|Location Map ( geo)
|49.5 miles (79.7 km)
|A458, A5, A489, A4113, A44
|Route outline (key)
The A488 is a cross-country A-road straddling the border between England and Wales. Over a winding course of almost 50 miles, it connects Shrewsbury in Shropshire with Llandrindod Wells in Radnorshire (via the A44 and A483).
Shrewsbury - Penybont
Contemporary maps show the A488 as beginning - unusually - on the B4380, which was formerly the A5 bypass, in the Porthill district of the town. It runs south-west through Radbrook before crossing the modern A5 Shrewsbury southern bypass at the large, oval-shaped Hanwood Roundabout. Crossing over in the 4-zone, the road immediately assumes a rural character which it retains from here through the rest of its itinerary.
With Bishop's Castle (20 miles), Clun (26) and Knighton (33) all signposted from this point, the A488 passes through Hanwood before dancing with the Shrewsbury-to-Machynlleth railway line, which it crosses three times in little over a mile. It then follows the path of a disused railway via Pontesbury and Minsterley. South of here, the ground becomes more undulating upon entering the Hope Valley. Open fields give way to wooded sections and the route follows the path carved out by the river over many centuries. Soon we reach the England–Wales border, though for the moment remaining on the English side, except for a very brief excursion where the road crosses the river, shadowing it for a couple of miles to the south.
Soon we reach the A489, which multiplexes with us for a few hundred yards to Lydham. After that road turns off, we bypass, as we always have done, Bishop's Castle - the biggest place since Shrewsbury. After that, we again follow the contours into a hillier area, finding the path of least resistance through the hills, via Clun (which has narrow roads and sharp corners) to Knighton. Here we cross the border into Wales (properly this time), then reach a T-junction where we TOTSO left to meet the A4113, where we TOTSO right. We then cross the line of Offa's Dyke before heading in a more westerly direction through very hilly ground, then dropping into the Lugg Valley. The B4356 forms the main valley road, and we soon cross the river, and head up a tributary valley to the west.
Originally, the road began on the opposite side of the Severn from Shrewsbury town centre, at the Frankwell gyratory on the A458. Some maps, however, show the start as having been on the Castle Foregate gyratory by the railway station, from which it ran along Smithfield Road to cross Welsh Bridge to reach Frankwell. From Frankwell, the A488 headed south-west out of the town along New Street and Porthill road to reach the B4380 (ex-A5), its present starting point.