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Location Map ( geo)
Cameraicon.png View gallery (23)
From:  Markham Moor (SK719738)
To:  Chain Bar (SE182266)
Distance:  55.4 miles (89.2 km)
Meets:  A1, A57, B6387, B6044, A620, A634, B6045, A614, A631, A6182, B1396, A18, A630, A19, A635, B6422, B1220, A1(M), A6201, B6474, A628, B6428, B6273, B6378, A645, A655, B6389, A61, A636, A642, B6475, M1, B6129, B6128, A653, B6409, A652, A644, B6123, B6117, A649, A62, A643, B6120, B6121, A58, M62, M606
Former Number(s):  A1
Primary Destinations
Highway Authorities

Doncaster  • Kirklees  • Nottinghamshire  • Wakefield

Traditional Counties

Nottinghamshire • Yorkshire

Route outline (key)
A638 Markham Moor – Retford
(A620) Retford
A638 Retford – Bawtry
A638 Bawtry – Doncaster Racecourse
(A18) Racecourse – Doncaster
A638 Doncaster Town Centre
(A630, A19) Doncaster – Bentley
A638 Bentley – Wakefield
(A61) Wakefield
A638 Wakefield – Dewsbury
A638 Dewsbury – Chain Bar
A638 Chain Bar – Odsal Top

The A638 is a long A-road which starts in Nottinghamshire but runs principally through south and west Yorkshire. Originally connecting Doncaster to Bradford (although it stopped short of both places), it has since been extended south along a sizeable section of the Great North Road.


Markham Moor – Bawtry

The route begins at the northern roundabout of the Markham Moor dumbbell interchange on the A1 (until the 2000s an at-grade roundabout), where the A57 departs east towards Lincoln, and the A1 heads south towards Newark. We commence as a non-primary, good, wide NSL S2 entirely in keeping with the road's former status as a main route until the 1960s – this first section was originally the A1. The road has plenty of sweeping bends and at times seems to be entirely devoid of traffic. We slow down briefly to 40 as we pass through Gamston, but after that it's full speed ahead until we approach Retford. We slow to 40 and then to 30 as we approach the town centre. We are diverted from the main line through the town, onto a section of the A620 passing a supermarket. We regain our own number at a roundabout at the other end of the town centre and head off out of town again on good wide S2 that soon becomes NSL again.

Near Bawtry

We head northwest to Barnby Moor, where the A634 continues in that direction as we turn northwards. After going through Ranskill and Scrooby we cross the River Ryton and merge with the A614 which as arrived from Blyth, giving us primary status and the accompanying green signs and we multiplex with this road for a short distance into Bawtry (with the A638 number dominant), slowing down to the regular 30 mph for town centre. We cross the A631 at a stagger in the middle of the town, send the A614 on its way north towards Goole and continue out of the town heading for Doncaster.

Bawtry – Doncaster

South of Doncaster

We leave Bawtry behind and immediately find ourselves following the route of a Roman Road, once again nice and wide and NSL, passing alongside what used to be RAF Finningley, but now recently re-opened as Doncaster Sheffield Robin Hood Airport. We need to slow down slightly to 50 as we cross over the M18 without interchange and then to 40 as we pass through the outskirts of Doncaster. We become a D2 shortly before a roundabout that has the racecourse on one side of it, and the Dome Leisure Park and Vue multiplex cinema on the other. A short while after that and we get to the Racecourse roundabout where we meet the A18 and lose our identification.

At this point carrying straight on, on the old road that is virtually unsigned these days, can actually be quicker than taking the bypass around the town. This is mainly due to the never-ending roadworks and construction that Doncaster has experienced in recent years.

Anyway, at the roundabout we multiplex with the A18, a 40 limit urban D2, and we leave it at the next roundabout by turning right onto a short length of S2 with a roundabout in the middle. There's a multiplex now with the A630 until a huge roundabout where we multiplex with the A19 on a recent D2 bridge which crosses the River Don and the East Coast Rail Line.

Doncaster – Wakefield

Near Elmsall

At the other side of this bridge, we finally regain our number which we keep to ourselves now all the way to Wakefield. We begin to leave Doncaster on heavily rebuilt D2 with retail parks and supermarkets on both sides and then we start the A635 on its journey over the Pennines to Manchester. We enter a 50 mph zone shortly afterwards, take the first exit off a roundabout and then need to slow down again as we pass through Adwick. We finally leave the suburbs of Doncaster behind and then cross over the A1(M) at Redhouse Interchange, the northern end of the motorway-standard Doncaster bypass. This spot marks the original start of the A638 and the point at which we stop running parallel to the "new" A1. A new roundabout which allows access to the Redhouse Business Park that contains a huge B&Q distribution centre follows next, before a bit more NSL D2 which becomes S2 for a couple of miles. We cross over two recently constructed roundabouts to serve new industrial estates that have built in the past few years. Shortly before we arrive at the village of Upton, we need to slow down to 40 mph and a roundabout with the B6474.

We pass just to the side of the village and after leaving it behind it's a few miles of 50 mph S2. It's a little narrower than the previous section and also a bit winding, before we get to a straight mile and a bit which drops down to pass underneath a railway bridge. We then climb uphill towards a 30 mph zone and a roundabout with the A628 in the village of Ackworth Moor Top.

We leave Ackworth, now on a 40 mph S2 road, and cross the B6428 at a roundabout. We slow down to 30 as we pass through Wragby before crossing over the lake at Nostell Priory, a stately home now owned by the National Trust. It's back to 40 for a bit as we continue towards Crofton where the A645 ends from our right. A mile after that and the A655 also comes to an end.

