|Distance:||29.9 miles (48.1 km)|
|Meets:||A595, A594, A597, A66, A595|
|Old route now:||B5302|
|Route outline (key)|
Section 1: Thursby - Maryport
The road starts at a roundabout with the A595 on the Thursby bypass just south west of Carlisle. Just to north here is Great Orton Airfield where the carcasses of animals killed during the 1991 Foot & Mouth crisis were burned and buried. The two A59x roads run more-or-less parallel for the most part.
After Thursby the next place of importance along the road is Wigton. At one time the A596 went right through the town centre but a long awaited bypass was built in the early 1990s which cuts the northern part of the town into two. The pre-bypass A595 is now part of the B5302. The Wigton area is a hub for the B530x roads.
The B5302 crosses the A596 at the southern end of the bypass and heads off towards the coast at Silloth. The A596 here follows the line of the Cumbrian Coastal Railway to the small town of Aspatria, known locally as 'Spyatri' (pronounced 'spee - at - ree' in the Cumbrian accent). This was once a coal-mining area and could be said to be where West Cumbria starts, as although Wigton is in Allerdale Borough it has more in common with the Carlisle area than Workington and Maryport. The B5301 crosses the A596 here. Aspatria is not bypassed like so many other places of similar size - in fact the A596 only has one true bypass and that is the Wigton one.
After Aspatria the road gets closer to the coast after going through the villages of Prospect, Allerby and Crosby, finally meeting its first coastal town at Maryport. The road skirts round the edge of Maryport's town centre meeting the A594 here, then crosses the coastal railway line again.
Section 2: Maryport - Distington
The road follows the coast through Flimby and Siddick, keeping on the landward side of the railway line, till we reach the outskirts of Workington. At North Side is Northside Roundabout with the A597 which provides access to Workington Docks and the west side of the Town Centre via the Northside Bridge over the Derwent estuary (which we pass under). This bridge collapsed on the 20th of November 2009, due to floods washing it away; it was rebuilt and reopened in 2012. The A596 meanwhile heads alongside the river then crosses the Derwent upstream at the Calva Bridge. This was also rendered unusable by the November 2009 floods but has now been repaired. A temporary bridge, linking to the A597 and between the other two bridges, opened on the 21st of April 2010, allowing vehicular traffic to cross the Derwent at Workington for the first time since the floods; this became superfluous after the other two bridges were reopened and has been demolished.
A little further on from the Calva Bridge, on the eastern edge of Workington town centre, we meet the western end of the A66 at a T-junction at the bottom of Ramsay Brow. For such an important road as the A66 this rather a low-key junction. The A596 carries on skirting the edge of Workington along Washington Street, Guard Street and Cross Hill till it is once more in the countryside. Passing the village of High Harrington, the road enters the Lillyhall Industrial Estate and comes to an end at a roundabout on the A595.
- The A596 Trunk Road (Lillyhall to Thursby) (Detrunking) Order 2003 - An order detrunking this section of the A596 following the publication of the 1998 consultation A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England