|Distance:||45.7 miles (73.5 km)|
|Meets:||A51, A513, A50, A52, A517, A5012, A5270, A53|
|Route outline (key)|
The A515 is one of probably the least known major roads in England, being 47 miles of climbing at first slowly from the A51 just outside Lichfield, across the Needwood plateau, and over the hills to Ashbourne. Then on through the Peak District and its moorland scenery to a point 1,300 feet above sea level at Sterndale Moor before dipping down to Buxton, home of the undrinkable spa water, the Opera House and gateway to the Pennine Hills.
Lichfield - Buxton
The road diverges very little from its 1922 route, striking north from the Lichfield hinterland through pleasant farmland to cross the Trent (new bridge next to old bridge) north of Kings Bromley. From here it climbs up on to the Needwood plateau along a fast, enclosure period road much favoured by motorcyclists, before diving down through Draycott and crossing the River Dove. It joins the A50 at a tight roundabout east of Sudbury and, having made use of the village bypass, uses the next GSJ to veer off north. It's worth ignoring the A50, however, and drive instead through the village (along the old A50) taking in the oversize Hall and the local pub.
After leaving the A50 junction the road heads north though pleasantly hilly countryside to Darley Moor, a former Second World War airfield, now better known as a popular motorcycle racing circuit. There follows a mile-long descent into the Dove valley, across the A52 roundabout (part of a new bypass), and into Ashbourne, where there's a one-way loop through town. From the Market Place there is a very steep climb out of the town before the road crosses into the Peak District. There follows a steady, if undulating climb into the heart of the national park. The road is met presently at Newhaven by the A5012 from Cromford. This junction was once a favourite haunt of bikers, truckers, cyclist, ramblers, gypsies and other visitors to its respected transport café before the site went upmarket in the 1990s. The shell of the long-closed Newhaven Hotel (now a private house) can be seen just south of the junction. From here the road makes a steady straight-ish climb to Sterndale Moor and on to Buxton, passing a number of limestone quarries as it approaches Buxton. After going through the Market Place the road descends to pass the Crescent and end at a roundabout on the A53.
In early 2008, Derbyshire County Council imposed a 50 mph speed limit throughout the entire length of the A515 from Sudbury to Buxton, with the exception of the short S2+1 stretch climbing a hill just south of Ashbourne.
Postscript: the Roman road from Derby to Matlock joins the modern highway at Moscar Farm (SK145642) a short distance north of the junction for Arbor Low. The modern road, the former turnpike at this point, follows - or is not far from - the line of the ancient one. Three ages of road for the price of one!