|Location Map ( geo)|
|To:||Farrington Gurney (ST629554)|
|Distance:||17.8 miles (28.6 km)|
|Meets:||A36, A361, A3098, B3090, A366, B3139, A367, B3355, A37|
|Route outline (key)|
The A362 is a medium-length A-road skirting the Mendips.
Warminster - Frome
With the construction of the Warminster bypass the A362 no longer starts in Warminster itself, but at a roundabout on the A36 near Cley Hill. For some reason, Cley Hill, an ancient hill fort, has become a mecca for devotees of the paranormal, with a far higher proportion of UFO sightings than one might reasonably expect. Barely half a mile later we reach another roundabout at Picket Post Gate, another relatively new roundabout this time to provide access to Longleat's Center Parcs Holiday resort.
We continue around the southern edge of Cley Hill along a tree-covered road with a 50 mph speed limit. The road is very twisty, and until recently the surface was absolutely dreadful. The speed limit drops to 40 mph while we pass through the village of Corsley Heath. There is a brief straight where overtaking is possible under the National Speed Limit, but the 40 mph returns again as the road drops down a hill and across the Wiltshire/Somerset border at Lane End. After the long string of farms and houses as we left Wiltshire, Somerset is comparatively unsettled, with just a few odd farms along the road before we reach the A361 Frome bypass. From here, you can turn left to follow Britain's longest three-digit A-road towards Shepton Mallet and Glastonbury, or you can turn right in order to head towards Trowbridge or Bath (via the A36).
To continue on our journey along the A362, however, we need to turn off the main carriageway before we reach the Frome bypass, and follow the old road into the town. After passing under the A361, we reach a new roundabout that provides access to an Asda supermarket. Shortly afterwards, the A3098 joins from the right, arriving from Westbury in Wiltshire. Named after the eponymous river that flows through it, Frome is an attractive West Country market town. It was founded by the Anglo-Saxons, and until the eighteenth century was larger and more important than Bath. It also has a conservation area in its historic centre, including more listed buildings than any other town in Somerset. The conservation area, also comprises several interesting little cobbled streets. Catherine Hill is a haven for independent shops, while Cheap Street has a stream running down the middle.
The A362 enters the town along Wallbridge, where the unusual timber-frame railway station can be found at the end of a short approach road off to the left. The road then runs along Portway, and across a four-arm mini-roundabout with awkward angles that regularly confound the local drivers. Take Vicarage Street to head into the town; the A362 actually skirts slightly to the south of the centre.
We reach the B3090 which, as the original route of the A361, marks the historic point at which that long road was probably most appropriately numbered. The A362 splits here, forming two sides of a triangle with the B3090; westbound traffic passes uphill to give way to the B-road, while eastbound traffic turns at the Cornerhouse pub to flow back the way we've come. The A A362 resumes slightly downhill from this triangle, at another mini-roundabout that can intimidate the cautious driver. Continuing west, we head past the Trinity area of the town, home to Frome's original industry, including the printers' factories. A roundabout takes us onto Vallis Road, which leads us out of the town towards Radstock.
Frome - Farrington Gurney
Coming out of the town, we take a winding route, dropping downhill to cross the railway and Mells River before climbing up to the picturesque village of Buckland Dinham. Beyond the village, the road climbs gently along a lengthy straight up Buckland Down. After a mile or so we arrive at the crossroads where the A366 from Trowbridge ends, and the B3139 begins its impressive run through central Somerset towards the coast. Many people may not realize that this was once an important coal-mining area, with a large colliery at Kilmersdon just off the route, and another at the next village of Writhlington. From the crossroads we drop down Terry Hill and cross into the Unitary Authority of Bath and North East Somerset, and immediately into the village of Writhlington which is now little more than a suburb of Radstock.
We finally come into Radstock itself, where a new link road was opened right in the town centre in 2016. The A362 used to bend to the right prior to meeting the A367 at a double mini-roundabout which could get badly congested at times. It was never as bad as in the 1960s, when two level crossings had to be negotiated at this junction, but the new link road has taken some of the pressure off this point. It does so by joining the A367 a very short distance from the existing junction. Therefore, if you are heading for Shepton Mallet or Wells, you will want to follow the new link road to take the A367 to the south. If you wish to head for Bath, or to continue along the A362 to Midsomer Norton, you will need to follow the existing course of the A362, and choose the appropriate route at the double mini-roundabout. The alignments of the former railways (Somerset & Dorset AND Great Western) are still visible in places, and there is an effort to reopen part of the GWR line as a tourist/heritage line.
After negotiating the complicated junction with the A367, we appear to leave town, heading through the wooded valley of the River Somer. However, we soon enter Welton, with factories and industrial units on the right as we approach Midsomer Norton. The A362 doesn't have it easy here, either. The A362 turns sharply to the right at a mini-roundabout just outside the town centre, turning onto Station Road and following West Road around the edge of the town. However, from the Radstock direction, the A362 route is completely unsigned. Indeed, it is probably easier to continue straight on, along North Road and Northmead Road, which are both form part of the B3355.
Either way, the A362 and A3355 both meet at a roundabout in Thicket Mead, where the B3355 continues north to Paulton, while the A362 resumes its journey westwards. On the edge of Midsomer Norton, the road passes close to a large slag heap, which serves as a reminder of the locality's mining heritage. It then returns to the countryside for the first time in quite a while, but it isn't long before it enters Farrington Gurney, which is one of many commuter villages in the orbit of Bristol.
The route of the A362 has changed very little since it was first classified in 1922. The biggest changes are the truncation at the eastern end with the opening of the Warminster bypass, and the short spur added to link to the Frome bypass.
However, there has been one further change to the route, in Radstock. It is not immediately obvious on the one-inch or MOT maps, but the original line of the A362 from Midsomer Norton to Radstock was climbing the hill of Welton Road, before a multiplex with the A367 back down the hill to the current junction for Frome Road. By the 1950s, Somervale Road is also marked as the A362, but it is not even clear if this road existed in 1922; it is not shown on the 1904 OS 1:10560 sheet, but it was built before 1931. The A362 continued with these two routes until c.1958, after which the original line along Welton Road was declassified.
In 2016, a new link road was added right in the town centre of the town, in order to relieve pressure on the busy double mini-roundabout where the A362 and A367 both meet.