|From:||Kings Lynn (TF622190)|
|To:||Great Yarmouth (TG518084)|
|Distance:||86.8 miles (139.7 km)|
|Meets:||A148, B1144, A10, A47, A1076, B1145, B1439, B1440, B1454, B1161, B1153, B1355, B1155, B1105, B1156, A1082, A140, B1436, B1150, A1151, B1159, A1062, B1152, A1064, B1141|
|Former Number(s):||A47, A1064|
|Old route now:||A148, B1440|
|Route outline (key)|
The A149, the north Norfolk coast road, is the less direct alternative to three other roads from King’s Lynn: the A148 to Cromer, the B1145 to North Walsham and the A47 to Great Yarmouth. It can be split into three sections – up (King's Lynn to Hunstanton), across (Hunstanton to Cromer) and down (Cromer to Great Yarmouth).
Section 1:Kings Lynn - Hunstanton
The first section is a fairly high standard, if busy, single carriageway road serving the North West Norfolk coast. It starts at the Southgates Roundabout with the A148 in King's Lynn, and heads eastwards away from the town along Hardwick Road, which was the A47 before the King's Lynn southern bypass was built. Hardwick road ends (appropriately) at the Hardwick Roundabout, and since the flyover was built the A149 is the only through route on the roundabout itself. However the roundabout is still trunk and still officially the A47 (whose through route uses the flyover).
Take the first left and we're onto the King’s Lynn eastern bypass, aka Queen Elizabeth Way, and here the A149 becomes a primary route. This wide section of road was built as a 3-lane carriageway in the 1960s but has over the years been changed to S2. Within the bypass is the B1145, or hospital, roundabout, followed by the Knights Hill Roundabout where the A149 meets the A148 for a second time, to which it hands over its primary status.
The road narrows to standard S2 width a bit further on marking the official end of the King's Lynn bypass. Originally the A149 started on the A10 in the town centre and followed what is now the A148 to South Wootton, before running through Castle Rising and along what is now little more than a farm track to get to this point. After the B1439 junction we pass through some woodland which is part of the Sandringham Estate. A few miles on and a left turn at The Alderman George Pratt Roundabout marks the start of the Dersingham / Snettisham bypass, completed in 1990. Originally intended to take part of the route of the old King's Lynn to Hunstanton railway, it was actually built further to the west due to housing developments in the villages. The bypass finishes up at the Ken Hill Roundabout north of Snettisham, where a left turn takes us back onto the original route. Just past here on the fight is the Frimstone Quarry, home of the Norfolk Carrstone, which gives many of the buildings in West Norfolk their distinctive reddish-brown appearance, particularly noticeable in Hunstanton.
A couple of miles up the road at Heacham there is a rather strange staggered crossroads junction with the B1454. The so-called Lavender junction (next to the Norfolk Lavender fields) has a wide central island with gaps to allow turning traffic. As a result of a bad accident record traffic lights were added to the junction in 2010. Onwards and over the next hill the coastal town of Hunstanton appears, heralded by the old water tower (now turned into flats). It's a very distinctive tower with battlements on the top and stands just to the north of a rather attractive roundabout with the B1161 which features what looks like a rock garden.
Section 2:Hunstanton - Cromer
The A149 skirts to the east of Hunstanton (the country's only west-facing east-coast resort, apparently), where we get our first view of the sea. On a clear day you can see Skegness from here. A sharp right turn into Old Hunstanton takes us onto the second stage of our journey towards Cromer. The character of the A149 changes to that of a winding B road with no bypasses and very few on-line improvements. However it is still a significant tourist route with good scenery and many attractive villages, too numerous to mention here. A few villages on, between Brancaster and Brancaster Staithe the road widens and in the layby which was the old road stands an old black AA box. I understand this has listed building status. A few miles on at Burnham Overy Staithe (one of about half a dozen Burnhams – including the posh Burnham Market – around here), the road passes over a narrow bridge next to a water mill. HGVs are diverted in to Burnham Market due to a weight restriction and some very tight corners. On past Holkham (the beach here is the one in Shakespeare In Love, also a nudist beach, allegedly), and a series of right-angle bends takes us round the back of Wells-Next-The-Sea (the old road went straight through town and was the B1105 for some years before declassification) and onto out first (non roundabout) TOTSO: straight ahead takes us onto the B1105 to Fakenham, the A149 taking a left turn here.
