|Length:||42 miles (67.6 km)|
|Meets:||A53, A537, A523, A34, A534, A50, M6, A533, A530, A49, A556, A51|
|Route outline (key)|
The A54 forms a through route from Buxton to Chester, although in practice someone wishing to make that journey would be more likely to use the A537 and A556. The advantage of this is that, apart from the central section between the M6 and Winsford, most of the road is often quiet. Apart from a couple of miles in Derbyshire near Buxton, it is entirely within Cheshire. The A54 is also the "River Dane" road, following the picturesque course of the river downstream from Axe Edge to Middlewich.
Section 1: Ladmanlow - Congleton
The road begins about a mile south-west of Buxton town centre, where, already over a thousand feet above sea level, it leaves the A53 and climbs steeply upwards, winding around a small hill called "The Terret". Emerging onto bleak, open moorland, the famous A537 Cat & Fiddle road forks off to the right at a very acute angle. The A537 takes priority at this junction, which is a TOTSO for the A54.
For the next ten or so miles it follows a highly scenic route across the western flanks of the Peak District. It isn't quite as spectacular, or as unrelentingly winding, as the Cat & Fiddle road, but if it wasn't overshadowed by its near neighbour this would stand in its own right as one of Britain's most dramatic roads. Like the A537 the road has a 50 limit enforced by average speed cameras. As the views open out over the Cheshire Plain you can see a prominent telecommunications tower on Sutton Common to the right.
On the western edge of the hills, the A54 descends steeply, skirting the edge of the Bosley Reservoir to meet the A523 at a signal-controlled crossroads at the north end of Bosley village. It continues to descend, crossing the Macclesfield Canal three times, in the middle of which it also crosses the River Dane at the narrow, medieval Colleymill Bridge. The bridge is single-track so it's signal-controlled. Looking east from the bridge you can see the massive railway viaduct on the line from Manchester to Stoke-on-Trent.
The A54 then enters the town of Congleton through the unfortunately-named suburb of Buglawton. The centre of the village is missed thanks to a bypass. In Congleton town centre the A527 is met, after which the road goes along a 1970s relief road to avoid Congleton town centre, then follows a multiplex with the A34 along the "Clayton Bypass", built in the 1950s to allow the A34 to bypass the town centre to the west. At the point where the A34 and A54 meet on Rood Hill there used to be (until the 1950s) a lighthouse to help travellers negotiate the steep hill and tight bend. At the far end of the multiplex, it used to diverge from the A34 by another acute fork, in the angle of which stands the former Waggon & Horses pub (now a Tesco). The junction was rebuilt in the 2000s and a roundabout now stands beyond, with the old A34 now forming the road to the roundabout and the ex-A54 being the road into town from it. The A34, A54 and A534 all meet at this roundabout.
Section 2: Congleton - Tarvin
Leaving Congleton, the A54 is now in a much more gentle, pastoral environment, passing through the neighbouring hamlets of Brereton Heath and Somerford to reach the large village of Holmes Chapel. Here the A54 crosses the A50 at a set of traffic lights and runs to the south of the village centre, although until at least the 1970s it turned north for a quarter of a mile along the A50 through centre, where there is a very narrow section by the parish church, and then west along what is now the B5308. Just west of Holmes Chapel the A54 meets the M6 at Junction 18, a nice traditional affair with a roundabout straddling the motorway and four long, straight sliproads.
West of here there's about a mile of 40 limit through the very scattered hamlet of Sproston which consists of about nine houses on one side of the road and two on the other. There's then a mile of open NSL until Middlewich is announced by a cluster of modern housing development. The roundabout at the entrance to Middlewhich marks the spot where the mooted Middlewich Bypass will cross the A54. However, whilst proposed decades ago, the road remains unbuilt, explaining, perhaps the daily congestion on the A54 at this point. The road crosses the Trent & Mersey Canal and skirts the centre of Middlewich (which just qualifies as a town) by a pre-war relief road, with the impressive sandstone parish church clearly visible. At Middlewich it meets the A533 which multiplexes with it before intersecting the A530 at a gyratory. The western edge of Middlewich is fairly sharply defined, and shortly afterwards the A533 forks off to the right towards Northwich.
There's a short stretch of open country before entering Winsford, famous for its rock salt mines. Winsford was never the most characterful of towns and is now an ugly sprawl of modern housing and light industrial development. The A54 avoids the oddly-named eastern suburb of Gravel by a new southerly bypass, then descends to the valley of the Weaver which is crossed at a large roundabout, thus needing two bridges. The road bisects the town centre with a wide, modern dual carriageway and then follows another new alignment to bypass the western suburb of Over.
West of Winsford the A54 runs through quiet dairy country, crossing the A49 at a signal-controlled crossroads and the B5152 by the unusually named Fishpool Inn pub. It then at last attains trunk road status where it joins the much busier A556 at another acute fork, the A556 taking priority. It skirts the southern fringes of Delamere Forest and bypasses the large village of Kelsall by an impressive 1980s dual carriageway which scythes through Cheshire's central sandstone ridge and then gives spectacular views towards the Welsh mountains as it descends towards the flat, fertile plain of the Dee valley. However, all too soon this well-engineered road peters out, and one is back on the old road.
The road passes through more quiet, lush countryside until the village of Tarvin is skirted by a 1930s bypass which is now largely built up. At a roundabout at the west end of Tarvin it joins the A51 coming in on the left from Nantwich and Tarporley, and the final few miles into Chester, (normally traversed at a crawl), crossing the parallel A55 and A41 bypasses, are completed on the A51. In pre-bypass days, the A54 ended on the A51 in the centre of Tarvin.