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A5/Bangor - Holyhead

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From:  Bangor (SH593696)
To:  Holyhead (SH247820)
Meets:  A5, A55, A4087, A487, A545, A55, A4080, A5152, A55, A5114, A4080, A55, A55, A5025, A5153, A55
Former Number(s):  A5122
Old route now:  A55, A5154
Primary Destinations
Highway Authorities

Angelsey • Gwynedd


Anglesey • Caernarfonshire

Route outline (key)
Arrowwest.jpg West Holyhead
A5 Bangor – Holyhead
East Arrowsoutheast.jpg Betws-y-Coed - Bangor

South East | Holyhead

Suddenly, the countryside opens out and we reach the junction with the A55. Travellers in less of a hurry than we are would now turn off to reach Holyhead as quickly as possible. We, however, descend into Bangor, first around a sweeping right-hand bend then down beside the stone wall of the crematorium (which blocks any view we might hope to catch of Penrhyn castle). By the harbour and pier (which stretches halfway to Anglesey!) we turn sharp left. The A5 avoids the city centre and cathedral (Bangor is the oldest diocese in the country) and follows a zig-zag path to the Menai Suspension Bridge. Proceeding in a straight line is not easy because of the different vertical levels of the city.

Menai Bridge
The Menai Bridge is really the jewel in the Holyhead Road's crown: before its construction, the only way across the treacherous Menai Straits was a dangerous (and inconvenient) ferry crossing. Because shipping needed to use the route, the bridge had to be built 100 feet above sea level, which was unthinkable then. However, Telford worked his magic and built the first great suspension bridge in the world. Just about everything about its construction was innovative at the time, including the massive iron chains and suspension rods.

After crossing the bridge, we veer left to run alongside the strait, past a layby from where good views back to the bridge can be had. We approach the other bridge over the strait, the Britannia Bridge. This was built in 1850 by Robert Stevenson, and carried trains across in two iron tubes, rectangular in cross-section, supported by two limestone towers. However, in 1970 two boys accidentally set fire to the bridge, and almost destroyed it. The bridge was reconstructed so that the railway was supported by arches, and a road deck, carrying a diverted A5, was added over the top in 1980. However, since the recent completion of the A55 North Wales Expressway, the A5 has returned to its original routing through Bangor and over the Menai Bridge.

The A5 on Anglesey with Snowdon in the background and the new A55 to the left

The A5 proceeds through the village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyll (as it is signed from the road), often abbreviated to Llanfair PG. However, the station and many local shops and garages display the famously lengthened version (Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch), which was dreamt up in the nineteenth century to encourage tourists to visit the island.

After the dramatic scenery of Snowdonia, the much flatter scenery of Anglesey might seem rather dull. But the island is known as Mam Cymru (the Mother of Wales) because of its fertile land. In fact, the rolling hills, lush green fields and the occasional rocky crag are rather redolent of Ireland. We run very close and parallel to the new A55 (which has taken most of the traffic away from the old road), crossing over the flood plain of the Afon Cefni. After passing through the village of Gwalchmai we cross the brow of a hill and get our first good view of Holyhead, with Holyhead Mountain skulking in the background. The A5 passes along the Stanley Embankment (forsaking the older bridge to the west) to Holy Island. The A5 finally ends at the ferry terminal, from where you can take a boat to Ireland proper!

South East | Holyhead

Abbey Hill Roundabout • Anglesey Arms Roundabout • Antelope Roundabout • Bayston Hill Roundabout • Brockley Interchange • Caldecotte Interchange • Canons Corner • Carreg Bran Interchange • Centurion Junction • Chalton Interchange • Churchbridge • Churncote Roundabout • Cluddley Interchange • Crackleybank Interchange • Crick Interchange • Cross in Hand • Dalar Hir Interchange • DIRFT Rugby East Roundabout • DIRFT Rugby North Roundabout • Dodwells Roundabout • Dordon Roundabout • Druid Junction • Dunstable Crossroads • Edgebold Roundabout • Emstrey Island • Felton Butler Roundabout • Five Crosses • Forge Interchange • Friars Wash • Gailey Interchange • Gailey Island • Gibbet Roundabout • Glan Menai Junction • Glascote Interchange • Gledrid Roundabout • Grendon Roundabout • Halfway House Roundabout (Northants) • Halton Roundabout • High Cross • Higham Roundabout • Hockliffe Crossroads • Hollinswood Interchange • Holly Lane Roundabout • Kelly's Kitchen Roundabout • Kilsby • King Harry Junction • Limekiln Bank Roundabout • Little Brickhill Interchange • Llys y Gwynt Interchange • Longford Island • Longshoot • M42 J10 • Mancetter Roundabout • Marble Arch • Marylebone Flyover • Mile End Roundabout • Mile Oak Junction • Muckley Corner • Nant Turnpike Interchange • Norton Canes Interchange • Old Stratford Roundabout • Park Street Roundabout • Peahen Crossroads • Pen Caledog Interchange • Pickmere Roundabout • Portway Roundabout (Milton Keynes) • Preston Island • Priorslee Interchange • Priorslee Roundabout • Queens Head Junction • Red Gate • Redmoor Roundabout • Rising Sun (Brownhills) • Sheeps Lane Roundabout • Smockington Hollow • Staples Corner • Stretton Baskerville • The Column Roundabout • The Turf • Thorn Roundabout • Tove Roundabout • Ventura Park Interchange • Wall Island • Watford Crossroads • Weedon Crossroads • Weedon Roundabout • Weeford Interchange • Whitehurst Roundabout • Whittington Roundabout • Wolfshead Roundabout • Woodcote Roundabout • Wynns Corner
Related Pictures
View gallery (295)
Milestone on the Holyhead Turnpike - Geograph - 50109.jpgThe A5 heading west - Geograph - 1650325.jpgA5.JPGWelsh border - Coppermine - 3062.jpgLooking south across the A5 bridge over the railway, Kilsby - Geograph - 1545103.jpg
Other nearby roads
Bangor (Caernarfonshire)
A5 • A55 • A5153 • A5154 • B4545 • E22 • E34 (Old System) • EuroVelo 2 • Ffordd Gogledd Cymru • Holyhead Road • NCN8 • T11 (Britain)

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