The A472 is a non-primary road providing a strategic east-west route through a landscape that does its utmost to deter east-west movement. It runs from Usk to Abercynon via Pontypool, crossing the Usk Valley, Taff Vale and Ebbw Vale, to name just three of the north-south valleys in this area.
Usk - Abercynon
Bridge Street, Usk
The road begins at a trumpet interchange on the A449 just to the east of the Roman town of Usk in Monmouthshire. After passing through the town centre, we cross the River Usk on a 5-span stone arch bridge, three of which span the river. Immediately, we turn north, keeping the river alongside us to the right. At Rhadyr we leave the Usk and head west towards Pontypool. After passing under a railway bridge at Little Mill, we turn left at an at-grade junction onto the dual carriageway A4042 trunk road, with which we multiplex for a couple of miles to a roundabout on the fringe of Pontypool. There, we turn right along an urban dual carriageway, into the eastern fringe of the Welsh Valleys area. Under a mile later there is a roundabout at which you can turn right along the A4043 to Blaenavon.
The A472 between Newbridge and Hengoed
We continue straight on, still heading west, into a steep-sided valley, lined with forest. For the next three miles there is a parallel unclassified road, which was the original A472; we're now following a former railway alignment. Shortly after, at Crumlin, just north of Newbridge, we turn left onto another multiplex, this time with the A467 road from Newport to Brynmawr via Abertillery. We find ourselves now in the heart of the valleys, where there is an extensive network of single-carriageway A roads linking the series of ribbon communities that are so characteristic of this part of the world.
The A467 runs through Ebbw Vale, and it is this valley we follow for the next mile or so, then we turn right at a roundabout in Newbridge, immediately crossing the Ebbw River onto a dual-carriageway road, heading west once again. We skirt to the south of Pontllanfraith, rising up and then descending into the Rhymney Valley. As we do so we pass roundabout junctions with the A4048 and A4049, at the latter of which we become single-carriageway once again. In the Rhymney Valley, just east of Ystrad Mynach, we cross the A469 and the River Rhymney and pass from Monmouthshire into Glamorgan.
Passing under a railway bridge, the road runs westward through much more gentle terrain towards Nelson and Abercynon, where we reach more steeper sided valleys, specifically the River Taff. The A472 ends here, on the A470 dual carriageway, the principal north-south route in Wales. The A472 ends at the point where the Cynon Valley meets the Taff. To the south, perhaps the greatest of the Welsh Valleys meets the Taff, the Rhondda, but that is a different story!