Looking northwestward along the A290 towards Blean
The A290, less than 6 miles long, is a pleasant drive between Canterbury and Whitstable.
The route starts at a roundabout junction with the A28 near Canterbury East railway station. Following the dual-carriagway Rheims Way, it swings round from a northwesterly to a northeasterly heading, then leaves that road at another roundabout (this time with the A2050), to run into the city centre along St Peter's Place.
At the West Gate the A290 turns left to pick up the old route of the London-bound A2. London Road turns off left at St Dunstan's and the road ahead – once the B2042 and appropriately enough called Whitstable Road – now climbs up the hill out of Canterbury, past the university and a couple of independent schools.
Out of town, the road runs through Blean Woods, which are important for threatened wildlife species. The short stretch down from Honey Hill is fairly brisk, and before you know it you've reached the Thanet Way, the A299. The A290 used to go into Whitstable, but the final part of its original route is a B road these days.
Except for a short section in Canterbury city centre which was the A2, the original number of the A290 was the B2042. The road was upgraded to Class I status early on, becoming the A290. Its original terminus at the Whitstable end was on the B2040 (soon renumbered A299) Joy Lane - but when the A299 was moved onto the bypass (today's A2990) the A290 was extended slightly - maps suggest the road ended under the railway bridge. The road has now been cut back again to the A2990, with the route into the town centre now the B2205.