|Location Map ( geo)
|31.2 miles (50.2 km)
|A71, A723, A725, B764, B761, A727, B767, M77, A77, B773, A736, B771, A761, A741, B775, M8, A737, A8, M898, A898
|A744, A749, A740, B815
|Old route now:
|B7086, A725, B783, A727, A898
|Route outline (key)
The meandering A726 between Strathaven and Erskine forms a sort of southwestern bypass of Glasgow. Due to various changes, extensions and reroutings over the last century, it can now be considered to be four distinct routes sharing a single number.
Strathaven - East Kilbride
The route begins in the quaint surroundings of Strathaven town centre, where it leaves the main A71 Edinburgh to Irvine road at a mini roundabout. Almost immediately it has to TOTSO left from Castle Street onto Bridge Street, which is two way despite only being a single lane wide as it squeezes between buildings and the river. At a wide section, the A726 has to TOTSO again, into Waterside Street, although this is actually one-way southbound, forcing northbound traffic along the next narrow section of Bridge Street and then through the Square to meet the A723. Waterside street does become two-way again at the further end, just before it meets the A723 at the old parish church on the corner of the green. The two routes then briefly multiplex north along Barn Street to a signalised T junction. There is no indication of which route number is dominant, but at least one of the junctions must be another TOTSO.
Now following Glasgow Road, the route runs between long rows of old stone houses, terraced at first but more and more detached properties towards the edge of town. Unusually, there are only a handful of modern buildings along this stretch. Leaving the town, the route meanders a little across the fields, which drop away to the left into the small valley of the Powmillon Burn. There are a few properties scattered along the roadside, and after a slight summit of around 245m is crossed, the village of Chapelton comes into view ahead. There are a few, heavily renovated, older houses amongst the new properties on the roadside, but the core of the village lies off to the right, and so the A726 soon passes through. A long straight past the golf course and some sweeping bends leads to the twistiest section of the whole route, winding through the fields. Before long, however, East Kilbride is reached, affectionately known as Polo Mint City by the locals, owing to its numerous roundabouts: a feature it shares with all new towns.
The A726 enters the urban area on a long sweeping bend, which dips to cross the Calder Water before it reaches the first roundabout, Torrance Roundabout. Beyond the junction it develops into a dual carriageway and traffic volumes increase hugely. The next roundabout provides access to the popular Calderglen Country Park, and then a fully Grade Separated Junction is met, giving access to High Common Road. Strathaven Road then comes to an end at the next junction, Birniehill Roundabout where it meets the A725.
Glasgow Southern Orbital
The A726 now heads west on Queensway, becoming a trunk route as it is the main southern route around Glasgow. It is still a dual carriageway, but studded with roundabouts which slow traffic down. The first is the Murray Roundabout, serving the suburbs to the south and the town centre to the north. Queensway then runs right past the main shopping centre, a massive complex including a cinema, ice rink, car parks and hotel towering above. Righead Roundabout sits at the far end of this massive building, again serving the town centre and surrounding housing estates. A long stretch of unimpeded dual carriageway then follows, with a footbridge for pedestrians, and a couple of accesses into business premises. The next two roundabouts appear to be un-named, and sit either side of the railway bridge. They are signed together, the first serving the B764 which heads south west alongside the railway, and the second the B761 which heads east back around the town centre.
Queensway is now passing through an industrial area, although the line of trees to either side means that it is only in the winter months that much can be seen to either side of the road. A couple of central reservation gaps allow traffic to turn right off of the dual carriageway, but not on to it. After passing through a more thickly wooded area, the A726 has to turn off and drop down to the Phillipshill Roundabout, the mainline of the dual carriageway ahead being the A727. This junction is, in some ways, a bodge of a bodge, with the two arms of the A726 generally carrying the most traffic, but having to navigate the roundabout. The next section of the route was completed in 2005 and is generally called the Glasgow Southern Orbital (GSO), even though it only forms part of the overall route around the south of the city. It very quickly passes under a dumbbell junction which provides access to the western fringe of East Kilbride, before crossing the railway and snaking off into the countryside.
The GSO is a fast two-lane road, which is a Special Road with signs prohibiting vehicles under 50cc, animals, pedestrians, and invalid carriages: basically it is like a motorway without hard shoulders. There are only four intermediate junctions along the route, the middle one of which, Belle Craig Roundabout is bizarrely not grade separated, forcing traffic to slow as it crosses the B767. The route then carries on in a westerly direction, climbing steadily as it bypasses Newton Mearns to the north, and the conservation village of Eaglesham to the south. The new road has been cut through the undulating landscape, with numerous shallow cuttings and a couple of elevated embankments which offer some fine views, particularly to the south. Tree planting, however, is slowly obscuring the views. The next junction is a compact GSJ connecting to Mearns Road at the southern edge of Newton Mearns, and a short distance further west a new housing development has a simple junction connecting to the eastbound carriageway only. Soon after the GSO comes to an end at the Malletsheugh Interchange, Junction 5 of the M77. For some strange reason the parallel A77 doesn't connect directly to the roundabout, and it is unclear if the short connection is a spur of the A77 or part of the A726.
