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Location Map ( geo)
Cameraicon.png View gallery (242)
From:  Luton (TL096211)
To:  Carlisle (NY402556)
Distance:  299 miles (481.2 km)
Meets:  (M1), M61, M6, A1081, A14
A50, A38, A591, A590, A7
Primary Destinations
Highway Authorities

Cumberland • Derby • National Highways • Lancashire • Leicester • Manchester • Salford • Stockport • Cheshire East • Bolton • Derbyshire • Leicestershire • North Northamptonshire • Luton • Bedford • Central Bedfordshire • Westmorland and Furness

Traditional Counties

Bedfordshire • Cheshire • Cumberland • Derbyshire • Lancashire • Leicestershire • Westmorland

Route outline (key)
A6 High Barnet - Luton
A6 Luton - Burton Latimer
(A14) Burton Latimer - Rothwell
A6 Rothwell - Stoneygate
A6 Stoneygate - Leicester
(A594) Leicester City
A6 Leicester - Birstall
A6 Birstall - Kegworth
(A453) Kegworth
(A50) Kegworth - Aston on Trent
A6 Aston on Trent - Alvaston
A6 Alvaston - Derby
(A601) Derby City
A6 Derby - Allestree
A6 Allestree - Manchester
A6 Manchester - Manchester Piccadlly
A6 Manchester Piccadlly -
Manchester Cathedral
A6 Manchester Cathedral - Salford
A6 Salford - Pendlebury
A6 Pendlebury - Over Hulton
A6 Over Hulton - Westhoughton
A6 Westhoughton - Walton Summit
A6 Walton Summit - Preston North
A6 Preston North - Levens
(A590) Levens - Sedgwick Ho
(A591) Sedgwick Ho - Kendal
A6 Kendal - Shap
A6 Shap - Carlisle
This article is about the primary road in England.
For the similarly numbered road in Northern Ireland, see A6 (Northern Ireland)


Alvaston Bypass in 2005

The A6 is Britain's fourth longest road. Its route varies greatly from the lower lands of the South East, though the Peak District, right though the heart of Manchester city centre, then onwards towards Preston. It then goes though the historic city of Lancaster before skirting the Eastern fringe of the Lake District before ending in Carlisle, bang on the start of the A7.

See route sections: Luton - BedfordBedford - KetteringKettering - LeicesterLeicester - DerbyDerby - MatlockMatlock - Hazel GroveHazel Grove - ManchesterManchester - PrestonPreston - LancasterLancaster - KendalKendal - PenrithPenrith - Carlisle


Barmoor Clough in 1959
Main Article: A6 history

At classification, the A6 was made Britain's second longest road and therefore England's longest. Its start was at Barnet at London and then moved to Bignell's Corner with the opening of the Barnet Bypass. In 1986, the M25 opened and the road was shortened by 17 miles. That made the A38 and A30 roads longer and relegated the A6 down to fourth place.

Notable locations and improvements

Walton Bridge

Walton Bridge
Main Article: Walton Bridge (Preston)

Walton Bridge is the bridge the A6 crosses the River Ribble in Preston.

Shap summit

Climbing Shap from the south

Shap summit at 426m (1,397 feet) was a formidable climb between Kendal and Penrith prior to the opening of M6

