The A3123 forms a bypass of Ilfracombe and Combe Martin on the north Devon coast. It runs along the former B3343 route between Mullacott Cross (A361) and Kentisbury Cross (A399), although a small section of the B3343 still exists between Mullacott and Woolacombe to the west. The fact that the A3123 is just an upgraded B does show, with regular S1 stretches, two of north Devon's worst accident blackspots and some odd junctions. Having said that, around £2 million has been spent on improving two of the worst stretches in the past few years - between Mullacott and Hore Down (2006), and Long Lane and Seven Ash (2009).
We start at Mullacott Cross, where the A361 meets the A3123 at a large roundabout. After passing an industrial estate, the road narrows a bit, and the hedges of adjoining fields close in. The views heading westbound are spectacular, with Woolacombe and even Lundy Island clearly visible on a good day. There isn't, however, a lot to see going east. After about a mile, we meet the main road into West Down village, and about another mile later, we come to Hore Down Cross, where traffic heading to Marwood and the Ilfracombe Harbour area leave us.
Looking west along the A3123 between Berry Down and Lynton Cross
We then come across Lynton Cross - the junction with the B3230. This junction has an appalling accident rate, and a roundabout has long been called for, with no success. Instead, all that has happened is some solar-powered SAD's and yellow-backed signs have been put up, which doesn't help the accident rate at all. When foggy, visibility at this junction can be down to as little as 50 yards, which provides a very scary and dangerous experience. This junction is also unusual as the A road has to give way to the B road, which does have a higher traffic flow than the A3123. After Lynton Cross, the road is a mixture of S2 and wide S1. After a good couple of miles of long, straight road, we come to the second accident blackspot on the route - Berry Down Cross. There is a 90-degree turn here with a blind junction, hidden from view by a couple of houses. These houses regularly get hit by vehicles who have gone too fast around the corner, and don't make it. About 100 yards later, the A3123 TOTSOs right with an unclassified road leading into Combe Martin.
Between Berry Down and the A399, substantial improvement and widening works took place through the autumn of 2009, providing a route now suitable for HGV traffic. The old road was of S1 standard, with tall hedgerows on both sides and blind corners, which often caused problems when any vehicle larger than a van passed through. The road has been widened to S2 standard and the hedgerows have been moved back from the roadside, providing better sightlines.
The A3123 then quickly terminates at Kentisbury Cross, where it meets the B3229 just inches before ending at a T-junction on the A399. All traffic from Ilfracombe heading for the M5 is signed along the latter, but most people ignore it and use the A361.