|From:||St Thomas, Swansea (SS662933)|
|Via:||Foxhole, Pentre-chwyth bypass|
|Distance:||3.5 miles (5.6 km)|
|Meets:||A483, A4067, B5444, B4603, A48|
|Old route now:||B5444|
|Route outline (key)|
The A4217 is one of the main radial roads leading from the centre of Swansea and indeed carries most of the traffic heading northeast out of the city.
The route starts on East Bank Way, at the northeast corner of the complex junction – spanning the two River Tawe road bridges east of the city centre – where the A483 meets the Oystermouth to Swansea section of the A4067. For the first mile we head north, following the east bank of the river upstream, with housing on our right at first and former industrial land on our left, now replanted as a "linear park", the trees of which generally hide the river from sight. Confusingly, from a navigating-by-numbers point of view, this northbound stretch is very conspicuously signposted "A4067" from all approaches at the Tawe bridges junction. Nevertheless, no maps give it this number, and all southbound directional signs label it as being indeed the A4217.
Just before we descend to a roundabout (from where the white bulk of the Liberty Stadium, across the valley at Morfa, is very visible) we pass an inconspicuous turn to the right which marks the start of the – notoriously out-of-zone – B5444 (Swansea edition), which was the older, twistier way to our destination of Llansamlet.
At the aforementioned roundabout, the A4217 throws off a a short D2 branch which crosses the Tawe and passes a Park & Ride facility on the left before reaching the start of the main section of the A4067, which runs up the Swansea Valley past Morriston and Pontardawe en route towards Brecknockshire and the Brecon Beacons. Another numbering curiosity here is the question why this branch of the A4217 was not instead numbered A4067, as it meets that road "end-on" at the roundabout by the Liberty Stadium and indeed is the main way into Swansea for traffic entering from the northeast via the A4067. Perhaps the A4067 number is being kept in reserve for the new Morfa to the Tawe bridges direct (west bank) link currently under construction.
Returning to the main line, we now head northeast, following a relatively recent (well, dating from the late 80s) alignment along the slope below Pentre-chwyth and Bon-y-maen to our right. Between traffic lights serving the entrance to a retail park on the left and a roundabout at which the B5444 comes back from the right, a nearly mile-long straight of NSL running through well-wooded land (more post-industrial re-landscaping) makes it hard to believe that we are still near the centre of Swansea.
Descending now, and passing under the Swansea to Cardiff railway line, we enter the northeast corner of Swansea Enterprise Park, a large retail and light industrial zone. After a roundabout by a Tesco Extra store we enter a brief section where the surroundings suddenly resume their old residential character before the road ends at a light-controlled staggered crossroads on the A48 in the centre of Llansamlet.
The beginning and end of this route were originally numbered B4292, although the main, middle part of that road followed a narrower and more sinuous path that passed through the villages of Pentre-chwyth and Bon-y-maen, higher up the valley side. With the opening of the new straighter alignment, and the reconstruction of an awkward railway bridge on the approach to Llansamlet, the improved route was reclassified to become the present A4217 and the old, bypassed section was renumbered to become the B5444: a very strange decision, given that this number was not only very much out-of-zone but already in use at Mold in Flintshire.