|From:||Barnard Castle (NZ057170)|
|To:||Byers Garth (NZ319409)|
|Via:||Bishop Auckland, Spennymoor|
|Distance:||24.8 miles (39.9 km)|
|Meets:||A67, B6279, B6274, A68, A6072, B6282, A689, B6287, B6288, A167, A177, A1(M), B6291, A181|
|Former Number(s):||A6074, B6291, A177|
|Route outline (key)|
Barnard Castle - Bowburn
Starting at a mini-roundabout on the A67 on the eastern side of Barnard Castle the road heads northeastwards, continuing along the Roman Road that the A67 has used from the A66 to this point. As well as taking its alignment, the A688 also takes primary status from the A67.
After passing Stainton the road bears to the right to leave the Roman alignment. A mile or so further on the village of Staindrop is reached, which is one of those northern villages with narrow entrances and then sizeable village greens; this one lasts most of the length of the village. The buildings close in once more and the road reaches the church and bends sharply left, going round two sides of the graveyard, to leave Staindrop by crossing the Langley Beck. The road now passes Raby Castle and continues on to a roundabout at the start of the West Auckland bypass. The A688 now leaves its original route never to return to it.
The road continues on a modern route, liberally sprinkled with roundabouts. The A68 is crossed at the next roundabout after which the road skirts Bishop Auckland. The A689 multiplexes along it for a short distance round here. After that turns off the A688 returns to a pre-bypass route (but not its own route, which originally ended in Bishop Auckland). This only lasts just over a mile, however, till the next roundabout sees the start of the Spennymoor bypass, which is of similar form to the last bypass albeit that the central section, quite unexpectedly, is dual carriageway.
The A167 (former A1) is crossed at a roundabout at Thinford then the East Coast Main Line is crossed at Metal Bridge to reach the A177 Coxhoe bypass. The A688 is now the dominant partner in a multiplex to the A1(M) at J61. The A688 crosses the motorway and heads for a short distance on the former A177 into Coxhoe before turning left and heading northwards. It ends at a roundabout on the A181 to the south of Sherburn and not too far from Durham city.
In 1922, the A688 ran from the A67 in Barnard Castle to end on the A689 in the centre of Bishop Auckland. It was extended east in the 1980s via the Auckland and Spennymoor bypasses to end on the A1(M) via a useless multiplex with the A177.