|Distance:||48.1 miles (77.4 km)|
|Meets:||A23, A2022, B270, B2208, B2030, M25, B2235, A25, B2236, B2029, B2028, A264, B2110, A275, B2026, A272, A26, B2102, B2192, B2124, A267, A271, A295, A27, B2247, B2191, A2280, A2290|
|Old route now:||A23, A2270|
|Route outline (key)|
The A22 could be described as East Sussex's version of the A24, though that would perhaps be a little unfair on the A24. Running parallel to the A23/M23 for the first part of its route, the A22 does lose out a bit. It connects the major towns of Eastbourne, Hailsham, Uckfield and East Grinstead to London, though doesn't always do this very well.
Section 1: Purley - East Grinstead
The A22 starts its way south in Purley, South London at the Purley Cross junction with the A23, A2022 and the A235. Beginning as single carriageway it squeezes its way between the Caterham branch line and the Uckfield/East Grinstead line. It becomes a dual carriageway south of Whyteleafe for a bypass of Caterham, which has a roundabout with the B2208 and a set of traffic lights with the B2030. There are a couple of sharp bends as the road snakes its way through the North Downs and around the east of Caterham before crossing into Surrey and reaching junction 6 of the M25. This junction is a standard roundabout GSJ, and the tiny B2235 provides a shorcut to the A25. Here, the route bypasses the town of Godstone; once a bottleneck with the non-primary A25, now there is a roundabout on the bypass.
From here the road is back to single carriageway, and stays that way until Hailsham. The next roundabout, with the B2236 south of Godstone sees us back on the original road. After passing through South Godstone and under the Redhill - Tunbridge Wells rail line, the road becomes very straight as it follows the path of a Roman Road, avoiding Lingfield and Dormansland. However, there is a right turn at traffic lights for the B2029 towards Lingfield. As we cross the mini-roundabout at the junction of the B2028, there is a good glimpse of the tall spire of the church at Newchapel. The next junction is a traffic signal controlled T-junction with the A264 heading towards Crawley. Things suddenly get very busy as a great deal of traffic joins having headed over from the M23 to reach East Grinstead and beyond. Leaving Surrey for West Sussex, the A264 multiplexes with the A22 now. It traipses uphill through the urban area, having another set of lights, and a mini-roundabout, both with unclassified local roads. The road then reaches the one-way system in the mess of roads that is East Grinstead town centre.
Section 2: East Grinstead
The East Grinstead one-way system is OK, unless you are doing anything other than following the A22, in which case drivers find themselves perpetually in the wrong lane. For southbound A22 traffic, things are fairly simple here, just head down London Road. Drivers coming from the western side (Station Road) of the triangular one-way ring join, and often immediately need to pull into the line of southbound A22 traffic as the A264 turns left towards Tunbridge Wells almost immediately. A22 traffic stays in the left hand lane. Again traffic that joined from Station Road is likely to be changing lanes, as will be westbound A264 traffic as the right hand lane takes you either through the town centre or sharply back towards Station Road and the B2110. A22 traffic has however cheerfully headed down onto Beeching Way.
Northbound A22 traffic has to negotiate two sides of the triangle. Heading from Beeching Way it continues under one corner of the one-way system, and traffic that had stayed in the right-hand lane on London Road, or come up from the town centre joins from the left, and unless it wants the B2110 immediately needs to pull over into the right-hand lane. The B2110 then has a roundabout just off the mainline, which for some reason has an amazingly complicated cycle-lane system on it. Perhaps it is so the cyclists don't feel left out with all the fun drivers are having! Heading passed the station into Station Road, B2110 traffic joins on the left. At this point traffic wanting to continue on the A22/A264 is in the wrong lane, and traffic from the B2110 probably wants to change lanes too as it has come from west of East Grinstead so probably doesn't want to go back there. There is a set of traffic lights (the only non-pedestrian lights on the one-way ring) where a local road joins the fun. A22 traffic then peels off to the left.
Then follows an unusual half-mile stretch of road. It is in a cutting which was the old line of a disused railway that linked Tonbridge, East Grinstead and Crawley, as betrayed by its name, Beeching Way. Dr Beeching actually lived in East Grinstead and turned what used to be an important railway crossroads into a single terminus. The bridges over the cutting have all been rebuilt, and additionally the road has intermittent hard shoulders for no reason other than there being the space for them to be there. There is then a roundabout with the old road, now part of the B2110. The A22 then continues south with a very long and tedious section of semi-urban 30mph limit.
