|Location Map ( geo)|
|Distance:||33.3 miles (53.6 km)|
|Meets:||A8, M8, A804, A807, A806, A891, M80, A872, A883, A9, A904, M9, A801, A706, M9, A904|
|Former Number(s):||A80, A9, B903|
|Old route now:||A8|
|Route outline (key)|
A Central Belt trek, the A803 connects west to east, running from the M8 in Glasgow through to the M9 in Linlithgow. It clocks up a fair few miles in the process, but is largely superseded in terms of being an important connection, both by the M80 and its sister motorways, and by the Glasgow Queen Street – Edinburgh rail line.
Section 1: Glasgow - Kirkintilloch
We start under the ridiculously overbuilt Junction 15 of the M8… well, notionally, a hundred yards south of it, outside Glasgow Royal Infirmary at the A8. The tangle of sliproads (there is no other description: right hand exits, makeshift slips, lack of eastern flank of Glasgow Inner Ring, et al) offers all relevant connections seemingly in the most difficult manner possible, but it's worth noting that we're travelling north along Springburn Road, which is a good dual carriageway. As we enter Sighthill we quickly meet some traffic-light-controlled junctions. The St. Rollox Retail Park is one of the more important ones, and a jam-causer for northbound right-turning traffic. There are a few too many local connections to make the dual carriageway flow well, but at least we manage a grade-separated junction with the B808, a busy urban route for northern and western suburbs. Alas, the second carriageway is lost as we emerge from the cutting for the underpass, and the road has leave Springburn at-grade.
Where Glasgow stops and Bishopbriggs starts is not easy to spot on the ground, but the crossroads at the terminus of the B812 seems a good bet - indeed, this is the administrative boundary between the City of Glasgow and East Dunbartonshire. Nonetheless, the views are little changed as the road snakes through suburbia, tight against the railway for a while. The road connects with just about anything going, and is akin to a typical busy city main street as it passes through Bishopbriggs. Finally, at our first roundabout on the route, at Cadder, we lose the urban sprawl and can see some fields on the road out to Kirkintilloch. Bear right at the next roundabout, where once upon a time the signposts incorrectly showed B803 instead of A803!
After crossing the Forth and Clyde Canal, our next stop is Kirkintilloch, another commuter town, although admittedly of a fair size itself. Most of the urban content is conveniently bypassed as the road only skirts the northwest edge of the town. The A806 is the route into the town centre, met at the first of two sets of traffic lights, the second is for the B757. A couple of roundabouts also break up the flow, but the generally road moves well nonetheless. The Antonine Wall is a companion here – well, what remains of it – and the River Kelvin too, giving the road nice flat land over the upcoming stretch.
Section 2: Kirkintilloch - Falkirk
As the road leaves Kirkintilloch it turns northwards for a while, before curving steadily to a more west-east alignment. At-grade T-junctions with the B8023 and A891 serve Twechar and Milton of Campsie, but soon the road makes another plunge into urbanisation at Kilsyth. Houses line the streets once more and the traffic slows – there's no bypass-like route like we had at Kirkintilloch. At this point, it is interesting to note that in this stretch (from Kirkintilloch to Haggs, one assumes avoiding urban centres) the A803 is the once-favoured Kelvin Valley route for the M80, to completely supersede the A80 through Cumbernauld.
The Kelvin is still followed closely as we cross into Falkirk council area to meet the M80 Junction 7 at Haggs. Two spurs to the north carry sliproad traffic to and from the A803 through route. The A803 continues parallel to the motorway, something of a poor cousin or emergency diversion, and takes over the original line of the A80 at Longcroft. Like back in Glasgow, civilisation never quite gets out of the way as Parkfoot, Denny and Bonnybridge line the streets with residences. At Dennyloanhead, the M80 sweeps north, and is followed by the A872, also the former A80 route. After winding through Bonnybridge and crossing the eponymous bridge over the Bonny Water (which is no longer quite as bonny as it must once have been), the A803 reaches the Three Bridges Roundabout, marking the entrance to Falkirk. To the south lies the famous Falkirk Wheel where the Forth and Clyde and Union Canals meet, but the A803 continues ahead, under two railways and in to Camelon.
In Camelon, things get altogether more confusing. At the next roundabout, the road gets swallowed up as the poor partner in a short multiplex with its big brother the A9, before that road turns off at Rosebank Roundabout to bypass the town. Indeed, this was the original end of the A803, not quite reaching Falkirk itself. The A803 is now left to make a mad dash along Camelon Road, the original line of the A9, into central Falkirk. Looping around the old streets, briefly split in a couple of one-way systems, the road offers countless important junctions for services, the A904 to Grangemouth's mammoth BP site, and B-road connections for southern radials. Leaving the centre on Callendar Road, the urban sprawl continues as the route ploughs through the suburbs of Laureiston, Westquarter, Redding and Polmont. The construction of the M9 to the north resulted in many changes to the road network around Falkirk, meaning that the A905 and B904 no longer meet the A803, indeed they haven't since it ceased to be the A9.
Section 3: Falkirk - Champany
The next task for the A803 will be M9 Junction 4. At the motorway, west-east traffic is forced the long way around the elongated roundabout, having to go over the M9 twice. Once back on track, it is bound for Linlithgow, another busy settlement and former county town. The town is entered at Linlithgow Bridge, where the B825 and B8029 both meet the A803. Heading into the town centre, there is a pair of staggered connections here for the A706 serving places as distant as Bo'ness and Lanark. If you pause for a moment and take a short stroll, Linlithgow Loch gives a fairly unique sight, hemmed in between the town and the motorway. It can also be glimpsed to the left on the road's approach to Junction 3. The A803 meets this one alone, a half-diamond facing Edinburgh, West facing slips unusually provided a couple of miles further east at J2. But this is the end of the A803. Just a few hundred metres to the north it comes to an end at a TOTSO junction with the A904, the mainline continuing north into Bo'Ness.
Originally, the A803 ran from the old A8 (now A89) in Glasgow to end on the A9 in Camelon on the edge of Falkirk (including a multiplex with the A80 through Parkfoot). When the A9 was downgraded, it took over its entire route through Falkirk to Linlithgow and was then extended via the "new" M9 to end on the A904. This eastern section was originally the western half of the B903, as the former A9 continues along the present B9080.