Opening Dates

Month Year Section Notes
Jun 1927 Heversham and Leasgill Bypass The 1.2 mile Princes Way was opened on 29 June 1927 by the Prince of Wales (future King Edward VIII). It was 60 feet wide with a 30 foot carriageway and footpath. The scheme cost was £38,117.
Sep 1928 Bolton-le-Sands Bypass The 1,334 yard road was opened on 6 September 1928 by Alderman J.T. Travis-Clegg. It was 50 foot wide with a 30 foot carriageway. A new re-inforced concrete bridge with 30 foot span was built over the Lancaster Canal. Contractor was John Dickinson & Co (Bolton) Ltd. Cost was £48,918 with 50% funded by Ministry of Transport. Named Bye-Pass Road.
Oct 1928 Garstang Bypass Opened on 22 October 1928 by Sir Henry Maybury, Director General of Roads. It was 60 foot wide with a 30 foot carriageway. Forecast cost was £105,000. The southern section used the former B5271 and part of A586 which was widened, along with Kirkland Bridge, and had 2 new short deviations. The northern section from Cathouses to the Lancaster Road was a 1.3 mile new build.
Jan 1932 Oadby Bypass The 0.7 mile single carriageway road from Glen Road to Regent Street was opened in January 1932 (per an accident inquest report of 1935) although there are reports of use in October 1931. Planned cost was £37,716. The road was dualled in late 1936/ early 1937.
Oct 1932 Irthlingborough Bypass It was reported on 28 October 1932 that a census taken 3 weeks after opening recorded 813 vehicles passing the village cross compared to 1747 a few weeks before the bypass opened.
1932 High Hesket Bypass The 0.8 mile road was open by May 1932. It may possibly have been completed in 1931, although work only started in June 1931. It was a part of a widening and improvement scheme from Plumpton to Carlisle, costing £98,700.
Feb 1933 Ashford-in-the-Water The bypass was opened on 6 February 1933 by the Duke of Devonshire. Cost was £27,234
Apr 1934 Blackrod Bypass The 2.25 mile bypass was opened on 20 April 1934 by Oliver Stanley, Minister of Transport. Width was 60 feet with a 30 foot carriageway. Amazingly, it was reported that the cost was £50,000 less than the £130,000 estimate, due to the efficient work of the unemployed men of Blackrod.
Feb 1936 Haynes West End Bypass The 1.34 miles from Wilstead Hill (Lark Hill) to Deadman’s Hill was completed in February 1936. Estimated cost £26,443. The widening of the 2.17 mile Silsoe to Barton section was completed at the same time.
Oct 1936 Irthlingborough Viaduct The 31 span concrete viaduct over River Nene and railway was opened on 23 October 1936 by Leslie Hore-Belisha, Minister of Transport. Length was 1,360 feet and width between parapets 40 feet. Bridge contractor was A.E. Farr of London with the rest of the scheme being completed by Council direct labour. Estimated cost £55,750. It formed a southern extension of Irthlingborough Bypass (opened 1932) and bypassed the railway level crossing.
Sep 1957 Cavendish Bridge Replacement to 1771 bridge, which collapsed on 21 March 1947 following floods, and temporary Bailey Bridge in the interim. Included a bypass to village. Cost £300,000. Opened 3 September 1957 by Sir Robert Martin, Chairman, Leicestershire County Council. First bridge in country constructed of prestressed concrete.
Nov 1958 London Colney Bypass The 2.5 mile dual carriageway was opened on 8 November 1958 by R.A. Butler, Home Secretary. The carriageways were 24 feet wide and designed to take up to 15,000 vehicles per day. Contractor was John Laing and Son Ltd, cost £400,000. It was to be extended at both ends to form a dual carriageway from Hampstead to the former M10. Renumbered as A1081 in 1986.
Jul 1962 South Mimms Bypass The 1.5 mile road was to be opened on 26 July 1962 by John Hay, Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport. It completed nearly 13 miles of dual carriageway on one of the main approaches to London from the M1 (via M10 spur). Also included was a 0.4 mile diversion of A1081 to the southern roundabout, south of the original Bignells Corner. Contractor was John Laing, cost £0.5 million. Later converted to M25.
Aug 1962 Barton-le-Clay Diversion The bypass of Bedford Road between Sharpenhoe Road and Hexton Road was opened on 14 August 1962. The road had been finished for some time but was not opened until it was lighted. Cost £20,000. Later renumbered B655.
Dec 1975 Wilstead Bypass Opened on 4 December 1975 per the Land Compensation Act notice. Formerly shown on OS maps as Wilshamstead. Another scheme in the 1970-75 Ministry of Transport programme was from Wilstead to the top of Wilstead Hill but at this stage it is unclear when this was carried out.
Feb 1981 Silsoe Bypass Opened in February 1981, cost £1.6 million per Silsoe Parish Council History Website.
