|Location Map ( geo)|
|To:||St John's Town of Dalry (NX619811)|
|Distance:||83 miles (133.6 km)|
|Meets:||A700, B701, A720, A703, A766, B7059, A721, A72, B7016, B7055, A73, M74, A74(M), B7078, B797, B7076, B7040, A76, B732, B731, B729, B7075, B7000, A713,|
|Former Number(s):||A72, A74, B730, B729|
|Route outline (key)|
At more than 80 miles long, the A702 provides an important trunk route heading south west from Edinburgh to the M74 / A74(M) at Abington. It then continues to wind south west through the hills and into the Galloway forest, where it end at St Johns Town of Dalry. Although almost entirely S2, the section west of the motorway feels like a completely different route to the busy trunk section. Along the way, the A702 passes through the historic counties of Midlothian, Peeblesshire, Lanarkshire, Dumfriesshire, and Kirkcudbrightshire.
In Edinburgh, the A702 starts at the west end of Princes Street, having been extended over the former A700 fairly recently. It heads south on the busy Lothian Road, with bus lanes and traffic signals at every junction. After passing the western end of Princes Street Gardens, and some substantial modern office complexes, there is a mixture of more traditional Edinburgh Architecture, including the circular Usher Hall set back on the left. However, with the Odeon Cinema block from the 1930s and the earlier Central Hall block a bit further along, this is a fantastic street for the student of Architecture. After kinking left onto Earl Grey Street, the route comes to the complicated signalised junction at Tollcross, where it kinks right onto Home Street, then Leven Street. There are still shops at ground floor level until the green space of Bruntsfield Links opens up on the left, and the terraced tenements briefly come to an end.
Continuing south west along Bruntsfield Place, the route is now heading out into Edinburgh's extensive suburbs. The shops have resumed, but there are a scattering of buildings which remain entirely residential. After passing through an elongated signalised junction surrounded by impressive churches, the route follows Morningside Road south, becoming more and more suburban, although shops persist. The South Suburban Railway is crossed where there used to be a station, but the line is used now only as an avoiding route so freight traffic does not add to the congestion at Waverley. The A702 then follows Comiston Road and the way out of Edinburgh is characteristically hilly and runs through strata of tenements, villas, bungalows and housing schemes which mark stages in the city's expansion. A little over two miles from its start, the A702 suddenly becomes tree lined as it reaches Braidburn Valley Park. Beyond the park, most of the houses are set back behind trees and hedges, as the route follows Pentland Terrace and Buckstone Terrace.
The final run to the edge of the city passes through a signalised crossroads with the B701 and then follows Biggar Road down to the Lothianburn Junction with the A720 city bypass. This is one of the few places where the older suburbs reached the line of the bypass before it was built. Fields stretch out to the east (for now), with newer housing and industrial estates to the west. The junction is therefore constrained by older development and sees some particularly squeezed sliproad, the westbound onslip being supported by a retaining wall as it drops down to the dual carriageway below. The junction is a dumbbell, with roundabouts on either side of the A720. A few houses survive to the south, and then the A702 heads out into the countryside.
Edinburgh - Biggar
After reaching the Edinburgh city boundary, the route passes into Midlothian - though historically Edinburgh is a part of that county. Another few hundred yards brings the A702 to the tricky Hillend Junction, a double left fork. The A703 is the second fork, and climbs above the minor road before it, but not as steeply as the A702 is climbing. This short part of the A703 winds south east to join the A701 south of Bilston, with the A702 continuing southwards then shortly bearing right to head southwestwards, as it continues to climb steadily through the foothills of the Pentland Hills. After crossing the 200m contour, the route levels out, dipping a little and then undulating across farmland. The growing science park and surrounding businesses and college campuses provide a busy left turn, but this is just one in a series of junctions, all of which can cause hold ups from time to time.
