|To:||Kirkby Stephen (NY758062)|
|Distance:||43.2 miles (69.5 km)|
|Meets:||A589, A6, M6, A687, A65, A684, A685|
|Former Number(s):||A589, B6258|
|Route outline (key)|
Section 1: Heysham Port - Lancaster
Today from a left to right viewpoint on a map the road starts at the Isle of Man and Belfast ferry terminal at Heysham next to the nuclear power station as a primary route, known as Princess Alexandra Way. Most maps claim this to be the western end of the A589, however, but signage disagrees. On the edge of Heysham town the A589 is met at a roundabout and we join a 50 mph road opened in July 1994 - Phase I of the Lancaster-Heysham Bypass. This route will eventually link up with the M6 bypassing the notorious city centre one-way system in central Lancaster and providing a new junction to replace the notorious Lune Valley Interchange.
Continuing east from Heysham, the A683 rises to cross a railway line, passing a huge substation on the right before meeting a new roundabout dating to 2010; beyond here the road experienced a miracle of highways planning. In 2012, the original 1994 speed limit (50 mph) was raised to national speed limit! However, the speed limit was originally signed as an explicit 60 mph, which caused some interesting signage anomalies where side roads had the national speed limit from before the link road opening. This has since been corrected.
Pressing on, the 60 limit continues as far as the start of a D2 section at White Lund, where the road drops back to 40 to pass through industrial estates. A huge roundabout brings the A589 back to us, and ends Phase I of the Heysham-Lancaster Bypass. A large signalised junction now takes traffic onto the Bay Gateway towards the M6, with the A589 reclaiming the section of road towards Skerton and up through Caton Road.
Section 2: Lancaster - Sedbergh
Over the bridge the A683 turns left and heads towards J34 of the M6. For more information on J34 see the Bad Junctions section of the Roads.org.uk site, linked below. After the motorway we bypass Halton (which is on the far side of the River Lune) and go through the villages of Caton, Claughton, Farleton and Hornby. Between Farleton and Hornby the B6480 branches off to the right to join the A65 at Clapham on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. After Farleton comes Melling and Wrayton.
At Wrayton we come to a T-junction where the A683 TOTSOs, the road to the east being the short A687 which takes over the primary route from Lancaster to join the A65 near Ingleton. The A683 now for a short while goes in a westerly direction than turns to head north through Tunstall, Nether and Over Burrow, becoming Burrow Road for this section's final stretch, before meeting the A65 on the Lancashire/Westmorland boundary.
This junction is just outside the small market town of Kirkby Lonsdale near the famous Devil's Bridge (a well known meeting place of motorcyclists on a Sunday). The A683 and A65 multiplex for a very short while till we meet a junction at the eastern end of the "new" bridge over the Lune which was built to replace Devil's Bridge (now a footbridge). The A683 now heads north again through the village of Casterton with its private school and into the Westmorland section of Lonsdale (Lonsdale is of course Lunesdale, but the name Lunesdale is usually only used for that part of the valley north of Tebay along the A685). The next village actually on the road is Middleton and a few miles north of here (after a couple of sharp bends to cross a now-dismanted railway line) the A683 bends sharply right again at its junction with the B6256, which acts as a shortcut to/from the A684 avoiding Sedbergh.
The A684 and A683 meet just outside Sedbergh on Station Road, which is the original eastern terminus of the A683. Sedbergh is part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, and part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, which was for some reason moved into Cumbria, although I think North Yorkshire County Council do run one of the local schools. The two roads multiplex through the little town (A684 taking priority), which is famous for its public school whose past pupils include the former England RU captain Will Carling .
Section 3: Sedbergh - Kirkby Stephen
On the eastern edge of the town along Long Lane the A683 forks to the left and starts its climb along the side of the Howgill Fells, going up Crosshaw Brow. It runs alongside the River Rawthay through the hamlet of Cautley, past Harter Fell and into the valleys at the head of the River Lune. The road for a while near the hamlet of Bowber Head is known as Edgdale Lane.
A few miles on from this we skirt the edge of Wether Hill and Ash Fell which mark the watershed between the Lune and Eden and meet the A685 near Kirkby Stephen railway station and some distance above the town. Had the Kirkby Stephen bypass been built (see A685 entry) then this would probably be a roundabout and not a T-junction.
At first the A683 only went from the A6 in Lancaster to the A684 just outside Sedbergh making it a road from Lancashire to Yorkshire but in a north/south direction as opposed to east/west which is more usual. However, in about 1970 the A683 took over the route of the B6258 from Sedbergh to the A685 near Kirkby Stephen railway station. Later still in the 1990s a bypass of southern Morecambe and Heysham was built from the boundary of Lancaster and Morecambe to Heysham harbour; this road, plus the connecting stretch of the A589 from Lancaster was given the number A683 making the A683 an out-of-zone road and making it have a short multiplex with the A6 over the Skerton Bridge in Lancaster. This was probably done so that the road from Heysham Port to the M6 had a single number.
Original Author(s): Carl Ryding