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Location Map ( geo)
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Avon Ring Road
From:  Filton (ST600789)
To:  Long Ashton (ST578707)
Distance:  17.9 miles (28.8 km)
Meets:  A38, M32, A4017, A432, A4175, A420, A431, A4, A37, A3029, A38, A370
Primary Destinations
Highway Authorities

Bristol  • Bath and North East Somerset  • South Gloucestershire

Traditional Counties

Gloucestershire • Somerset

Route outline (key)
A4174 Filton - Frenchay
A4174 Frenchay - Keynsham Bypass
(A4) Keynsham Bypass - Brislington
A4174 Brislington - Long Ashton


The A4174 is a notorious half-loop of Bristol, which remained in an even less complete state for many years owing to arguments over routing of the eastern flank of the route. Today the northern section is clogged by traffic lights, even on the roundabouts, while the eastern section is similarly clogged by at-grade roundabout junctions. The southern section is largely single-carriageway and was finally completed in 2017.

The Northern Section: Filton - Bromley Heath

The northern section with the 2+ lane

We start on the A38 in Filton, with a roundabout junction. The A38 north is dual carriageway all the way to the M5 at the notorious junction 16, while southwards it is a typical inner-city road, mainly S2 but sometimes with two lanes each way, often obstructed by parking and bus lanes. Opposite the A4174, the B4056 leads into Southmead.

Setting off, eastwards, we pass the Shield Retail Centre and then join the residential Station Road. It appears that there may have been some demolition, certainly some compulsory purchasing of gardens, to get the road through. There are four sets of lights before we reach the railway bridge, and then the two halves of the dual carriageway flare out to meet the massive Abbey Wood roundabout, created to serve the Ministry of Defence agency site built here in 1995. We pass the University of the West of England campus on the right, after which a 2+ passenger car-sharing lane runs up to the large and complex M32 junction 1.

Next stop is Hambrook lights then, after half a mile, the Bromley Heath Roundabout, where the A4017 joins; this used to be a spur of the A4174. We now have over a mile to the next junction with the A432, the curiously named Wick Wick Roundabout - beside the even more curiously named Willy Wicket pub. For this stretch the 2+ car-sharing lane is now on the other (westbound) carriageway.

The Eastern Section: Bromley Heath - Hicks Gate

At the A432 roundabout, we turn south, with three more roundabouts in quick succession: Lyde Green (with potential for a future link to the M4); Emersons Green serving the retail park; and then Shortwood, serving the B4465 to Pucklechurch and Mangotsfield. For a long time this was as far as the A4174 reached, the next section across Siston Common being very controversial.

However, after much debate, lengthy public enquiries and anti-road protests, the three miles to Warmley were opened in September 2001. There is only one intermediate junction, with the A4175 at Siston Common. The section of A4175 that used to run south to Warmley is now unclassified, if not removed; for many years it and the B4465 filled the gap in the ring road.

Footbridge near Cadbury Heath

At Warmley, a roundabout junction gets us across the A420 Chippenham-Bristol Road. There's a recently-converted throughabout - South Gloucestershire's first - serving Cadbury Heath before we reach Marsham Way, which connects to the A431 Bristol-Bath road. (This may be a spur of the A4174 but evidence on the ground disputes it.) The main dual carriageway passes directly under the A431, with a three-mile unbroken run over the River Avon to the A4 and the Keynsham Bypass.

The Southern Section: Brislington - Long Ashton

After a 2.5 mile multiplex west along the S2 A4 (albeit with extra lanes in places), we turn left back onto the A4174 at Brislington. After passing the B3119 junction, the road stays wide, without any further turning lanes, but is lined as just S2. There is no room to dual this section without robbing front gardens, but soon the houses peel back and wide grassy banks line the road as we pass the Tesco roundabout.

As we approach the A37 junction, the grass disappears, but the houses are served by access roads at the front, again potentially allowing for dualling. It's through the traffic lights, and again there is almost room for a dual carriageway, although a little pinching here and there would be necessary, and then the road does indeed become dualled as we cross traffic lights onto Hengrove Way. Of course, any plans to run a dual carriageway through the above sections are now sitting in dusty basements, never to be revisited, but it is evident that the original planning allowed for it.

