|Location Map ( geo)
|155 miles (249.4 km)
|A40, A4144, A34, A4260, A4095, B4437, B4027, B4022, B4030, A361, A3400, B4026, A436, A429, B4479, A424, B4081, B4632, A46, A4184, B4088, B4624, B4083, B4082, A4104, B4084, A422, A4538, A4440, M5, B4084, B4205, A38, A443, A449, B4206, B4485, A4103, B4197, B4420, B4203, B4214, A465, A49, B4361, B4529, A4110, A4112, B4457, A480, A4111, B4355, B4594, B4362, B4357, B4372, A481, A488, A483, A470, B4518, B4343, A4120, A4159, A487
|A34, A4538, A4112
|Old route now:
North & Mid Wales TRA
|Route outline (key)
The A44 is a long and winding road, which begins at Oxford and passes through the Cotswolds, before making its way right across Wales to end near the coast at Aberystwyth. It is one of only three 2-digit A-roads in the 4 zone to enter Wales (the others are the A40 and the A48), and one of only five F99 roads to do so (the others being the A40, A48, A5 and A55). It is (together with the A40 and A48) one of only three A4x roads to stay entirely in the 4 zone. Although it rarely gives the impression of being a major route - losing out to several other A-roads (the A361, A429, A46, A4440, A49 and the A470) through each of the multiplexes along the way - it is almost entirely signposted as a primary route. It is also, thanks primarily to the landscapes through which it passes, an exceptionally pleasant drive.
Section 1: Oxford - Evesham
In its current form, the A44 begins at the Wolvercote Roundabout on the A40 to the north of Oxford. Its first section is a dual carriageway, heading north-west along Woodstock Road to the Peartree Interchange, a conventional roundabout GSJ beneath the A34 Oxford Western Bypass. A further short stint of dual carriageway connects it to the A4260 via a further roundabout, before the road slims down briefly to single carriageway. At Yarnton, it regains its dualled status as far as Woodstock, the location of Blenheim Palace and the Oxfordshire Museum. From Woodstock, the A44 runs along the eastern fringe of the Cotswolds towards Chipping Norton, passing through the handsome village of Enstone. Some 18 miles from the starting point of the route in Oxford, the road reaches a TOTSO with traffic lights, where the road turns left. From 1922 until the 1991, this marked the beginning of the A44; all of the road travelled so far was originally the A42, which became the A34 in 1935 (see History).
With the extension of the A44 to Oxford, a rather odd situation developed, whereby the A44 came to form a triangle to the east of Chipping Norton; the road heading off to the left into the town along London Road retains its original A44 number, while the road straight ahead is also numbered A44 for another mile or so, as far as the Chapel House Island roundabout, where it similarly turns left to enter Chipping Norton along Banbury Road. We therefore have two options for entering Chipping Norton on the A44. From the roundabout at the northern point of the triangle, the A3400 takes over the former route of the A34 towards Stratford-upon-Avon, while the A361 arrives from Banbury. The likely explanation for this arrangement is that the original A44 running along the southern side of the triangle (London Road) is now signposted for "local traffic only" in the eastbound direction, suggesting that through-traffic heading westwards is encouraged to use the southern side, while through-traffic heading eastbound is directed around the northern and eastern sides. Although it is signposted entirely as A44, the northern side of the triangle also forms a multiplex with the A361 between the Chapel House Island roundabout and Chipping Norton town centre.
At a double mini-roundabout the A44 converges with itself, and then runs straight through the main market street, taking the A361 with it. Of the many multiplexes that the A44 shares with three-digit routes, this one is the exception to the rule as the A44 number indisputably takes precedence throughout. At the southern end of the High Street, the A361 separates itself to head south towards Burford, while the A44 turns abruptly the right, and heads out into the Cotswolds. As might be expected, the road from here has many hills and turns, and is single carriageway with some fairly tight bends and few opportunities for overtaking, some recent improvements notwithstanding.
After a few miles we leave Oxfordshire and run briefly along the southern edge of Warwickshire, before entering Gloucestershire. At the market town of Moreton-in-Marsh the A44 encounters its second multiplex, this time with the old Fosse Way. The A44 and A429 meet at a mini-roundabout at the northern end of the town's attractive High Street, and separate via a similar arrangement at the southern end. Although maps suggest that the A44 number takes precedence over the A429 the signage on the ground suggests otherwise. After leaving the Moreton-in-Marsh behind, the road sweeps up through woodland until it converges with the A424, a short but significant road linking (almost) the A44 to the A40 at Burford, and providing a quicker route between this point and Oxford.
