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Location Map ( geo)
Cameraicon.png View gallery (38)
From:  Tavistock (SX475739)
To:  Three Burrows (SW747469)
Distance:  59.8 miles (96.2 km)
Meets:  A386, B3257, B3362, B3257, A388, B3254, A38, B3360, B3359, B3268, B3269, A3082, A391, B3273, A3058, B3287, A3078, B3275, A39, A30, A3075, B3277
Former Number(s):  A39, A392, B3285, B3277
Primary Destinations
Highway Authorities

Cornwall  • Devon

Traditional Counties

Cornwall • Devon

Route outline (key)
A390 Tavistock - Liskeard Bypass
(A38) Liskeard Bypass - Dobwalls
A390 Dobwalls - Truro Bypass
(A39) Truro
A390 Truro Bypass - Three Burrows
A390 Threemilestone - Scorrier

The A390 runs along much of the length of Cornwall. It heads across river valleys rather than along them, and therefore is hilly and windy. As such, it makes it fun to drive, and is never the same throughout its length. It can be used to travel along the spine of Cornwall as a leisurely drive instead of the A30, using the A386 from Okehampton or the B roads across Dartmoor.


Tavistock - Liskeard

At a roundabout on the A386 at the south-west end of Tavistock town centre begins the A390. We head away from the river and immediately turn left on a south-westerly course out of Tavistock. We go over the brow of a hill then descend through farm land into the River Lumburn valley. The climb up the other side is steep so we zig-zag our way from the river. There is a direct footpath for those not encumbered by four wheels. At the top of the hill the road bears right to Gulworthy then meanders down a steep slope through Hatchwood to Gunnislake, though there is a narrow but steep road going straight on that is more direct.


At the bottom of the hill we cross the River Tamar, and thus into Cornwall. Until the Tamar Bridge was built in 1961 this was the furthest downstream crossing of the river. This bridge, New Bridge, was built in the 16th century and is Grade 1 listed. Immediately we turn left and climb through the village, at times quite steeply, until we reach Gunnislake Station, where the road levels out somewhat. The surrounding area is covered in old tin, lead and silver mines. The road passes through the villages of Drakewalls and St Ann's Chapel with good views southwards towards Plymouth Sound in the distance, and the solitary Kit Hill in front with its summit tower.

We run on to Callington, now following the contours rather than crossing them. As such the road is straighter and faster and not so hilly. We bypass the centre of Callington close to the massive Ginsters pasty factory and cross the A388 at a roundabout, then at the next roundabout we descend once again into a valley, crossing the River Lynher at Newbridge, from here a minor road cuts off the next corner but it is narrow. Instead we run through some woods, then climb up to Parkfield and St Ive before dropping down into another valley, climbing up to Merrymeet and eventually reaching a roundabout on the edge of Liskeard. We turn left to bypass the town, but the old road ran through the middle, now a B road. The eastern bypass is 40mph and drops down another valley past new housing before meeting a roundabout in the middle of out of town retail units. There is access to and from the eastbound A38 here.

Liskeard - Three Burrows

A390 at No Man's Land

We join the A38 by negotiating a complex series of roundabouts (in this direction it's straight on; left; u-turn) before reaching the westbound on-slip to the dual carriageway. After passing the western edge of Liskeard, the A38 runs onto the recent Dobwalls Bypass, at the end of which is a roundabout where the A38 bears right and the A390 carries straight on.

We pass over a railway then run through undulating farmland via Middle Taphouse and West Taphouse, on a reasonably straight alignment, gradually turning southwards. The road maintains its up and down alignment into Lostwithiel, and bypasses the town centre. The road out to the west climbs steeply through woods, then continues southwards, still undulating as we cross the heads of small river valleys. At Penpillick, we descend steeply to St Blazey where at the fork in the road, we bear right. The left hand fork is the A3082 to Fowey. We meet another leg of the A3082 at a roundabout in the woods, then we pass the end of the A391 on the way into St Austell, the biggest town seen so far. Once again we bypass the town centre, running instead on the southern fringes of town.

