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A38/Bodmin - Plymouth

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Location Map ( geo)
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From:  Bodmin (SX087684)
To:  Plymouth (SK535610)
Meets:  A30
Former Number(s):  A389
Old route now:  A374
Highway Authorities

Highways England • Cornwall • Plymouth City Council


Cornwall • Devon

Route outline (key)
East Arrownortheast.jpg Plymouth - Exeter
A38 Bodmin - Plymouth
Arrowwest.jpg West Bodmin

Bodmin - Dobwalls

For most people, the A38 starts in long, meandering journey to Mansfield at Carminow Cross, but actually starts a few miles north and heads in completely the wrong direction!

We start by leaving the A30 at a fork junction north of Bodmin and as the entry slip road meets us the road narrows the single carriageway. We have a brief stint on the former A30 before reaching our first TOTSO! We turn left with the road ahead continuing as the A389 and, still heading in the wrong direction, we follow Cooksland Road. The road around here is surrounded by industrial units but you wouldn't know that as a lot of them exist as a lot sit behind the trees. Not even a mile after our first TOTSO, we reach our second. Once again, we meet the A389 and we must give way this time. Turning left, we head past a couple of houses before reaching Carminow Cross Roundabout. The sliproad from the A30 Eastbound joins us here. This is also the point that the A38 becomes a Trunk Road, and as a result there is a noticeable difference in the road surface. We take the first exit on the roundabout and head first over the A30 and then the Bodmin - Wenford Line. We are also greated by a 50mph limit as we enter the Bodmin - Dobwalls Gateway Zone.

Carminow Cross Junction was recently rebuilt as a half dumbbell junction. It was originally built as a cross between and half-Diamond and a half-Dumbbell junction, but due to safety concerns a new roundabout was built with Turfdown Road and is imaginatively called Turfdown Roundabout.

We start to descend into the picturesque Glynn Valley and within a mile the road has a crawler lane up the hill. The road is quite twisty and its 50 limit is perfectly justified here. We pass over the Bodmin - Wenford line again and as we near the bottom of the hill the line peels off to the right. The road narrows quite drastically as we meet Bodmin Parkway Station and cross the River Fowey. The access road to the station is accessed on the right and we head on to a newer section of road. This was rebuilt as there were fears of the road collapsing into the river. There is a good view of the West Coast Mainline as it stays close the southern side of the road. The road has been subject to a few realignments through the years. Evidence of this is the layby on the left which is the old road alignment. Soon after, we cross back over the River Fowey and pass the Halfway House Inn on the left. The road crosses it on a new bridge. The old bridge lay to the north but the road was straightened out and the old bridge was demolished.

It isn't long before we reach the biggest landmark on this section of the route. Famous across Devon and Cornwall, the Trago Mills store near Liskeard is based in the Glynn Valley. The road turns through a narrow corner before it widens again for another new bridge over the Fowey. The old bridge remains this time, and was replaced as it is only a single narrow lane wide. It narrows again soon after and then we gain a crawler lane as we head up the hill. This is another realignment as the old road up the hill almost doubled back on itself. We lose the lane just as we enter Doublebois and we are greeted by a 40mph limit. There is a large industrial area to the south of the railway which is part of the village, but other than the cross roads and a couple of houses, there isn't much in Doublebois. We keep the 40 limit as a cyclepath starts to the south of the road which heads towards neighbouring Dobwalls and without any fan fare, we reach Twelvewoods Roundabout about the recently opened and even more recently rebuilt Dobwalls Bypass.

Dobwalls - Trerulefoot

The Dobwalls bypass under construction

We meet the A390 at Twelvewoods roundabout. Originally, the A38 carried on straight through Dobwalls and met the A390 at a set of traffic lights before heading down the hill to Liskeard. The lights would regularly hold traffic up on a daily basis and hardly a day went by without there being a mention Dobwalls in the local traffic reports. Fortunately we now skirt the north of the village on a new NSL dual carriageway bypass. We cross the old road at the next junction (which provides access to Dobwalls from the east) and before long the Dobwalls bypass becomes the Liskeard Bypass. The old road leaves us once again, this time at a fork junction, and we run adjacent to the southern side of the town. The road here is very fast and can be quite dangerous because of it. It isn't long before we reach another junction. The A390 leaves us here to head towards Tavistock as we turn south onto a section of road that was obviously parallel dualled. This section is littered with side turnings, at grade crossings and deceptively tight and narrow corners.