After the arrival of the A424 via a fork to our left, the A44 levels out for some distance, but continues to run through the woods until it reaches one of its most spectacular sections: Fish Hill near Broadway. At this point, it enters Worcestershire, into which it descends steeply through a series of increasingly sharp bends; it features an escape lane before the final curve, which is almost a hairpin. Throughout this section there is an overtaking lane in the opposite direction, and indeed driving the route uphill the other way is much more fun! After the near-hairpin, the road straightens out considerably, and heads onto the Broadway bypass. The carriageway narrows down to lose the long Fish Hill overtaking lane shortly before a roundabout where the A44 crosses the historic route of the A46; these days that road is the B4632. The road continues, far less twisty than before, past Wickhamford before a opening up for a short stretch of dual carriageway before its encounter with the modern A46 at Evesham.
Section 2: Evesham - Worcester
The A44 has changed completely from its original itinerary between Evesham and Worcester (see History). Having once passed through the town along the southern bank of the River Avon, the construction of the Evesham bypass diverted it through a multiplex with (what was then) the A435 to the southern end of the bypass; from there it then it passed into the town on the former route of the A435 before turning left at a TOTSO and heading through Cropthorne and Pershore before arriving in Worcester via M5 J7. Since the opening of the Wyre Piddle bypass, however, the A44 switched to multiplex with (what is now) the A46 to the northern end of the bypass instead. From there, it has taken over the old A4538 past Wood Norton (the BBC's training centre) towards Lower Moor. There it follows the recent Wyre Piddle bypass (opened in the 2000s) before arriving back on the former A4538 just outside Pinvin. At the Spetchley roundabout the present route of the A44 abandons the former A4538, the remains of which continue straight ahead, and instead hijacks the end of the A422. This road arrives from Banbury, and now terminates here, as the A44 has taken over its alignment as far as the A4440 Worcester ring road. This more northerly route enables the A44 to pursue a rural course between Evesham and Worcester, effectively bypassing not only Evesham itself, but the villages of Hampton, Cropthorne, and Pershore, through all of which it used to pass. The new route also takes the A44 over the M5 via a bridge, whereas the old route ran straight through Junction 7.
The A44 number then disappears, as it multiplexes with the A4440 Worcester ring road. It reappears, somewhat incongruously, on its former alignment at the M5's Junction 7. The A44 runs then as it always has done, into the city centre, although its number again disappears where the A4440 has stolen a short stretch of its dual carriageway between the motorway and the city limits. One might wonder why the A44 number has not been allocated to the portion of the Worcester ring road that passes to the south of the city, as it meets the A44 again at Upper Broadheath - where the A44 leaves the city on the western side - but from the signage it is apparent that the authorities are content for A44 drivers to brave the city streets. From the M5 and the A4440, the A44 heads into the city along Whittington Road, which is all dual carriageway, and London Road, which is not. On the edge of the city centre, the A38 crosses the A44 via a staggered junction controlled by traffic lights; technically, this junction would carry both the A38 and the A44 through a short multiplex which traverses the Worcester and Birmingham Canal, right next to The Commandery Civil War Museum. Becoming an urban dual carriageway, the A44 continues along Deansway, past the statue of Elgar and the Cathedral, before swinging west to cross the River Severn. On either side of the river, the road passes through a gyratory; the relatively small one on the city side of the river is dwarfed by the enormous one on the other side, adjacent to the Worcestershire County Cricket Ground. The famous Worcester Bridge lies immediately between these two gyratories, allowing two lanes of traffic to cross the river in either direction separated by a narrow, tarmacked reservation between the two flows.
The A449 passes through a multiplex with the A44 through both of these gyratories and over Worcester Bridge, before departing for Malvern in the St John's district of the city. The A44 leaves the city via Bromyard Road, a busy suburban single carriageway.