We pass underneath a railway bridge and then we slow once again to 30 mph as we pass through Belle Vue and pass the home of the Wakefield Wildcats Rugby League team on the left. Soon after that we cross over the canal on a short bit of D2. We then multiplex with the A61 as we cross over the River Calder on a S5 bridge before we regain our number by turning off to the left onto Ings Road on D2 as we pass by one of the region's first retail parks, these days looking rather sorry for itself. We meet the end of the A636 before passing a rather newer retail park, this time on both sides of the road before we multiplex with the A642 along Westgate End.

Wakefield – Chain Bar

After we leave the A642 at a strange gyratory we then climb gently out of Wakefield on S2 for a couple of miles. As we get near to J40 of the M1, the road becomes a 40 mph D2. We leave the M1 behind on the Ossett Bypass, a 50 mph D2 built in the 1970s. The old course of the road leaves us here. A sweeping mile and a bit of curves later and we arrive at a roundabout where we say hello again to the other end of the bypassed road.

Approaching Dewsbury

We go straight on, slightly downhill on 40 mph S2, which becomes 30 mph shortly afterwards. Continuing steeply downhill as we approach Dewsbury, we turn right and enter the early 1980s D2 ring road. At this point we lose our primary status that we have held since just south of Bawtry. We pass exits for the A653 and the A652 before we come to our turn off.

We leave the Dewsbury Ring Road returning to 30 mph S2 and begin to climb the a hill up to Staincliffe, passing college buildings on both sides of the road. As soon as we crest the hill, it's downhill all the way until we pass through Heckmondwike.

We cross the A62 at signalized crossroads and then proceed towards Cleckheaton on road that can only be described as D1. I seem to remember it as proper D2 at one time, but these days it's been ruined with extra bits of pavement that jut into the road, right and left hand turn lanes and other rubbish. It doesn't last long though before the proper S2 recommences as we get to Cleckheaton. We cross the A643 at lights and then continue through the town centre. The road becomes NSL D2 and then finishes about 200 yards later at Chain Bar, Junction 26 of the M62, where we also meet the A58 and M606.


Prior to the opening of the A1(M) in the early 1960s, the A638 ran from Redhouse, northwest of Doncaster, where it left the A1 Great North Road, to Odsal Top, on the southern edge of Bradford. With the opening of the A1(M) and the simultaneous renumbering of the A57 between Markham Moor and Five Lane Ends and the A614 from there to Blyth to become the A1, the A638 effectively doubled in length by taking over the former route of the A1 Great North Road from Markham Moor to Redhouse.

Until the 1980s when it was declassified, the A638 continued north of Chain Bar, running through Low Moor before ending at Odsal Top, what is now a GSJ roundabout with the A641 and A6036. Hardly any of the signs have been taken down though, so it's quite easy to follow the final part of the road if you so desire.

Opening Dates

Year Section Notes
1972 Flushdyke Diversion, Ossett Wakefield Road, Gawthorpe to 0.2 mile west of M1 J40 Flushdyke Interchange. Shown on September 1972 OS Quarter inch map. Not on July 1971 OS Route Planner map. Dual carriageway except for 0.2 mile west of B6128.
1981 Retford Eastern Relief Road Arlington Way. The 0.7 mile road was opened on 19 June 1981 by Joan Case, County Council, Chairman. Cost £2 million.
1987 Dewsbury Ring Road The 0.6 mile final section from the Wellington Road Railway Station to Wakefield Road then Vicarage Road was opened on 10 August 1987 by George and Joan Speight, Mayor and Mayoress of Kirklees. Total cost of the Ring Road was £6.5 million.

Related Pictures
View gallery (23)
Wakefield Road Ossett - Geograph - 982586.jpgA630 Frenchgate tunnel.jpgSheffield--Leeds area from Johnston's Handy Road Atlas of GB & NI - Coppermine - 23647.jpg20140601 142156 HDR.jpgGreatYorkshireWay1End.jpg
Other nearby roads
A1(M) • A1/Sandbox • A18 • A19 • A57 • A60 • A630 • A635 • A6182 • B1396 • B6095 • B6422 • E13 • E15 • E22 • E31 (via Carlisle) • E31 (via Newcastle) • E114 (Old System) • E115 (Old System) • Great North Road • M18 • M100 • M180 • T1 (Britain) • T22 (Britain) • T65 (Britain)
A61 • A636 • A642 • A645 • A650 • A655 • A6030 (Wakefield) • A6031 • A6183 (Kirkhamgate - Dishforth) • A6186 • A6194 • A6400 • B6132 • B6378 • B6389 • B6444 (Wakefield) • B6467 • B6475 • B6476 • E20 • E22 • E106 (Northampton - Leeds) • M1 • M62 • M111 • M650 • T16 (Britain) • T65 (Britain)
A644 • A652 • A653 • B6117 • B6128 • B6130 (Yorkshire) • B6409 • M1
A638(M) • A641 • A644 • A647 • A650 • A651 • A657 • A658 • A6034 • A6035 • A6036 • A6037 • A6176 • A6177 • A6181 • A6183 (Kirkhamgate - Dishforth) • B6141 • B6142 • B6143 • B6144 • B6145 • B6147 • B6148 • B6149 • B6265 (West Yorkshire) • B6269 • B6380 • B6381 • B6429 • E20 • E22 • E109 (Old System) • M62 • M606 • M650 • T65 (Britain)
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)

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