|Distance:||17 miles (27.4 km)|
|Meets:||A537, B5090, B5091, A5102, A34, B5086, M56, A5144, B5162, B5163, B5161, A560|
|Former Number(s):||A523, A34|
|Route outline (key)|
The A538 is a road which has had a large number of alterations to its route over the years, although its overall route has not changed.
Section 1: Macclesfield – Wilmslow
The route starts as Beech Lane in Macclesfield, running north from a light-controlled junction with the dual-carriageway A537, Hibel Road. At this point – being largely paralleled a little way to the east and as far as Prestbury by the A523 primary route – the A538 is signposted only with the local destination Tytherington.
Once over the River Bollin and into Tytherington the A538 becomes Manchester Road (an indication of its former importance), and in another couple of kilometres, having reached open country, with Tytherington golf club on our left, we take a left turn to head into Prestbury village. This junction is the original starting-point of the A538. The road we have followed so far and the one continuing straight ahead (now the B5091) were both once part of the A523.
The wooded and close-hedged road into and through this clearly rather well-heeled village, although it lacks street lighting, is subject to a 30 mph limit, as it is rather narrow and twisty and sightlines are poor. We eventually return to the NSL in more open country beyond Prestbury, although the road remains quite undulating and bendy for some way before we reach one or two straight stretches.
In the outskirts of Wilmslow we come to a roundabout junction with the A5102, which heads off to the right. We carry straight on, along a new bit of straight road opened, together with the Wilmslow bypass, in 1995. The road then multiplexes with the A34 bypass towards Manchester and we turn left at the first roundabout ahead.
Section 2: Wilmslow – Altrincham
The road here has primary status as it is effectively the Airport link road from the A34.
We TOTSO left at the next roundabout onto the pre-bypass alignment of the A34. We TOTSO again at the traffic lights in Wilmslow town centre itself. We're now back on the original route of the A538 and pretty soon we're in open countryside again. Unfortunately, the 40mph limit has been extended and a 50 limit places on all of the previously NSL stretches of this road.
The road turns a couple of sharp corners and goes down a hill as we meet the Airport Tunnels underneath the runways at Manchester Airport (the original line of the road has been largely destroyed by the building of the runways but some still exists on the west side through what remains of Ringway village). There's a mile or two of fairly straight road and we meet the M56 at junction 6 and the road reverts to non-primary status. On the other side of the junction, we gain a 30 limit and head into the town of Hale, where we turn right at a mini-roundabout on meeting the B5161 to enter Altrincham.
The road goes past the bus/rail station in Altrincham before terminating at traffic lights on the A560.