A38/Plymouth - Exeter
|Location Map ( geo)|
|To:||Pearce's Hill, Exeter (SX924876)|
|Meets:||M5, A30, A380|
|Old route now:||B3213, B3372, B3352, A379|
|Route outline (key)|
Plympton - Ivybridge
After leaving the extremities of Plymouth, the Plympton Bypass brings welcome relief. It is one of the few sections of the A38 built with three lanes in each direction, and it needs it! We soon meet Deep Lane Interchange, which is a parclo junction with the B3416 and provides access to the east side of Plympton. Soon after though, we lose the third lane, although a few bridges do appear to have provision for a third one.
A sliproad joins us just as the third lane ends, and there is a LILO on the otherside, giving local access as new dual carriageway severs the old road. We weave between a couple of villages, where there are slip roads on the westbound side for one of them. The next junction up is Lee Mill, which stretched across the village to make all four slip roads. The eagle eyed among you will notice another pair of future-proofed bridges.
While the section through Cornwall attempts to plow over every hill, the Devon Expressway seems to try and have as many junctions as possible. Another one is reached, this time for the east side of Lee Mill Industrial Estate, where there is a LILO on either side, before we meet yet another junction; this time for Ivybridge. We meet the B3213 here, which will be our companion of a little while as it follows the line of the old road. We can calm down a little bit now, as there are no more junctions for around 4 miles.
Ivybridge - Buckfastleigh
We have to be satisfied with only two lanes and no future proofing now as the A38 was hurried through to try and get it dualled from Plymouth to Exeter before the M5 was built. We sit mostly in a cutting as we drive past Ivybridge and Bitaford as the B3213 takes the Local strain. It isn't long, however, before we meet two east facing slip roads from the B3213 and the A3121, which forms Wrangaton Cross junction, as we rejoin to old route. We pass a petrol station before another slip road leaves us at Woodpecker Interchange and we start on the bypass of South Brent.
The B3372 does the hard work through South Brent, leaving us to carry on merrily, and giving us our first proper view of the South Devon countryside. We soon meet the A385, which heads to Totnes and Paignton at Marley Head Interchange, which is a Folded Dumbbell/Parlco hybrid, and once again we join the old route.
We are now back into a tree-lined cutting, and we climb quite a steep hill before meeting a newly built bridge at the junction for Rattery, which is quite a tight little junction. This section of road feels older than the last section as we lose the hard stips on either side. We get another view of the Devon countryside and we then pass the hamlet of Dean Prior. The dual carriageway cuts the farm off from the church, and it feels quite odd.
Leaving Dean Prior, there is a sign for the next junction for Dean Prior (which we just passed through) and Buckfashleigh, and as the sliproad leaves to join the B3380, we leave the old road once again for another bypass.
Buckfastleigh - Harcombe Cross
Buchfastleigh bypass is probably one of the more ambitious bypasses on the Devon Expressway. We pass over a long bridge and then sit on a large embankment before quickly entering a cutting and switching directions. The Advance signs appear for the next junction just before you leave the cutting to pass over Buckfastleigh on a large concrete and steel viaduct, which looks very sleek from underneath. We return to an embankment as the slip roads start and we cross the River Dart on a bridge for the imaginatively named Dart Bridge Interchange, where we meet the once mighty A384 at a simple Diamond interchange.
Now, a quick warning for drivers. Do not get too distracted by the views accross Dartmoor! As we head towards Ashburton, we remain on new the new dual carriageway as we get to see across the flood plain and over Dartmoor. Sadly, the view is rather intermittent as the trees block the view.
We soon meet the next junction for Ashburton, where we meet the B3352. The bypass intersects Whistley Hill and there are a couple of LILO's provide the now severed access. Asburton is obviously in competition with the section at Lee Mill, as as soon as one junction passes, the next appears. We meet our second junction with the B3352 as we head pretty straight to Catton.
Catton is another village cut in half by the A38, but gets the distinction of having the only bus stops on the Devon Expressway. As we leave Catton, there is a fork junction with the A383 and, once again, we leave the old route for a bypass. We weave some more around the steep hills of Devon as we pass Bicklington and Liverton before we meet the old road once again, as well as the A382 at Drumbridges Junction, which is a grade separated roundabout. We also meet another Trago Mills here (the first one was in Cornwall, between Bodmin and Dobwalls).
We pass the industrial units and the village at Heathfield before moving to another half diamond interchange with the B3344, which follows the old route through Chudleigh Knighton. We sit in the flood plain of the River Teign, and get some lovely views once again. We soon meet the B3344 again, as well as the B3193 between Chudleigh Knighton and Chudleigh proper at diamond junction, before heading north of Chudleigh to meet the original road at Harcombe Cross.
Harcombe Cross - Pearce's Hill
This is where the road gets interesting. This is one of the few sections of the A38 to have been constructed using Parallel Dualling. This means that the south/westbound A38 gets a modern, well aligned section of road, north/east bound gets the old route and all of it's tight and narrow twists and turns. To add to the effect, we enter trees, and when it is cloudy, it gets very dark within them.
It is quite surprising that this road has not been straightened out like the almost parallel A380, especially as the A38 is a trunk road carrying much more traffic than the council maintained A380.
However, supposing you got through the twists and turns safely, you are suddenly teleported to Exeter Racecourse. There is a petrol station on the western side of the road (the eastbound side has a petrol station at Harcombe Cross) and there is a staggered junction for the race course and a local road to Dartmoor and a B-road, filling if for the movements that you can't make at our next junction. There is a lone sliproad that heads along the old route and we turn down hill once more. Eastbound gets an climbing lane along here, which it needs!
Before you know it, two lanes of the A380 join us at the bottom of Haldon Hill and the road opens out to 4 lanes (previously, it was 3 lanes before this section was widened). There are a few slip roads dotted around for local access to Kennford, but otherwise it is plain sailing. We keep four lanes through to Wobbly Wheel, where the A379 turns off towards Exeter, where we drop the new lane and head for the final run to meet two other major roads.
We have finally made it to Pearce's Hill. The left hand lane is dropped to the sliproad for that other road to Cornwall, the A30, and the middle and right hand lanes carry straight over to the A38's successor, the M5.
As for the A38. Well, along with the A30, we buckle up for a jaunt along the M5. We lose the A30 two junctions along, but the A38 has to wait until J27 before it re-emerges. If you cannot wait that long for to pick up the A38 again, then there is always the B3181 and the Exeter Bypass to go and have a look at.
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