|From:||Irelands Cross (SJ734413)|
|To:||Walton, Stone (SJ900332)|
|Distance:||16.9 miles (27.2 km)|
|Meets:||A51, B5415, A53, A519, A34, A520|
|Old route now:||A5013|
|Route outline (key)|
The B5026 is one of those roads that nobody would drive along from end to end; the road has three obvious changes of direction in its route of just over 15 miles. This is partly due to the fact that the last third of the route was originally the A520.
The road starts on the A51 at Irelands Cross, just south of Woore (part of Shropshire that can only be reached by driving through Staffordshire or Cheshire), where it begins by travelling in a south-westerly direction. It passes through Knighton, part of Staffordshire that can only be reached by driving through Shropshire, before entering Staffordshire proper when it crosses the River Tern next to Bearstone Mill.
After passing through Mucklestone, famous for its anvil, the B5026 turns sharply left to point south-eastwards. It crosses the A53 at a pair of mini-roundabouts at the Loggerheads crossroads. The road continues more-or-less straight through a couple of Staffordshire villages before reaching Eccleshall, where the road bends again, to point roughly north-eastwards. It passes along the High Street before reaching a mini-roundabout with the A519.
After leaving Eccleshall, the B5026 threads its way through Norton Bridge (a place with a railway station wholly served by rail-replacement buses). For many years it crossed the West Coast Main Line then turned right at a roundabout to cross the line to Stone. However, the rail junction was upgraded in 2016 so now the western half of the WCML is crossed as the B5026 leaves its old route before we run parallel to the Stone branch, crossing the eastern half of the WCML en route. We turn right at a roundabout to go over the line before rejoining the old B5026 at the original roundabout, where we now turn left. About a mile later the road crosses the M6 without a junction. There is access here to Stafford (North) services, although signs say there isn't. Finally, the B5026 enters Stone, where it ends on the A34, with the A520 continuing beyond the roundabout.
In the original 1922 road numbering scheme, the B5026 continued south to Stafford from Eccleshall rather than heading northeast to Stone along what is now the A5013. This section was upgraded to Class I status in 1935.
The section from Eccleshall to Stone remained the A520 until the 1970s when it became an extension of the B5026.