|Location Map ( geo)|
|Junctions related to the A371|
Cross is a small village a mile or so to the west of Axbridge, at the bottom of Shute Shelve Hill. It lies immediately to the west of the A38, and takes its name from the junction with the old Bristol Turnpike and the road from Bleadon to Cheddar across the southern foothills of the Mendip Hills. Whilst the road westwards remains a quiet country lane (and occasional rat-run), the road to the west is a spur of the A371, taking traffic from the A38 up to Axbridge, and onto the popular tourist destination of Cheddar.
The original 'Cross' junction lies through the village to the west, where Old Coach Road meets the Mendip Route. This junction was on the route of the A38 in the early days, but the road was re-aligned in c1930 by taking it across the levels direct from Lower Weare to the route up Shute Shelve. This point then became a crossroads rather than the simple T-junction of old, and effectively bypassed the village of Cross. For many years this was a suitable solution, however as traffic levels increased through the 1980s, so did the accident rate, with turning traffic conflicting with the fast A38 traffic, whether accelerating to get up the hill, or simply letting gravity take its course on the way down.
In the mid 90s the junction gained turning lanes, a 40 limit and a speed camera on the downhill A38, all to try and reduce the accidents. Traffic lights were considered, as was a roundabout in the field to the South East, but neither have been implemented. For now, the changes seem to have broadly been sufficient, although the A371 spur could do with some improvement, as it is still a narrow lane, in places a Holloway, as it climbs up to Axbridge.
One final, hopefully interesting, point is that in the old coaching days the Bristol Turnpike to the south of Cross often descended to a quagmire in the winter. Descriptions from the time outline a 'road' that was 50 or 100 feet wide, but with little hope of finding a route through without the horse (or person) sinking to their knees in the peat and mud of the levels.