Hartcliffe Way

Hengrove Way takes us through more traffic lights for the retail park and on to a large roundabout with Hartcliffe Way. Until 2017 that was the end of the ring road: the A4174 turned north up Hartcliffe Way, forcing westbound and airport traffic to head back into Bristol and navigate a messy, permanently jammed one-way system around Parson Street station in Bedminster. Now however that road has been renumbered as an extension of the A3029, and the A4174 ring road continues west.

The dual carriageway soon disappears as we drive through Bishopsworth and Withywood, and then onto a new link road leading to the Lime Kiln roundabout with the A38. Traffic for Bristol Airport and Somerset departs left; the rest of us can carry straight over onto another new link road across open fields to Long Ashton. The single-carriageway is accompanied by a bus lane, which departs halfway along onto a bus-only spur up to Long Ashton Park & Ride.

The ring road finally ends at a new roundabout on the A370 Long Ashton bypass, heading to Congresbury and Weston-Super-Mare. The Avon Gorge and Green Belt makes a western ring road section back to Filton unfeasible: so you would need to turn right up to Bristol City's Ashton Gate stadium, and then either through the city centre on the A4 to pick up the A38 northbound, or out through the Avon Gorge along the A4 Portway to the M5.


The A4174 doesn't exist on the 1953 OS Map, or at least the north and east sections don't. The bits that exist to the South of Bristol are all unclassified. By the mid-1970s, the A4174 is quietly minding its own business, linking the A38 at Filton to the Bromley Heath Roundabout, where (presumably without a roundabout) it turned south down what has only recently become part of the A4017. As late as 2002 maps showed this as a surviving spur of the A4174, splitting to give a further spur along Cleeve Hill, the mainline running down Overndale Road, both terminating on the A432. Sensibly, these are now both renumbered as A4017, leaving the A4174 to do its proper job of circling Bristol without any complications.

To the south of Bristol, work was also progressing in the 1970s, although largely as a result of Suburban development, the final sections across the former Hengrove Airfield being built much later.

As mentioned above, the eastern sections of the current A4174 were opened in late 2001, filling the missing link across Siston Common; and then in 2017 new link roads joined up with residential roads in Bishopsworth to complete the ring road round to Long Ashton. There were once even bigger plans for the southern section: fans of Sabre and Pathetic Motorways may have come across ideas for motorways around southern Bristol, connecting the M4 and M5 in an M42-esque manner. The A4174 is the 'Plan B'.


Related Pictures
View gallery (13)
A sad spot for a family - Geograph - 140638.jpgIMGP5284.jpgFootbridge crossing Bristol's ringroad (C) Ruth Riddle - Geograph - 2933676.jpgThe Hartcliffe Way (C) Neil Owen - Geograph - 4004189.jpgApproaching Dramway Roundabout - Geograph - 2933498.jpg
Other nearby roads
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 • 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 • NCN41 • Outer Circuit Road • South Bristol Spur • T9 (Britain) • T16 (Britain)
A4100 • A4101 • A4102(W) • A4102(E) • A4103 • A4104 • A4105 • A4106 • A4107 • A4108 • A4109 • A4110 • A4111 • A4112 • A4113 • A4114 • A4115 • A4116 • A4117 • A4118 • A4119
A4120 • A4121 • A4122 • A4123 • A4124 • A4125 • A4126 • A4127 • A4128 • A4129 • A4130 • A4131 • A4132 • A4133 • A4134 • A4135 • A4136 • A4137 • A4138 • A4139
A4140 • A4141 • A4142 • A4143 • A4144 • A4145 • A4146 • A4147 • A4148 • A4149 • A4150 • A4151 • A4152 • A4153 • A4154 • A4155 • A4156 • A4157 • A4158 • A4159
A4160 • A4161 • A4162 • A4163 • A4164 • A4165 • A4166 • A4167 • A4168 • A4169 • A4170 • A4171 • A4172 • A4173 • A4174 • A4175 • A4176 • A4177 • A4178 • A4179
A4180 • A4181 • A4182 • A4183 • A4184 • A4185 • A4186 • A4187 • A4188 • A4189 • A4190 • A4191 • A4192 • A4193 • A4194 • A4195 • A4196 • A4197 • A4198 • A4199
Former iterations: A4105(W) • A4105(E) • A4108 • A4114 • A4115 • A4116 • A4125 • A4141 • A4150 • A4154 • A4160 • A4168
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This page was a candidate for Article of the Month September 2009

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