A37 (Coleraine - Limavady)
|Location Map ( geo)|
|Distance:||11.5 miles (18.5 km)|
|Meets:||A2, A371, A29|
|Route outline (key)|
The A37 begins at a roundabout on the A29 to the south-west of Coleraine. Throughout its length, it consists of a high-quality single carriageway, often with hard shoulders, often fairly straight, and with a very long overtaking lane. It is also almost entirely rural.
It starts out by bypassing the village of Macosquin, following a straight and fairly flat course towards the Coleraine mountain. After Macosquin, none of which is visible from the road, the unclassified Cashel Road departs from the left, heading towards the village of Ringsend, and ultimately Dungiven. As the A37 approaches the Coleraine mountain, it begins to be surrounded by patches of pine forest. A long overtaking lane has been built to enable lighter traffic to make a rapid ascent to the summit. Along this stretch, a number of turnings provide (gated) access to the surrounding woodland. An (ungated) entrance to the right provides access to the Springwell Forest picnic area, and to the forest trails that can provide a nice afternoon walk.
When we reach the summit, the overtaking lane ends. We can see the half a dozen wind turbines that have been constructed on the mountain in recent years; their red lights provide quite an eerie glow at night. Then the road begins its long and gradual descent towards Limavady. There is another parking area with a picnic bench immediately alongside the road to the left. The road curves gently to the right, and then to the left, before the trees disappear. From here, we are presented with a spectacular vista across the town of Limavady in the distance, with Lough Foyle and the Inishowen Peninsula (which forms part of the Republic of Ireland) in the background. The tarmac changes colour from black to red, and we proceed along a long straight which is greatly exposed to the Northern Irish weather. A narrow hatched area has been painted down the centre of the carriageway in a futile attempt to discourage overtaking on this very fast stretch of road.
We pass through the Binevenagh district, which is officially defined as an 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty', and there is no reason to doubt the definition. There are a few blind summits as the road descends from the mountain, still with the impressive vista before us. We pass the Keady picnic area, and a few unclassified side roads provide access to an assortment of scattered farms and houses. At the end of our long descent, the B66 head off at an acute angle to the left, bound for Garvagh and Ballymoney. The road enters a copse, and we encounter the only sharpish bends along the whole route; this section is very good fun to drive when you know the road. There is a filling station to the left, with a Tesco Express convenience store, and we know we have returned to civilisation; indeed, Limavady is the first urban area that the A37 has encountered.
These days, the town lies to the left, and the last piece of road follows the route of the Limavady bypass. There are a couple of unclassified side roads providing access to the town, by the A37 heads down one last long straight to end at a roundabout with the A2 Causeway Coastal Route to the north of the town. A right turn here takes both the A2 and, after the next roundabout, the B201 'Murder Hole' road back in the direction of Coleraine; the B201 can make a very scenic alternative to the A37, as well as an option that is just as quick. A left turn will take us onto the A2, as it now becomes the main road to the historic walled city of Derry.