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Location Map ( geo)
Cameraicon.png View gallery (24)
From:  Leith (NT264767)
To:  Thistly Cross (NT650774)
Via:  Haddington
Distance:  26.2 miles (42.2 km)
Meets:  A901, A900, A1140, B6415, A6106, A1, B6415, A6095, A6124, B1348, B6454, A6094, B1361, B6414, B6371, B6363, B6471, A6137, A6093, B1347, B1407, B1377, A198, A1087, B6370
Former Number(s):  A1, A6096, B6374
Old route now:  B6415
Highway Authorities

East Lothian  • Edinburgh

Traditional Counties

East Lothian • Midlothian

Route outline (key)
A199 Leith – Thistly Cross

For many years, the A199 was a local road in Edinburgh, running between Leith in the north and Joppa on the city's eastern fringe. Improvements to the A1 since the 1980s have seen the A199 extended further east on no less than three occasions as it has taken over the course of most of the old A1.


Leith – Portobello

Crossing the Water of Leith

The first part of the route, from Leith to Portobello, still follows the original line, and starts at the A901 Great Junction Street/Lindsay Road junction which also has Ocean Drive, the access to Ocean Terminal and the Leith Waterfront development, running off to the north. From this signalised junction, it heads eastwards along Commercial Street through Leith, with a peak time bus lane heading west. It passes modern flats on the right, facing onto former bonded warehouses, now converted into flats on the north side. The first older building on the right is the former Leith Citadel station, now a youth centre, with a church just beyond. Commercial Street, as its name suggests, then becomes more commercial, with shops and businesses on either side. The Grand old Custom House stands just after a small square with some trees providing a touch of greenery. Shortly afterwards, the Water of Leith is crossed, and the oldest part of Leith, the Shore and King's Wark area is reached.

The junction on the far side of the bridge is signalised, which gives most traffic time to pause on the bridge and enjoy the bustling riverside scene. The old harbourside buildings are now shops and restaraunts with flats above, and the wharfs are home to ambling pedestrians instead of busy dockers, but there are still boats moored upstream of the bridge. The A199 then continues east along Bernard Street, which after a narrow start widens out dramatically to meet the A900 Constitution Street at traffic signals (left for the Leith Waterfront, right for Edinburgh city centre). However, The A199 kinks left onto Baltic Street. This next bit of the route is perhaps the least scenic, skirting the edge of Leith Docks and then, further on, the Seafield sewage works on the left hand side. A few older buildings remain on Baltic Street, but as it kinks right onto Salamander Street, the old tall stone wall around the docks has recently been removed to make way for modern blocks of flats, with similar buildings already on the opposite side.

After a signalised crossroads, however, the old semi derelict feel of the fringe of the dockyards survives. Most of the premises are occupied and many have been refurbished in recent years, but a few rundown plots survive. A small retail park is passed through, and then the route follows Seafield Road through trees past a cemetery and into Seafield, where the sewage works lie across the railway line on the left. Car Dealerships and another small retail park area sit opposite and then the road then climbs slightly before swinging left then right across the railway. This brings the road right onto the coast, above the western end of Portobello Beach, affording a fine view down the Forth estuary towards Musselburgh and the East Lothian coast. Seafield Road is host to a good number of car showrooms, giving it the local nickname of the "Motor Mile". At the far end the Lothian Buses Marine Garage stands on the left-hand side and just beyond the A199 reaches the large signalised five-ways Seafield Junction at the western end of Portobello High Street.

Portobello - Musselburgh

The A1140 (Portobello Road) approaches from the west, while to the east, King's Road leads down to Portobello beach. The original route of the A199, via Portobello to Joppa, is now the B6415 along Portobello High Street and the current A199 heads off south on Sir Harry Lauder Road, named after the famous Scots comedian who was born nearby. This is partially a new build route, curving alongside the railway through an industrial area. The parallel Baileyfield Road is the original northern end of the A6106, which was truncated and severed when the new road was built. A few hundred yards further on, the current northern end of the A6106 branches off right under a railway bridge and heads out to Millerhill and Dalkeith. After a brief run alongside the railway, the route curves away again onto what was a connecting branch line around a large railway yard. This is now an industrial area, with a brief section of dual carriageway under a footbridge at the junction.

Milton Road junction with the A1

The A199 then continues to curve southwards through trees and across two railway lines to meet the A1 at Milton Road. The junction is a signalised crossroads which replaced a roundabout in c2007. It is also a cannon: the A199 comes in from the north and heads off to the east, while the A1 comes in from the west and heads south. From here to Dunbar, the route follows the original line of the A1, the old and new roads often running side by side. The first section heads east across a railway bridge on Milton Road East, into an affluent residential area. The Edinburgh College and hotels stand among the largely detached houses. The road itself is wide, and after crossing another railway, becomes wider and is marked as S4, even if the inside lanes are often blocked by parked cars. A cemetery lies to the right, and bungalows replace the houses, but they are still large and mostly detached. At length a signalised junction marks the original eastern end of the A199, now the B6415, and the two routes multiplex eastwards along Eastfield into Musselburgh.

