|Location Map ( geo)|
|From:||Sutton Scotney (SU432381)|
|To:||Five Ashes (TQ554239)|
|Distance:||86 miles (138.4 km)|
|Meets:||A30, A34, B3420, A31, B3046, A32, A3, B2070, B2199, A286, A285, A283, B2133, A29, B2139, A24, A281, A23, B2036, B2184, A273, B2028, B2112, B2111, B2183, A275, A22, A26, A267|
|Former Number(s):||A3, A341, A342, B2102, B3420|
|Old route now:||A31, B2102, B3049|
|Route outline (key)|
The A272 is an epic trek through parts of Hampshire and Sussex. With the A27 and M27 attracting long distance traffic the A272 has never warranted any major upgrades, and traffic levels throughout are fairly reasonable. This road is notable for having an entire book dedicated to it: A272: An Ode to a Road by Pieter Boogaart, which became something of a minor cult and even inspired a TV programme. According to Mr Boogaart, the significance of the road is that it once connected England's ecclesiastical capital, Canterbury, to its political capital, Winchester (although the A272 itself has never reached Canterbury).
Section 1: Sutton Scotney - Winchester
The A272 starts by Hill Farm Garage on the A30 between Sutton Scotney (on the old A34) and Stockbridge. The A30 is dead straight here, as is the A272 too, what with being part of a Roman road. The same Roman road continues north from here, first as the B3420, then as a byway. The ends of the B3420 and A272 have been staggered, diverting them slightly from the lines of the Roman road, presumably for safety reasons.
Heading south on the A272, after a few miles a roundabout is reached, part of an interchange with the A34. From here the A272 multiplexes with the A34 down to M3 J9 and then in its own right down the link road running parallel with the M3 (the number of this road is debated - but most maps do claim it to be the A272). It then takes a left at a roundabout to multiplex for a short while with the A31. All in all this is actually quite a short section of A272 followed by a lot of multiplexing to connect it to the main bulk of the road.
Section 2: Winchester - Petersfield
The A272 resumes at a T junction on the A31 to the east of Winchester (eastbound traffic has to continue to the B3404 roundabout and U-turn to reach the A272; westbound traffic can turn right onto the A31), heading in a sufficiently different direction that it's difficult to see why the same number is used for the two bits. There are some lovely sweeping curves, and a fantastic view to the south from Cheesefoot Head, as the road is now up in the South Downs. After some more great driving, the road comes close to Cheriton; turn off on the B3046 here for the famous Flower Pots inn. The A272 continues through the tiny village of Bramdean to a signal-controlled-crossroads with the A32 at the West Meon Hut. The West Meon Hut is the name of the pub; there's also a petrol station here but that's all. The village of West Meon is a couple of miles south along the A32. Were it not for this junction being in the middle of nowhere it would have likely had a roundabout (or even a mini-roundabout) as most the other major junctions on this road do.
East of here, there's some more great driving. The road goes under a tunnel-like rail bridge, for the dismantled Meon Valley line, then has some more lovely sweeping curves, then a fun bit with some tighter curves as it heads downhill through woodland. Then there's a left turn at the hamlet of Langrish shortly followed by a tight right. Soon the road enters the uneventful village of Stroud and then we reach the A3. There's a roundabout under the A3 here. Straight on would take us into the middle of Petersfield and the A272 once went that way, but since the bypass opened, the A272 has multiplexed with the A3 along it.
Section 3: Petersfield - West Grinstead
The A272 multiplexes with the A3 for a couple of miles, and turns off at the next junction, a trumpet for our grand road which is now primary. There are two lanes eastbound on this short stretch of road, which crosses the railway (Portsmouth to Waterloo line) before ending at a small roundabout just north of Petersfield. The section of road connecting the A3 to this roundabout is the only part of the A272 which is maintained by Highways England, it is roughly 1km long. Right from here heads into the middle of Petersfield along the B2070 (pre-bypass A3) but the A272 heads left.
This heads through the village/suburb of Sheet, then up the hill, and becomes dual. This is the old route of the A3 and was dualled before they realised they needed a completely new alignment to bypass Petersfield, Liss and Liphook properly. No sooner does the dualling start than the A272 TOTSOs right through a gap in the central reservation. Straight on becomes the B2070. Trumpet interchange and right hand turn through a central reservation within the space of a mile pretty much sums up the variety of the A272.
The A272 continues as a nice fast single carriageway, until we reach the pretty village of Rogate, where it's rather narrow. Then a few miles further on there's a bridge that's only wide enough for one lane, so has traffic lights. Beyond there is another fast stretch, across Iping and Stedham Commons, until we get to the outskirts of Midhurst. The road reaches the A286 at a mini-roundabout and turns left, multiplexing with it (the A272 number being dominant) along the narrow High Street. Leaving the town it crosses the River Rother and now reaches the village of Easebourne. The A286 turns left here at a mini-roundabout, and the A272 goes straight on for a while, before turning sharply right and climbing out of the village.
