|Location Map ( geo)|
|Via:||Upper Lydbrook, Parkend|
|Distance:||16.8 miles (27 km)|
|Meets:||A40, A449, B4260, B4229, A4136, B4226, B4231|
|Former Number(s):||A449, B4228|
|Route outline (key)|
The B4234 is the longest numbered route to pass through the heart of the Forest of Dean. It runs from north to south across the forest, and somehow survived the declassification of several stretches of road that killed off other B-roads in the area during the 1990s; in fact, the B4234 even profited from this cull, being expanded northward from its original starting point to take over the portion of B4228 that had once reached Ross-on-Wye.
As a result, the road now starts at a roundabout on the northern edge of Ross-on-Wye, where it meets both the A40 and A449 at the beginning of their long multiplex. Immediately, it heads south towards the town centre along Ledbury Road, but it is some time before we arrive at the town centre, where we find out why the bypass was necessary. The road becomes tight, busy, and one-way (against us), shortly before arriving at the historic market place. The centre of Ross is very picturesque, but if you want to see it from the B4234 you'll have to find a way round through the suburban streets before driving it in the other direction from the market place. This alternative route can be followed from a double mini-roundabout to the north of the town centre. Although the B4234 carries on straight ahead, if we continue this way the narrow streets eventually force us to the right and a T-junction on the now-unclassified former A4152 Trenchard Street. Therefore, signage at the second of the double mini-roundabouts directs through traffic to bear left onto the unclassified Millpond Street. This leads us onto Station Street and around two sides of Morrisons to a roundabout where we turn right onto the one-way Cantilupe Road. At the far end of this, there is a T-junction where we turn right onto the B4260 Gloucester Road. Eventually, and by somewhat convoluted means, we arrive in the market place at a crossroads where we meet the B4234 again; northbound traffic heads right from here down Broad Street to rejoin the mini-roundabouts above, while southbound traffic turns left onto the High Street
Here, the B4234 leaves Ross along a road that permits two-way travel despite being narrow enough to suggest that does not. The road widens out as we run through the suburbs of Ross and into open countryside. We pass Chase Wood is to the left, while the Forest of Dean is visible ahead. We descend past Coughton into Walford, where there is a sharp bend near the war memorial. The speed limit through these villages is 40 mph, although there is a 20 mph limit 'when the lights flash' near the primary school. There is now a wooded hill ahead of us and the road curves to the right to avoid climbing it. This takes us into the steep-sided Wye Valley.
The B4234 follows the Wye downstream for a mile or so. In places, the sides of the road are lined with trees, making it difficult to actually see the river. We meet the B4229, which passes over the Wye to Goodrich (with its castle), and the A40/A449. If we remain on the B4234, the road follows the river closely as we pass through Bishopswood. Here, the former B4227 departs for Ruardean, Drybrook and Cinderford. This section of road was once the B4228, so the numbers of these other routes make sense. As we approach Lower Lydbrook, the B4234 hugs the Wye as it twists around to the right, forcing a lengthy right-hand curve upon the road. Then were reach the original start of the B4234 at a T-junction where the former B4228, now unclassified, proceeds towards Coleford. The numbered route takes a left turn here, and we are now in the Forest of Dean.
We climb the Wye's steep-sided valley through Upper Lydbrook to enter the woods. As is usual in the Forest of Dean, the houses give way immediately to the trees. The road continues to climb and soon reaches the staggered Mireystock crossroads on the A4136. This is the first of many that the B4234 encounters as it crosses other routes, and with each one you find yourself a little more surprised than last time that the road has somehow survived. After the A4136, which runs from Huntley near Gloucester to Monmouth on the Wye, we continue through the trees on a road that is generally fast and straight. In some places it has lost the road markings that it once had, but it is still easily wide enough to accommodate two passing vehicles without either having to slow down. The area is quite thickly wooded, but there are clearings and the occasional building. Then we come upon the hamlet of Cannop itself, and the oddly-named Pygmy Pinetum garden centre.
The road crosses the B4226 from Cinderford to Coleford at this point, at another staggered crossroads where it cedes priority to the other route. From here, the road is again fast and generally straight, as it follows the little valley occupied by Cannop Brook. This area is scenic, and very popular with school parties, hikers, and couples looking from a place to enjoy a picnic. However, the road soon arrives in Parkend, which is not really recommended for any of those things. There is a T-junction which used to mark the starting point of a short, straight multiplex through the village, where the B4234 once ceded priority yet again to the former B4431. The latter road, which winds its way from Blakeney to Coleford, lost its number during the 1990s, so the former multiplex is now simply a TOTSO, where you must turn right and then left to stay on the B4234.
The last section of the B4234 begins at the TOTSO near Parkend's cricket pitch, and we follow New Road past Central Garage, a workshop and MoT-testing station with two kerbside petrol pumps that, all together, make it look like something from the 1960s. Thereafter, we pass Parkend's fully restored timber-framed terminus of the historic Dean Forest Railway. The road then follows the railway line and the River Lyd closely all the way to Lydney, although it is difficult to see much of either because we soon enter the wood again. At Whitecroft, the road exits from the trees and turns very sharply to the left, and we get more than a mere glimpse of the railway because the road crosses it via a level crossing, before turning right again and resuming its southward course for Lydney.
There are some final brief wooded sections as the B4234 runs once more parallel to the railway line and the river into the town. After running along Forest Road, we reach a T-junction in the town centre. Turning right here and continuing for a short distance along Hill Street (the old A48), we cross the railway on the level, and join the B4231. Our route – the 'great survivor' of the Forest of Dean – has come to its end.
An amended OpenStreetMap trace for this route awaits uploading to the SABRE Wiki.
The B4234 came to the Forest of Dean only in 1935 but the road was not wholly unclassified before then. The section north of Ross town centre was the original line of the A48 (renumbered A449 in 1935), then the road south to a junction immediately inside Gloucestershire was the B4227 and the bit round the loop of the River Wye into Lower Lydbrook was the B4228. The latter B-road quickly took on that part of the former's route into Ross.
In 1935 the B4234 was inaugurated, running between the B4228in Lower Lydbrook and the new route of the A48 in Lydney. However, the road was not extended north to Ross until the Forest of Dean renumbering in the late 1980s.
The 1905 Forest road
The southern section from A4136 Mireystock Crossroads to Lydney was a new 8 mile north-south road across the Forest of Dean. The section from Lydney to Parkend had possibly opened in 1903. Parkend to Cannop was ready in May 1904 and the northwards to MIreystock Crossroads by the summer. Rolled slag and ashes was the surface.