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A4/Avonmouth - Bath

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Location Map ( geo)
Cameraicon.png View gallery (19)
From:  Avonmouth (ST515785)
To:  Bath (ST712656)
Distance:  17 miles (27.4 km)
Meets:  A403, M5, [{A4162]], A4176, A4018, A370, A38, A4044, A37, A4174, A4175, A39, A36
Former Number(s):  B4044, A36
Primary Destinations
Highway Authorities

Highways England  • Bath and North East  • Bristol Council


Somerset • Gloucestershire

Route outline (key)
Arrownorthwest.jpg West Avonmouth
A4 Avonmouth - Bristol
A4 Bristol
A4 Bristol - Bath
East Arroweast.jpg Bath - Chippenham

Avonmouth | East

Avonmouth - Bristol

It's difficult to imagine a less glamorous location for the start of the A4 - a roundabout in the middle of an industrial estate close to Avonmouth Docks. The location doesn't make a great deal of traffic sense, either, since the only other numbered road leading into the roundabout is the A403, which connects with the old Severn Bridge but whose use has declined somewhat since the construction of the Second Severn Crossing, to which it has no direct access.

Consequently, the first eastbound section of the A4 is mainly used by container traffic from the docks heading for the M5 and M49. It consists of a short dual carriageway (Crowley Way) joining a second roundabout, which connects with the short motorway spur. At this point the A4 swings southwards to a third roundabout connecting with another set of motorway sliproads, where most of the traffic heading into Bristol joins. For many motorists this might be seen as the start of the "real" A4. (The B4054 Avonmouth Road meets this roundabout as well.)

The A4 between here and the centre of Bristol is known as the "Portway", and mostly follows the route of the same name constructed in the 1920s - at the time the most expensive road ever built, running up the Avon Gorge and seen by some as one of the great scenic drives of the country. The route is partly dual carriageway and partly four-lane single carriageway. This section is newer than the rest, passing under the M5 on its way to Avonmouth Bridge and providing access to the Portway Park and Ride site built in 2002. (No buses ran on the Portway for many years until the site was built.)

The River Avon comes into sight on the right now, with the suburbs of Shirehampton on the left, which then give way to the cliffs of the Gorge. The first major junction is the signal-controlled junction with Sylvan Way (the A4162 to Westbury-on-Trym), which for many years was signed as part of Bristol's incomplete ring road - the A4 from here into the city centre technically formed part of the ring road itself, which seems a little odd for an arterial route. The suburbs of Sea Mills appear on the left, with the Portway Rugby Development Centre on the right.

The road crosses over the single-track Severn Beach railway line and then continues very close to the cliff edge, far below Clifton Down. The four-lane single carriageway arrangement has been modified in recent years - a bus lane now occupies the inside lane running towards Bristol. This continues until the next junction with Bridge Valley Road (A4176), a steep hill coming down from Clifton joining at a very tight angle, into which there is no left-turn access. (The road was put out of action for several months in 2001 by a burst water-main near here.)

Under the Clifton Suspension Bridge

The Clifton Suspension Bridge can now been seen ahead, passing 245 feet over the road and the Gorge - probably the most magnificent view from anywhere on the entire A4! This next section runs so close to the cliffs than in 1980 a reinforced concrete canopy was erected over the top to protect from rockfalls. The road has now returned to conventional single carriageway, and is named Hotwell Road as it passes into the suburb of Hotwells and on to the complex Cumberland Basin junction.

Through Bristol

The A4 passing under the A3029 slips

Traffic wishing to remain on the A4 must leave the main carriageway now and take a slip road on the left. This is in fact a little confusing for anyone following the sign - "Bath (A4)" is given as a destination for traffic continuing straight ahead, which is directed onto the A3029 Brunel Way and round the ring road. The A4 itself (signed "City Centre") runs round the Hotwells one-way system and along the water's edge, past the site of the SS Great Britain.

A roundabout provides access to Clifton via the B4466 Jacob's Wells Road. The A4 continues as Anchor Road past the Bristol Cathedral Choir School on the left, and the "at-Bristol" exhibition site on the right. The arm of the Floating Harbour extends parallel to the road here and the route runs close to the back of the Watershed media centre. Eastbound traffic now makes a slight deviation from the westbound route, and climbs gently to join the A4018 (Park Street) coming down from Westbury-on-Trym.