Section 3: Worcester - Leominster
At the Dines Green roundabout to the west of the city, the A44 connects to both the end of the A4440 Worcester ring road and the A4103 to Hereford. The road beyond this point is narrower than at and previous point in its itinerary, and twisty in nature. After about half a mile a minor road branches off to the right to Lower Broadheath (and, more significantly, The Elgar Centre). The A44 continues west until just past the village of Broadwas, where a realignment has enabled it to avoid the hamlet of Little Green but not Broadwas itself. From Broadwas, the road runs in close proximity to the River Teme, shadowing its meanders through surroundings which are a mixture of woodland and farmland. The route avoids the hamlet of Knightwick, where it meets the B4197 (Great Witley via Martley) at the foot of Ankerdine Hill, by crossing the river at Knightsford Bridge.
After crossing the Teme the A44 climbs over Bringsty Common before descending towards Bromyard. En route, it passes the Brockhampton Estate, a minor access road to Bromyard Downs, and the start of the B4220 which runs down the eastern side of the Frome Valley towards Ledbury. Bromyard town centre is narrowly avoided via an alignment that was genuinely built as a bypass, but which nonetheless still passes through the built-up area subject to a 30mph speed limit. There are three B-road accesses to the town: the first is the B4203 Stanford Bridge and Great Witley), the second is the former A465 which is shown as a B-road on most maps but which apparently lacks a number, and the third is B4214 which arrived from Ledbury and the Frome Valley and continues through the town towards Tenbury Wells. Amidst this succession of frequent crossroads and T-junctions, the A465 begins - most unassumingly, considering its importance as the South Wales Heads of the Valleys Road - bound for Hereford and Abergavenny. After Bromyard, the A44 over the downs to Bredonbury, running almost due north through the village before resuming its westward course, passing a Visitor Centre, Nature Reserve, and Roman Road in the vicinity of Steen's Bridge.
Finally, the A44 performs a tight double-bend, first to the right and then to the left, to avoid a mansion and cross the River Lugg before meeting the A49 at a roundabout on the Leominster Bypass. Originally, the route continued straight on over the roundabout to go past the railway and bus stations (along a road now unclassified) in the centre of the market town. These days, however, it submissively multiplexes with the bypass to the roundabout at its northern end, where it turns left to flirt with the town centre before heading out towards Wales.
Section 4: Leominster - Rhayader
From the Leominster bypass and its submissive multiplex with the A49, the A44 heads over the railway line before turning left at a former T junction converted into a mini-roundabout, from which the B4361 departs from the right for Ludlow). The A44 now heads due south along the mainline of the principal street through Leominster's town centre but doglegs again, this time to the right, before reaching the heart of the town; from here the B4361 continues resumes its course, although the street ahead is one-way and A44 traffic prevented from accessing it by 'no entry' signs. The road climbs gently out of the town through Baron's Cross to meet the oversized roundabout serving Morrisons. After passing the roundabout it reaches a semi-TOTSO to the left, whereby an extra lane appears in the westward direction which filters traffic left onto the A44, while the mainline through the junction leads straight onto the B4360 [to Kingsland]; in the eastbound direction, all A44 has to give way and turn right at a T junction. The route ahead through Kingsland and Eardisland (pronounced Erdsland) is the former A44 (see History).
After passing a small housing estate the A44 leaves Leominster and crosses over the River Arrow and bypasses the village of Monkland. After a mile it crosses the A4110 (yet another Hereford-to-Ludlow route), before another TOTSO takes it to the right at a staggered crossroads. This junction feels more like a T junction, the B4457 to the left being fairly insignificant; while the A44 turns towards Eardisland and Pembridge, the road straight ahead is the A4112, which heads to the A438 and Hay-on-Wye. As this road also runs between Leominster and Tenbury Wells, travelling through Leominster town centre the A44 effectively leads a triple multiplex: A44 (dominant), A4112, B4361).
The A44 meets the unclassified road that marks out its original 1922 itinerary (again, see History) just west of Eardisland, and passes through Pembridge. This is a very memorable little village, characterised by a great many black-and-white houses. The route narrows considerably in the heart of the village, before opening up and meandering its way through the countryside towards the Welsh border. In this area, it passes numerous orchards (mostly owned by Bulmers [Strongbow/Woodpecker]). The route passes through the northern end of the village of Lyonshall, and past its ancient church, opposite which the A480 departs from a T junction to the left for Hereford. Lyonshall apparently boasts a dismantled railway and a castle, as well as being the point at which the historic earthwork of Offa's Dyke crosses over the A44, although this is not discernible from the road.
