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The A361 is a major road in Englandmarker and at 195 miles is the longest 3 digit A road in the UK. It runs south from Ilfracombemarker on the north Devonmarker coast to Barnstaplemarker, turning south-east to Tivertonmarker then, after a break (the M5 connects the two sections), north east from Tauntonmarker in Somersetmarker through Streetmarker and Glastonburymarker, past Fromemarker and then into Wiltshiremarker through Trowbridgemarker, Devizesmarker, Aveburymarker and Swindonmarker. It then runs through the eastern Cotswoldsmarker, via Lechlademarker, Burfordmarker and Chipping Nortonmarker and on through Banburymarker and Daventrymarker before terminating at its junction with the A5 road at the village of Kilsbymarker on the Northamptonshiremarker-Warwickshiremarker border near Rugbymarker.

History

When first designated in 1922 the A361 ran only from Taunton to Banbury. It was later extended west though Bamptonmarker to South Moltonmarker, on the route of the former A398, and from South Molton to Barnstaple and Ilfracombe, previously part of the route of the A373. In 1988, when the North Devon Link Road was opened, the A361 was switched to its present route. The old route from Taunton through Bampton to South Molton was downgraded to become the B3227.

In the 1970s the route was extended north from Banbury to Daventry when part of the B4038 was upgraded, and to Kilsby replacing the former B4039, providing an A road link from Swindon to the M1 motorway.

Route

Devon

The road starts in Ilfracombe as part of the town's High Street, and is mostly single carriageway. The road passes through the villages of Knowle and Braunton, before becoming dual carriageway standard at Ashford, which continues for the short distance to Barnstaple. From there it passes the towns train station then merges with the A39 for a short while before splitting back off near Portmore Golf Park. The section from Barnstaple to the M5 near Tiverton has been designated the North Devon Link Road, and enables relatively fast access to the Atlantic Highway, relieving pressure on the northern section of the A39 and A358. This section is a modern, wide single carriageway trunk road (which was de-trunked in 2002), apart from the 5-mile stretch between Tiverton and the M5, which is dual carriageway. Tiverton Parkway railway stationmarker is situated close to the junction with the motorway in order to give easy rail connections for people driving from north Devon.

Somerset/Wiltshire

The road is merged with the A38 from Junction 27 of the M5 Until Tauntonmarker. The rest of the road, from there to Swindon, is largely county-road class, It passes by the towns of Langport and Glastonbury and briefly merges with the A39 again. From there it continues northeast and becomes part of Fromemarker bypass, it then passes through Swindonmarker town centre before emerging near Stratton street market.

Oxfordshire/Northamptonshire

From there it continues through Lechlade, Burford and Chipping Nortonmarker passing many Oxfordshire villages on its way. It is also the boundary for the Cotswolds AONB at Lechlade. It then enters Banburymarker form the southwest as an arterial road passing the Banbury Cross, and heading north, the A361 multiplexes on the Southam Road roundabout of the A422. For about two miles the route is signed as A422, the dual carriageway Hennef Way until Junction 11 of the M40. From there it heads north-east through the villages of Wardingtonmarker, Chipping Wardenmarker, Byfield, Charweltonmarker, and Badbymarker. Sections of land were purchased in the 1970s after the road was upgraded from the B4038 to the A361 to straighten out some of the sharper corners but the vast majority of these works were never done. The road then multiplexes once more, this time with the A45 just outside of Daventrymarker. Once the A45 leaves Daventrymarker for Coventrymarker, the remaining section of single carriageway ring road is signed as A361, before it once again turns north to Kilsbymarker to terminate on the A5 at its northern end.

A4361

The road has been re-numbered A4361 from its junction with the A4marker immediately south of Avebury northwards, becoming the A361 again at the junction with the A419 which passes north-east of Swindon.

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