And here the A4 gets lost for a while. There is no direct connection to its next section, which starts at the Temple Circus Gyratory on the other side of the city centre. You'll need to continue on past the Hippodrome, and then take a circuit round the War Memorial to return along Colston Avenue and turn into Baldwin Street. This forms part of the B4053, which extends over Bristol Bridge and into Victoria Street - once the route of the A4 itself.

The Temple Circus Gyratory seems rather grandly named for what it is: a large signal-controlled roundabout close to Temple Meads Station. Anyone faithfully following the route of the former A4 from the city centre (Victoria Street, now B4053) will enter from the north-western side, and pass the exit to Temple Way (A4044, signed for the M32, M4, M5 and A420) and the access road to the recent Temple Quay office development before turning into Temple Gate, where the A4 properly resumes. It's worth noting here that Temple Way formed part of the former Inner Circuit Road, and before the construction of the gyratory a single-carriageway flyover took traffic from there over the A4 and into Redcliffe Way (also A4044), which formed the south-western part of the circuit. Although traffic from Redcliffe Way can enter the gyratory there is now no way of accessing the road from this direction. It's also worth noting that this part of Temple Gate carries eastbound traffic only; westbound A4 traffic is diverted into Redcliffe Way via a short one-way link road.

Approaching Bath Bridge

The two carriageways of the A4 come opposite each other next to Brunel's old station, which has had various uses in recent years - formerly the site of the Exploratory and then the Empire and Commonwealth museum, it now serves as a conference centre and event venue. A signal-controlled junction connects with the short access road to Temple Meads station on the left. Temple Gate then runs into Bath Bridge Roundabout, which spans the new cut of the River Avon and consequently requires two bridges (the eastbound bridge being the original one). On the left Cattle Market Road disappears beneath the arches of the railway line, and on the right York Road and Clarence Road (both, unusually, numbered as the A370) head towards the Cumberland Basin - had we wanted to avoid the city centre, we could have taken this route instead.

Beyond the roundabout the A4 is known as Bath Road, and climbs to bridge the main railway line to Exeter, becoming a wide single carriageway in the process. Beyond the railway bridge it forks in two at a spot traditionally known as Three Lamps Junction, named after the rather ornate finger-post with arms pointing to "Bath" and "Wells". The A37 on the right is still known as the "Wells Road" (although by the time it gets to Wells it's actually become the A39). The A4 resumes its eastward course here with a short dual-carriageway section through Totterdown, and then narrows as it runs alongside the cemetery at Arno's Vale - there's actually no footway on the southern side of the road here. The cityscape from the northern side is quite impressive at this point.

At the next junction with St Philip's Causeway (A4320), the A4 swings sharply to the right - indeed one might be forgiven for thinking one is turning into another road altogether, especially since by some strange oversight the A4 number has been omitted from the direction sign here (though Bath is still clearly signed). St Philip's Causeway on the left is actually a fairly modern road connecting with the M32 and allowing access to retail parks and cinemas. This junction is the site of Arnos Manor Hotel, and the A4 proceeds past Arno's Court Park and on to another short dual-carriageway section. The carriageways then part company again to create a small one-way system (with Eagle Road, actually the more direct route, taking westbound traffic). Then we swing eastwards again to ascend Bristol Hill, which becomes Brislington Hill as we move into the suburb of Brislington.

The road is quite wide here, although eastbound traffic has a distinct advantage - two lanes plus a bus lane take traffic up the hill, with only one lane in total going downwards. A prominent footbridge crosses the road near the White Hart pub. At the top of the hill we come to the junction with West Town Lane (A4174), which forms part of the outer ring road, but westbound only - Bristol was unfortunate enough to end up with two separate ring road schemes which never properly met up. The A4 then runs on through a trading estate and on to the Bath Road Park and Ride site on the right, which marks the end of the urban development.

Bristol - Bath

The A4 now has the freedom to open up to dual carriageway again, and indeed to deviate from its historic route. At the next junction (Hicks Gate Roundabout) the old road continues to the right as the A4175 to Keynsham, while on the left the Avon Ring Road (A4174, despite the discontinuity with the other section)provides yet another link towards the M32 and M4. The A4 carries on straight ahead as dual carriageway along the Keynsham Bypass.

The Keynsham Bypass

The bypass was constructed in 1964 and actually runs through part of the town, though it's difficult to tell because of the landscaping. Most of it runs parallel to the main railway line, and it's notable that Keynsham railway station in fact lies slightly beyond the bypass. It partly runs on a viaduct over an area of parkland, and terminates at the Broadmead roundabout to the east of Keynsham, where it meets the original Bath Road (B3116).

