A1

Yesterday, north on the A1 and back.

I think of it still as the Great North Road (not that other roads going north aren’t great too –That’s enough political correctness, Ed) although successive rebuilding programmes have moved the road to the west or the east of the original line.

From here it’s about 10 miles to the A1. Then it’s three lanes up to Dishforth, then dual carriageway again until north of Morpeth, where the road narrows to single lanes. 10 or so miles later, over the River Coquet, it becomes dual carriageway again until north of Alnwick, about a mile after you see the castle to the west, then it’s single again. Further on there’s a mile of dualling straddling the borough boundaries of Alnwick and Berwick on Tweed.

To the east you catch sight of Bamburgh and Holy Island. Both best seen as dawn emerges, unless coping with slow lorries and overtaking occupies you. There is the Purdey Lodge – good omelettes.

The road becomes a proper dual carriage way again on the north of Berwick that was once in Scotland and the road sweeps you in view of the sea north across the border, past the Saltire and the Union Flag (a Scots invention, by the way) and sometimes the EU stars. The sign welcomes you, as signs to Scotland and Wales always do. Why do England signs seldom say welcome, unless they are combined with county signs?

Half a mile on the road becomes single carriageway again, sweeping up the cliff, before being dual again 10 or 15 miles on, for a short way. Then it’s single carriageway to Grantshouse and the Cedar Cafe – great porridge, coffee, toast, omelettes, pasta, and all other food – and on ’til the road climbs dually then at its crest becomes single and you see the sea. On past Thorness Power Station and it is dual again all the way, thanks to the new Dunbar Expressway into Edinburgh, with the sea on the east and then north as the Great North Road curves west parallel with the coast.

No stretch should be single carriageway. The A1 connects the two capitals whose union created Great Britain, yet there are better strategic roads in the third world. In England, the Transport Secretary, with the Whitehall habit of economic appraisal a mile at a time (more or less) says there’s no case for dualling north of Alnwick. Has he used the road recently? Where do they think the traffic goes after Alnwick?

There’s a belief that the Scottish Executive will complete dualling to the English border, but there’s nothing on their web site.

It should be done. Cardiff and London are connected by a motorway. Edinburgh and London’s connection should not be single carriage on any of its length.

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