|Location Map ( geo)
|5.4 miles (8.7 km)
|Old route now:
|Route outline (key)
Since the opening of the Ardrossan (Three Towns) by-pass in 2004, the route starts on the A78 at the new Montfode Roundabout at the western end of Ardrossan. At first it follows Eglinton Road along the coast, with a row of large houses enjoying the view out to sea. The gorse and scrub on the shore soon gives way to lawns, and the road curves a little further inland, allowing the North Bay road to turn off and stick to the coast. Eglinton Road now follows a long straight, with the B780 heading north from a signalised crossroads on its way to Dalry. The two routes then have a brief multiplex, before the B780 turns right at the next signals into the town centre. This was the old western start of the A738, now classified as an extension of the B780. After crossing the railway, the route follows Parkhouse Road as it passes through suburbia, soon arriving at a signalised crossroads where the B728 takes traffic to one of Ardrossan's three stations, Ardrossan South Beach. This junction, just beyond Ardrossan Academy, marks the boundary between Ardrossan and Saltcoats.
The Saltcoats part of the route is very straight, running along High Road past playing fields and another academy. Most of the houses are set back behind tree lined service roads, with the A738 having a wide hatched central lane used intermittently as right-turn lanes. The crossroads with the B714, which also leads north to Dalry, is again signalised, after which a supermarket sits up a grassy bank on the left. A little further along, after passing the healthcare centre (worryingly sited next to the cemetery), the route curves to the left onto Glencairn Street, while High Road continues ahead. The route is now passing through the last of the 3 towns, Stevenston. Glencairn Street was built as a bypass to Stevenston town centre in the 1920s, but quickly became built up with typical interwar suburban housing, some sitting high up the grassy bank on the left. About halfway along the route crosses the small tree lined Stevenston Burn. Not long after, the route curves round to the right to reach Hayocks Roundabout at the far end of the B780, previously the route of the A738.
The next section of the route was once a multiplex between the A738 and A78, and this probably explains why it is four lanes wide, although the two inside lanes are now rather poorly identified bus lanes. The next roundabout is Ardeer Roundabout with the B752, after which the route passes Stevenston cemetery, with fields opposite. Hawkhill Roundabout provides access to the retail park, and then the A78 is met again at Pennyburn Roundabout. This roundabout is much busier now that the Three Towns By-Pass is complete and so there might be plans to grade separate this junction in the future.
The final section of the route leads into Kilwinning, and used to be a trunk route, but this has now been swapped onto the A737 towards Irvine. It is the only part of the pre-2004 route still to carry the A738 number, although it too was once the A78. The road used to cross a couple of fields before entering the town, but new development is creeping out to the A78 even if some of it is screened behind trees. It is not long, however, before the route enters Kilwinning proper. At first the houses are set back behind greens and trees, but after passing a couple of schools the route becomes more urban as it follows Stevenston Road into the town centre A sharp right turn takes it past Kilwinning Station where the Largs Branch Line joins the Glasgow to Stranraer Main Line, meaning two railway bridges in quick succession. The route then follows Townhead and Byres Road to a signalsied T junction with the A737. This TOTSO marks the end of the A738; turn left for Dalry, Johnstone and Glasgow or straight head for the pre-bypass A78 to Irvine and Ayr.
Before the Three Towns by-pass opened in December 2004, the A738 started at a traffic-light-controlled junction with the A78 in Adrossan, as mentioned above. It's old route is now an extension of the B780 as it runs first into Ardrossan town centre, and then curves around South Bay into Saltcoats. The spur down to the harbour for the Arran Ferry was also part of the A738. From Saltcoats, the route continued along the B780 into Stevenston, where it ended at the Hayocks Roundabout. The Kilwinning Bypass for the A78 opened in 1962, so the A738 was extended at that point, after a short multiplex with the A78 into Kilwinning on its current line, with the A737 extended over the remainder of the former A78 route.
Going back even further, to 1922, the A738 originally started in Ardrossan town centre. It was the A739 that originally ran down Glasgow Street and into the harbour. In 1934, however, the A738 was extended to include all of the A739 route, including the harbour spur, just as the B780 still does. The route was also extended a short distance from its original eastern end in the late 1920s when the A78 was rerouted onto the new Glencairn Street.