Nov 1982 Elstow Bypass Opened in November 1982 by Trevor Skeet, MP for Bedford and cost £2.5 million per Virtual Library Elstow timeline. Construction had started by 5 April 1982 per Hansard. Contractor was Henry Boot Civil Engineering Ltd.. The section north of the later A421 Bedford Southern Bypass was renumbered A5141.
Aug 1987 Chapel-en-le-Frith and Whaley Bridge Bypass The 4.5 mile dual carriageway was opened on 11 August 1987 by Peter Bottomley, Minister for Roads. Contractor was Tarmac Construction Ltd. The increase in costs was brought up in Parliament on 29 July 1988. The tender cost after the inflation clause increase was £20 million but the certified payment to the contractor was £33.66 million. Unexpected ground conditions was given as the reason.
Oct 1990 Barton-le-Clay Bypass The 1.3 mile D2 dual carriageway was completed in October 1990 (per the Trunk Roads in England 1994 Review). Outturn total cost £11.8 million.
Oct 1991 Burton Latimer Bypass The 1.8 mile single carriageway road from the Kettering Southern Bypass (A14 J10) to Higham Road was opened on 12 October 1991 by Roger Freeman, MP for Kettering. Contractor was Balfour Beatty, tender cost £2.63 million, total cost £3.2 million. The plan showed a direct connection to the A14 J10 roundabout. The Black Lodge improvement, an offline section to the south of the bypass, was completed at the same time.
Oct 1991 Quorn and Mountsorrel Bypass The 5 mile dual carriageway road was opened on 28 October 1991. Contractor was Tarmac and cost was £43.329 million. It included Britain's longest box culverting operation. A third of the road passed over the River Soar floodplain which meant that more than 3,500 concrete culverts, each weighing 12 tonnes, had to be laid underneath the road.
Jun 1992 Market Harborough Bypass The 5.3 mile single carriageway road from B6047 Melton Road to Desborough Road was opened on 26 June 1992 by Roger Freeman, Minister for Transport. Contractor was Birse Construction Ltd., tender cost £7.87 million, outturn cost £9.53 million.
Dec 2002 Clapham Bypass Paula Radcliffe Way. The 3.4 mile dual carriageway opened on 12 December 2002. A road race and fun run was held on the road on 8 December 2002. It included 2 bridges over River Great Ouse and 3 other bridges. Contractors were Nuttall and Norwest Holst.
Feb 2003 Great Glen Bypass The 3.5 mile road was opened on 19 February 2003 by David Jamieson, Transport Minister. Contractor was Skansa, contract price £12 million, outturn cost £21 million. Dual carriageway apart from 0.6 mile. When work started in early Spring 2001 the foot and mouth disease restrictions prevented any material being taken off site for the first few months of construction and a robust system of cleaning and disinfecting all site plant took place.
Aug 2003 Rothwell and Desborough Bypass The 3.7 mile road from A14 J3 Orton to Hermitage was opened on 14 August 2003 by David Jamieson, Under-secretary of State for Transport. Outturn cost was £19 million.
Aug 2003 Rushden and Higham Ferrers Bypass The 3.4 mile road from A45 J18 Chowns Mill to Bedford Road was opened on 14 August 2003 by David Jamieson, Under-secretary of State for Transport, per Rushden Heritage. It also included the A5001 Link Road, John Clark Way. Outturn cost was £16 million.
Dec 2003 Alvaston Bypass The 1.4 mile dual carriageway from A5111 Raynesway to Thulston Roundabout opened on 17 December 2003. Cost £10 million.
Mar 2014 Loughborough Inner Relief Road Jubilee Way, from Baxter Gate to Barrow Street, was opened on 3 March 2014 by Nick Rushton, leader of Leicestershire County Council, to complete the Relief Road. Contractor was Ringway Infrastructure Services, cost £8.3 million.
Apr 2016 Bedford Western Bypass Phase 2 - north section. The 1.5 mile single carriageway road and cyclepath/ footpath from A4280 Bromham Road to A6 Clapham Road was opened on 25 April 2016 by Dave Hodgson, Mayor of Bedford. It completed the Western Bypass. Contractor was Breheny Civil Engineering Ltd., cost £18.6 million. Named The Great Ouse Way.
Oct 2017 Broughton Bypass James Towers Way, named after a local WW1 hero. The 1.25 mile road was opened on 5 October 2017 by Jake Berry, Northern Powerhouse Minister. The section south of B5269 was dual carriageway. Contractor was Hochtief, cost £32 million.
Nov 2018 Kegworth Bypass The 1.3 mile single carriageway road to the south of the village from London Road to A453 Ashby Road opened on 14 November 2018 with a small local ceremony. It included a new bridge over M1 which comprised 1200 tonnes of steel and concrete and was built using pioneering modular construction methods. Funding was by SEGRO as part of road improvements around the SEGRO Logistics Park East Midlands Gateway.


