|Location Map ( geo)|
|Distance:||19.4 miles (31.2 km)|
|Meets:||A39, A37, A38, A371|
|Old route now:||A39|
|Route outline (key)|
The A368 is a route which skirts the northern edge of the Mendip Hills, running past the reservoirs at Chew Valley and Blagdon.
A more useful description might be 'Bath to Weston-super-Mare', though it doesn't quite make it at either end. In fact the original route of the A368 did start on the western outskirts of Bath, but that section was absorbed into the A39, along with the Marksbury-Glastonbury road (once the A369), in 1935.
Marksbury - Banwell
As a result of this renumbering, the A368 now starts at a signalised fork (previously a TOTSO) at the filling station on the A39 just west of Marksbury. We pass through fields and on into the small village of Chelwood where there is a tight double bend. A little later, the roundabout at Chelwood Bridge junction is reached with the A37. This was once an appalling signal-controlled staggered junction over the top of a disused railway line - traffic arriving from any direction had great difficulty seeing traffic from any other direction. Fortunately all this has disappeared now and we proceed on via the scattered village of Stanton Wick to Bishop Sutton. There are some quite narrow sections of road either side of the village, just wide enough for two cars to pass, but keep an eye out for larger vehicles.
Leaving the village, the large reservoir at Chew Valley Lake comes into view to the west. This is now a popular tourist spot and a Site of Special Scientific Interest, where Bristol Water has created a haven for various species of birds and plants. The road drops down and actually passes along a causeway built across a small corner of the lake, with large laybys on either side. The popularity of these laybys as a picnic site, fishing spot, etc., has seen the best overtaking point on the whole road reduced to a 50 limit (at least).
The next village is West Harptree, where we cross the B3114, which briefly multiplexes with us, after a sharp right hand bend. The village, as with all of these villages along the northern flank of the Mendips, is small but pretty with a wide street and elegant spired church. A mile later and Compton Martin has a small duckpond where you may normally expect a village green. Ubley comes next, and whilst it mainly lies down the hill, it is perhaps better known these days as a brand of Yoghurt made by Yeo Valley, who are based in the footslopes of the Mendip Hills, with a factory on the A368 and another on the A371 to the south. We then pass above another, smaller, reservoir called Blagdon Lake, which today ranks among the top trout fisheries of the world. In fact, we don't get that close to the lake itself, instead passing through the village of Blagdon, but there are good views across the water. The busy, narrow main street of Blagdon can be an appalling bottleneck on this route, with parked cars outside the village store frequently causing traffic to reverse or wait while oncoming traffic clears the road ahead, the tight bends not helping progress.
After the pretty little village of Rickford, lying off to the right with its quirky half timbered church lying next to another pond, we reach Burrington. Here the turning for the B3134 leads up through Burrington Combe - far less well-known than the nearby Cheddar Gorge, but well worth a visit and reportedly the inspiration for the hymn Rock of Ages, written by the Reverend Augustus Toplady as he sheltered there during a storm. After another few miles, we cross the A38 at the Churchill Gate Crossroads, a busy junction which is controlled by traffic lights, just to the east of Churchill.
The road now gains primary status here, as it is the fork for the Bristol to Weston-super-Mare route via the A38. The small, pretty villages of Churchill and Sandford, home to the booming Thatchers Cider business, are strung along the roadside, making it feel like a continuously urban route, but in fact there are plenty of open fields just behind the houses. The road then skirts the northern side of Banwell Hill, an outlier from the main Mendip ridge, and comes to an end at Banwell on the A371, which takes up the primary baton and forms the last leg of our journey to Weston-super-Mare. Whilst the A368 into Banwell is S2 all the way, the A371 either side of the junction is little better than S1, which often makes it difficult to escape the A368 in either direction.
As mentioned above, the A368 formerly started at The Globe on the edge of Bath. However, the section of the route from there to Marksbury became an extension of the A39 in the 1930s. Other than that little has changed, except for reduced speed limits and signage and give way lines around overhanging buildings. Perhaps unusually, none of the villages which the road passes through have been bypassed, nor has the road been realigned apart from junction improvements.