|Location Map ( geo)|
|Distance:||36.7 miles (59.1 km)|
|Meets:||A351, B3070, B3071, A353, B3390, A35, B3144, A37, B3146, A3030, B3145, A30|
|Former Number(s):||B3145, A355|
|Old route now:||B3070, B3144|
|Route outline (key)|
Section 1: Wareham – Dorchester
The A352 used to start in the centre of Wareham, but since the A351 Wareham bypass was built in the 1980s, the route now starts on the western edge of Wareham, with the town section now classified as the B3070. This initial section of road is part of the Roman Road from the town of Durnovaria (present-day Dorchester) to the dock at Wareham, which is the high-tide mark on the river Frome which leads into Poole Harbour.
The A352 soon passes over the London to Weymouth railway and the route of the Roman Road diverges to the right, on the direct course to Dorchester. The road parallels the railway as far as Wool and after around 2.5 miles, the turning off to the left to East Stoke goes over a manually controlled level crossing. When you drive up to the crossing, the crossing keeper comes out and opens the gates for you – once a common feature of level crossings, but very rare these days.
Entering the town of Wool, the road crosses over the railway on a fully automatic crossing. On leaving the town, you pass Winfrith Nuclear Research establishment, which has no fewer than eight deactivated nuclear reactors.
After Wool, the A352 passes through a couple of settlements, but nothing of any size, making it a reasonably fast road. After Owermoigne (around 10 miles from Wareham), we come to a short stretch of dual carriageway, which lasts around a mile up to the junction with the A353 to Weymouth and the B3390 which links up to the A35. Why this stretch of dual carriageway exists is anybody's guess – the road is not busy enough to warrant it, and it does not bypass anything as it was an online upgrade. Perhaps Dorset County Council had a vision of developing the A352 as a more important route. Nevertheless, it is useful to pass that slow lorry or tractor, but totally unnecessary.
The next four miles take us through the village of Broadmayne and onto the A35 Dorchester bypass. The A352 used to carry on into Dorchester, but that route is now the B3144. The A352 takes a sharp left and joins the A35 single-carriageway Dorchester bypass at a T-junction – a poor excuse for a junction (all the others are roundabouts), but then the bypass should have been built as dual anyway.
Section 2: Dorchester – Sherborne
The original A352 finished in Dorchester, but today's route emerges again to the north of Dorchester where it comes off the A37 at the village of Charminster. The next 17 miles to Sherborne are a gently winding road through numerous villages and a rather pleasant drive, if a little slow. If you are in a hurry, take the much faster A37 out of Dorchester, but the A352 is nice if you are not in a hurry.
One of the villages you pass through is Cerne Abbas, home of the famous Cerne Abbas Giant, a chalk figure cut into the hillside with a very large and erect phallus! There is a viewpoint just north of the village, at which you can view the figure and usually get an ice cream (if it's a nice day).
After climbing to the top of the ridge the road descends into the Blackmore Vale and passes through Longburton before reaching the A3030. The River Yeo and the West of England Main Line are crossed and the road enters Sherborne. The road turns off to the left, avoiding the narrow streets of the town centre as it always has done. After half a mile, we join up with the A30.
So there you go – the A352 from Wareham to Sherborne via Dorchester, with an antiquated level crossing and a rude hill figure to look out for.
As mentioned at the top, the A352 as listed in the 1922 Road Lists ran from Wareham only as far as Dorchester. However, by the time that the 1932 OS map was printed, it had already been extended north through Cerne Abbas along the former B3145, and so nearly to Sherborne. In 1935, the last couple of miles to the A30 in Sherborne were 'stolen' from the A355 which was chopped into bits and completely renumbered!