|Location Map ( geo)|
|To:||Over Norton (SP327282)|
|Distance:||34.7 miles (55.8 km)|
|Meets:||M42, A34, B4101, B4439, M40, A4189, B4089, A46, A4390, A439, B4086, A422, A4390, B4632, A429, B4035, B4026, A44, A361|
|Former Number(s):||A34, A42|
|Route outline (key)|
A3400 was the number allocated – with the completion of the M40 motorway in 1991 – to the former route of the A34 from Junction 4 of the M42, two miles north of Hockley Heath, to its junction with the A44, a mile northeast of Chipping Norton.
The choice of number – clearly intended to be a reminder of the former A34 designation – nevertheless makes this an "out of zone" route, given that the A3400 runs entirely within the 4-zone (demarcated by the the A4 and the A5).
Today's A3400 (the former A34 and, before that, part of the original route of the A42) crosses six traditional county boundaries in the 16 miles between the River Avon at Stratford and the road's passage into Oxfordshire at the Cotswold edge, running in the traditionally defined counties of Warwickshire (three sections), Gloucestershire (two sections), and Worcestershire (one section) – though the latter became part of the administrative county of Warwickshire in 1931.
From Stratford to Newbold-on-Stour the route was paralleled by the Stratford and Moreton Tramway, an early horse-drawn wagonway which ran mostly along the road's verges.
After running through Birmingham and the suburbs of Solihull the A34 disappears at junction 4 of the M42 , with the A3400 taking over its route for the next 35 miles. It also continues the street name, Stratford Road, which started back on the A4540 Middleway and has some remarkably high house numbers.
Our road enters open country immediately before a roundabout leading into Hockley Heath, a final outpost of the West Midlands conurbation. There is a multiplex with the B4101 through town, ending just after we cross the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal. We pass 2679 Stratford Road, apparently the highest numbered house in the country, before running through the affluent scattered suburb of Nuthurst to reach junction 16 of the M40. This dumbbell interchange has west-facing sliproads only: they allow motorway traffic to bypass Hockley Heath but preclude traffic from using the village as a rat-run.
The road continues south across the fields and soon reaches Henley-in-Arden. It follows the High Street and crosses the A4189 at traffic lights. A brief rural section takes us to Wootton Wawen where we bend sharply left on a brief D1 section to pass the church (which has the oldest tower in the county). After crossing an ornamental bridge over the River Alne (in the grounds of Wootton Hall) the road climbs gently and, halfway up the slope, we pass beneath a short aqueduct carrying the Stratford Canal. A mile or so further on we go under the Stratford to Warwick railway line by Bearley station (the tiny village of Bearley is off to the left) and presently come to a roundabout on the A46 Stratford-upon-Avon bypass.
The A3400 continues on into town. After crossing the canal yet again we reach traffic lights where the A4390 leads off to the right. This road is the better one for through traffic to take because it largely follows old railway alignments to avoid the town centre. The A3400 itself, however, remains on the old A34 route, running behind Shakespeare's Birthplace to reach a gyratory, which provides access to the A439 northwest-bound, car parks, and a large hotel. Beyond the gyratory the road first crosses the River Avon by a 14-arch masonry bridge dating back to the 15th century, then turns right at a roundabout. We soon meet the A4390 again, just after leaving town.
Continuing south-southeastward, the road follows the valley of the River Stour upstream. The next village is Alderminster, after which we cross the river to run through Newbold-on-Stour. At the next roundabout we intersect the A429 Fosse Way, and then run through the village of Tredington and soon after that enter the small town of Shipston-on-Stour, the largest place since Stratford. A small gyratory, which is also a junction with the B4035, takes us through the narrow streets of the town centre. We re-enter open country to cross the river again before climbing out of the valley. After crossing a hill we go through Long Compton and then climb steeply to reach the Oxfordshire border close to the top of the Cotswold scarp. The ancient Rollright Stones are not far away to the right.
The A3400 descends again to cross a dismantled railway line and then meets the B4026 heading towards Over Norton. We run along a dead-straight road that has the air almost of a bypass (although this has always been the main road) to reach a roundabout at which the A3400 ends. To the left is the A361 whilst right and ahead are the A44, with the southbound A44 following the original A34 route into Oxford.