|Distance:||58.3 miles (93.8 km)|
|Meets:||A254, B2055, B2051, B2052, B2050, A299, A253, A291, B2248, A257, A290, A2, A252, A2070, A2042, A20, A292, B2229, A262, B2080, B2067, B2082, B2086, A268, B2088, B2165, B2089, A21, A2100, B2093|
|Route outline (key)|
The A28 is a major road in Kent, becoming less important as it moves southwest. It used to be a wholly non-primary route - silly, really, as it links several primary destinations, as the powers that be eventually came to see.
Margate - Ashford
The A28 starts on the seafront in Margate, and at first picks its way gingerly along the Costa Geriatrica, until you can get going a bit on a stretch of dual carriageway. After Birchington there's the first glimpse of countryside, and it's quite fun to drive at a decent speed on a summer weekend and watch all the traffic from London crawling the other way. Another short dualled stretch leads to the roundabout with the Thanet Way (A299), after which it's on through Sarre (junction with the A253) towards Canterbury.
This is on the line of a very early Roman road, attested by village names such as Upstreet. It's a pretty straight run to Canterbury, apart from a dogleg at Sturry where we cross the railway at a level crossing and absorb traffic from the A291 from Herne Bay. Going gets slow on the outskirts of Canterbury with a rash of roundabouts and traffic lights. There used to be a multiplex with the A2 here, but now the A28 has the inner ring road to itself as it skirts the medieval walls. Parking in Canterbury is a bit of a nightmare these days, and you're charged a vast sum to enter the cathedral precincts as well as the cathedral itself. Canterbury is the hub for several Roman roads, though the medieval city rather surprisingly largely ignored the original Roman street pattern. So does the A28, which nips off a tad unexpectedly to the left under the railway bridge towards Ashford.
We now follow the attractive River Stour all the way to Ashford, again essentially on the old Roman line. There are some quintessentially twee Kentish villages on this part of the route, such as Chilham (quaint streets and castle) and Wye which is a mile off the main road to the south. On the way into Ashford the A2070 forks left aiming for M20 J10, beyond which it is the primary route to Hastings (A2070 and A259), but the A28 continues as a primary route for another mile (complete with bus lane), then forks right along a remnant of the old Ashford A20(M) bypass to meet the current A20 at a roundabout: the primary route now turns right and spirals under itself to reach the A2070 via an A20 spur and the M20 - bizarre!
Ashford - Baldslow
Our road used to go through the centre of Ashford, but now skirts it on the northern side via the dual-carriageway Simone Weil Avenue and Templer Way. Soon we are heading for the Weald - non-primary now but reasonably fast until the village of Bethersden, courtesy of the Great Chart bypass. Then comes a comparatively winding stretch via High Halden that has its narrow moments, and is more of a tourist route than a main through-route, although the A262 does fork off to the right for Tunbridge Wells. After this junction we are soon into Tenterden (the name means "swine-pasture of the men of Thanet" - yes, you did want to know that.) Tenterden used to be an honorary cinque port until the sea decided that it could no longer bear to lap the shores of a swine-pasture, so now we just have the elegant main street to remind us of former magnificence. Steam trains run from here to Bodiam Castle on summer weekends: well worth the experience.
Beyond Tenterden the A28 is basically a country road through attractive countryside. Rolvenden has an odd little motor museum, and there are several signs to Kentish vineyards. We also traverse two level crossings (steam trains again). The road eventually crosses the River Rother (cleaner than the South Yorkshire variety!) via a single file bridge at Newenden. Northiam is one of the longest villages you are likely to encounter. The road meanders during these last few miles through a relatively wooded landscape, punctuated with a steep descent at Brede to cross the river of the same name (formerly also single file) and to pierce the village of Westfield in one of the its rare straighter moments. It is then a long climb up onto the hills that surround Hastings to meet the A21.
Before the A21 was rerouted the A28 went right into Hastings (still ending on that road), but the main line now ends at a junction with the "new" A21 on the northern side of the Baldslow cutting – so that it's the latter road that now takes traffic down to the seafront – while a final 275 yards (250 metres) of the A28 connects with The Ridge (A2100/B2093) in Baldslow village.