|Location Map ( geo)|
|Distance:||15.7 miles (25.3 km)|
|Meets:||A207, A2018, A2026, A225, A296, A206, A2260, A227, A289, A2|
|Old route now:||B2175|
|Route outline (key)|
Once an important through route, especially in pre-numbering days, the A226 is nowadays a local road connecting Thames-side towns.
Dartford - Strood
The route begins on the western edge of Dartford end-on on the A207. The reason for this is because the A207 at one time ran along the B2174 (which just happens to be the first Dartford bypass) but when the road was downgraded the rest of the numbering in the area was not changed. The A226 heads east into the town centre to go round the one-way loop. On the far side we meet the A296 which leads to the A282 before we go over the latter with no junction.
Continuing along a line slightly north of east we reach Greenhithe, whence there are good views of the QE Bridge. The A206 joins here, and is a useful back way to the crossing if the A2 is overflowing. To the south is the holy sepulchre of Bluewater, shopping's temple to Mammon. From Greenhithe an industrial and considerably ugly route leads via Swanscombe and then a bypass of Northfleet to Gravesend, now a "historic" waterside town. In truth they have tidied it up a bit, so it doesn't entirely resemble its name. Emerging from the one-way system one passes the village of Chalk, and then it's the most attractive section of the road, if one ignores the refineries by the Thames on the left-hand side. This stretch used to be a fast, four-laned affair, but there's now a 50mph limit all the way to Strood, and the inside lanes have given way to cycle lanes.
At Higham is the Sir John Falstaff Inn, for this is Gads Hill, haunt of highwaymen and Shakespeare's fictional layabouts in Henry the Fourth (Part One).
There's a gentle slope down into the Medway valley, during the course of which we cross the Medway northern bypass (A289) at a dumbbell interchange and pass close to the strawberry farms that cater for Wimbledon. Once past the fire station it's not long to the junction with the A2 on Strood Hill, which swallows up the A226 as it covers the last mile or so into Strood itself and over the ancient river-crossing into Rochester.
Early drafts of the MOT route list showed the A226 as part of the A2, which was shown on contemporary maps at the time. However, the final list showed the A226 in its current position. Certainly the road through Dartford was originally the A2 before becoming an extension of the A226 when the town was bypassed in the 1920s.
Original Author(s): Simon Mold