The road is probably at its narrowest at Stiffkey, the next village. Here there is a 20mph limit and some 'soft' traffic calming, with different coloured surfacing at the edges and the removal of the centre line making it seem even more narrow than it actually is. We meander our way towards Sheringham, passing Blakeney with its unusual twin-towered church. The A149 squeezes its way through Cley-Next-The-Sea and after passing Cley Mill (a good old Norfolk windmill) on the left there can be seen a shingle bank in the distance which, not always successfully, protects the A149 and adjacent marshes from the North Sea.
The approach to Sheringham is fairly straight but is subject to a no-overtaking restriction, by means of signs rather than a continuous centre line. We pass under the North Norfolk railway line and meet a roundabout with the A1082 near Sheringham town centre. You may be able to see the steam trains at Sheringham station from here. The A149 between Sheringham and Cromer is more of an A road standard now, and approaches Cromer along the clifftop past some extensive caravan sites, to meet the A148 for a third (and final) time in Cromer town centre and once again the A149 becomes a primary route. This point marks the start of Cromer's one-way system, which can get very busy in summer, especially eastbound. The route through Cromer passes Cromer Church- the highest church tower in Norfolk.
Section 3:Cromer - Great Yarmouth
Turning south from Cromer, onto stage 3 of the journey, the A149 is still a primary route, as it is in effect the top end of the A140 from Norwich. The A140 itself joins the A149 a few miles south of Cromer near Crossdale Street and our road loses its primary status once more as it heads towards Great Yarmouth. We might expect a TOTSO here but in fact Norwich-bound traffic has to turn right off the A149, curiously without the benefit of a right turn lane.
The road continues at a fairly good standard towards North Walsham. The B1145 joins from the right at the edge of the town, and just past a rail bridge there is a right turn at a signal-controlled crossroads onto the North Walsham bypass. We go straight ahead through a second signal-controlled crossroads (with the B1150 to Norwich) and along a largely improved route to meet the next TOTSO at Smallburgh. A right turn onto the main road here would take us onto the A1151 to Norwich; we must turn left here towards a river bridge and onto the Stalham bypass, which was built mainly on the route of an old railway line.
Over another river bridge at Potter Heigham (the old hump back bridge can be seen on the right) and the road continues in a reasonable fashion towards the Ormesby bypass. Just before this we get a glimpse of Ormesby Broad, one of the few Norfolk Broads you can actually see from a main road. The Ormesby bypass is the most recent improvement on the A149, and it heads towards Caister by means of a left turn on a roundabout with the A1064 onto a dual carriageway. One half of this dual carriageway used to be the eastern end of the A1064 (although it's now all A149) and here there is a good view of the monolithic Caister water tower. A right turn at the next roundabout takes us onto the Caister bypass, also a dual carriageway. This bypass has suffered subsidence over the years due to the soft marshy ground here. Another right turn at a roundabout marks the end of the bypass and from here the A149 is a straight S4 heading into Great Yarmouth. Yarmouth Stadium (great banger racing) is on the right.
We lose two lanes by the Yarmouth bus depot, veering slightly to the right at some traffic lights. The next fairly suburban section of road ends at a roundabout near the town centre, just past a round Norman tower, once part of Yarmouth's town wall. Here we turn right onto the last length of A149 - a dual carriageway which heads west over the River Bure to end at another roundabout (Vauxhall Roundabout) where finally the A149 meets up again with the A47.
This final length of dual carriageway used to be the A47 before completion of the Yarmouth Western Bypass (there is of course no Eastern bypass; that would mean driving along the beach). So in a way the A149 finishes just as it started, by being on the former route of the A47. However it also manages to finish by going in completely the opposite direction to which it started.
Original Author(s): A Beaton and Skiddaw