This is another fast stretch of road, with three short dualled sections. The road passes through Tillington and then heads down into Petworth, along the southern edge of Petworth Park. The start of the A285 is a right at the mini-roundabout; the A272 turns left and heads through the tiny narrow streets of Petworth. Here there is a one-way system, eastbound heads past the church, westbound through the market square. Through Petworth the road is so narrow and twisty that HGVs are directed along improved unclassified country lanes outside of Petworth that avoid the town centre. The A283 multiplexes for the entire one-way system and then the roads jointly head north to a mini-roundabout. The A283 then continues north, with the A272 heading east again.
The route beyond here heads slightly more north than it has been up to now. After one longish straight, it's quite curvy with no decent overtaking opportunities. Wisborough Green is a pretty village with, as its name suggests, a large village green. The road along the side of the green is unclassified but is signposted for Cranleigh, i.e. cutting the corner off onto the B2133. Meanwhile the A272 continues, multiplexing with the B2133 over the River Arun. The bridge here is barely wide enough for two cars to pass yet has no indication of priorities, or better still, traffic lights as were encountered earlier. It then meets the A29 on the Billingshurst bypass.
The Billingshurst bypass is fairly new and carries the A29 around to the west of the town. The A272 still has to go through the middle - even though the A272 is primary here, and the A29 isn't. Crossing the bypass there is immediately another small roundabout. Beyond there is a mini-roundabout on the old A29, where the road turns left. After a short distance the A272 turns off right, squeezing between two buildings.
Coming out of Billingshurst, the road heads more southerly for a while, back towards its original latitude. There is a humpbacked bridge over the Arun Valley railway line. Next there is a junction with the B2139, a crossroads, where the other road (B2139 heading into unclassified) has priority. The road then heads mainly straight to the Buck Barn traffic lights on the A24 to the north of the tiny village of West Grinstead.
Section 4: West Grinstead - Bolney
This is probably one of the busiest sections of the A272 as it links the A24 and A23 and does so with less hassle than either the A264 further north or the A27 to the south. The junction with the A24 is a traffic-light-controlled crossroads, only the second so far on the A272. There's also a petrol station at the junction. The next section is actually signposted to Brighton for traffic coming south on the A24. The road from here is narrow, with large hedges on either side, but fairly straight. There are a few buildings at one point, but very few. However, the speed limit has been reduced from NSL to 50 for apart of this section due to poor sight-lines and a number of accesses.
The road meets the A281 in Cowfold at a mini-roundabout. It is the main road through the village, and A272 traffic has to turn right here and multiplex with it for a very short distance to another mini-roundabout. Heading east again with the village green on the left, the road soon leaves the village and there's some more straight rural road before reaching Bolney. While there are a number of buildings on the A272, the main part of Bolney village is off to the left. There is an uncontrolled turning on the left for the A23 North. This is numbered as a spur of the A272. It goes for a hundred metres to a small roundabout where there is a minor road into Bolney (which is also the old A23), and slip roads for the northbound A23. If you don't take that turning, you very soon go under the A23, and reach another roundabout, which has the slips for the southbound A23. The east side of this junction has wonderfully long slip roads; the west side ones are very short and tight as there is a wood and a pond that got in the way when the junction was rebuilt.
Section 5: Bolney - Five Ashes
The roundabout with the A23 southbound slip road is left behind. The speed limit reduces to 50 mph as we're in rural West Sussex and trees soon appear on either side of the road. After a mile and a half we get a 30 mph limit for the village of Ansty. In the village centre there is a mini roundabout where we fork left. The right turn is the B2036 towards Burgess Hill. Adjaccent to the junction there is a petrol station and car garage. After a very short distance we get our NSL back.
After a further half-mile we reach a roundabout. The left fork is the former route of the A272 through the village of Cuckfield. It is now designated as the B2036 into the village. We take the right fork S2 bypass, which is straight and wide. 60 mph is very comfortable here and overtaking easy on the straight. This bypass is about a mile long. We now meet at former route again at another roundabout. This is the left turn and is now listed as part of the very short B2184. The A272 turns right. At this point is the start of another 40 mph limit as the outskirts of Haywards Heath are reached.