Section 3: East Grinstead - Hailsham
It is downhill now, there is a sharp right bend and a sharp left bend as we go down on a realignment past Ashurst Wood. It is through these bends that the road enters East Sussex. At the bottom of the hill we arrive in the village of Forest Row, which sees the start of the Ashdown Forest. A mini-roundabout sees the our old friend the B2110 turn left towards Tunbridge Wells. Time to start climbing uphill as we snake our way through the northern part of the forest – this is where you hope not to be stuck behind an HGV. After a set of traffic lights at an unclassified road junction, we reach the junction with the A275 towards Lewes.
Another straight stretch of road, quite wide too allowing you to overtake the lumbering lorries. Watch out for deer crossing this part of the road in the forest – they cause a lot of damage. A slight right bend takes us to the top of Ashdown Forest where on a good day you can see all the way to the South Downs in the distance. Downhill again before a short climb into the village of Nutley. Nutley sees the end of the Ashdown Forest as we arrive at the roundabout with the B2026 and the original route of the A22 through the village of Maresfield. We take the second exit onto the very wide single carriageway bypass of the village. The next roundabout merges us with the well known A272 towards Haywards Heath, which multiplexes with the A22 for a short stretch. Another wide stretch of road takes us to another roundabout where we say goodbye to the A272 where it merges with the northbound A26 to Tunbridge Wells. We turn right and the southbound A26 shares our route as we travel along the western bypass of Uckfield. This bypass is a narrow single carriageway road. The next roundabout allows you to turn left onto the B2102 to Uckfield.
We continue on to the next roundabout where the A26 turns right and continues its journey south to Lewes and Newhaven. Onwards we go to the next roundabout where you can turn right for a round of golf at the East Sussex National Golf Club. A mile or so further on, a T-junction to the left sees the southern end of the original A22 through Uckfield. Uphill again and we pass through the village of Halland where we reach a roundabout at the junction of the B2192 towards Heathfield and Lewes. The next roundabout sees us joining the bypass around the village of East Hoathly – a much needed bypass as the right angled bend in the middle of the village used to cause problems for our HGV friends. Another very wide bypass allowing for overtaking – about 3 quarters of a mile long. We continue south through the village of Whitesmith before reaching the junction with the B2124 towards Lewes. A chance to fill up with petrol as we pass through Golden Cross and onto a nice straight stretch of road taking us to the Boship roundabout allowing us to join the A267 towards Tunbridge Wells or the A271 towards Bexhill and Hastings.
Section 4: Hailsham - Eastbourne
From here onwards the A22 changes noticeably in character. Having been a winding, poorly upgraded S2 since Godstone, now it becomes a fairly well aligned dual carriageway, starting as the Hailsham bypass. The first roundabout we meet allows you to turn left into an industrial estate to the east of Hailsham. At the top of the next hill you can turn right across the northbound carriageway onto an unclassified road taking you to the Arlington Speedway track. We then go downhill to the roundabout joining us to the important sounding non-primary A295 which is a two mile drive through Hailsham to the A271. South of here the upgrade to D2 was online and southbound carriageway has a 60mph limit due the number of frontages. There is then a new very large roundabout with the A27 at Cophall, and the A22 and A27 multiplex along the new Polegate bypass. Had we continued on, we would have followed the original route of the A22 towards Eastbourne town centre, now renumbered A2270.
After what is arguably the best two miles of road on the route so far at the next roundabout the road heads south onto the new route of the A22 into Eastbourne. There is a second roundabout almost immediately south with the B2247. These two roundabouts look suspiciously like a dumbbell junction just without the main road going under a bridge between them. The A22 then continues down Golden Jubilee Way, which for some time after its initial construction was completely unused. The reason for this was because the A22 is an East Sussex County Council road here, while the A27 is a Highways England road, and ESCC managed to plan and build their new access road into Eastbourne before the HA managed to build the Polegate bypass. The dual carriageway takes us a short distance across the flat plains of Stone Cross to arrive at a roundabout to the south of Hampden Park to the east of the town itself where the road ends. The A22 arrives nowhere really – instead we are invited to take the A2280 towards the old A22 or the A2290 which is a short run to the A259. Logically the A2290 would be the last stretch of the A22, so that, like so many other A2x roads it could end on the A259, which it did until recently.
The A22 originally took the route of the modern A23 from Westminster to Purley, which it lost in 1935. The route at Caterham and Godstone is new, with the original A22 running through the towns. It would have originally run down London Road to Lewes Road at East Grinstead, and through Ashurst Wood. There are new bypasses at Maresfield and Uckfield, again the former routes of the A22 were through the towns. It would have followed London Road through Hailsham and headed down the now-A2270 into Eastbourne to end on the A259.
If built, the East Grinstead relief road may be given the A22 number, though this is currently unclear as most plans have it starting on the A264 around Felbridge and ending on the A22 around Ashurst Wood.