A41/Whitchurch - Chester
|Meets:||A41, A49, A534, A55, A5115, A51, A56, A5116, A41|
|Route outline (key)|
The A41 leaves the Whitchurch bypass at the same place it meets its pre-bypass route and the A49 also disentangles to head off to Tarporley and Warrington. Our road runs down the hill to a tricky chicane at Grindley Brook (historical buildings juxtaposed with sad dereliction), where road and canal compete for the gap. The 1872 Chester - Whitchurch railway also used to be here but gave way in 1963. This is the line of the Roman road, but don't blink or you'll miss it because those earlier road builders took a more sensible, straighter course north-west, initially along what is now the B5395. (If you want to see original Roman road, divert to Kidnal Hill a mile north west of Malpas. A footpath traces the route, later by-passed by the modern road. Walk it to see why!)
After Grindley Brook, the A41 becomes a Cheshire road; gently undulating, with gentle bends and a gentle rise in blood pressure as you peer ahead in vain for safe overtaking. But it has been worse; modern engineers have ironed out many kinks, so much so that you're hard pressed to see where the original line ran. The No Man's Heath by-pass three miles from Grindley Brook represents the latest in early 21st century improvements. But 200 years ago they took this village as their starting point for no less than six miles of by-pass of the winding coach road (the old road rejoins half a mile north of the Broxton roundabout). The parallel turnpike route to the east is pretty, something probably unappreciated in 1740 by a Mr. Pennant who described going by coach from Chester to London, the first day of which was spent getting the 20 miles to Whitchurch "with much labour"!
Broxton roundabout is a curiously dinky little thing. Immediately before is the attractive Egerton Arms Hotel (pub) and to the left, the less appealing picnic site for refreshment and relief (of several sorts if the graffiti in the gents are to be believed). The road continues north much as before, passing left turns to various attractions and by-passing Handley (where there's another nice pub, the Calveley Arms). Soon after Hatton Heath, the national speed limit (for what it's been worth) gives way to 50 and then 40, imposed in recent years to try to stem the sad carnage on this stretch. The latest ploy to try to get through the thick skulls of the inattentive and reckless is to splash red tarmac and visual pinch points through Waverton / Christleton. Not pretty and should not be necessary.
Chester is now close. This was the Roman legionary fortress of Deva connected, via their version of the A41, with Watling Street (at Stretton on the A5). Continuing on the A41, you test your driving skills through 270 degrees at the roundabout (junction with a link road to the A55 (confusingly styled A41) and the A5115 into the City). There's now unrestricted dual carriageway through the A51 junction traffic lights junction at Vicar's Cross and on to the meeting with the A56 at the inadequate Hoole roundabout (it has a bad accident record because of the heavy traffic loads in all directions). Ahead on the A41, the bad driving of a few has caused a 50 limit and loss of dual carriageway, which frustrates the many (better drivers). This part of the A41 was the original (1930s) Chester eastern by-pass, which relieved the City centre of northbound traffic. When originally extended via Chester in 1935, the A41 followed the A5115 and A5116 but it did not keep this route for long.