|Distance:||13 miles (20.9 km)|
|Meets:||A48, B4231, B4028, A4136|
|Former Number(s):||A48, B4431, B4432|
|Old route now:||B4234|
|Route outline (key)|
The B4228 is a 13-mile road in the Forest of Dean that runs from the A48 just outside Chepstow north to the A4136 near Coleford. It was once the longest numbered route passing through the Forest of Dean, at its greatest extent stretching all the way from the ferry slipway underneath the Severn Bridge to Ross-on-Wye.
It starts in Tutshill, on the English side of the River Wye opposite Chepstow. It begins at a T-junction with the A48 road from Gloucester, heading west along the pre-bypass A48 to a double mini-roundabout in the centre of the village, before starting its journey north. It passes the Cross Keys pub on the corner and a traditional butcher's where unskinned rabbits and unplucked pheasants can often be seen hung up outside. It turns right near Tutshill's assembly rooms, where Mopla Road - down which the B4228 once ran to meet the old A48 at the top of Castleford Hill - arrives from the left. It then heads past Tutshill primary school, once attended by Harry Potter author JK Rowling.
From here the B4228 ascends the triangle of land between the Severn and the Wye. In fact the B4228 runs along a ridge on the English side of the Wye, and there are several opportunities to stop and take a short walk to admire one of the many views across the beautiful Wye Valley. It also follows the famous Offa's Dyke footpath quite closely.
From Tutshill, the B4228 turns right and heads up a steep hill with a left turn at the top. This brings it into the village of Woodcroft. A slow trundle down the main street in this village brings the road to a 90-degree right-hand bend at the spectacular Wintour's Leap. Here we find the first place worth stopping to admire the view. The bend on the road is at the top of a high cliff from which it is possible to see the River Wye twisting away below. The viewpoint takes its name from a Cavalier officer during the Civil War who, local rumour has it, jumped off the cliff on horseback in order to elude the Roundhead soldiers who were in hot pursuit. One look at the height of the cliff and the distance to the other side is enough to suggest that the tale is perhaps apocryphal.
From here the road zigzags through open countryside and patches of forest, offering occasional views of the Severn to the right, with the Severn Bridge in the distance. There are some twisty sections, and more than one 90-degree bend to the right, but the road also possesses from wonderful sweeping sections and several straights offering some exciting chances to overtake.
Before long, we are out onto Tidenham Chase. This is a partly-wooded, partly-open area of west Gloucestershire countryside that offers plenty of opportunities for off-road biking, horse-riding, or walking small beings like dogs or children. We pass Poor's Allotment and the Tidenham Chase car park, which provides another opportunity to stop and go to take a look at the Wye Valley. From the car park, a short walk across farmland and woodland will bring you to the Devil's Pulpit. From this vantage point, it is possible to look across the valley to the town of Tintern, with the abbey made famous by Wordsworth, far below.
If we return to the car, we drive across the rest of the Chase to Hewelsfield, keeping our eyes open for the deer that roam freely and frequently in this area. The B4228 does not pass through Hewelsfield itself; the tiny village with its centre clustered around its little church, lies down a turning to the right. At the same point, a turning to the left can take you across Hewelsfield Common and down into the Wye Valley to Brockweir. This is the first chance we've had to cross the Wye since Chepstow.
If we stick with the B4228, the open road closes in considerably, as we negotiate the tight and twisty section to St Briavels. The road in this section feels very closed in, as it is bordered on either side by steep banks that are often as high as a car, and with hedgerows adding an extra degree of height on top. There are a couple of side roads heading onto St Briavels Common to the left, before we enter the village itself.
Nowadays, the centre of the village is bypassed by a modern but residential relief road with a 30mph speed limit. At the end of this road is a crossroads; a left turn here will take you into the village centre (and to the castle and the pub), whereas a right-turn will take you along the narrow but popular local route to Bream and Lydney. St Briavels also offers a second chance since Chepstow to cross the Wye, as heading through the village to either of the two lanes that start behind the castle will take you down into the valley, where you will eventually meet the A466 at Bigsweir Bridge.
A long straight leads out of St Briavels, after which a series of sweeping curves take the road down to Trow Green. Here there is an old toll house marking the end of the B4231 from Lydney; this road used to continue from here to Clearwell, Newland and Redbrook, but that stretch was declassified along with a number of other local roads during the 1990s. The acute angle at which the B4228 and B4231 met has been altered in recent years, to make it conform to a more regular 90-degree T-junction, with traffic separated by a small island beside the Give Way lines.
From here the B4228 enters the Forest of Dean. Although it might have once served as the forest's administrative centre, the Hundred of St Briavels has never officially been a part of the Forest of Dean. The trees begin near Sling, where the scenery takes on a typically local appearance: individual houses, built in all manner of different styles, are dotted about, with parking spaces set randomly among the trees. Near the Lambsquay House Hotel, an unclassified road arrives from Clearwell at an acute angle from the left, and continues from an oblique angle to the right into Milkwall and Coalway. The road to the right offers an effective bypass of Coleford that is much-used by local traffic. The speed limit has been 50 since Trow Green and drops down to 40 at these crossroads, but all this was originally NSL up to the first set of traffic lights in Coleford.
After this, the B4228 passes by the Puzzle Wood, an ancient wood which is regularly used for filming locations (most notably Star Wars) and Perrygrove Railway, a heritage railway with a treasure hunt and an indoor village. It then enters Coleford. The B4228 originally ran along High Nash and down Cinder Hill into Coleford town centre, but its modern route skirts through the suburbs to meet the B4028 just east of the clock tower that marks the centre of the town. The B4228 now continues up Staunton Road to end at a set of traffic lights on the A4136, at a junction that has been reconfigured in recent years to make its angle of approach less steep.
Coleford is interesting as the home town of the late-twentieth century playwright Dennis Potter, and references to the town and to the Forest of Dean feature in many of his plays. The B4228 once continued to Berry Hill, Potter's birthplace, via a TOTSO where it turned right onto the wonderfully-named Sparrow Hill and continued all the way to Ross-on-Wye, along the route now mostly occupied by the B4234.
For the B4228, however, these days the tale ends here.
As with many roads in the Forest of Dean the history of the B4228 is rather involved.
The road is described in the 1922 Road Lists as Coleford - Welsh Bicknor. It started on the B4223 (now A4136) at Berry Hill and headed north via English Bicknor to the River Wye, ending on the B4227 by the river to the west of Ruardean, thus not reaching Welsh Bicknor at all.
The road south of Berry Hill through Coleford to the then-A437 at Tutshill was originally unclassified. Later in the 1920s it was numbered B4432 but by 1932 it had become a southern extension of the B4228. At around the same time, the road was also extended north along the original B4227 into Ross-on-Wye to end on the A40 in the centre of town.
The B4228 grew to its fullest extent in 1935, when it took over the previously unclassified road south of Tutshill to Beachley, where it ended at the slipway to the Aust Ferry.
The opening of the Severn Bridge started the decline of the B4228. As Beachley was no longer an important destination the road south of the A48 was declassified. This was done when the new A48 bypass to the south of Tutshill was opened at the end of the 1980s. This section passes by Wyedean Comprehensive School, which was attend by JK Rowling, and which provided ample inspiration for her Harry Potter novels.
The section through English Bicknor was also declassified a few years later; the section along the Wye into Ross remained a B-road but was given the number B4234. North of Coleford, the B4228 was diverted westwards to Staunton along the ex-B4431 rather than northwards to Berry Hill, giving the road its current length.