A38/Highbridge - Bristol
|Location Map ( geo)|
|To:||Kings Head, Highridge, Bristol (ST562694)|
|Distance:||24.5 miles (39.4 km)|
|Meets:||B3140, M5, A370, A371, A368, B3133, B3130|
|Route outline (key)|
Edithmead - Sidcot
The A38 north of the Edithmead Interchange is again a wide single carriageway road. A lot of the traffic at the junction seems to cross the A38, travelling between the M5 and the B3140 into Burnham-on-Sea. However, this arm of the A38 is definitely busier than the last couple of miles out of Highbridge, and very quickly we reach the Fox & Goose junction, a crossroads where traffic turns for Brent Knoll or Mark and Wedmore on the B3139. Heading south in the evening, traffic can often be backed up past here, trying to get onto the motorway. The junction itself was originally a very short dualled section, but safety concerns over the years have reduced it to what we have today. A little further on, the entrance to Sanders Garden World produces more turning traffic, but then the road opens up a little.
The Brent House Inn sits on a short stretch of old road to the left, showing a minor realignment, and then just around the bend the carriageway widens as it provides two turning lanes for the East Brent Roundabout. Most traffic seems to turn left here onto the A370 for Weston-super-Mare, but we fork right, quickly crossing the M5. This, however, is not the original course of the A38. Until the road was realigned in c1930 the A38 continued north, along what is now the A370, into East Brent, and forked right at the War Memorial along Old Bristol Road. This then crossed the current route (realigned again to cross the motorway) just before the bridge.
Over the bridge, we enter Rooksbridge, a long strung out village where a loop on the left shows another short realignment. Rooksbridge becomes Tarnock, and then fields briefly appear before we reach Biddisham. Another minor realignment at Biddisham Bridge latterly provided parking for the former New Moon Inn next door. This stretch of road certainly isn't urban, but with scattered properties, farms and businesses alongside it is difficult to call it rural either. A layby opposite the turning to Badgworth shows yet another realignment, and then a short straight burst through fields brings us to Lower Weare.
Again, the village is strung out, with as many businesses as houses on the road side. We cross the River Axe on Weare Bridge, and then reach a fork, where the A38 stays ahead but the original route forks left onto Old Coach Road. Both routes soon cross the Cheddar Yeo, the modern road on Yeo Bridge, the old route on Bow Bridge, and so reach the edge of the Mendip Hills at opposite ends of the village of Cross. The old route of the A38 had to dog-leg through the village, the modern road forming just one side of a triangle.
The junction where the two routes meet is a crossroads, with a spur of the A371 heading east into Axbridge and Cheddar, while the A38 continues north up Shute Shelve Hill. For many years this was a notorious accident spot, but a 40 limit, speed camera, hatched out central lane and other works have reduced the number of incidents. Towards the top of the hill, the mainline of the A371 joins at an acute angle from the right, and multiplexes north to Sidcot.
The road now winds through the trees of Kings Wood, alternating between a standard single carriageway and a wider road with turning lanes or hatching down the middle. Just before the garage at the top of the hill, a left turn leads onto Winscombe Hill, providing a popular back road into the village, the main approach however, is down the hill in Sidcot, where the A371 turns off left at a traffic light controlled junction on its way through Winscombe to Weston-super-Mare.
Sidcot - Dundry
From the junction the A38 continues heading north east through Sidcot, and then Star before the twistier descent down Dolberrow Bottom to Churchill. This section is now wntirely a 40 limit, depsite being a wide road with good visibility most of the way. The exception is at Dolberrow Bottom, although the current route is easier than the pre-Turnpike road which lies further down the hill, taking a steeper initial descent (now lost). This, however, may not be the original route, with an alternative route forking left at the Star Inn and following The Batch to Skinners Lane in Churchill.
Churchill Gate Crossroads is a well known local junction, where the A368 crosses the A38. Despite there being enough room for a small roundabout, the junction remains a traffic light controlled crossroads, and can get very busy at times. Beyond, the A38 passes from Churchill onto the Langford Bypass, with the B3133 forking left and initially following the old line of the A38. As with so much of the A38 through Somerset, the Langford Bypass dates back to the 1930s when the road was substantially improved, and is a wide S2 road (originally S3 in many places), following a long sweeping bend lined with trees, making safe overtaking difficult. It is, however, the first section of NSL for many miles.
After Langford, the road becomes a little twistier as it resumes the old route, but remains NSL, and with the old central overtakign lane now largely reinstated, albeit hatched out and regularly lined as a turning lane for the many junctions along this stretch. After dropping down and crossing the River Yeo, the road climbs quite steeply from Lye Cross up Red Hill into Redhill village.
After passing through Redhill, the road crosses the summit and descends a little towards Lulsgate. The road past the airport used to be dead straight, but in the early 2000s it was realigned, via two roundabouts, in a sweeping semi-submerged bend around the end of the runway of Bristol Airport. The runway itself wasn't extended, but it gave a greater safety margin, allowing larger planes to land. Beyond the airport the road is busier than ever, passing through Lulsgate Bottom and Felton and then crosses the summit of Pottershill. There is then a long descent to Barrow Tanks, the curious name for the reservoirs providing water for Bristol, located at Barrow Gurney. Here, the B3130 crosses at a staggered junction, the right turn to Winford passing almost unnoticed, whilst the rat run through Barrow Gurney is controlled by traffic lights on a very short section of Dual carriageway.
The road continues to descend, passing the turning to Dundry, and then reaching the edge of Bristol. Just after entering the city, the road comes to the Kings Head roundabout, where a popular and busy short cut turns right, cutting around the southern edge of the city to reach the unfinished A4174 Bristol Ring Road. Work is now progressing to provide a proper route through to the A38, before heading north to the A370 near Cambridge Batch.