The first classified road we meet is the B3252 which heads south for the A387 to Looe. We pass a go-kart track to the left before the next classified road, the B3251, which meets B3252 about a mile away. The dual carriageway get very narrow here and there are speed camera's placed along the route. It is not a relaxing drive yet despite all of this the road remains at the National Speed Limit. The road gets a bit better after this point and as the old alignments weaves across the new one over and over again, the new road takes a much straighter and safer line. The final at grade crossing marks the end of the dual carriageway and the road narrows back to S2. This used to have a crawler lane in our direction but this was recently removed on safety grounds. We pass a small garage and restaurant on the right before reaching Trerulefoot Roundabout.

Trerulefoot - Plymouth

Trerulefoot Roundabout marks the point that the A38 leaves its historic route. The A374 heads straight across the roundabout and follows the former A38 towards Plymouth. There is also a local road to the right. We turn left here and are immediately greeted with a height restriction and a 50 mph speed limit as we head under the Railway for the first time. We head down hill towards Tideford as a crawler lane appears on the other side of the road. There have been a few improvements through Tideford. The road is quite wide and it has been re-aligned through the village to take a straighter line. Cross hatching discourages overtaking along most of the road, and provides refuge for right turners. We pass a small garage on the right and after a small hill and a tight left hand bend, we gain a crawler lane and head up the hill, only to head straight back down the other side. Through another valley and we gain another Crawler lane as we head back up to the village of Landrake.

Landrake was once littered with a mighty 3 speed cameras for it's 40 limit. This has been reduced to 2 and are positioned to catch the unwary on there decent of the hill either side. Landrake is another small village. However, not that you can tell, it is actually bypassed. The village now encompasss the middle of the bypass, but it is pretty obvious how it skirts the village that it was built after the village. The first incarnation of the road would have rejoined at Notter Bridge, and the second followed a similar route from Landrake to Notter Bridge. However, most of that doesn't remain as it has been straightened out. There is another crawler lane heading the other way. You would get the impression that this section of road was designed to got over as many hills as possible!

The Tamar Bridge

Leaving Notter Bridge, we head up hill again! The crawler lane here closes just before the next cross roads and as we head past that, the road levels out a bit before heading down once more towards Saltash, and its bypass. There is a right turn to enter Saltash here as we veer left and gain another Crawler lane to Carkeel Roundabout. We meet the A388 here, which runs roughly along the Border of Devon and Cornwall. We reach the first bit of dual carriageway since Trerulefoot here and we head down towards the Saltash Tunnel. The tunnel is now covered with a 30mph, SPECS enforced limit. The tunnel it self is tidal flow and meets the Tamar Bridge almost immediately after you exit the tunnel. The Tamar bridge itself is one of a few bridges in the country that lies on a Trunk route, but isn't trunked it self. It was built and is still operated by Cornwall Council and Plymouth City Council, providing the first fixed link between Plymouth and Cornwall and was built before the A38 was routed along here. It also operates with a tidal flow system with two lanes inbound in the morning, and two lanes outbound in the evening. The 30mph limit remains over the bridge and we reach tolls just as we get off of it.

Plymouth Parkway

Plymouth Parkway, between St Budeaux and St Budeaux Bypass

After paying your toll, you reach as roundabout hybrid. The six toll booths merge into the two lanes to get onto the parkway, but there is also half of a roundabout so that buses can get to the western side of Plymouth. It is a strange arrangement, but works well.