A further quarter of a mile bring another roundabout, here we have to take a right turn to continue along the A272 as this is the start of the Haywards Heath relief road that was opened in 2015. The route ahead is theB2272, the old route of the A272 which is the quicker route at off-peak hours. We follow this new piece of road called Issac's lane, which used to be the start of the A273 for a third of a mile where we reach other roundabout. The left turn takes us into upper Bolnore Village, the right turn takes us onto the A273 towards Burgess Hill on Issac's lane while the route ahead is the new A272. This piece of road is dead straight and two thirds of a mile long until we reach the next roundabout. Left here would take us into lower Bolnore Village. We continue ahead for another 0.2 miles, here there is yet another roundabout with the left to Bolnore Village and the right being rocky lane, an old road which follow the railway north to south. Here the speed limit drops to 40 mph as we head over the Brighton Mainline on the new bridge. Another roundabout is just after the bridge where the left takes you to the old rocky lane with a few houses and some new apartments, the right takes you into a new housing development. We continue ahead, which is now an original road called rocky lane, here the speed limit drops to 30 mph as we enter the town. There are a few left and right t-junction turns we have to pass to reach our next roundabout, which is the roundabout which intercepts the B2112, this roundabout has five exits, with the 1st and 4th being the B2112, the 2nd being a new housing development and the 3rd being the route of the A272. The speed limit goes up to 50 mph as it bend around Haywards Heath between the Princess Royal Hospital and Hurstwood Road. Before the end of the relief road the speed limit goes back down to 30 mph, here we can take the left which is the other end of the B2272, right which continues along the A272 on Lewis Road.
Eventually the town is left behind and we get a 40 limit followed in another third of a mile by a 50 limit. Next we come to the village of Scaynes Hill, which gets a 30mph limit. As we leave the village the road drops down the hill. We get our NSL back and the westbound route gets an overtaking lane coming up the hill. Eight and a half miles from the A23 and we see the sign for East Sussex. After a further mile and a half the village of North Chailey is reached. It has a 40 mph limit attached. In the village are two mini roundabouts. These form the staggered junction with the non-primary A275. Unusually for this route, the road is without much of a bend for this section. We get our NSL back but soon are reduced to 40 mph again at the village of Newick. Actually most of the village is to the south of the road here and it's back to NSL after three quarters of a mile.
Next up is the sign for Piltdown. Infamous as the sight of the discovery of ancient human remains, thought for many years to be the "missing-link" between humans and apes, but shown in the 1950s to be faked by its discoverers. The Piltdown Man Inn still bears testament to the findings. Piltdown itself is not much more than a hamlet and has a 50mph limit.
Back to the open road and NSL limit. Presently there is a sharpish bend to the right together with a 35mph advisory posted. We then come to a roundabout junction with the A22 Purley to Eastbourne route. This is called the Batts Bridge Roundabout. Here the former route of the A272 is diverted again. Formerly it would have continued into the village of Maresfield. That route is now unclassified. Since the A22 was given an S2 by-pass of this village, we follow the A22 to the south. After slightly less than a mile we reach another roundabout (the Blackdown Roundabout) where the A26 from the north comes in from the left. We now turn left to multiplex with this route. After another quarter of a mile we reach our third roundabout in as many minutes (Butletts Roundabout). The left turn is the former route of the A272 from Maresfield, straight on is the A26 to the north, so we turn right and end the multiplex. At this point we lose our primary status and to add insult to injury immediately have a TOTSO with an unclassified road, turning left. This junction, like the one with the B2070, is a relic from when the more minor road used to be the more major one, in this case the A22 through Uckfield.
Half a mile further on is a traffic-light-controlled crossroads, the other road being unclassified. A further mile brings us to the village of Buxted with a 40 mph limit and its railway station on the Uckfield line. The village merges into that of Pound Green. Once through here we get our NSL back. The last village en route is Hadlow Down which has another 40 mph limit. On the right here is the rather attractive sounding Wilderness Wood. It's back to NSL for the last 1.1 miles of the route. Here the road ends at a T-junction with the A267. The road doesn't actually make it to Five Ashes, this being on the A267 to the left.
The A272 originally started on the A31 in Winchester. In 1935 the A30 was diverted to run via Stockbridge instead of via Andover, taking over part of the A341 in the process. The A272 took over the rest of that road, being extended west from Winchester to Stockbridge. In the 1990s all A-roads were removed from Winchester city centre and so the road to Stockbridge became the B3049 and the A272 took over part of the B3420 so it still ended on the A30.
The A272 ould have also run through Winchester on its own route, Petersfield Road, which was severed by the M3: the A31 out of Winchester ran slightly further north.
The A272 ran through Petersfield before the A3 bypass. The road was cut back to the west and then took over a short section of pre-bypass A3 to the east. The section of the A272 which connects the A3 to the B2070 (old A3) is maintained by Highways England, and does appear on their network management map as an unlabeled spur.
Various bits of straightening and widening have taken place between Petersfield and Petworth and there has been a slight realignment at Billingshurst to accommodate the new bypass; the A272 used to run where the footbridge across the A29 now is. There are only two major bypass of the road's own. One is at Haywards Heath, which is more of a developer built relief road and the other is at Cuckfield, where the old route is South Street and Broad Street.
From the site of Piltdown golf course, the original A272 took a narrow and winding route along now-unclassified roads to Uckfield before heading out of there on the now-B2102 ending at the then-A265 at Blackboys. When the A265 was downgraded west of the A267 in the 1960s the A272 swapped routes with the B2102 east of Piltdown. More recent bypasses have declassified the road from Piltdown to Uckfield and the road through Maresfield.