles.

A and N roads longer than 100 km / 62 miles (N Roads include motorway sections)

Rank Number Distance Rank Number Distance Rank Number Distance Rank Number Distance
1 A2 381 km : 237 miles 8 N72 166 km : 103 miles 15 N2 133 km : 83 miles 22 N24 116 km : 72 miles
2 N59 298 km : 185 miles 9 N56 1512 km : 94 miles 16 N11 129 km : 80 miles 23 N80 115 km : 71 miles
3 N4 198 km : 123 miles 10 N6 148 km : 92 miles 17 N67 129 km : 80 miles 24 A6 113 km : 70 miles
4 N25 188 km : 117 miles 11 N8 147 km : 91 miles 18 N17 123 km : 76 miles 25 A4 111 km : 69 miles
5 N7 187 km : 116 miles 12 A29 146 km : 91 miles 19 A26 119 km : 74 miles 26 N15 111 km : 69 miles
6 N71 186 km : 116 miles 13 N70 142 km : 88 miles 20 N9 119 km : 74 miles 27 A3 106 km : 66 miles
7 N52 178 km : 111 miles 14 N5 134 km : 83 miles 21 N22 116 km : 72 miles

Motorways

  • The M6 is the longest Motorway in GB at 236 miles from Catthorpe, Leicestershire to the Scottish Border.
  • The M25 is the longest 2-digit Motorway in GB at over 117 miles from Dartford to Thurrock.
  • The M180 is the longest 3-digit Motorway in GB at 25 miles from Hatfield, Yorkshire to Barnetby-le-Wold.
  • The A1(M) is the longest Ax(M) road in GB at 122 miles from South Mimms to Washington in five sections while the A74(M) is the longest continuous Ax(M) Motorway, running from Abington to just south of Gretna Green.
  • The longest Motorway wholly in England is the M6. Its 236 miles stop just short of the Scottish Border.
  • The longest, and only, Motorway wholly in Wales is the A48(M) at 2 miles.
  • The longest Motorway wholly in Scotland is the M8 at 61 miles, with the M9 coming second at 51 miles.
  • The longest motorway in Ireland is, for now, the M7 at a distance of 187 km (116 miles).
  • The longest motorway in Northern Ireland is the M1 at 38 miles.

Highest roads

  • The highest classified road in Scotland is the Cairnwell Pass on the A93 at 2199 feet (670 m). Other high routes in Scotland include the Lechd Summit on the A939, at 2113 feet (644 m), the Bealach na Ba pass in Applecross, which reaches 2054 feet (626 m), and the Cairngorm Mountain road off the B970, which reaches approximately 2100 feet (640 m).
  • The highest motorway in Great Britain is the M62 at a point inside Junction 22, east of the junction bridge. A sign proclaims the height to be 1221 feet (372 m).
  • The highest point on any British motorway other than the Pennine section of the M62 is on the M74 at an unmarked point near Wedder Law, about midway between junctions 12 and 13, believed to be 1060 feet (323 m). This point remains less well known than Beattock Summit further south on the former A74 (now B7076) which at 1029 feet (314 m) was until 1991 the highest point on the Carlisle-Glasgow route. The nearby local summit on the A74(M) is probably about 1020 feet (311 m).
  • The highest point on any English motorway other than the Pennine section of the M62 is at Shap Summit (1036 feet, 316 m) on the M6 a short distance south of junction 39.

Shortest numbered road

There must be many claimants for the title of shortest classified road in GB. Most are urban link roads, which were allocated separate numbers many years ago, whereas these days they would simply be a spur of the main route.

A-roads less than circa 500 yds/m long include:

B-Roads less than circa 500 yds/m long include:

Roads meeting each other more than twice

There are many examples of two roads meeting each other again and again. Generally they result from a main route being realigned, and the old road being downgraded to a lesser status. If the two routes multiplex with each other, both junctions are counted. Some examples are:

  • A48 / M4 Meet each other about 10 times in total as they weave through South Wales.
  • A38 / M5 Meet each other 8 times directly, and many more times via a very short stretch on another route to get to the junction (eg J23, Bridgwater, where the A39 provides the link).
  • A830 / B8008 have 8 junctions with each other (including spurs) between Arisaig and Mallaig.
  • A1/A199 have 6 junctions with each other (including spurs) between Brunstane and Dunbar. One of the junctions is a cannon.

Geographical extremities: north, south, east and west

Geographical Entities

Area North South East West
British Isles B9087 A3112 A12 R559
Great Britain B9087 A3112 A12 A888
Ireland (island) R242 R591 A2 R559
Mainland GB B855 A3083 A12 B884

Political Entities

Area North South East West
UK B9087 A3112 A12 A46 (NI)
England A1 A3112 (on mainland A3083) A12 A3111 (on mainland A30)
Northern Ireland B15 A37 A2 A46
Scotland B9087 B7041 B9088 (mainland B9018) A888 (mainland B884)
Wales A5025 A4055 M48 (A466 is easternmost non-motorway) B4583
Republic of Ireland R242 R591 R750 R559

Motorways (note junction references are given to the nearest junction to the extremity)

Area North South East West
British Isles M90 spur to A9 M5 j31 M20 j13 M8 (RoI)
GB M90 spur to A9 M5 j31 M20 j13 M4 j49
Ireland (island) M2 (NI) M8 (RoI) M5 (NI) M8 (RoI)
UK M90 spur to A9 M5 j31 M20 j13 M1 (NI) j15
RoI M1 M8 M11 M18
NI M2 M12 M5 M1
Wales M4 j49 M4 j33 M48 j2 M4 j49
Scotland M90 spur to A9 A74(M) border M90 j9 M8 j31
England A74(M) border M5 j31 M20 j13 M5 j31

M roads by zone (note junction references are given to the nearest junction to the extremity)

Starting Number North South East West
1 M1 j48 M1 j1 M11 j8 M1 j40
2 M25 j21 M275 M20 j13 M27 j1
3 M32 southern end M3 southern end M3 j1 M32
4 M42 j11 M4 j11 M4 j1 M4 j48
5 M55 j3 M5 j31 M5 at M6 M5 j31
6 M6 j45 M6 at M1 M62 j38 M62 j4
7 M73 j3 M74 j13 M74 j13 M77 j8
8 M80 j6 M8 j6 M8 j1 M8 j31
9 M90 spur to A9 M9 j1 M9 j9 M9 j11

A-roads by zone

Starting number North South East West Furthest clockwise 'strayer' Furthest anti-cw strayer
1 A198 A1089 A12 A1 A100 A14
2 A219 A259 A255 A27 A27 A282
3 A34 A3112 A3211 A3111 A34 A3023 (never enters zone, A31)
4 A49 A4 A47 A487 A47 A4174
5 A595 A5 A52 A5154 A59 A51
6 A6137 A6129 A603 A66 A64 A66
7 A770 A716 A7 A77 A706 A720
8 A836 A83 A836 A888 A823 A899
9 A968 A902 A968 A9 N/A A949

B-roads by zone

Starting Number North South East West
1 B1346 B189 B1345 B1350
2 B205 B2145 B2052 B2177
3 B3028 B3296 B300 B3315
4 B4546 B4640 B400 B4583
5 B5307 B524 B502 B5109
6 B6370 B6424 B660 B6357
7 B788 B7041 B7060 B738
8 B855 B842 B874 B888
9 B9087 B900 or B901 (too close to call) B9088 B9164

Other miscellaneous facts

Sources