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Location Map ( geo)
Cameraicon.png View gallery (14)
From:  Crook (NZ160353)
To:  Sunderland (NZ392566)
Via:  Durham
Distance:  22.2 miles (35.7 km)
Meets:  A689, B6298, B6299, B6286, B6300, B6302, A167, A691, A181, A1(M), B1284, A182, A1052, B1404, A19, B1286, B1405, A183, A1231
Former Number(s):  A689
Old route now:  A181
Primary Destinations
Highway Authorities

Durham • Sunderland

Traditional Counties


Route outline (key)
A690 Crook – Neville's Cross, Durham
A690 Neville's Cross - Sunderland

The A690 is a medium-length east-wset A-road in County Durham. It is a road of two-halves: west of Durham it is a non-primary S2 through small towns and villages, while to the east it is a major D2 link road, forming the highest quality east-west road between the A19 and the A1(M), and a major route in and out of Sunderland.


Western Half

The road starts on the A689 in Crook. It was extended slightly further west when the A689 town centre bypass was built; the original A689 is now the B6298 to the south. The B2698 itself crosses the A690 via a short-duplex in Crook town centre, providing access to Stanley Crook to the north and towards Howden-le-Wear and hence Bishop Auckland to the south. After going through the village of Helmington Row, the B6299 to Stanley Crook (more on this later) is encountered before the town of Willington. The A690 forms Willington's high street and is thus fairly slow-going. As such the unclassified Stockley Lane, found just to the east of Willington, offers the a much better route than the A690/A689 for traffic between Durham City (or destinations east) and the A68 northbound or Weardale, taking as it does traffic first to the aforementioned B6299 and hence to the A68 at Tow Law, with the option of taking the B6297 down into Wolsingham for Weardale.

Continuing east, the village of Brancepeth is passed through fairly swiftly before the road heads northeast to reach the former pit-villages of Brandon, Meadowfield and Langley Moor. These three, now popular with commuters working in Durham City, form a continuous urban area of two miles stretched along the A690. Along the way the B6300 'Browney Lane' offers a shortcut to the A167 southbound, while the B632 encountered at the edge of Durham City itself is the route to the villages of the Deerness Valley. The A690 continues steeply up Neville's Cross bank to meet the A167 (formerly the A1 and the Great North Road), which it crosses at Neville's Cross itself. The A690 gains primary status here, which it keeps until its end in Sunderland.

Here we meet a 1970s-constructed inner relief road, which sees the A690 take a rather winding route through the city. The first stretch is a cutting which took traffic off the smart-residential street of The Avenue, ending at a traffic-light controlled junction with unclassified roads at which the A690 takes a hard-left (this would likely be called a TOTSO were it not for the traffic lights!). The A690 briefly joins its old route into Durham along the wide Sutton Street, before splitting with it at the North Road roundabout. The old route headed along North Road and over the 15th Century Framwellgate Bridge to Durham's Market Square, where traffic flows were once controlled by a policeman in a signal box (constructed in 1932), from where the officer would control traffic lights on the A690 and A177 (which the A690 no longer meets) in order to try and prevent gridlock in the medieval city centre. The A690 headed north-east out of the Market Square, up Claypath and onto Gilesgate.

The modern road, from North Road roundabout, instead passes along another 1970s cutting to a signalized junction - formerly a roundabout - with the A691, which takes traffic north-west out of Durham towards Consett. It passes over the S4 Milburngate Bridge (under the old road at Claypath) to another signalized former roundabout at Leazes Bowl, where unclassified roads provide the main access to central areas of Durham inlcuding the multi-story car park at the Prince Bishops Shopping Centre. Up a third 1970s cutting the A690 goes to the Gilesgate roundabout, where it encounters its old route. Here, the old road heads north-east up into Gilesgate along what is now the A181 (before that road TOTSOs off to the east, providing a route towards Peterlee and Hartelpool), and then through the suburbs of Belmont and Carrville towards Houghton-le-Spring. The modern road instead follows the route of a former railway-line, and becomes for the first time a higher quality D2 road, under National Speed Limit to J62 of the A1 (M).


A690 at Houghton-le-Spring

After the A1(M), the A690 remains D2 and rejoins its original route, although now under a 50mph limit due to the number of at-grade junctions. Here it now follows a bypass between the villages of West Rainton and East Rainton, and then takes another inner-relief road at Houghton-le-Spring. Here we have fully grade-separated junctions with, first, the B1284/B1260 for Rainton Industrial estate; second the A182/A1052 for Hetton-le-Hole to the south and villages towards Chester-le-Street to the north; and third, the A182/B1404 for Seaham to the south and Herrington/Penshaw or Washington to the north. Between the second and third junction the two carriages of the A182 are split as C-D roads either side of the A690, creating a very complex road layout for a relativley small town. The A690 then takes the steep route up Houghton Cut, reportedly built by forced labour of prisoners of the Napoleonic Wars, through the limestone cliffs that overlook Houghton.

The A690 continues as D2 road on to meet the A19 (and the B1286 for Doxford Park) at Herrington Interchange, a wide-signalized roundabout the capacity of which was increased during a reconstruction in 2020-21. Eastbound the A690 becomes single carriageway and much more urban in character, with residential properties fronting onto the road. Now the road is functioning as the main route in/out of Sunderland from the South. The B1286 is crossed at the Board Inn and the A690 passes through the suburbs of East Herrington and Thorney Close before a stretch of D2 is encountered, meeting the B1405 at a signalised crossroads. Along both the single and dual carriageway stretches the A690 carries fairly unusual 'No Car Lanes', a variant of the bus lane but with additional permissions for taxis, LGVs and HGVs to use them. The road becomes single carriageway again as it descends a hill past Sunderland College's Bede Campus; the North Sea is clearly visible from here. The A690 continues on towards the centre of Sunderland, passing through two gyratories before it ends on the A1231 at Priestman Roundabout by the University on the edge of the city centre.

Opening Dates

Year Section Notes
1967 Durham City Through Road Phase 1 - Leazes Road. The 0.8 mile 33 foot S3 road from Milburngate Roundabout to Gilesgate, Durham was opened on 3 April 1967 by Sidney Docking, County Council Chairman. It included the Claypath Underpass and 350 foot Milburngate Bridge over the River Wear. Contractor for the bridge, underpass and reinforcements was Holst and Co, cost £350,000, total cost £1.25 million. It was unclassified for a period after opening.
1969 Durham - Carville Link Road The 1.75 mile dual carriageway from Gilesgate, Durham to north of Carville (via Carrville Interchange with A1(M)) was opened on 2 May 1969 by J.R.S. Middlewood, County Council Chairman. Cost £837,000. Also the "trumpet" junction for the Dragonville Trading Estate and the new unclassified Belmont Link Road to Sunderland Road.
1969 West and East Rainton Bypass Shown on September 1969 OS Route Planning map. Not on October 1968 OS One inch map. Dual carriageway. The dual carriageway was mentioned at Rainton Gate in the Newcastle Journal of 13 May 1969.

Related Pictures
View gallery (14)
A690 Houghton Cut - Coppermine - 2391.JPGA690 Houghton Cut - Coppermine - 2390.JPGA690 Houghton Cut - Coppermine - 2389.JPGA690 Houghton Cut - Coppermine - 2388.JPGWinter in Sunderland - Geograph - 786270.jpg
Other nearby roads
A1(M) • A167 • A177 • A180 (Durham - Byers Garth) • A181 • A688 • A691 • A1050 • A1051 • B1198 • B1282 • B1283 • B6291 • B6300 • B6302 • B6532 • E15 • E31 (via Newcastle) • M100 • T1 (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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