|Location Map ( geo)|
|From:||Whiddon Down (SX692926)|
|To:||Great Torrington (SS500184)|
|Distance:||23.6 miles (38 km)|
|Meets:||A382, A3072, B3220, B3217, A386|
|Former Number(s):||B3219, B3220|
|Route outline (key)|
It may not be immediately obvious but the A3124 forms the central section of the main route from Exeter to Bideford (A30 > A3124 > A386). It was created in 1997 when the B3219 from Whiddon Down to Winkleigh and B3220 from Winkleigh to Great Torrington were promoted.
Whiddon Down is a small village just off the A30 between Exeter and Okehampton. The A3124 is accessed from the A30 by leaving at the Merrymeet Interchange (formerly a roundabout) and following the A382 Moretonhampstead road for a few hundred yards and then turning right onto a very short bypass, opened in early 2016, that avoids the tight narrow turn in the village. (This short section of the A382 is part of the original A30 alignment bypassed in 1988.)
The first section of the A3124 runs from here to De Bathe crossroads with the A3072 south of North Tawton. Like most of the route it is standard two-lane road with sweeping curves and quite hilly. This previously unclassified section became the second version of the B3219 in the mid-1980s.
Passing North Tawton the A3124 runs in multiplex and subservience with the A3072 – itself a hotchpotch of former B roads promoted in the 1970s. There starts a series of TOTSOs as, after turning left onto the A3072, both roads then TOTSO right at Newland Mill with the B3215 continuing straight ahead to Okehampton.
After another mile-or-so the A3072 continues straight ahead towards Hatherleigh with the A3124 turning off to right again. After just a few hundred yards the A3124 then TOTSOs left at Culm Cross crossroads continuing its way to Winkleigh with the straight ahead route heading back to North Tawton. There is a direct link turning right from this crossroads back to the A3072/A3124 by a very much-unimproved narrow lane. So poorly maintained is this shortcut that the OS had downgraded it from metalled road to 'other right of way' in its recent maps – but that doesn't stop some people using it.
The next section through to Winkleigh is perhaps the most interesting. Up until the 1980s this was a minor country lane as the shortcut across Culm Cross. In the southern part of this section this is more obvious in the absence of traditional Devon hedgerows bounding the road and presence of fencing set back from it. Further on, near Winkleigh, there is a short section where the road becomes narrower than normal S2, losing its centre markings. This is another piece of good driver's road, again with some sweeping curves and undulations.
The Winkleigh bypass linking the formerly unclassified road from North Tawton with the B3220 – all several hundred yards of it – opened in 1989. With this the section through from the A3072 to the B3220 became an extension of the B3219.
The B3220 junction is another TOTSO, the mainline being from the B3220 to the northbound A3124. From here on was all previously part of the B3220. The next mile or so follows the original 1950s Winkleigh bypass, which largely follows improved minor country lanes and is standard S2 with a sharp turn north of the village.
From Winkleigh Airfield to Beaford, and crossing the B3217 at Dolton Beacon, the A3124 has some long straights, especially by Devon standards, and is a potentially fast ride. Such is the sparsely populated nature of this area that Beaford is the only village, albeit a small one, that the road passes directly through.
From Beaford the road descends into the Torridge Valley and becomes twistier. It runs past the Royal Horticultural Society's Rosemoor before terminating on the A386 at Town Mills, by a bridge over the River Torridge about a mile short of Great Torrington (widely shortened to Torrington). A drive along the A386 up the quite steep Castle Hill takes you into Torrington.