|Location Map ( geo)|
|From:||Langford, Taunton (ST204263)|
|To:||Stibb Cross (SS428149)|
|Distance:||57.9 miles (93.2 km)|
|Meets:||A358, B3187, B3188, B3190, A396, A361, B3137, B3226, A377, B3217, B3232, A386, A388|
|Former Number(s):||A361, A396|
|Route outline (key)|
The B3227 is the number used for the original route of the A361 from Taunton into Devon. This number was applied to the old road when the A361 North Devon Link Road was built. However, the B3227 number was originally allocated to a road west of the A361 via Great Torrington to Stibb Cross; this section retains that number.
Taunton - Bampton
We start at Cross Keys Roundabout at the junction with the A358 as it heads north to Williton, and after passing a large and old trading estate, which is being redeveloped with housing and industrial use, on the left, we are soon in Norton Fitzwarren proper. As the road meanders through the village, it is hard to believe that in the 1960s and 1970s this was one of the major tourist routes to North Devon, carrying thousand of holidaymakers every summer weekend. Today, it is still busy, but only with local traffic.
After passing modern housing estates, we leave the urban area of Somerset's county town behind, and cross the rarely used link between the West Somerset Railway and the main network. However, the WSR have big (long term) plans for a new station and link at Norton Fitzwarren. There used to be a third line from the junction, one which we shall meet again in due course. For now, the road is wide and fast, with sweeping bends, as befits the former A361, and bypasses the villages of Cotford St Luke (a 'new village'), Heathfield and Oake, but passes through Preston Bower. There's a double bend at the western end of the village, and then a short run down to the roundabout at Milverton. Here, the B3187 (and its spur) takes the old turnpike route through the village, while the A361 was given a shiny new bypass along the old railway line - that third line - and this is the route the B3227 now takes.
This road is of a very high standard, wide and fast as we pass Milverton, and hardly deteriorates as we reach the western end of the B3187. Long straights and sweeping bends continue now all the way to Wiveliscombe. A roundabout at the village entrance serves a housing estate and factory, and then the B3188 joins from the north. We pass the unusual church on the left, and then the High Street turns off to the right at traffic lights. Fortunately, a mini-bypass allows us to miss the pleasant centre of this old market town, and it used to be a forty to the end of the town, where the road once more becomes a series of short straights and sweeping bends.
This doesn't last for long, however, as we soon reach a sharp hairpin around a shallow hollow. It is surprising that a bridge / embankment was never built to remove this nasty kink. Returning to form once more, a road to the right shows the pre-turnpike route, which runs parallel along the far side of a narrow field. Even so, we don't avoid another sharp bend as we contour round another hollow - the turnpikes needed a level road more than a straight one, as it was the hills that tired the horses. The bends just shook up the passengers!
We now find ourselves heading south through a steep sided wooded combe alongside the River Tone (the river that gives Taunton its name), and into the village of Waterrow, where the river is crossed on Waterrow Bridge]]. The road then swings back to the west once more, climbing slightly to cross the county boundary into Devon. Petton and Shillingford are quickly dispatched before we reach Bampton. Here we meet the B3190 and then the B3227 splits, leaving town to the west and to the south. Both reach the A396 in the steep valley of the River Exe. The road to the south, however, is a spur, which harkens back to the time when the A386 went straight through Bampton. It is unknown why this road became the B3227 and not the B3190; prior to the downgrading of the A361 it was actually a spur of the A396.
Bampton - Stib Cross
The mainline of the B3227 descends round a hairpin bend and then crosses the A396 and the River Exe in quick succession. It continues to follow the course of the old A361 west, remaining in the Exe Valley briefly, as it passes to the south of Exmoor. There are quite a few bends here but no settlements of any size.
A few miles to the east of South Molton the road joins the A361's modern route at a GSJ and the two roads briefly multiplex, before the B3227 diverges at a roundabout into the old market town of South Molton. It is here that the B3226 picks up the A361's old route, and the B3227 finds its original starting point. It continues heading west and passes to the south of Chittlehampton before going over the Tarka Line at Umberleigh station and then crossing the River Taw on Umberleigh Bridge to reach the A377. There's then a multiplex north out of the village.
Now rather more obviously a Class II road than the eastern end was, the B3227 heads southwestwards across a number of steep valleys and only passes through a couple of villages before reaching Great Torrington. The B3232 is met at a roundabout on the near side of town and we run along Calf Street to a mini-roundabout where the A386 comes in from the left. There's a multiplex out of town before the road regains its number and immediately descends steeply to cross the River Torridge at Taddiport Bridge. There's another steep climb on the far side before another valley is crossed where we cross the Tarka Trail, formerly the direct railway line from Bideford to Launceston whose main use was serving the clay pits in the area. A couple of miles further on, having gone through Langtree, we reach the A388 at Stibb Cross, and the end of this stunning cross-country road.