Musselburgh – Wallyford

Despite the construction of the Musselburgh bypass in the mid-1980s, the town still suffers from traffic congestion at times, but this doesn't detract from it's scenic qualities with a town centre of old buildings and wide expanses of coastal parkland. The A199 enters town by crossing the small Brunstane Burn on Edinburgh Road. Trees on the right screen modern housing, but otherwise the route runs between older housing and flats, with a pleasant shoreside park briefly offering views across the Forth. The Fife coast lies across to the north, and in the distance to the east is the Bass Rock. Closer at hand, and soon reached is Fisherrow Harbour. The harbour itself lies off to the left behind a filling station, but is worth the short diversion. The B6415 turns off to the right at traffic lights, and soon after the old main road, although it was never the A1 forks right onto Market Street to cross Musselburgh's historic bridge.

The A199 continues ahead along North High Street passing an eclectic mix of shops and businesses, with some flats here and there. Then at the Brunton Halls theatre it turns south-east along the more residential Bridge Street to cross the River Eskon Musselburgh Bridge. On the east bank, the route turns left at traffic lights in front of the dramatically gothic Tollbooth. The A6095 comes in from the right here along the riverbank, while the A6124 doglegs around the left hand side of the Tollbooth to continue ahead. Now following High Street, through the town's main shopping area, the road is wide enough for parking bays, bus stops and wide pavements on both sides. The towns older tollbooth, not a museum, stands on the left at the head of an even wider space, which is the old market place. The extra width has been used as a car park, with trees along the pavements and some fine old buildings set well back from the road. A church on the right closes off the space, which soon narrows down as the tree lined Linkfield Road.

A kink to the right brings the route alongside the town's racecourse, with a mixture of older terraced housing on the right. At the far end the route reaches Levenhall Roundabout, where the B1348 comes in from the left and the B6454 from the right; the change in number is because the A199 was originally the A1, and so the zone boundary. The junction was also, at one time, a terminus for Edinburgh Corporation trams. From here a short climb up Haddington Road sees the route pass between a number of areas of housing, but there are no frontages onto the main road. Fields soon lie along the roadside to the left, and a park and ride site is on the right just before Wallyford Toll. This large roundabout straddles the railway and sees the B1361 (former A198) come in from the left and the A6094 from the right. Another, smaller, roundabout lies a short distance to the east, built in 2016 to serve new housing to the south, no attempt has been made to remove the old road which is crossed by two accesses and otherwise used for parking.

Wallyford - Haddington

After this, another gentle, gradual climb lifts the route up to the Dolphingstone Junction above the A1. The route continues to climb across the hillside to reach Tranent as Edinburgh Road. Before long, bungalows are lining both sides of the main road, and as it approaches the town centre, older two storey properties take over. The mainline of the B6414 comes in from the right at traffic lights, and a short one-way spur meets the A199 a short distance later on Bridge Street. A right kink at a mini roundabout sees the B6371 come in from the left for a short multiplex along the High Street, through the main shopping area, although it is by no means as busy or spacious as Musselburgh's. The multiplex ends by the A199 TOTSOing left at the end of the High Street with the B6371 forking right. A supermarket is quickly passed on the right, and then the route runs out along the wide, suburban Haddington Road. Another supermarket lies on the left, and then as the route reaches fields, a small roundabout serves a modern housing estate on the right.

The A199 passing through Gladsmuir

After Tranent the route becomes rural, crossing fields to the village of Macmerry. Main Road is predominantly lined with bungalows at first, then areas of parkland appear on either side of the road, with some houses and bungalows set well back behind trees and service roads. The village is quickly passed through however, and the MacMerry Industrial estate, almost as large as the village lies beyond. After this, the B6363 is met at a roundabout, and it provides access to the A1, which lies a short distance to the north at Gladsmuir Junction. Gladsmuir itself lies a short distance further east and is a tiny village with a single row of houses on the left looking out across the wide road to the fields beyond. The long straight continues eastwards across fields, slowly converging with the A1. A slight kink to the right brings the two routes alongside each other, separated only by a band of vegetation, but the wide carriageway shows that this is still the old A1.