The road returns to single carriageway as it approaches the village of Saltford. It's wide enough to take three lanes of traffic at first, though the middle lane has been hatched out. Then it proceeds in a fairly nondescript fashion through the village, past the Crown pub on the right and coming out to run alongside the railway again and the River Avon. The next major traffic junction is the Globe roundabout on the approach to Bath, named after the adjoining Globe pub. This is the meeting with the A39 from Wells and also a road with no number, though it carries more traffic than some numbered roads - Pennyquick, which acts as an unofficial southern bypass of Bath. The A4 itself resumes as dual carriageway here, and crosses the railway line before arriving at a junction known as Twerton Fork.

Avonmouth | East


Bath Bridge (Bristol) • Bath Road Junction • Bradford Road Roundabout • Brentford Interchange • Bridge Roundabout • Broadmead • Canal Roundabout • Charing Cross (London) • Chequers • Chiswick Roundabout • Cleveland Place • Concord Roundabout • Cumberland Basin • Gillette Corner • Hammersmith Flyover • Harlington Corner • Henlys Roundabout • Hicks Gate Roundabout • Hogarth Roundabout • Holborn Circus • Huntercombe Spur • Hyde Park Corner • Kensington Interchange • Kings Roundabout • Langley Roundabout • Lawrence Weston Interchange • London Road Junction (Bath) • Ludgate Circus • Meuthen Park • Monument • Moor Junction • Piccadilly Circus • Portway Roundabout (Bristol) • Queen Square (Bristol) • Robin Hood Roundabout (Newbury) • Rowden Roundabout • Scotch House • St Andrews Gate Roundabout • St Brendans Roundabout • Sutton Seeds Roundabout • Temple Circus • The Globe • The Pheasant • The Thicket Roundabout • Theale Interchange • Three Lamps Interchange • Trafalgar Square • Twerton Fork • Waggoners Roundabout • Webbington Roundabout
Related Pictures
View gallery (183)
Goldline at Hare Hatch, 1982 - Geograph - 1438136.jpgOld Garage - Coppermine - 20974.jpgChiswick - Coppermine - 17011.jpgThe A4 bypassing Silbury Hill - Geograph - 281962.jpgApproaching Hicks Gate Roundabout - Geograph - 2934311.jpg
Other nearby roads
A4 • A403 • A4018 • B3127 (Avonmouth) • B4054 • E116 (Old System) • M5 • M49
A4 • A36 • A37 • A38 • A369 • A370 • A403 • A407 (Bristol) • A420 • A430 (Chippenham - Bristol) • A431 • A432 • A3024 (Bristol) • A3029 • A3034 (Bristol) • A4017 • A4018 • A4032 • A4044 • A4162 • A4174 • A4175 • A4176 • A4320 • B3119 • B3120 • B3121 (Bristol) • B3122 • B3123 (Bristol) • B3124 • B3125 • B3126 • B3129 • B4045 (Keynsham) • B4046 • B4047 (Gloucestershire) • B4048 • B4049 • B4050 • B4051 • B4052 • B4053 • B4053 (Colston Street, Bristol) • B4054 • B4055 • B4056 • B4057 • B4058 • B4465 • B4466 • B4467 • B4468 • B4469 • E30 • E105 (London - Fishguard) • E116 (Old System) • EuroVelo 1 • EuroVelo 2 • Longest Lane • M4 • M5 • M32 • M49 • NCN4 • Outer Circuit Road • South Bristol Spur • T9 (Britain) • T16 (Britain)
A4 • A36 • A39 • A46 • A363 • A367 • A368 • A431 • A3039 • A3062 • A3080 • A3604 • A4016 • B3105 • B3108 • B3110 • B3111 • B3118 • B4043 (Bath) • B4044 (Bath) • C1 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C2 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C3 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C4 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C5 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C6 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C7 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C8 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C9 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C10 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C11 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C13 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C14 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C15 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C16 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C17 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C18 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C19 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C20 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C21 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C22 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C23 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C24 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C80 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C305 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C460 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C467 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C472 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C476 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C481 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C492 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C498 (Bath and NE Somerset) • C593 (Bath and NE Somerset) • EuroVelo 2 • Fosse Way • Kelston Toll Road • NCN4 • T9 (Britain) • T39 (Britain) • T44 (Britain)

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