The A726 multiplexes north with the M77 to Nitshill Interchange, Junction 3 where it meets the other end of the A727 near Darnley. This complicated interchange includes three signalised junctions, two roundabouts and a two-way gyratory around a retail park. Having escaped this chaos, the A726 heads north west on Nitshill Road, a typical suburban dual carriageway, plagues with a seemingly never ending run of signalised junctions serving the housing estates and industrial areas to either side. One of these junction is the B773, which heads west to Barrhead. A couple of junctions later, traffic is squeezed into single lanes to negotiate a railway bridge at Nitshill Station. This low, narrow arch, can be a bottleneck at times. The route soon returns to dual carriageway, however. Albeit somewhat twisty for a dual carriageway, it is easily the most-used route in this area, with almost as many accident blackspots as there are bends.
After crossing the Levern Water, the route climbs a little to the extremely busy traffic light controlled junction with the A736 Crookston road at The Hurlet. This is a staggered junction with two sets of lights allowing the traffic flows to cross each other. Beyond, Hurlet Road becomes more rural. The westbound carriageway is more or less straight, while the eastbound one uses the original road, and so meanders somewhat more. The road passes through the low gap between Oldbar Hill and Temple Hill, before meeting the B771 at a small roundabout. Hurlet Road now curves past Dykebar to the next roundabout, beyond which it loses the central reservation and drops to S4. Continuing north west on Barrhead Road, the road narrows to a wide single carriageway, with a third lane for turning traffic either side of the lights, for around 500m. This part of the route, past Hunterhill is built on the side of a hill, so even though the houses are well set back behind service roads, it would be difficult to add a second carriageway.
The dual carriageway resumes on a railway bridge, and soon after a signalised junction provides access to a large supermarket just before the route comes alongside the White Cart Water. At the next junction it takes a sharp right becoming Paisley's inner ring road and briefly multiplexes with the A761 (bound for Glasgow) as they pass over Hammills Bridge over the White Cart Water. Mill Street curves around the council offices, with a signalised junction, and then heads north past the police station and Paisley Courthouses to a signalised crossroads where the A761 turns right and the A726 curves round to the left onto Incle Street. The route then forks before passing under the railway, and follows a long gyratory system to the north of Paisley Station. Running clockwise, the A726 follows Weir Street, the crosses the White Cart on Abercorn Bridge, onto Old Sneddon Street. It then doubles back pas the junction with St James Street onto Niddry Street, which recrosses the River. Finally, the route turns south onto Renfrew Road, where the A741 heads north, and so back to Weir Street.
St James Street is dualled, but the route then TOTSOs right onto Caledonia Street, which is a wide single carriageway. A sharp right kink then leads onto Greenock Road, which becomes dualled again as it turns west past an industrial estate and runs past the St James Playing fields. Here, if SPT (Strathclyde Passenger Transport) get their wish, the road will be crossed by a new railway line to Glasgow Airport. It then reaches the St James Interchange, J29 of the M8, and the north eastern end of the A737, Paisley's western bypass.
The final section of the A726 starts by taking an immense swerve from its original route to travel around the perimeter of Glasgow Airport's main runway. After a 180 degree turn, it curves around the end of the runway alongside the M8, with the landing lights off to the right. Unusually, there are no restrictions on stopping, and it is quite common to see vehicles parked up along here, presumably plane spotting. The route then rejoins the pre-airport line on Barnsford Road and crosses a couple of fields before crossing the Blackcart Water on Barnsford Bridge. On the north bank a small roundabout gives access to the industrial estate south of Inchinnan. After passing a junction with the B790 on the left, the A8 is crossed at the busy Red Smiddy Roundabout at the further end of the industrial estate. The route then heads into Erskine, on a route which should have been dualled with grade separated junctions, but never was.
Southbar Road curves around the low Broom Hill, and then follows a long tree-lined straight to the Southholm Roundabout. New housing to the right has been built over what should have been the southbound carriageway and sliproads, but on the far side of the roundabout, some of the earthworks survive hidden in the trees. The A726 therefore uses the nortbound off and onslips of the proposed dual carriageway, but then crosses to the southbound side to meet Centreholm Roundabout as the southbound onslip, while a filling station stands on the site of the northbound offslip. Both slips exist to the north of the roundabout, with a wide open green space between where the mainline of the dual carriageway should be. These two sliproads each have two lanes, but as they meet they merge back into a normal single carriageway, which follows the proposed southbound side up past a housing estate built over the northbound carriageway to Barholm Roundabout, which is the largest roundabout in Erskine.
The final section of the route follows the northbound carriageway once more, curving gently through trees to meet the M898 Erskine Bridge route at the Toll Plaza Interchange, an extravagant butterfly-style junction. The route forks just before the interchange, and is dualled under the motorway, between the two roundabouts. It ends at the second, with the short B815 continuing ahead to Bishopton back-road.
The history of the A726 is rather complicated., with very little of the original 1922 route still numbered as the A726. The original route started in Hamilton and ran west to Paisley. In 1934, it was diverted south to start at Kirkmuihill, and extended west to cross the Erskine Ferry. The development of East Kilbride from the 1950s and Erskine from the 1970s led to more changes, with the most recent major change occurring in 2005 when the Glasgow Southern Orbital opened.