Originally, the A38 ran from Plymouth to Derby, but it was extended at both ends. It was known to some as "the longest country lane in England", and the south-western section was notorious at holiday times for the congestion. Fortunately, the M5 took care of that, and nowadays for most of its length the A38 is a fairly quiet road shadowing the M5 extremely closely. (I don't know how many junction signs on the M5 mention the A38, but it's a lot!)
Notable locations along the route
Almost as soon as you are off the Tamar Bridge heading into Cornwall, the A38 dives into this tunnel in Saltash.
The Tamar Bridge forms the major of two crossings of the lower River Tamar between Plymouth and Cornwall (the other being the Torpoint Ferry) on the A38. The suspension bridge, opened in 1961, carries a three-lane tidal flow carriageway and has toll booths located on the Plymouth side.
The Cullompton Bypass, opened in 1969 as part of the A38, is the only part of the M5 to not have opened with that number. In its time as A38, the road was D2M standard, with wide central reservations, ready for the upgrade to M5.
Located in Central Bristol and like Bath Bridge to the east, Bedminster Bridge is in fact two bridges crossing the River Avon, to form a roundabout.
Lydiate Ash is junction 4 of the M5. It originally formed the northern terminus of the first section of the M5.
The infamous Spaghetti Junction, Gravelly Hill provides the interchange between the M6, A38(M), A38, A5127 and an unclassified road. It does this by means of a complex array of slip roads and a roundabout.
As one of the longest A-roads in the British Isles, it is inevitable that the road has changed a lot over the years. Of all the changes that it has been through, the gradual southern progression of the M5 during the 1970s has been the most damaging, ripping the heart from the road in more ways that one.
- Motorway Database - A38(M)
- A38(M) Video
- Motorway Database - A38 Devon Expressway
- Motorway Database - A38 Midlands
- Highways and Byways Route Guide (Mansfield - Shenstone)
- Highways and Byways Route Guide (A38(M) Aston Expressway)
- Highways and Byways Route Guide (Devon Expressway)
The Motorway Archive