As all the traffic merges into the two lanes of the parkway, we regain the National Speed Limit and are greeted by a Route Confirmation Sign. We are now on the A38 'Devon Expressway'. As seems to be the done thing on this road, we once again head uphill to our first junction. St Budeaux sounds exotic, but it is part of the western extremities of Plymouth. It provides access to those areas and in a dumbbell interchange. Three-hundred yards after the on slip merges, there is another slip road. This one is for the A3064 St Budeaux Bypass, which is a single carriageway road running down the eastern side of St Budeaux and meets the A38 at a Diamond/Dumbell hybrid junction. We start to descend into a large cutting before the ground levels out before we reach Manadon. Manadon is where we meet the A386 and it has the distinction of being the only three-level interchange in Devon. It is one of the busiest junctions in the area as well and as such is a regular feature on the local traffic bulletins. We run through a deep cutting with retaining walls as the A386 flies over the top and the roundabout sits in between the two. It takes a while for the sliproads to rejoin us as there is a long slope down the hill again.

We continue down until we start meeting signs for the Forder Valley. This junction is made up of two roundabout interchanges. The first slip road leaves us for the first for the B3413, which heads west to rejoin the A386. We head under the roundabout and the sliproads from the roundabout are actually C/D lanes. Another slip road leaves us to join it to head down to the second roundabout, which provides access to Plymouth's eastern side via the A374, and the western side of Plympton. We head over this roundabout, then the Forder Valley and then the West Coast Mainline over what must be one of the longest viaducts in the county. As the slip roads rejoin us, after also crossing the valley and the railway themselves, the road seamlessly merges into the Plympton Bypass.

Alfreton Interchange • Almondsbury Roundabout • Aztec West • Barrow Tanks • Barton Turn • Bassetts Pole • Bedminster Bridge • Belgrave Interchange • Birches Green • Branston Junction • Callywith Junction • Carkeel Roundabout • Carminow Cross • Chelston Interchange • Chelston Roundabout • Chudleigh Station Junction • Churchill Gate Crossroads • Clay Lane Junction • Clay Mills • Cole Avenue Junction • Coombe Hill • Cornhill (Highbridge) • Coxbench Interchange • Creech Castle • Cross Keys Roundabout • Cross Rifles Roundabout • Cullompton Interchange • Dart Bridge Interchange • Dartmouth Circus • Deep Lane Interchange • Drumbridges Junction • Drybridge Junction • Dunball Roundabout • East Brent Roundabout • Edithmead Interchange • Filton Roundabout • Findern Interchange • Forder Valley Interchange • Goodstone Cross Junction • Gravelly Hill • Gupshill Roundabout • Splatford Junction • Haldon Junction • Harcombe Junction • Hartshay Interchange • Harvester Island • Holloway Circus • Huntworth Interchange • Island Shop Interchange • Kennford Junction • Ketch Roundabout • Kingsway Roundabout • Lancaster Circus • Langley Mill Interchange • Latchbrook Junction • Lean Quarry Junction • Lee Mill • Lime Kiln Roundabout • Linhay Hill Junction • Little Eaton Roundabout • Longbridge Island (Birmingham) • Looe Mills Junction • Lower Dean Junction • Lydiate Ash • Maiden Down • Manadon Interchange • Markeaton Island • Marley Head Interchange • Marsh Mills Interchange • Menheniot Junction • Minworth Island • Moorswater Junction • Palm Court Island • Park Circus • Pearce's Hill • Peartree Junction • Perry Elm Roundabout • Pinxton Interchange • Rashwood Interchange • Saltash Town Junction • Slideshow Island • St Budeaux Interchange • St Chads Circus • St James Barton • Stoketon Cross Junction • Hillards Cross • Streethay • Swinfen Interchange • The Black Horse Junction • The Isaac Tongue Junction • The Norton Crossroads • Tiverton Parkway Interchange • Toll Gate House • Toyota Island • Trerulefoot Roundabout • Turfdown Roundabout • Twelvewoods Roundabout • Twyning Interchange • Tyburn House Island • Walford Cross • Wall's Roundabout • Watchorn Roundabout • Waterloo Cross • Waterwells Roundabout • Weeford Interchange • Weston Mill Interchange • Westover Junction • Wickes Roundabout • Wobbly Wheel • Woodpecker Junction (South Brent) • Wrangaton Cross
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