|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|
|Old route now:||A181|
|Route outline (key)|
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. After going through Willington the road then heads northeast to the A167 (formerly the A1), which it meets at Neville's Cross on the edge of Durham. The A690 gains primary status here, which it keeps until its end in Sunderland. The old route through Durham was hideously inadequate for the traffic, so the Market Place and Gilesgate were bypassed by the current route in the 1970s (this does explain the TOTSO on the A181 as the ex-A690 used to carry on straight), giving the A690 a winding route through the city. After Gilesgate Roundabout, where old and new routes cross and the A181 is met, the road becomes dual carriageway, remaining so for much of its remaining distance.
From here the speed limit increases to NSL as the road follows a former railway alignment before meeting the A1(M) at J62. After this the A690 rejoins its original route, bypassing West Rainton and East Rainton - both accessed by at-grade junctions which have seen the speed limit reduced from NSL to 50mph on this section. The road then passes through Houghton-le-Spring, where a grade-separated junction coincides with a steep hill. The junction has two linked roundabouts, one above the A690 and the other below – the A690 climbs a steep hill in between. This whole section is known locally as Houghton Cut and forms quite a feature. The A182 meets the A690 at this junction and forms C-D roads between the two roundabouts.
The A690 continues on to meet the A19 at Herrington Interchange, after which it becomes single carriageway and much more urban in character, with residential properties fronting onto the road. The B1286 is crossed at the Board Inn and the A690 passes through the suburbs of East Herrington and Thorney Close before becoming dual and meeting the B1405 at a signalised crossroads. 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.