|To:||Denton Burn (NZ196656)|
|Length:||54.2 miles (87.2 km)|
|Meets:||A7, M6, B6263, A689, A6071, B6318, B6322, B6319, A686, B6531, A6079, A68, B6529, B6530, B6309, B6528, B6318, A6085, B6323, B6528, A1, A186|
|Old route now:||A6071, A695, A186, A191, A694, A1|
|Route outline (key)|
The A69 appears to follow the line of Hadrian's Wall fairly closely. However, except for a short distance at the Newcastle end, it actually stays well to the south of the Wall. The A69's scenic attractions are more pastoral, the road following the Tyne Valley for most of its length. Primary for its entire length, about one third of it is dual carriageway, mainly the section between Hexham and the A1. Although the A60, A61 and A68 all cross the 6 zone from side to side in a north-south direction, only the A66 and A69 do so east-west.
The route starts in the centre of Carlisle. Before pedestrianisation of the city centre, it started on the A6 English Street by the Citadel. The A69's original departure from Carlisle would have been via Warwick Road. It now starts on the A7 one-way loop and uses Victoria Place a little further north to rejoin Warwick Road. Crossing the M6 at junction 43, it encounters a very short stretch of dual carriageway as it skirts Scotby, before arriving at Warwick-on-Eden. The B6263 meets the A69 here. This provides a cut through from the M6 at junction 42 for traffic from the south. Crossing the Eden here to the larger settlement of Warwick Bridge, the A69 then runs north eastwards up the valley of the River Irthing to the junction with the A689 at Brampton. The A689 (formerly numbered the B6264) provides a similar cut through for traffic from the north, from the A7 at M6 junction 44.
The Brampton bypass is a multiplex of the A69 and A689 with our number dominant, the latter then turning off east over the watershed to the South Tyne at Lambley and then south to Alston. At the end of the bypass the original A69 is rejoined. The road through the town and half of the pre-bypass A69 (the western half is now unclassified) is the A6071 from Gretna and Longtown, the only A road to enter Zone 7 without also entering Scotland.
Continuing to follow the River Irthing, and crossing the Carlisle to Newcastle railway for the first time, the A69 now crosses the Cumbria/Northumberland boundary, and very shortly afterwards crosses the main east-west watershed separating the catchments of Irish Sea and the North Sea. From here onwards we are in the valley of the Tyne.
At Greenhead the A69 makes its first close approach to Hadrian's Wall, and used to make a "cannon" with the B6318. (The A69 now runs along a short bypass and so misses out on a true cannon as you have to use the tiny B630 to get between the A69 and B6318.) This is the longest B-road in the country, running from Langholm, on the A7, to the outskirts of Newcastle, and for much of its length uses the Military Road or even the line of the Wall itself. Briefly running adjacent to the railway, the A69 next bypasses Haltwhistle. The B6322, obviously a former route of the A69, actually marks an earlier bypass; the original A69 went along Main Street. From Haltwhistle the road has been upgraded and realigned all the way to the A1. Near Haltwhistle it crosses the South Tyne twice and the railway once (and goes straight through the embankment of the former Haltwhistle to Alston line whose river viaduct is clearly visible), before continuing to bypass Haydon Bridge and meeting the A686 from Alston. Through Hexham the original line of the A69 is graced with the numbers B6531, B6305 and A695, but the modern A69, which is dual carriageway from this point onwards, recrosses the railway and river, just downstream of the confluence of the North and South Tyne, to follow the north bank of the Tyne for almost all the rest of the way.
Corbridge is next bypassed, with a grade-separated junction for the A68 north, but a plain roundabout for the other end of the multiplex (although it is clear that a GSJ was planned). The original line of the A69 is now the B6321 and B6530. The original A69 crossed the narrow 16th-century bridge at the same time as it was multiplexing with the A68 (the A69 number has always been dominant) and so the bypass, built in 1977, cannot have come too soon.
Grade separated junctions are now the rule, with the original route of the A69 to Heddon-on-the-Wall, notorious as the origin of the outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease in 2001, now taken by the B6528. From Heddon the A69 originally ran straight into Newcastle along the line of Hadrian’s Wall, ending at a junction with the A1 next to Newcastle Central station, but now that road has moved to the west of the city the end of the A69 has moved with it and so it ends at the Denton Burn Interchange. However, this was not a straight swap and the history is rather involved.
Confusion may have arisen because this revised layout, although evident on the ground and on plans published by the City Council and the Highways Agency, wasn't entirely picked up by Ordnance Survey who continued for most of the 1990s to number Denton Road as A69 and Silver Lonnen as A696. These were mistakes.The reason for the diversion of the A69 in 1976 was to allow it to take over the Gateshead Western Bypass (numbered for its first few years of existence as A613) via the Scotswood Bridge. The Gateshead Western Bypass terminated at Eighton Lodge junction (where the Angel of the North now stands); the flyover was reconstructed sometime between 1986 and 1988 to give bypass traffic priority over that coming from Gateshead on the old A1 (then A6127, now A167) and the A69 continued along the Birtley Bypass until joined by the A1(M) at what is now junction 65.