|Distance:||67.1 miles (108 km)|
|Meets:||A65, M6, B6256, B6257, A683, B6259, B6255, B6160, A6108, B6268, B6285, A6055, B1333, A167, A19|
|Old route now:||B1333|
|Route outline (key)|
The A684 is a wonderful drive throughout - maybe not quite as nice as the A686, but just as good. It starts on the edge of the Lake District, runs right through the Yorkshire Dales, and ends right next to the Yorkshire Moors. What more could you ask for?
Section 1: Kendal - Sedbergh
The road starts by branching off the A65 immediately west of the Stramongate Bridge in Kendal. The initial 200 metres (Castle Street) is one-way eastbound, however; westbound traffic arriving in Kendal is directed along Ann Street to meet the A65 close to its junction with the A6.
The A684 then begins its climb away from town, gradually ascending from the valley. Its original route was the much hillier road directly east of Kendal; the A684 was rerouted onto its present longer but flatter course in 1935. After a few miles it peaks and crosses over the M6 at J37, a diamond junction that has the distinction of having four cattle grids on it - one on each slip, unlike J38, which has one big one near the roundabout (or two if you consider the two carriageways of the spur to have two separate grids). The part of the route travelled so far has been primary (at the expense of the A685 which joins the M6 further north at Tebay). All the remainder of the A684, however, east of the M6, is non-primary.
The road soon passes close to Lily Mere, which empties into Killington Reservoir, then begins its descent towards the River Lune crossing at Lincoln's Inn Bridge, two kilometres further on. Here it leaves the traditional county of Westmorland for the West Riding of Yorkshire, though in modern terms we remain in Cumbria for a short while longer. The road then meets the A683 just outside Sedbergh and multiplexes with it through the town (the A684 number is dominant) as we as we start our journey through the Yorkshire Dales National Park. As an aside, traffic is directed off the main line of the A684 and to the south of Sedbergh, so as to avoid its narrow streets and curves. The signed route goes via Busk Lane.
Section 2: Sedbergh - Leyburn
On the eastern edge of Sedbergh the A683 turns left on its way to Kirkby Stephen (for Brough) and we carry on eastwards towards Garsdale. The section through Garsdale is great, with plenty of twists, turns and bumps with great views of the hillside if it's not too foggy. At the top of the valley, at Garsdale Head, we meet the watershed which separates rivers flowing into the Irish Sea from those flowing into the North Sea, at more-or-less the same place we cross the Settle to Carlisle Railway and meet the B6259.
After this we descend once more; the road ahead is slightly flatter than that previously travelled as the sight of the Yorkshire Dales unfolds before your eyes - miles and miles of near unspoilt countryside with spectacular views. It follows the course of the River Ure which will eventually end up becoming the Ouse, and finally the Humber.
The A684 now enters Hawes, the home of Wensleydale cheese and the centre point for Yorkshire Dales ramblers. The road is split two ways through the town - westbound traffic takes the cobbled high street - whilst we also cross the Pennine Way. Beyond Hawes, the A684 follows Wensleydale, probably the best known of all the Yorkshire Dales. There's another split in traffic and a TOTSO at Bainbridge (eastbound turns right then left whereas westbound just turns left but the road is far narrower), before we reach the waterfalls of Aysgarth.
The A684 then climbs up out of the dale to the south and the village of West Witton before returning into Wensleydale and the village of Wensley itself and then climbing on the other side into Leyburn. Like Hawes, this is a popular town with tourists and ramblers and has a very nice chocolate shop and teapottery on the other side of town. The A684 meets the A6108, multiplexes with it through the town square and drops it off at the other side.
Section 3: Leyburn - Ellerbeck
After the A684 leaves Leyburn the countryside becomes a lot flatter. Shortly out of the town is a set of traffic lights either side of the narrow railway bridge (this railway is the Wensleydale Line - which currently runs from Northallerton to Redmire, but is looking to eventually extend right through Hawes and over to Garsdale to meet the Leeds/Settle/Carlisle line).
Following on are the villages of Constable Burton and Patrick Brompton [sounds like two characters from an Agatha Christie novel! - Ed.], before the road enters Bedale. Here it forms a wide High Street, characteristic of many towns in the area, with space for market stalls either side. The A684 then turns off at a TOTSO with the B6285 (a rather unused road, which heads south towards the A1) before crossing the Wensleydale Line once more at a level crossing by Bedale station and again on the far side of Aiskew. The next turn right is a spur past Leeming Bar services leading to a roundabout on the A6055; that road was built on the former northbound carriageway of the A1 and the spur was the slip roads for that direction. The A684 then goes under the A6055 and the A1(M) immediately afterwards; there is no junction with the motorway here. The road then zigzags over a previous route of the A1 in the centre of Leeming Bar via a mini-roundabout.
A bypass is currently under construction to take traffic away from Bedale and Leeming Bar. This will join the current A684 at both ends and meet the A1(M) at J51. It is currently anticipated that the road will open to traffic in August 2016.
The road continues east, crossing the River Swale before meeting the A167 just outside Northallerton. It multiplexes with this road for a mile or so into the centre of town. Inside Northallerton, it crosses the main London - Edinburgh railway. Its original route into Northallerton is along the current B1333 and the A684 originally ended on the High Street (which was the A1). The two roads part ways again at a roundabout on the other side of town and the final run of the A684 takes it up to the A19 just short of the Yorkshire Moors National Park and the village of Osmotherley.
The A684 originally ran only as far as Northallerton. The extension east along the former B1263 occurred as part of general renumbering in the Northallerton area following the decision to route the A1 via Scotch Corner.