A gentle climb follows, lifting the route up to a new roundabout built in c2017 to improve the junction with the left turn for Penicuik. The climb up the southeast flank of the Pentlands then steepens a little, with the route passing about a mile from Penicuik, spread out below. A couple of long straights follow, reputedly originally built by the Romans, and then the A766 joins from the left at a shallow angle, doubling back to Penicuik. Another couple of miles sees the route cross the 300m contour before dipping down to cross the North Esk at Carlops Bridge, and so enter Peeblesshire and the small village of Carlops. Continuing south, another long straight leads past the grounds of Rutherford Castle, now a golf course, but this is not the Roman Road, which can be traced higher up the hillside. The route then slowly drops down into the larger village of West Linton whose old cottages are greatly outnumbered by modern housing for Edinburgh commuters.
After passing through a rather unnecessary roundabout for a new housing estate, the A702 heads towards the village centre, where the B7059 for Romannobridge turns off to the left, with the hotel sitting in the middle of the triangular junction. Most of the shops lie along the B road, leaving the A702 free to work its way out of the village and back into the fields beyond. The small West Water is crossed by the substantial Westwater Bridge, with small patches of forestry nearby. Houses and farms are scattered along the roadside as it follows a near two mile long straight south west towards the Lanarkshire border and village of Dolphinton beyond. Hard as it is to believe, this tiny place used to have two railway stations on separate spurs meeting end-on, one North British from Leadburn and the other Caledonian from Carstairs. They were on opposite sides of the road, joined by a line running underneath but not used regularly. Predictably, the few trains using each hardly connected; surreally, the stations were not even in the village, but a mile to the north, in open country in Peeblesshire.
Dolphinton itself is strung along the roadside for nearly a mile, although thankfully on another long straight, beyond which a more sinuous section leads to the junction with the A721. This has been rebuilt as a staggered crossroads, left for Blyth Bridge and right for Carnwath, then comes a much more winding section which leads to Biggar in five miles. Some of this section appears to be on the line of the old Roman Road, and these include a couple of better straights, showing that the Romans could build a better road than was managed 1500-odd years later! The deviations do, however, provide some slightly easier gradients as the route winds through some stunning scenery of gently rolling moorland hills, which lie beyond the southern edge of the main Pentland range.
Biggar - Abington
Just before reaching Biggar, the A72 from Blyth Bridge angles in on the left and the two routes begin a multiplex through the town. The A72 was originally the dominant number but as the A702 is now the more important route, it has become dominant instead. Biggar is an old market town with a wide main street, where the B7016 is firstly to the left for Broughton and then to the right for Carnwath. Several museums are to be found here, one of them being based on the old manual telephone exchange and one on the old gasworks. Edinburgh Road becomes High Street at the first junction with the B7016, and this soon opens up with parking and service roads on both sides at the widest part. The route remains wide as it follows the southern part of High Street out of the town centre, and the continues along the slightly narrower Coulter Road. A few properties have driveways onto the A702, but most are set back in modern estates behind wide grass verges.
A short distance outside the town the A72 leaves again, turning right for Lanark. The A702, meanwhile, follows a series of straights across fields, partially on the line of the Roman Road as it proceeds to the village of Coulter, where there is a sharp bend at the bridge over the Culter Water. A long sinuous section of Roman Road then leads south west through fields with patches of woodland to Lamington. Just beyond this small village, the River Clyde and WCML are met, with the B7055 turning right, crossing the river on Lamington Bridge and then the railway to reach the nearby A73. The A702 now follows the river upstream, albeit with the railway line in between, and on the far side of the valley, the A73 can be seen, although it is several miles before it is met. This is another spectacular section of the route, as the road winds gently through the fields, rising and falling over bumps and small stream valleys, and Devonshaw Hill rising steeply to the left.