At the end of another long straight section, the A199 comes to a Give Way sign at Oaktree Junction on the outskirts of Haddington. It has to TOTSO right here, although the left turn is a spur of the route leading to the A1's eastbound slips. A roundabout a short distance to the east provides access to the westbound sliproads, and also the B6471 which follows the old road into Haddington itself. The A199 follows the first Haddington bypass, running parallel to the newer A1 to the north at this point. At first the route curves around the edge of the town, but after a slight kink onto Haldane Road, there are houses on the left, and a grassy strip to the right with houses behind a service road. The A6137 is crossed at an elongated roundabout, beyond which the A199 is once more following a tree lined bypass alignment. At the far end of the town, the A199 passes underneath the A1 at the Abbotsview Junction, and for the remained of its journey, it stays close to the northern side of the modern dual carriageway.

Haddington – Thistly Cross

View from the Pencraig layby

The final stretch of the A199 from Haddington to Dunbar dates from 2004, when the A1 Expressway was extended east. It runs parallel to the A1 for a stretch, along some good long straights, and passes a junction with the B1347 which heads off north to North Berwick. At first the A1 is in a cutting, then up on an embankment, which simplifies right turns. However, after passing the Monksmuir caravan park on the left, a left turn curves round and passes under both roads to reach a farm on the south side. Shortly after this the A1 curves away to cross the steep valley of the Tyne, while the A199 continues ahead. Having climb up to around 100m, the route drops down the long straight Pencraig Brae, towards East Linton. There is a layby with toilets at the summit, offering expansive views to the south. It is a popular stopping point for truckers and trippers, which earns it the moniker of "Piddle Point" locally. Towards the bottom of the hill, the A199 kinks right onto the villages first bypass, while the B1407 forks left into East Linton.

A short row of bungalows sit along the left hand side of the bypass at first, but the route is soon back into trees as it crosses the Tyne on the long, embanked New Tyne Bridge. The bypass then curves across fields and crosses the railway to the Phantassie Roundabout at the east end of the village, where the B1377 comes in from the left. This junction dates from 2006 and was built to eliminate a notorious accident blackspot on the eastern approach to East Linton. The A199 then runs parallel to the main East coast railway line, with the A1 a similar distance away on the south side of the railway. About a mile beyond East Linton there is a junction on the left with the A198 from North Berwick. The long straight through this junction extends for almost two miles, and ends at the Beltonford Roundabout. Here the A1087 forks left into Dunbar, while the A199 forks right and passes under the railway to meet the A1 Expressway at the Thistly Cross Roundabout, which also meets a realignment of the B6370 from Gifford. This is the end of the A199; the dual-carriageway A1 continues east from here, though not as an Expressway, and bypasses Dunbar before finally becoming a single carriageway near Torness.


The original route of A199 in 1922

The A199 as first classified in 1922 was much shorter. It started at the A900, Constitution Street junction in Leith and headed east as it does now to Portobello, where it terminated on the [[A1]. The A1 appears to have been re-routed away from Portobello between 1946 and 1950, and so the A199 was extended along Portobello High Street (now the B6415 at this time. The A199 was also extended westwards to meet the A901 in the late 1940s, although it took many years for maps to catch up. The precise date is therefore difficult to pin down. The earliest map to show it is the first 1:2500 OS sheet, printed in 1949 and revised in 1946. However, the 1948 edition of the six inch sheet, also revised in 1946, still shows the original start point, and smaller scale maps don't generally show the change until the mid 1950s. Both of these changes were probably made at the same time. This was still the route at the start of the 1980s, with the A1 winding slowly through towns and villages, although Haddington and East Linton had both been bypassed in 1932 and 1928 respectively.

Work on the modern A1 Expressway across East Lothian began in the 1980s, with the Tranent Bypass opening in 1986. The same year saw the completion of the Portobello Bypass and so the A199 was moved onto its existing alignment past Portobello and extended east to the Gladsmuir Junction on the A1 within the space of a year. For a decade therefore the A199's eastern terminus was between Macmerry and Gladsmuir. The next section east as far as the old Haddington bypass opened in 1996, and the new Haddington Bypass and on to the Dunbar bypass opened in 2004, marking the completion of the A1 Expressway. This final extension to the Thistly Cross Roundabout at Dunbar, looks likely to be the route's final eastern terminus.

Opening Dates

Year Section Notes
1986 Portobello Bypass Sir Harry Lauder Road. The 1.5 mile road from Kings Road roundabout to Milton Link Junction was officially opened on 1 December 1986 by Covener James Cook. Phase 2 from Kings Road to Baileyfield Crescent had opened earlier. Single carriageway apart from a short dual section by the Freightliner terminal. Contractors were Mowlem (Scotland) Ltd. (phase 1 £4.4 million) and Miller Construction (Northern) (phase 2 £2.2 million).

Related Pictures
View gallery (24)
Bernard-br2.jpg(old) A1 @ East Linton East-Lothian 01.JPGA199 (old A1) looking east from Gladsmuir - Coppermine - 16865.JPGLeith, Marine Esplanade level crossing.jpgAbbotsview Junction prior to A1 extension 3.jpg
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