|Distance:||30.9 miles (49.7 km)|
|Meets:||A619, A632, B6057, A61, B6039, B6425, M1, A6175, B6407, B6417, A6191, A6075, B6014, A38, B6023, A611, A60, A6117, A6191, B6020, A614, A46, A616, B6326|
|Old route now:||B6039, A6191, B6020, A612|
|Route outline (key)|
The A617 is a primary A-road in the East Midlands.
Chesterfield – Mansfield
The obvious starting place for the road would be at a roundabout with the A61 in Chesterfield. However, it actually starts at another roundabout just to the north, where all four roads have different numbers (the others are A619, B6543 and A632). D2 from the outset, the A617 quickly crosses the A61 before running along a grade-separated road as far as junction 29 of the M1.
After passing over the motorway, the D2 ends after half a mile and meets up with the road's original alignment. A 40mph speed limit takes us through Bramley Vale and up the long drag of a hill in Glapwell. A straight mile and a half across farmland takes us down to the Pleasley bypass, a short section of D2 interspersed with a large roundabout.
The road used to travel through the nondescript suburbs of Mansfield, but in late 2004 a partially new WS2 alignment opened, which curves south of the town. We turn right onto it just after leaving Pleasley, and the old route is now the A6191. The old road remains primary whilst some maps claim the next couple of miles along the A617 are not, which casts doubt on the effectiveness of the bypass.
After passing farmland and going through a shallow cutting, we turn right at a set of lights at a junction with the A6075. After using that road's alignment to travel over another set of lights, we go down a hill towards the A38. Traffic coming the other way has the luxury of two lanes coming up the hill.
A huge set of lights (can you see a theme developing!) sees us meet the A38 and we travel straight on, multiplexing with it for a few hundred yards, before we turn left to regain our number, which brings us onto the second section of brand-new tarmac, which is very fast and sees us pass underneath the A611 before meeting the A60 at yet another set of lights.
Mansfield – Newark
A slightly hillier stretch takes us to a roundabout junction with the A6117, which is a new road diving off to the left, and a further half-mile sees the Mansfield bypass terminate on the roundabout at the western end of the Rainworth bypass, where we also pick up the other end of the A6191. We travel straight over this island, whereas the original alignment travelled across the other two arms, from Mansfield on the left to Rainworth on the right. The Rainworth bypass itself is high quality D2 (with flared carriageways at its western end suggesting possible future grade-separation), only interrupted by a set of lights at a junction with an unclassified road leading to a refuse disposal site.
After reaching the end of the bypass, the road becomes a normal country road, passing fields and farmland. The roundabout junction with the A614 is crossed, after which the villages of Kirklington, Hockerton, and Kelham are all passed through. Incidentally, when climbing the steep hill leaving Kirklington, a sign for traffic heading the opposite way gives the gradient as 12.5%, the decimal point being something I haven't seen anywhere else.
We cross the River Trent at the stone-arched Kelham Bridge, built in 1857 and strengthened in the 1960s. It is narrow - two trucks cannot pass each other - and long vehicles heading towards Mansfield take up the whole road to negotiate the 90-degree turn at the East end of the bridge.
The section between the bridge and Newark Rugby club is often flooded if the Trent is high. The old alignment can be seen on the right just past the rugby club - this used to take us to an at-grade junction with the old A1 (later A6065, now B6326) by the Castle station in Newark. This route is now cut in two by the A46 Newark bypass, which is where the final section of the A617 takes us.
Whereas the A617 still starts in the same place it always has, it rarely follows its original alignment on the Derbyshire section. At the western end, there is a railway bridge with a road leading to nowhere adjacent to the starting roundabout: that is the old alignment. The old road used to pass through Hasland and Temple Normanton on what is now the B6039. There was then a TOTSO left in Temple Normanton onto the now-unclassified road through Heath and Doe Lea. This route now dead-ends at the embankment below the M1.
The Hasland Bypass opened some time in the 1970s, probably towards the start of the decade as works were scheduled to begin in 1969.1 Work was still underway on the bypass in 1971, and the estimated cost made in that year was £1.27M.2
Originally, the A617 ran through the centre of Mansfield, along what is now the A6191, and Rainworth, on part of the the B6020, before crossing the A614 at the White Post roundabout. It then passed through the villages of Farnsfield, Edingly and Halam, before meeting the A612 at Southwell and continuing on along that road's current route east. The present route of the A617, which it took over after World War II, was an unclassified road as far as the junction with the current A617 near Averham.
Originally, the A617 ended on the A616 at Kelham and did not reach Newark. That road was diverted to meet the Great North Road and avoid Kelham and so the A617 was extended along its old route into Newark.