Before long, the route swings right to cross the railway, and then the river as it meanders back and forth across the valley floor at Clyde's Bridge. Half a mile further on, the A702 and A73 converge at the Maidencoates Roundabout, from where the A702 continues south, still following the river. After crossing the Duneaton Water at Duneatonfoot Bridge, it reaches Junction 13 of the M74 and A74(M) (being the place those two routes join end-on). The junction is a dumbbell, so the first roundabout gives access to the off and on southbound slips, Abington services and to an overbridge to a matching roundabout on the other side, where in addition to the motorway slips the B7078 (ex-A74) heads northwest for Lesmahagow. The A702 exits the first roundabout and runs parallel to, and east of, the motorway, taking over the old A74, with which it used to multiplex anyway.
Abington - Thornhill
The A702 runs into Abington on Edinburgh Road, meeting Carlisle Road, the former line of the A74, at a sharp fork in the middle of the wide main street. The two routes formerly multiplexed south for serveral miles, but since the opening of the motorway, the A702 has gone it alone. Abington is not a big village, and at the end of the main street, Carlisle Road swings round to the right, before curving back to the south. This brings it close alongside the motorway, where the B797 turns off to the right, crossing over the motorway for Leadhills. The A702, meanwhile continues for some distance in the narrow Clyde valley containing, from west to east, the A74(M), the A702, the River Clyde, the WCML and a minor road. The valley twists everything around to head east to pass the small village of Crawford. At the entrance to the village, a roundabout connects the original A74 route through the village with the southbound offslip, from the A74(M), which forms part of the spread out J14. The A702 follows the intermediate bypass past the village.
After curving away for the motorway for the length of a single field, the two are back side by side at the southern end of the bypass, the two briefly diverging again as they cross the railway line. This whole section was once a dual carriageway, as is evidenced by the wide verges, which have mostly formed on the old northbound carriageway. The NCN74 cycle route makes use of some of this verge, but passes through Crawford village. After another mile, the A702 has to TOTSO to the right where the old A74/A702 multiplex ended. Straight on is the B7076 (ex-A74) for Beattock, and the southbound onslip, but the A702 passes under the motorway and curves round to find a roundabout for the northbound slips. The next section quickly becomes twisty and ultimately hilly as it winds its way through the Lowther Hills. First, however, it has to recross the railway, before dipping down to cross the Elvan Water.
Just before the bridge in the tiny village of Elvanfoot, the B7040 leaves to the right following the river upstream to Leadhills. The A702, meanwhile, undulates across the lower slopes of Watchman Hill, curving round to the south again as the valley of the Clyde narrows once more. Despite its sinuous nature, some parts of this route are again following the line of a Roman Road. Below the farm at Glenochar, two streams converge to form the Clyde, and so technically the route now follows the Potrail Water upstream. The hills are pressing closer on each side, those across the river cloaked with forestry, while the road winds gently back and forth, slowly gaining height. Perhaps ironically, this section of the route seems to be much more suited to long distance traffic than the often narrower and twistier trunk section north of the motorway, as it passes through a spacious landscape with only a handful of properties for several miles.
Eventually, a saddle is reached, the summit of the road nudging 350m. The route then drops down to the watershed, which marks the Dumfriesshire boundary, and from which it follows the Carron Water into the narrow Dalveen Pass. This is a spectacular drive, the road winding between the two hills and the suddenly emerging high on the hillside above the valley floor, a wee burn tumbling down a narrow gulley, while the road is cut into a ledge on the steep hillside, slowly winding down to the riverbank. The scenery here is stunning, reminiscent of parts of the North West Highlands. The valley first turns west, then south, as it threads its way through the hills, and the road has to follow, gradually losing height for several miles, and passing a scattering of farms and other small settlements along the way. The roadside is lined with fields and patches of woodland, some of which are strung along the roadside for some distance. The Carron seems to remain a small stream, despite the vast catchment area it is draining, and even when crossed just south of Durisdeermill, it only needs a small bridge.
