|Location Map ( geo)|
|To:||Treliever Roundabout (Penryn bypass) (SW766348)|
|Distance:||20.8 miles (33.5 km)|
|Meets:||A30, B3280, B3304, B3302, A3083, B3297, A39|
|Former Number(s):||A3083, A3046|
|Old route now:||A39|
|Route outline (key)|
The A394 is a primary route running along the south coast of Cornwall linking Penzance to Falmouth via Helston and beyond. It is also forms part of the main route to Culdrose Air Station and the Lizard, both of which attract large volumes of traffic during the summer holidays. It is noteworthy for being the most southerly primary 'A' road in the UK.
Marazion – Helston
The route starts at a roundabout on the A30 Long Rock Bypass, followed by a modern high quality single carriageway bypass for Marazion. Both were constructed in 1982. There are no junctions on this stretch, but bridges over the railway line and two minor roads. This ends at another roundabout, where the B3280 goes off to the left, through the village of Goldsithney and on towards Redruth. Going right at this roundabout takes you along the old route through Marazion (which started on the original A30 in Long Rock).
Continuing on the A394, although still well aligned and straight, this is obviously a much older road and has lots of junctions, with roads going off to all the tiny villages and hamlets around here and along the south coast.
First up is Rosudgeon, where we hit the first 30 mph limit along the road. The road becomes narrower towards the centre, although it is still two lanes wide. The road passes a classic car garage and several really nice cars sit outside for sale. It is one of few privately owned petrol stations in Cornwall now as most have been taken over by bigger companies like BP or Jet, or have closed when roads have been bypassed. The road widens out, returns to the NSL and continues through the Cornish countryside. You then pass the Coach and Horse Inn, which sees the speed limit descend to 40 mph.
The route soon descends into the village of Newtown, which has the next petrol station along the route which is placed right next to a small road down to Praa Sands beach and its car parks. The road enters a 30 mph limit as it gets to Newtown, and it remains so as Newtown blends into Germoe. The road has a cross roads, imaginatively named Germoe Cross Roads. The road on the right is the safer route to Praa sands, being S2 most of the way and so is a better route for HGVs. To the north of the junction is the road to the village of Germoe itself. Immediately after this the road climbs back up hill and the road returns once more to the NSL.
A mile later along a reasonably well aligned stretch, it enters the next 30 mph limit as it runs through the village of Ashton. There isn't much to note in Ashton except the turning for the beach at Rinsey and a rather good pub on the north side of the road. There is yet another privately owned classic car garage and petrol station as well, which shows how well use the road is used for the petrol station to still be open.
The end of Ashton sees the speed limit remain at 30 mph and the road narrows considerably, with solid double white lines needed as the road follows several tight turns before heading downhill for the village of Breage after passing a garden centre on the left. The road briefly widens through Breage, although this is very short lived as the road continues descending, narrowing through a cutting on the side of a hill to avoid the stream at the bottom of what is a very steep valley. Despite this the road returns to NSL, even if it is a stretch of road notorious for accidents down the steep drop, with its low retaining wall and slipperiness during rain under the trees.
The road then curves sharply left where the B3304 is on the right near the bottom of the hill; it goes down into Porthleven, a large village which is regularly shown on the weather forecast when storms are due. The road narrows again and climbs back through trees, upon a section of road which saw large re-engineering works in 2013 when the road started to fall into a small stream running parallel to it. Exiting the trees the road becomes well aligned once more, being quite straight as it passes local turnings for the village of Sithney and to the top of Porthleven. A little further on you reach the top of Sithney Common Hill where it meets the B3302 on the left which goes to Hayle and Camborne via the B3303. The road then heads down the hill and into Helston.
Helston – Penryn
You are immediately greeted by the usual 30 mph speed limit and there's a road on the left that goes into the middle of the town, but it's rather narrow and isn't signed. The road crosses the river on a bridge with two stone carvings in the side, one saying 1833, and the other 1861, meaning it is unclear when it was built. There is then a turning on the left at traffic lights; this does become a bottle neck during the whole day, as pedestrians are regularly crossing the road. Next up there's a small double roundabout. On the right is the other end of the B3304 from Porthleven which we saw earlier. Left is the bottom of the Monument Hill, which leads to the main street.
The road then bypasses the town, giving it a most ridiculous route. It continues up a steep hill along Furry Way, then goes round to the left to a mini-roundabout. If you go left here, then right at the bottom of Trengrouse Way, you come out on the B3297 near Tesco, which follows the old route through the outskirts of the town and this cuts off a substantial distance in town, and what most locals do (the High Street is an even more direct route, but is slower due to traffic lights). Sticking to the A394, after the mini roundabout the speed limit remains at 30 mph in the outskirts of town and the road heads south-east to a roundabout at the Cottage Hospital. Right here is the A3083 which goes past RNAS Culdrose and down to the Lizard. The A394 turns left, with the speed limit rising to 40 mph, where there is another roundabout for a new supermarket and the local theme park. The road continues curving further to the left after this along Clodgey Lane.
After quarter a mile there is yet another new roundabout where you turn right, followed by one more for a housing estate and Hotel, and then along a short new S2 bypass which avoids the Turnpike and Tesco area of the town. The road speed rises once more to 50 mph for this stretch. It then crosses its final roundabout before the A39 and picks up the original route of the A394 just east of the Gwealdues Hotel. Here you turn right toward Falmouth on the A394 or turn left to go back towards Helston. The new bypass relieves the town of congestion from nearby Culdrose Air Station and summer tourist traffic to the Lizard Peninsula.
