A39 road

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A39 road shield

A39 road
A39 road map.png
Looking north near Carland Cross in Cornwall
Major junctions
North East end: Bath Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
  A4 A4 road

A368 A368 road
A37 A37 road
A362 A362 road
(within overlap with A37)
A371 A371 road
A361 A361 road
Junction 23.svg UK-Motorway-M5.svg
J23 → M5 motorway
(Puriton Hill spur)
A38 A38 road
A372 A372 road
(within overlap with A38)
A358 A358 road
A396 A396 road
A399 A399 road
A361 A361 road
A377 A377 road
A3125 A3125 road
x19px A386 road
x19px A3072 road
A3073 A3073 road
A395 A395 road
A389 A389 road
A3059 A3059 road
A392 A392 road
A30 A30 road
A3058 A3058 road
(within overlap with A30)
A3076 A3076 road
(within overlap)
x19px A390 road
A393 A393 road

A394 A394 road
South West end: Falmouth Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Road network

The A39 is an A road in south west England. It runs south-west from Bath in Somerset through Wells, Glastonbury, Street and Bridgwater. It then follows the north coast of Somerset, Devon and Cornwall through Williton, Minehead, Porlock, Lynmouth, Barnstaple, Bideford, Stratton, Camelford, Wadebridge and St Columb Major. It then joins the route of the A30 road for around 5 miles (8.0 km), re-emerging near Zelah to head for the south Cornish coast via Truro and Falmouth.

In Cornwall and North Devon (until the junction with the A361 "North Devon Link Road"), the road is known as the Atlantic Highway, and was classified as a trunk road until 2002.

Porlock Hill

The A39 coast road looking towards Porlock

Porlock Hill is a section of the A39 west of the village of Porlock. The road climbs approximately 1,300 ft (400 m) in less than 2 miles (3.2 km) up onto Exmoor: a very steep hill with gradients of up to 1 in 4 and hairpin bends.[1]

On 12 January 1899, the ten-ton Lynmouth lifeboat was launched during a storm, but the storm's ferocity meant it could not put out to sea. Instead, it was retrieved and hauled by men and twenty horses over Countisbury and Porlock hills to Porlock Weir where the water in the bay was less rough.[2] The endeavour eventually enabled thirteen seamen to be rescued.[3]

There is a less steep toll road that small vehicles and cyclists can take as an alternative route.[1] It formed part of the route in the 2007 Tour of Britain cycle race. Another alternative for cyclists, avoiding tolls, is provided by part of Regional Cycle Route 51 (Minehead to Ilfracombe).

Countisbury Hill

About 9.3 miles (15.0 km) to the west of Porlock Hill, the A39 starts its equivalent descent from the hills of Exmoor. Within about 2.5 miles (4.0 km), the road descends the 1,300 ft (400 m) it had previously climbed. Unlike Porlock Hill, this section is relatively straight down into Lynmouth village where there is a bridge over the river and a sharp left turn, however the gradient at the foot is also 25% for a short distance. The original road between Lynmouth and Lynton was much more challenging with gradients of around 1 in 3 (33%). It is now the B3234, Lynmouth Hill.

Woody Bay

Passing through Exmoor
Roadworks at Helscott involving a new section of the A39

At Martinhoe Cross in Devon—about 5 miles (8.0 km) west of Lynton and 2 miles (3.2 km) east of Parracombe—on the north side of the A39 lies a once disused but, in 2004, restored and reopened railway station. Woody Bay was once an intermediate stop on, and is now the main operating centre of, the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway a narrow-gauge line built in 1898, which closed in 1935.[4] Over- and under-bridges and other traces of the line can be seen at various locations along this stretch of the road.

Atlantic Highway

Atlantic Highway is the name given to a section of the A39, as it passes from the North Devon Link Road at Barnstaple in Devon until it reaches the A30 at Fraddon in Cornwall.[5]

It is so called, as it is the main road (it was a trunk road until 2002) from mid-Cornwall to North Devon and follows the line of the Atlantic Ocean's coast. It is also named thus due to the former Southern Railway express that ran in this part of North Devon and North Cornwall (the Atlantic Coast Express). Views of the Atlantic can be seen along its length, although the road does not approach very close to the coastline itself.

The road is signified as the Atlantic Highway by road signs indicating the route mileage throughout its length, in both directions, in white on brown above the green background of the route mileage boards.[6]

It passes by Wadebridge, Bude and Bideford, and directly through Camelford.

Points of interest

Point Coordinates
(Links to map resources)
OS Grid Ref Notes
Falmouth Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found. SW816321 Southern end of the A39 at Falmouth, Cornwall
Corston Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found. ST701653 Northern end of the A39 at Corston, Somerset near Bath

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Porlock Hill". Rural Roads. Retrieved 3 April 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Leete-Hodge, Lornie (1985). Curiosities of Somerset. Bodmin: Bossiney Books. p. 45. ISBN 0-906456-98-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Overland Launch Overnight January 12th. /13th.1899". Lynton & Lynmouth. Retrieved 3 April 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Woody Bay Station - Lynton". Lynton & Barnstaple Railway. Retrieved 3 April 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Official Naming Ceremony For Atlantic Highway". Cornwall County Council. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 28 October 2007. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "The "Atlantic Highway" - Naming History". Atlantic Highway. Archived from the original on 24 March 2009. Retrieved 3 April 2009. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links