We pass the end of the A3058, running on a hilly alignment which has been straightened over the years, the old road through Sticker now bypassed. We pass through Grampound and then at a roundabout, we turn off the old road to bypass Probus. At the end of the bypass is the junction with the B3275, which was the former A39 route. We cross the Tresillian River at the village of the same name. We then climb up a winding wooded valley to the outskirts of Truro where we meet the A39 which bypasses the city centre, mostly on urban dual carriageway, marking the start of another multiplex. At the end of the dual carriageway, the A39 turns left and we continue straight on past Cornwall County Hall through a mix of single and dual carriageway past Threemilestone and Green Bottom, where the built up feel disappears. It's a straight run from here to a roundabout on the A30 at Three Burrows where the A390 finally ends.

Originally the A390 bore left at Green Bottom to run through Chacewater and end on the A30 in Scorrier; it had been given its current route by the 1990s.

Opening Dates

Year Section Notes
1927 St. Austell Bypass The 1.75 mile road was opened on 4 November 1927 by Sir Henry Maybury, Director-General of the Ministry of Transport. It was 50 feet wide with a 20 foot carriageway. Cost £50,000. After the long procession had gone along the bypass they were then held up in the narrow town Main Street by a pony milk cart and a china clay waggon pulled by a team of 5 horses - proof that the bypass was needed.
1940 Lostwithiel Bypass Liddicoat Road. Work had started in early 1939 for the £90,000 scheme and a photo of Restormel Bridge over River Fowey in November 1939 showed it to be fairly complete. In April 1940 the County Council was instructed by Ministry of Transport to take the works to a stage when they could be closed down. Some work at Bridgend was still ongoing in August 1940. There is a reference to utilising waste ground for allotments on the new bypass in January 1941. Parades used it in 1943. It is unclear if it was in full use at 1940 and it may have opened sometime during the war, it was in use in July 1946.
1974 Threemilestone Bypass It had opened by 12 December 1974. Shown as under construction on the March 1974 OS Quarter inch map.
1988 Callington Bypass The bypass to the south of the town opened on 21 July 1988. Cost £1 million.
1995 Probus Bypass The 2.5 mile single carriageway road with climbing lanes opened in December 1995. It followed the general line of existing roads including A3078 on the western section. The eastern section between Trevorva and Trewithin opened in the week to 28 September 1995 to divert A3078 traffic whilst work took place at the western end. Contractor was CORMAC, expected cost £3.8 million.

Related Pictures
View gallery (38)
A390 at No Man's Land.jpgThe Road to Truro - Geograph - 273058.jpgMaiden Green - Geograph - 1289201.jpgGrampound - Geograph - 198301.jpg2007-04 Dobwalls junction.jpg
Other nearby roads
A39 • A392 (Truro - Redruth) • A3076 • B3275 • B3280 (Truro) • B3284 • B3285 • B3286 • B3288 (Truro) • B3289
St Austell
NCN2 • A391 • A3058 • A3060 (St Austell) • A3061 • A3082 • A3084 (Cornwall) • B3273 • B3274 • B3278 (Cornwall) • B3374
A384 • A386 • A3044 (Tavistock) • B3257 • B3357 • B3362 • EuroVelo 1
A300 • A301 • A302 • A303 • A304 • A305 • A306 • A307 • A308 • A309 • A310 • A311 • A312 • A313 • A314 • A315 • A316 • A317 • A318 • A319
A320 • A321 • A322 • A323 • A324 • A325 • A326 • A327 • A328 • A329 • A330 • A331 • A332 • A333 • A334 • A335 • A336 • A337 • A338 • A339
A340 • A341 • A342 • A343 • A344 • A345 • A346 • A347 • A348 • A349 • A350 • A351 • A352 • A353 • A354 • A355 • A356 • A357 • A358 • A359
A360 • A361 • A362 • A363 • A364 • A365 • A366 • A367 • A368 • A369 • A370 • A371 • A372 • A373 • A374 • A375 • A376 • A377 • A378 • A379
A380 • A381 • A382 • A383 • A384 • A385 • A386 • A387 • A388 • A389 • A390 • A391 • A392 • A393 • A394 • A395 • A396 • A397 • A398 • A399
St Peters Way  Motorways: A308(M) • A329(M)  Earlier Itineraries: A303 • A326 • A331 • A333 • A341 • A346 • A355 • A364 • A369 • A374 • A378 • A392 • A397

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