A couple of miles later and the A44 arrives at Kington, sometimes considered to be one of the "Gateway to Wales" towns, even though it lies about a mile from the border. Here it is possible to join the Offa's Dyke footpath (the route of which often diverges considerably the earthwork) and visit Hergest Croft Gardens. The A44 originally ran straight through the centre of Kington, crossing the River Arrow and running through the narrow and bustling High Street. These days, however, it avoids the town via a single carriageway bypass passing to the east and north of the town. The bypass begins at a roundabout with the A4111 (which runs south towards Hay-on-Wye and Hereford), meets the B4355 halfway along (which heads north towards Presteigne and Knighton), and ends by meeting the A44's original course through the town in an areas named ominously as Floodgates.
For the first few miles after Kington, the A44 follows the course of the River Arrow to its left, crossing the Welsh border in the process; for about 200 yards, the road actually forms the boundary between England and Wales. From the left, via a large T-junction featuring two traffic islands and a filter lane for left-turning traffic, the (unsigned) B4594 departs for the villages of Dolyhir, Rhosgoch, and Painscastle, before eventually meeting the A470. Immediately after the turning, the A44 curves away from the Arrow to pursue a more northerly course, avoiding Old Radnor Hill in the process. After a mile it turns back towards the west at Walton, where it meets both the B4362 (for Presteigne) and the B4357 (for Knighton). A few miles further, and the A44 bypasses New Radnor to the south, from which the B4372 heads back to meet the B4357 at the inauspiciously named Beggar's Bush. The A44 itself turns southwards from New Radnor to squeeze its way between two hills while following and then crossing the Summergil Brook to Llanfihangel-Nant-Melan. Just the other side of the Mynd hill here is the curiously named Water-Break-Its-Neck waterfall.
At the Red Lion inn, the A44 curves turns to take up the north-westerly course that it follows all the way to Rhayader. It passes through a T-junction from which the A481 sets off for Builth Wells before beginning to do some serious hill-climbing, reaching 389 m before winding its way down onto a plateau. A few miles later it reaches Penybont, where it meets the A488 terminates, having having wound its way through the Marches from Shrewsbury and Knighton. The A44 then crosses the River Ithon before passing under the Craven Arms-Llanelli railway line and meeting the A483 at the Crossgates roundabout. This road offers the chance to head north to Newtown and Oswestry, or south through the spa towns of Landrindod Wells, Builth Wells, and Llanwrtyd Wells on its way to Llandovery. From Crossgates, the A44 follows a fairly straight course for Rhayader, some eight miles away. This small but characterful town offers local facilities, and is the last settlement of any real significance before Aberystwyth. Upon entering the town centre, westbound traffic passes to the left of the clock tower which marks the point where the A44 meets the A470 and disappears. From here the road straight ahead offers an alternative route to Aberystwyth via the scenic Devil's Bridge, as well as access to the reservoirs of the Elan and Claerwen Valleys (which supply Birmingham with water). In 1922 the A44 turned right at the clock tower, but the route has now disappeared into a multiplex with the A470.
Section 5: Llangurig - Aberystwyth
For the nine miles between Rhayader and Llangurig, the A44 and A470 multiplex, the A44 being the submissive partner. Just before leaving Rhayader, the B4518 leaves on a direct northerly course to Llandiloes (although, as it has three steep hills along its route, it is probably easier to take the A470), and there is a cheap car park and leisure centre to the right. Once out of town the road is fairly level, clinging to the side of hills to the right and the River Wye to the left. The road is fast with sweeping curves as it shadows the river to Llangurig. The route climbs gradually as it heads north, passing a wind farm at Dolhelfa, where it levels off before reaching the Llangurig roundabout, where the A44 number reappears.
