|Location Map ( geo)|
|To:||Derry Hill (ST950710)|
|Distance:||33.1 miles (53.3 km)|
|Meets:||A303, A343, B3402, A3026, A346, A338, A345, B3098, A360, A361, B3101, A3102, A4|
|Old route now:||A272, B3420, A3057, B3402|
|Route outline (key)|
Like the A360, the A342 is another great drive across Salisbury Plain, though there are a few more urban areas and it's generally a bit slower, though the views are still great in the summer. Also like the A360, it's a good alternative to the A36 if you're going from Southampton to Bristol.
Andover – Derry Hill
It starts on the western fringes of Andover at a junction with the A303 and the northern half of the A343. The first mile to Weyhill is actually the old A303 – I think there used to be a TOTSO here but it's now been converted to a roundabout. It then heads up to Ludgershall where there's another TOTSO with the A3026. It heads up the High Street towards the castle ruins and then swings round to the left, at which point the view of Salisbury Plain start appearing.
The A346 shoots off to the right and shortly after that there's a staggered junction with the A338. Our route passes through Everleigh before reaching Upavon Down, which basically has "go away" written over it in large letters, owing to the presence of barbed wire everywhere. There's then a sharp turn to the right before the road enters Upavon itself, where there's a very brief multiplex with the A345. The turnoff back onto the A342 is narrow and easy to miss; fortunately there's a spur of it further south.
From here, there's another sharp turn to the right, then to the left, as we head over more picturesque parts of Salisbury Plain. A few miles later, the road crosses over the main railway line from Reading to the West Country and shortly afterwards enters Devizes, where it meets up with the A360 from its own trip over the Plain, and the mighty A361 on its own trip to just about everywhere.
The A342 multiplexes briefly with the A361 to the west of Devizes and then diverts off over the Kennet and Avon Canal. From here it runs more northwards than westwards and the view isn't as good as earlier, though it's a nice enough drive through the countryside. The A3012 multiplexes with us briefly, before the A342 heads off through woodland towards Derry Hill. At the bottom of the hill, it meets up with the A4, to which it concedes.
The A342 originally started just north of Winchester, where the A34 left the course of the old Roman Road to Mildenhall to head north towards Whitchurch and Newbury. It followed the A272, B3420 and A3057 into Andover, and what's now the B3402 to its current starting point.
On 1 April 1933 the southern section of the road was downgraded to become the B3420 and an extension of the A3057 as part of a general renumbering exercise in the area following the inauguration of the A303. After this, it started on the A303 at Weyhill, which remained the case until Andover was bypassed.
The original southernmost section of the A342 regained Class I status as the A272 when that road was rerouted to avoid Winchester city centre in 1995.