It leaves Helston and returns to 40 mph, going through the village of Trewennack, which is a quite tight bottleneck, its heavy use causing regular rush-hour and holiday time queues. There were plans to bypass Trewennack when the Helston bypass was completed but the plan hasn't come to fruition yet. Upon the exit, the speed limit increases to NSL yet again.
This is where the road gets into its element as after Trevenen, which is not really of much interest (it's just a few houses and a petrol station), the road becomes straighter and of much higher quality. The road follows three S2/1 sections at Manhay (another small hamlet with the old alignment on the left at the top of the hill), Carnebone (which is just a few farms) and just before Edgcumbe to allow overtaking on the hills. In Edgcumbe, the speed limit is reduced to 50 mph. Its only point of interest is that for a very short distance (around 1/10 of a mile) the road has a hard shoulder, although it isn't signposted and it looks like it should be a parking space for the residents, but it doesn't have the normal broken white line.
A small gap in between Edgecumbe and Rame allows a glimpse out to the Cornish countryside. When entering Rame the speed limit lowers to 40 mph and a small village stores is passed on the left as well as a milestone, but unusually this one is a direction sign, which is unlike most old direction signs in Cornwall which tend to be Finger-posts. Another gap is present between Rame and Hernis, and the speed limit returns to 50 mph. It remains so until the A394 reaches Longdowns.
The limit comes back down to 30 mph in Longdowns. The road also narrows through the village and speed cameras are present as it passes another petrol station. A turn on the right after this heads up to the A39 east of Mabe Burnthouse and is a short cut to Penryn and Falmouth, but from which traffic is discouraged by "Unsuitable for through traffic" signs at either end.
The A394, now on its final stretch, takes a more northerly course which has been widened to allow higher traffic flow. The road has recently be widened again with separate carriageways for a new waste disposal site. The A394 continues on to the A39 about a mile and a half after Longdowns on at the Treliever Roundabout, now the eastern terminus of the road.
The A394 used to go through the village of Marazion and terminated at the A30 at Long Rock, but this road and the A30 through Long Rock were declassified when the A394 Marazion Bypass and the A30 Long Rock Bypass were constructed in 1982 to improve links with Helston, Penzance and Hayle. The old route used to become very narrow, but still had two way traffic along it and used to be horrendous for traffic jams, with people having to reverse great distances to just to allow traffic to pass through. New roundabouts were constructed at either end on the new A394 bypass, Newtown Roundabout with the A30 and the other with the B3280, where the old route can still be followed into Marazion. The route towards Rosudgeon from there was re aligned at the same time up to the Perranuthnoe turning.
The bypass severed the B3310 near the Newtown Roundabout with the A30, but a small link road was placed to keep easy access between Marazion and the A30 to Hayle at this roundabout although the road became unclassified. These works would have prepared for a new bypass around the current A30 between Hayle and Newtown roundabout but the plans were scrapped when the New Labour Government came to power. They would have still needed to widen the roundabout and make a gap between the existing A30 carriageways to take an overpass or to take the new carriageways for the new road, and either of these would have needed all the existing roads on the roundabout to have been moved, unless they came up with a creative Junction layout.
The A394 in Helston used to go through the town itself, through Monument Road, Coinagehall Street, Wendron Street and Godolphin Road. In 1980 the Furry Way was built to what was the B3295 Meneage Road (at the time it had be re-classified as an extension of the B3293 to St Keverne) to get through traffic to go around the town, instead of through it. This bypass used the B3293 from that point to the junction at what became the new Cottage Hospital, and then took the A3083 up through Clodgey Lane. The B3293 was then declassified into the town, and the route towards Culdrose Airbase from Furry Way was reclassified as the A394. The roundabout at what is now the Cottage Hospital became the northern terminus of the A3083 and the rest to Clodgey Lane became A394, with only a small re-alignment to remove the 90 degree turn on the old A3083 junction with the unclassified road to Pemboa and Gweek. All of this explains the roads odd route around the town. It rejoined the old alignment with a new double mini-roundabout at Turnpike, with the B3297 joining on the second roundabout.
After this the whole town centre became declassified, although a pre-Worboys sign at the bottom of Meneage Street still tells road users that Penzance is left from their position along the A394. Both Wendron Street/Godolphin Road (up to the station road junction and Meneage Street became one way after the A394 was diverted around the town, and traffic lights were placed there.
The A394 was then bypassed again in 2005 to avoid Turnpike, the area that the first bypass had ended. It started half way along Clodgey Lane, between the A3083 Terminus Roundabout and the Tesco Roundabout, and went around the south east of the town to a new roundabout at Crasken Farm. The old route was reclassified as the B3297 at that time, and has fallen into a state of disrepair. In 2013 the speed limit on that section was reduced to 30. The new bypass road had its speed limit increased to 50 mph as 'the road had the feel of a faster road' and 'wouldn't increase the danger by any considerable degree' according to the Cornwall Council spokesperson. These were inline with a vast change in speed limits along and around the whole route.
At Penryn, the A394 used to continue across the Treliever Roundabout to Penryn Harbour. The route took it past the new Tremough University (now Penryn Campus) and through the town centre from what is now the A39 Penryn bypass tight down into the harbour where it ended on what was the A39 (now the B3292) on Commercial Road. That section of road can be accessed just to the east of the current A39 roundabout but is now unclassified.
In addition, part of the A39 bypass (the section north of the current junction) used to be a spur of the A394 continuing to the current junction at Treluswell Roundabout where it met the old A39 into Penryn and the A393, which goes to Redruth via Lanner and the old gunpowder mill at Kennal Vale. The 1994 bypass had a new alignment built as S2/1 to south of the junction,with the old alignment to the north being improved to a higher standard, although in essence it is just the old route with a new number. That section was itself a renumbered A3046 which was possibly changed in the 1935 renumbering.