A600

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A600
Location Map ( geo)
Cameraicon.png View gallery (3)
From:  Hitchin (TL179297)
To:  Bedford (TL045503)
Distance:  17.3 miles (27.8 km)
Meets:  A505, B659, A507, B658, A421, A5134, B562, A5140, A5141, A4280, A6
Former Number(s):  A6
Old route now:  B656, B658
Highway Authorities

Bedford • Central Bedfordshire • Hertfordshire

Traditional Counties

Bedfordshire • Hertfordshire

Route outline (key)
A600 Welwyn – Hitchin
A600 Hitchin – Hoo Farm, Clifton
(A507) Hoo Farm – Shefford Bypass
A600 Shefford Bypass – Bedford

Route

The A600 is a non-primary A-road, mostly in Bedfordshire.

Hitchin – Shefford

The road now starts northeast of Hitchin at a roundabout that is a TOTSO for the A505.

It leaves Hitchin with a number of roundabouts with unimportant roads. One wonders if these roundabouts are justified or just chicanes to slow traffic down entering Hitchin. The road crosses the Icknield Way (a Bronze Age footpath from Norfolk to Wiltshire) by Ickleford - and no prize for guessing how that was named - after which it is in open countryside; the road here is of standard width, a mixed-traffic single-carriageway A road. Some farm shops cater to the passing trade. The road passes into Bedfordshire just south of the village of Lower Stondon. There is a mobile home park and a motor museum, worth a 1-mile detour but not much more. The B659 (former A6001) departs northwest towards Biggleswade; most of the area within the triangle formed by the A600, B659 and A507 is RAF Henlow.

Henlow Camp roundabout

A section by the A600 was used by BAe - I once was told it is used to store rocket fuel for the site in Stevenage. Along this section evidence of the defunct Hitchin to Bedford railway can be clearly seen.

The road used to go through Shefford; even then it had a short multiplex with the A507. The Shefford by-pass was build in the late 1980s as part of a rolling A507 upgrade. The bypass is a wide single-carriageway road with, on the whole, good sight lines; however this section has a blind summit. The road is marked as a standard S2, but the lanes are wide enough for two cars, but not a car and anything bigger. I think this road could be unsafe, considering its age and design, but have no statistics to back this up.

North of the A507 there is a short new section, a standard-width S2, built as part of the Shefford bypass linking up with the original A600. To the west of the road, is what used to be RAF Chicksands, a USAF communications and listening station (very hush hush) but this closed in the last 1990s as part of the peace dividend.

Shefford – Bedford

The A600 rejoins its old route (here the B658) at a roundabout at the northern end of the Shefford bypass. The road continues through Bedfordshire, much the same as before, a standard single-carriageway A-road mainly NSL, but with recent 40mph speed limits through the villages.

Deadman's Cross

However, this section is a clearway, unlike the section south of Shefford. Directly to the east of the road just south of Bedford is the massive hangers built for the R100 and R101 airship programme between the wars. What is surprising is that they are currently being used to build airships. These were at RAF Cardington, another RAF station which has closed. The road crosses the A421 Bedford bypass with a dumbbell arrangement but access to and from the west only. At the next roundabout the A600 has a TOTSO arrangement and turns west onto Harrowden Road, which is a merger with the A5134 until the next roundabout, where the A600 heads up London Road. The 'London Road' name implies that sometime in the past this was the main route from Bedford, and therefore all points further north, to London.

At the next roundabout, with the A5140, the A600 used to end. However it has been extended north, through two one-way systems through Central Bedford, along the old A6 to meet the current A6 and unclassified northern ring at a roundabout.

History

The A600 seems undeserving of such a valued number, It started life as the back road from London to Bedford. This originally started on the A1 in Welwyn and followed what is now the B656, but continued through Hitchin.

Simon A6(M) writes:
The AA Roadbook, 2nd edition, circa 1926 shows "arterial roads" in red, and there are relatively few of these. The A600 is nonetheless a "red route", and forms part of the recommended route from London to Leicester, Derby and Manchester, via Bedford, the A6 between St. Albans and Bedford being merely an "other main route". So initially the A600 was of major importance. This is confirmed when one looks at the Itineraries: number 471 is "London to Bedford" ("Partly on the new Barnet By-pass"), whereas no. 472 is "London to Bedford via St. Albans", implying a secondary alternative. I wonder what caused the A600 to lose some of its importance?

In 2013, the A600 took over the route of the A6 through Bedford town centre.



A600
JunctionsHarrowden Interchange
PlacesBedford • Hitchin • Stevenage • Welwyn Garden City
Related Pictures
View gallery (3)
's Cross, Haynes, Beds - Geograph - 174989.jpgA1(M) map at Welwyn 1961 - Coppermine - 305.jpgHenlow Camp roundabout, Henlow, Beds - Geograph - 217330.jpg
Other nearby roads
Welwyn Garden CityA1(M) • A1000 • A6129 • B1000 • B190 • B195 • B197 • B653 • B656 • C147 (Hertfordshire) • C148 (Hertfordshire) • C149 (Hertfordshire) • C152 (Hertfordshire) • C158 (Hertfordshire) • C182 (Hertfordshire) • C47 (Hertfordshire) • C91 (Hertfordshire) • M100 • T1 (Britain)
HitchinA505 • A5160 • A6000 • A601 (Luton - Bourn Bridge) • A602 • A6132 • B655 • B656 • C133 (Hertfordshire) • C136 (Hertfordshire) • C21 (Hertfordshire) • C22 (Hertfordshire) • C23 (Hertfordshire) • C26 (Hertfordshire) • Icknield Way
BedfordA418 • A421 • A422 • A428 • A4280 • A5134 • A5140 • A5141 • A6 • A6002 (Bedfordshire) • A603 • A6172 (Bedford) • B530 • B531 • B5379 • B557 • B560 • B561 • B562 • B563 • B564 • B659 (Bedford) • B660 • C94 (Bedford) • E24 • E28 (Birmingham - Ipswich) • NCN51 • T12 (Britain) • T45 (Britain)
A600-A699
A600 • A601 • A602 • A603 • A604 • A605 • A606 • A607 • A608 • A609 • A610 • A611 • A612 • A613 • A614 • A615 • A616 • A617 • A618 • A619
A620 • A621 • A622 • A623 • A624 • A625 • A626 • A627 • A628 • A629 • A630 • A631 • A632 • A633 • A634 • A635 • A636 • A637 • A638 • A639
A640 • A641 • A642 • A643 • A644 • A645 • A646 • A647 • A648 • A649 • A650 • A651 • A652 • A653 • A654 • A655 • A656 • A657 • A658 • A659
A660 • A661 • A662 • A663 • A664 • A665 • A666 • A667 • A668 • A669 • A670 • A671 • A672 • A673 • A674 • A675 • A676 • A677 • A678 • A679
A680 • A681 • A682 • A683 • A684 • A685 • A686 • A687 • A688 • A689 • A690 • A691 • A692 • A693 • A694 • A695 • A696 • A697 • A698 • A699
Defunct Itineraries & Motorways: A601(M) • A604(M) • A613 • A622 • A627(M) • A632 • A635(M) • A638(M) • A648 • A666(M) • A687 • A695(M) • A696(M)