|Location Map ( geo)|
|From:||Camden Town (TQ289838)|
|To:||Waterworks Corner, Woodford (TQ393902)|
|Distance:||8.4 miles (13.5 km)|
|Meets:||A4201, A502, A400, A5202, A5200, A5203, A1, A103, A1201, A105, A107, A504, A10, A1055, A1006, A112, A104|
|Route outline (key)|
Decent east-west routes are rare in North London -- and the A503 makes a decent stab at it. It links Camden Town (from which one can easily access the West End) with the North Circular at Waterworks Corner (handy for the M11). It is probably marginally quicker than heading up to the North Circular at Brent Cross and going east, but this will depend on the time of day.
Section 1: Camden Town - Tottenham Hale
The road is numbered A503, so we shall start as the road does in zone 5, at Camden Town. The eastbound road begins at Britannia Junction, the confusing hub of Camden Town from which a seemingly infeasible number of roads emanate. It's primary at this stage and signed for Holloway. The previous generation of signs (around until as late as 2000 or so) pointed, I think, to Cambridge (A10), Newmarket (A11) and so on. We meet westbound A503 traffic shortly afterwards, as it disappears to the south down Bayham Street. According to my map, the westbound A503 then turns right down Pratt Street, and across Camden High Street down Delancey Street until it meets Parkway over the West Coast Main Line (all of this is one-way), but I don't think it's signed as such.
We now proceed in a straight line north-east across numerous one-way streets, over the Regent's Canal and under the North London line. The road is wide here, with one lane plus bus lane in each direction. After climbing a short hill and meeting both directions of the A5200 (yet more one-way streets) we descend slightly where the road bifurcates again just outside Holloway Prison. It would be unwise to contravene traffic regulations by passing a No Entry sign (if you're female, you might get banged up in Holloway!), so we proceed along Parkhurst Road and meet the A1 before too long. The junction is called the Nags Head, named of course after a pub (which has now closed).
The A503 trudges on past the A1, past parades of shops but still wide, but doesn't see the westbound traffic again until Finsbury Park. Let's backtrack now on the westbound road. This is, if truth be told, a bit of a racetrack along Isledon Road. It's a three-lane one-way street lined with houses, and it's not uncommon to see people doing 50+ mph on it. The westbound junction at the Nags Head has a weird traffic light: during the green phase, the main green light comes on, as well as a left filter arrow, an 'ahead' filter arrow and a right filter arrow: what's the point of that? (There are no phases where only one or two movements are permitted; it's all or nothing!) Just after the junction, watch out which lane you're in: unless you want to be swept off down the Caledonian Road to King's Cross, keep right (I think it's the third of four lanes at the Nags Head stop line).
Back at Finsbury Park station, the junction with the A1201 has been recently re-signed, and all the direction signs now consist entirely of capital letters. The primary patches are on the wrong roads too on some of the signs. I've tried writing to the councils about this (the junction is on the border of three boroughs) but to no avail.
We run alongside the park itself and meet the A105 at Manor House. From here the A503 continues for a short stretch as D3 (although one of the three lanes is a permanent bus lane, and there's still a 30mph limit). The relatively new housing on either side makes this stretch feel slightly foreign.
The dual carriageway doesn't last for long though, and soon we veer to the left, the road narrows and we typically get stuck in queues of traffic past parades of shops. After what seems like an eternity we reach the A10 at Seven Sisters. Coming eastbound we multiplex up the High Road for a way then swing off to the right down Monument Way (which may or may not be designated the A1055) and reach Tottenham Hale station, and the eastbound A503 again. From here, the westbound A503 is another racetrack affair, with Broad Lane being (as the name suggests) a wide one-way street, something like a three-laner.
Section 2: Tottenham Hale - Waterworks Corner
From here eastwards, the A503 is no longer primary (primary status was removed quite recently and thus several green signs remain), but we get our first 'ambitious' modern-day signs after Tottenham Hale, giving distances to Stansted (M11) -- though these ambitious signs fizzle out after a while. The road changes character here, and the landscape is quite bleak as we pass over and between bodies of water: there's the Lee Navigation, the Lee Diversion, several reservoirs and the Lee Flood Relief Channel. The Lee also marks the traditional boundary between Middlesex and Essex, and the boundary between the N and E postcode areas mirrors it almost exactly in these parts: welcome to Walthamstow!
The A503 gets less congested from here too -- the separation between the traffic lights increases, and there aren't many shops along the road: Walthamstow proper is to the south. After crossing the A112 at the Bell junction, we pass the rather scarily imposing Walthamstow Town Hall (pictured on Walthamstow Memories) now home to Waltham Forest borough council. Its acoustics are rather fine, apparently, and it has been used in many classical recordings.
We're on the home straight now, and it's not far to the end of the road. Just when you think the A503 could never end, we cross a cattle grid (I bet you never expected that when we were in Camden!). Apparently the cattle haven't been kept around there for some years, so the grid is a bit redundant at the moment. Then we get kicked onto the A104 (left turn only) which leads swiftly on to the Waterworks roundabout with the A406. For traffic coming onto the A104 southbound, the A104 is signed to the City, and the A503 is signed to the West End and Walthamstow.
Original Author(s): Tom Sutch
|Image||Name||Classified Road(s)||Grid Reference||More Info||Map|
|Brittania Junction||A400 / A502 / A4201||TQ288839|
|Tottenham Hale||A10 / A504 / A1055 / B153||TQ338893|
|Blackhorse Road||A1006 / B179||TQ357894|
|Waterworks Corner||A104 / A406||TQ392904|