The final stretch of the A44 from Llangurig to Aberystwyth begins at 276 m, climbs to 408 m, and ultimately descends to its terminus at less than 10 m above sea level. There is some spectacular scenery along this section of the route (plus a wind farm or two!), and several glimpses of Pendinas monument. From the Llangurig roundabout, the A44 separates itself from the A470 by turning (west) and passing through the outskirts of the village past a petrol station, while the A470 bears right for Llandiloes and its adventures in North Wales. As it departs Llangurig, the A44 clings to the sides of hills and mountain as it winds its way through the Cambrian range towards Aberystwyth. The conifers to the left are part of Esgair Ychion, one of many local Forest Enterprise adventures. A few miles later, at Pont Rhydgaled, the River Wye - which has been the road's faithful companion since Rhayader - crosses under the carriageway, leaving us to follow one of its tributaries, the Afon Tarennig. At the hamlet of Eisteddfa Gurig, which hosts the "ELVIS" rock and the start of a footpath up to the summit of Plynlimon, the A44 reaches its highest altitude. At 752 m, Plynlimon is not particularly big, even by Welsh standards, but it does host the sources of both the Rivers Severn and Wye; if it rains a lot up here, then Hereford, Shrewsbury, Bewdley and Worcester will soon know about it. On wet days, it is quite common to find dense fog in this area, reducing visibility to virtually nothing.
The A44 then turns south-west to begin its descent towards the Welsh coastline. After about a mile is the first of the 180º bends, which overlooks an abandoned silver/lead mine. After a further two miles the B4343 to Devil's Bridge leaves via a T-junction to the left, and the A44 heads into the remote settlement of Ponterwyd. The at-junction B4343 sign deserves a mention: while looking unremarkable now, in the late 1990s it was an English-only sign, with the Welsh "Pontarfynach" scrawled across it by Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (the militant Welsh Language Society).
From Ponterwyd, where the A4120 (the back road to Aberystwyth, via Devil's Bridge) and a minor road leading to the Nant-y-moch reservoir both begin, the A44 turns north-west, passing several abandoned mines en route to the Silver/Lead Mine Museum at Llywernog and the Nant-yr-arian Forest Enterprise Visitor Centre and its café. The road then begins its descent in earnest, around a very large bend and into the village of Goginan, stretching over a distance of two miles into Capel Bangor, where it meets the Afon Rheidol and a minor road leading to the local hydro-electric power station (fed by underground pipes from Nant-y-moch reservoir). After a further mile, the A44 arrives at the Lovesgrove roundabout, from which the A4159 serves effectively as an Aberystwyth eastern bypass for traffic seeking to head north up the Welsh coast along the A487; a conspicuous sign in the field to the north-east of the road announces that the land is part of Lovesgrove Farm, owned by Aberystwyth University.
One mile further on and there are three distinguishing features almost next to each other: a house which looks like a modified church tower, a fairly steep minor road leading down to Glanyrafon Industrial Estate on the other side of the Rheidol, and a skewed bridge taking the Cambrian Coaster (Aberystwyth -> Shrewsbury railway line) overhead. On the other side of the bridge is the village of Llanbadarn Fawr, which although nowadays is a satellite of Aberystwyth; in ancient times, this was the original settlement which spawned its neighbour (with a little help from Edward I, who had a habit of building large castles in Wales and surrounding fledgling towns with walls).
Once in the village, the A44 quickly passes a petrol station on the left, before arriving at two mini-roundabouts. Originally it then headed slightly to the right and passed through the main street, but Llanbadarn has been given a tiny bypass, so the A44 now ducks to the left then almost immediately TOTSOs right along its newer alignment (carry straight on to see a detached bit of the A4120, which passes over a double level crossing on the mainline and Vale of Rheidol narrow-gauge to Devil's Bridge) to Parc-y-llyn, Aberystwyth's new out-of-town retail park, and up Southgate (1:6) to meet the A487 Aberystwyth -> Cardigan at Penparcau). The bypass is incredibly small - only a quarter of a mile in length - before the original route rejoins on the left. The A44 then continues for its last mile through the outskirts of Aberystwyth, meeting the newbuild (PFI) Penweddig Secondary School and the Leisure Centre on the left (reached a few hundred yards on through Plas Crug, which also leads to the cemetery), then the old (closed ~5yrs ago) Penweddig premises on the right, before finally terminating on the A487 Penglais Hill, with a pub on the left and a tattoo parlour on the right.
From the A44's terminus, the A487 stretches in both directions. A left turn heads into the centre of the town, although Marine Terrace and the beach can be reached more quickly and easily by heading almost directly across the A487 onto North Road and Queen's Avenue, rather than left and into the town's busy one-way system. A right turn onto the A487 heads up Penglais Hill to Brongalis Hospital, the Aberystwyth University campus, and the National Library of Wales.