A14 J10 • Apollo Roundabout • Archers Roundabout • Ashwood Park • Aston Interchange (Derby) • Bamber Bridge Interchange • Bamber Bridge Junction • Bignells Corner • Blue Peter Island • Broughton Roundabout (Preston) • Brownedge Roundabout • Burton Road Roundabout (Kendal) • Chalton Interchange • Chequerbent Roundabout • Chowns Mill Roundabout • Cinnamon Hill Interchange • Clifton Cross • Clophill Roundabout • Cooper Turning • Cuerden Roundabout • Downing Street Junction • Elstow Interchange • Glen Gorse Roundabout • Golden Fleece Interchange • Hampson Green Roundabout • Hathern Turn • Hob Inn Roundabout • Icknield Way Roundabout • Keer Level Roundabout • Kegworth Interchange • Kemplay Bank Roundabout • Kidney Wood Roundabout • King Street Junction (Derby) • London Colney Roundabout • M42 J14 • M61 J4 • Nene Park Roundabout • New King Street • Orton Roundabout • Palm Court Island • Peahen Crossroads • Raynesway Island • Raynesway Park Junction • Red Hill Circle • Rising Sun (Hazel Grove) • Simpsons Corner • St Marys Roundabout (Luton) • Stockingstone • Telford Way Roundabout (Luton) • The Bell Roundabout • The Cock Pitt • The Hermitage Roundabout • Thulston Roundabout • Wanlip Roundabout
Bakewell • Barnet • Bedford • Buxton • Carlisle • Chorley • Derby • Eccles • Hazel Grove • Kendal • Kettering • Lancaster • Leicester • Loughborough • Luton • Manchester • Market Harborough • Matlock • Penrith • Preston • Salford • Stockport
Related Pictures
View gallery (242)
Taddington Bypass.jpgLondon Road (A6), Hazel Grove (C) David Dixon - Geograph - 2570975.jpgA6 Barton.jpg20180714-0830 - A555 meeting the realigned A6 junction at Simpsons Corner - 53.368261 2.101115W.jpgChequerbent early 90s.png
Other nearby roads
A6(M) (Bredbury - Hazel Grove) • A34 • A56 • A57 • A57(M) • A62 • A526 (Newcastle-under-Lyme - Salford) • A555 • A560 • A576 • A580 • A635 • A635(M) • A662 • A663 • A664 • A665 • A5014 • A5067 • A5068 (Manchester) • A5079 • A5081 • A5103 • A5145 • A5184 • A5219 • A6010 • A6041 • A6042 • A6044 • A6103 (Manchester) • A6104 • A6143 • B529 • B5093 • B5095 • B5117 • B5166 • B5167 • B5168 • B5217 • B5218 • B5219 • B5220 • B5221 • B5222 (Manchester) • B5223 • B5224 • B5225 • B5290 (Wythenshawe - Moss Side) • B5317 (Manchester) • B5410 (Manchester) • B6167 • B6178 • B6179 (Manchester) • B6180 • B6181 • B6182 • B6185 • B6393 • B6410 (Lancashire) • B6469 • City Centre Road • E20 • E22 • E109 (Old System) • M52 • M56 • M60 • M60 (Knutsford - Manchester) • M61 • M62 • M62 Relief Road • M63 • M64 (Eccles - Salford) • M66 • M67 • M68 • M602 • Manchester Inner Ring Road • Northern and Western Motorway • Princess Parkway Motorway • RM7 • T12 (Britain) • T18 (Britain) • T21 (Britain) • T60 (Britain) • T61 (Britain)
The First 99           A1  •  A2  •  A3  •  A4  •  A5  •  A6  •  A7  •  A8  •  A9  • A10 • A11 • A12 • A13 • A14 • A15 • A16 • A17 • A18 • A19
A20 • A21 • A22 • A23 • A24 • A25 • A26 • A27 • A28 • A29 • A30 • A31 • A32 • A33 • A34 • A35 • A36 • A37 • A38 • A39
A40 • A41 • A42 • A43 • A44 • A45 • A46 • A47 • A48 • A49 • A50 • A51 • A52 • A53 • A54 • A55 • A56 • A57 • A58 • A59
A60 • A61 • A62 • A63 • A64 • A65 • A66 • A67 • A68 • A69 • A70 • A71 • A72 • A73 • A74 • A75 • A76 • A77 • A78 • A79
A80 • A81 • A82 • A83 • A84 • A85 • A86 • A87 • A88 • A89 • A90 • A91 • A92 • A93 • A94 • A95 • A96 • A97 • A98 • A99
Motorway sectionsA1(M): (South Mimms - Baldock • Alconbury - Peterborough • Doncaster Bypass • Darrington - Birtley)
A3(M) • A8(M) Baillieston spur • A38(M) • A48(M) Cardiff spur • A57(M) • A58(M) • A64(M) • A66(M) • A74(M) • A92(M)
DefunctA1(M) Newcastle CME • A2(M) Medway Towns Bypass • A4(M) • A5(M) • A8(M) Renfrew bypass • A14 • A14(M) • A18(M) • A20(M) • A36(M)
A40(M): (Westway • Denham -Stokenchurch) • A41(M) • A42 • A46(M) • A48(M): (Port Talbot bypass • Morriston bypass) • A62(M) • A88 • A99
UnbuiltA2(M) Rochester Way Relief Road • A6(M): (Western route • Eastern route) • A14(M) (Expressway) • A34(M) • A48(M) Llantrisant Radial • A59(M) • A61(M)

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