|From: || Salford Priors (SP082513) |
|To: || Stratford-upon-Avon (SP196545) |
|Distance: || 7.6 miles (12.2 km)|
|Meets: || A46, B4085, A4390 |
|Former Number(s): || A439|
|Route outline (key)|
||Norton - Salford Priors
||Salford Priors - Stratford-upon-Avon
Near Cranhill on the B439, looking west towards Bidford
The B439 is a largely rural road in south-west Warwickshire. The route originally constituted the major part of the A439 (hence its present number: one more suitable, arguably, for a road in London than one in the west Midlands!) but it was downgraded to Class II status following improvement of the Alcester to Stratford upon Avon section of the A422 to the north (and its redesignation as the A46) in the 1980s. The original western end of the B439 was on the A435 to the north of Norton, near Evesham. However, further extension of the rerouted A46 south-westwards to junction 9 of the M5 at Ashchurch meant that the western end of the road was cut back to its current starting-point in the 1990s.
Today's route, then, sets off from a roundabout on the A46 east of Salford Priors. From here it heads eastward, immediately crossing the River Arrow before crossing a low ridge and then descending into Bidford on Avon. The old A439 once followed the High Street through this largish village but a newer alignment to the north now avoids this one-time bottleneck while staying within the built-up area: there is modern housing to either side, though it is mostly set well back from the main road. A roundabout close to the fire station provides access to the B4085 and the ancient Ryknild Street crossing of the River Avon.
Climbing back out of Bidford, the road continues along the right (northern) bank of the Avon, although mostly at some distance from the river itself. A large meander, however, brings the river much closer as we pass the village of Welford on Avon, situated on the other bank. The right turn into Welford provides only the second opportunity to cross the Avon upstream of the Evesham bypass (the first was at Bidford); there won't be another until we reach Stratford.
Some 3.5 km further on, we climb over Bordon Hill (counted as a major eminence in these parts!), from the top of which we see Shakespeare's hometown spread out before us and we quickly descend into the town itself, following Evesham Road to a roundabout on the site of a former railway level crossing where the B439 ends on another road with an "inheritance number": the A4390 Stratford western relief road.