A couple of miles further on, the route passes under the Dumfries to Kilmarnock railway line and this seems to mark the transition from hill pass into the flatter terrain of Nithsdale. The Carron is re-crossed and soon after the small village of Carronbridge is reached, where the A702 meets the A76 at a Give Way junction (marking the original end of the A702). The junction is a sharp fork, with the A76 merging at an acute angle as it follows the Nith downstream from Sanquhar to the northwest. The two routes then multiplex southwards by the River Nith for a mile or so, until the A702 Turns off to the right on the northern edge of the small town of Thornhill and the A76 carries on slightly east of south for Dumfries. Shortly before the junction, the short B732 to the right enables the corner to be cut, by rejoining the A702 shortly afterwards.
Thornhill - St Johns Town of Dalry
The A702 resumes just after the A76 enters Thornhill, and heads west along Gill Road as it winds through the trees. A double bend sees the B732 come in on the right as the A702 swings south, and then as it swings back to the west, the B731 continues ahead, back to the A76. Just after this junction, the Nith is crossed on Nith Bridge and the route heads out across fields, climbing a little through the foothills of the Nith Valley. The small village of Penbont is quickly passed through, and just beyond the Scaur Water is crossed on Scaur Bridge. Now following the Shinnel Water upstream, the route turns round to head south through the narrowing valley, crossing the river at a double bend over Shinnel Bridge. A steady climb then lifts the route out of the Shinnel Valley, through a low pass in the hills and into the valley of the Cairn Water to the south. After a windy descent, the route swings round to head west once more, and soon meets the B729 at a fork just before the church at Kirkton.
The two routes now multiplex westwards along the north side of the river, undulating over the hillside while the river meanders back and forth below. Before long the pretty little village of Moniaive is reached, where Moniaive Bridge carries the road over the Dalwhat Water. In the centre of the village, the historic cross stands out in the High Street opposite the junction where the A702 TOTSOs left, leaving the B729 to continue ahead. Chapel Street now takes the route south past the school and over Waulkmill Bridge over the Craigdarroch Water, after which the route turns south west to follow the Castlefairn Water upstream. Now narrower again, and lacking a centre line in places, the route enjoys some short straights, connected by some sharp kinks. Then, after a longer straight, a twistier section carries the route over the river at Castlefairn Bridge. This is a very rural area, with a scattering of remote farms near the roadside and gentle grassy hills on either side of the valley. However, the river is crossed to avoid the steeper slopes further upstream.
Now on the south bank of the river, the valley soon closes in, with the river hidden in a deep tree covered gulley below, and the slopes up to the left clad in forestry plantations. Steeper slopes rise on the opposite bank, but this is only a brief change in landscape, and as the valley opens up a little the river, now just a small stream called the Blackmark Burn, is recrossed at Lochrennie Bridge. After passing the farm at Holmhead, a long windy climb through forestry lifts the route to the watershed, at about 230m, from where it descends to Corriedoo, and emerges from the forest. With no obvious valley to follow at first, the route climbs a little across fields, and then meanders across the hillside through a series of crests and dips, slowly losing height. After a couple of miles, the B7075 (ex-A769) turns off to the left for the A712 east of New Galloway, then a mile later at the edge of St John's Town of Dalry the B7000 leaves to the right for the B729 between Moniaive and Carsphairn. Finally, in the town centre the A702 ends at a T junction with the A713, left for New Galloway, right for Carsphairn.
Despite being, in part at least, an important Trunk route, the A702 has seen very little in the way of major road improvements over the years. Many minor realignments and adjustments can be found, however. The route has also been extended at both ends. The section south west of Thornhill was originally the B729 and B730, but renumbered before 1932, while in Edinburgh the northern section was originally the A700, but the number has been swapped in the last few years. The A702 has also taken over the former A74 alignment with the opening of the motorway, the two routes having previously multiplexed, with the A74 number dominant.
The newbuild M6-M8 Fastlink was once proposed to effectively bypass the northern part of the A702, but was never built.