Until 2022, the A44 was one of an elite group of seventeen F99 roads which held the distinction of maintaining green-signed primary route throughout their entire length, the others being the A12, A14, A16, A17, A22, A42, A43, A45, A53, A55, A75, A78, A83, A84, A86, and A87. This changed when the section that passes through the centre of Worcester was downgraded to secondary status, although at time of writing (2023) the green signage has yet to be replaced.
The A44 has been subject to three notable amendments since 1922. While one of these was relatively minor, the other two resulted in major alterations to the route's itinerary.
The most significant adjustment to the route was its south-eastward extension from Chipping Norton to Oxford. In 1922, the original starting point of the A44 was just east of Chipping Norton on the A42, which became the A34 in 1935. When the M40 was extended between 1989 and 1991, A34 traffic between Oxford and Solihull was redirected onto the new motorway, and the A44 was it turn extended along the former A34 to its current starting point on the A40 north of Oxford.
The second significant revision to the A44's route came between Evesham and Worcester. In its original form, the A44 skirted to the south of Evesham town centre along the banks of the River Avon, crossing the A435 (now the A4184) before proceeding through Hampton, Cropthorne, and Pershore to reach Worcester along what is now the B4084. Upon the opening of the Evesham bypass, the A44 was diverted to the southern end of the new road through a multiplex with the A435, from which it turned north towards the town centre (along what is now the southern end of the A4184) before resuming its original route via a TOTSO left along Pershore Road. The A44 retained this itinerary when the A435 around Evesham was renumbered as part of the A46 in 1995. However, when the Wyre Piddle bypass opened in 2002, the entire Evesham-to-Worcester stretch of the A44 was moved northwards to its current route, departing Evesham from the northern end of the A46 bypass and meeting the A4440 Worcester ring road to the east of the city. Whereas the earlier route of the A44 approached Worcester by passing through Junction 7 of the M5, the present route passes under the motorway a short distance north of Junction 7; it disappears upon meeting the A4440, and reappears on its earlier route from Junction 7 into the city centre.
A third and far less significant change came in and around Leominster. The original route entered the town on Worcester Road, running in parallel to the railway, before turning left along Etnam Street and crossing the A49 in the town centre. The road exited the town by following its current route along Bargates as far as Baron's Cross, where it ran straight along what is now the B4529. It crossed the A4110 before heading through Eardisland on what is now an unclassified road to meet what is now its current route to the west of that village. The A44 was rerouted to take over the first few miles of the A4112 from Baron's Cross, to TOTSO right at its present-day crossroads with that road and the B4457. The result of the change was to provide the road with an effective bypass of Eardisland, but both the former and current routes of the A44 west of Leominster feature a TOTSO.
The final historical point to note is that the route between Rhayader and Llangurig has had its number changed. Originally, the road carried the A44 number, while the route to the south of Rhayader was the A479. However, the gradual extension of the A470 Cardiff-to-Brecon road - which ultimately saw that route stretch the length of Wales from Cardiff to Llandudno - resulted in the disappearance of the A44 number from the Rhayader-Llangurig stretch (as well as many other numbers in central and northern Wales). Consequently, the original A44 has disappeared throughout the 9 miles of its multiplex with the A470.
|A 0.3 mile bypass of the dangerous bends near the Sandys Arms. It was under construction in May 1959. An Evesham Standard report on 2 October 1959 said that the new road confused some service bus drivers on route to Broadway such that they missed out the village.
|New Road to Sherford Street. Shown on July 1968 OS Quarter inch map. Not on July 1967 edition. It may have opened in 1968.
|New Radnor Bypass
|Shown on OS Route Planning Map revised June 1979, not on the June 1978 edition. It may have opened in 1978.
|Opened in 1982 per Herefordshire County Council (2022).
|The 3 mile road was opened on 13 May 1998 by Dan Wickstead, County Council Chairman. Contractor was Birse Construction Ltd., tender price £4.8 million.
|Wyre Piddle Bypass
|Opened on 20 December 2002 by Peter Luff, MP for Mid-Worcestershire. 1.4 miles. Contractor Wrekin Construction, expected cost £3 million.