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A5 or A55. Which is better in Wales?

I will be traveling from the Bangor, Wales UK area to Reading. Google Maps gives me a route using A55 to A483 south of Chester and then A5 to connect to the M freeway. I was thinking of doing the A5 all the way from Bangor to M54.

I am now wondering if that A5 route straight out of Bangor has lower speed limits, more towns to go thru, or isn't the better of the two roads.

Could anyone provide some info on these two routes?

Thanks in advance.

Posted by
162 posts

A55 is a dual carriageway and the fastest route to take. A5 is the 'old road' that passes through several towns and villages. Given your long journey, I don't see any reason to take the A5.

Posted by
670 posts

The A5 is very scenic through Snowdonia, theres a lovely short walk at Ogwen up to Lyn Ogwen if you can find a half hour, plus the view of Tryfan is one of the most impressive mountain views in the UK.
Just put the A483 route thru google maps ,as I have traveled that route often to my sisters in Montgomeryshire and it reckons its only 1 min slower than different to just continuing on the A55 /M56/M6 , I find that surprising as the A483 is a bit of a race track that often also has farm traffic on it,and is no fun to travel

Posted by
1834 posts

The A55 is a dual highway similar to an Interstate with a mostly 70mph speed limit. The A5 within north Wales goes through the very scenic Snowdonia National Park and has a maximum speed limit of 60 mph. If it were me, I would use the A5 for the sheer beauty of the trip. I would also advise that you might like to stop at the Pontcysyllte Aquaduct - which is not far off the A5 - east of Llangollen. Click this link and you will get a map showing the A5 going through the mountains. I suggest you pull out the yellow man and go to street view and take a look at it. Then click and drag to see other sections before also having a look at the A55 in order to determine what is right for you.https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@53.1344295,-3.9635734,10864m/data=!3m1!1e3!5m1!1e1

https://www.pontcysyllte-aqueduct.co.uk
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Cefn-mawr/@52.9703809,-3.0972961,2845m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x487ab79079b4a29d:0x4568aee03ad9aa75!8m2!3d52.974573!4d-3.073175!5m1!1e1

Posted by
40 posts

The advise given is pretty much what I had looked into. The decision now is do I take the fastest or the scenic route? I would usually opt for the latter because vacations are about seeing scenically. But if I can't get the other's in my group out of bed in time to do that A5 route, then I'll do A55. :)

Thanks to all of you for the info.

Posted by
1834 posts

Well, if you do decide on the A55, be sure to stop off at Conwy (Conway) & see the Castle:>http://cadw.gov.wales/daysout/conwycastle/?lang=en

Then, back onto the A55 and once you cross the border into England, a visit to Chester is highly recommended. https://www.visitcheshire.com/chester

Goodness knows why you seemed to have planned to drive all the way from Bangor to Reading without seeing places of interest along the way. Perhaps you have come off the ferry at Holyhead and just not realised about the places to see in Wales & England?

Posted by
22 posts

Hi James.. A month or two ago you gave me some advice on getting from Bath to Conway. We just got back from our trip around the UK and had a great time. We pickup a rental car in Bath and decided on taking the scenic thru Wales, so we heading forour first stop at Raglan Castle. Everything was going great until we left Raglan. Without realizing it we so many wrongs turns and after an hour and a half we ended up back near Raglan. Disgusted we headed north again to and got to Snowdonia by late afternoon. On these narrow roads atop of mountains in Snowdonia the fog rolled in and we had a hard time seeing the roads and we started second guessing Sat Nav directions. By this time it was getting dark and we ended up in the small town of Ysbyty Ifan. We found a house with its lights on and knocked on the door to ask for directions. The lady that answered the door couldn't have been nicer and got us back to the A5 /A470 to Conwy. I had to call the hotel to tell then that we would be late, they normally close the doors at 9:00 pm. Luckily they were willing to wait for us to arrive and let us in. While driving at times was awfully stressful, it was also an adventure. The people that helped us out were extremely nice. The mistakes we made were our own, but it gave us an experience that we will always remember.

Paul

Posted by
1834 posts

Hello Paul,

Sounds like you had quite an adventure Paul. I am well aware of the confusing road layout at Raglan - especially for those coming up from the south visiting the Castle before heading west to Abergavenny. I would probably have warned of this confusing road configuration in my response to your original posting. Click the link and we can see the road network at Raglan:> https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.7689275,-2.843875,1402m/data=!3m1!1e3

So, coming up from the south (Bath & the Severn Bridge) on the A449 you would swing west at Raglan interchange onto the A40 only to loop back at the first roundabout and then turn left into the Castle. So far so good - hopefully. Now comes the confusing bit - you come out of the Castle driveway and are forced to turn left (east) and if you do not take the next left and then loop right and take the westbound A40 expressway towards Abergavenny - you would end up either going NE towards Monmouth on the A40 or south again on the A449. Try and follow this on street view to try and see how it should have been done.

Most of the journey up through mid Wales to north Wales would be a simple matter of following the A470 - which is well signposted. Now, for some strange reason you ended up going way off route via some backroad through Ysbytty Ifan. I can only think that you might have been taking ‘orders’ from some satnav or Google? You just can’t trust these things as very often they just connect 2 places with the shortest route - even if it is an unsuitable narrow mountain road. Had you stayed on the A470 just following the road signs to the next place, I think you would have been OK. The lady you met in a remote village must have been very surprised to have some lost Americans knocking on the door.

It is quite a long drive from Bath to Conwy and I think you might well agree that it might have been well worth while to at least spend 1 night in the middle of Wales. It is regrettable, in my opinion, that few Americans venture into this part of Wales. The most prevalent foreigners appear to be the Dutch as I often see them driving about with their NL number plates.

The big question is - was I right to suggest driving the scenic way through the middle of Wales or would you have been better off driving on motorways (like interstates) through the English midlands via Birmingham?

Posted by
22 posts

I did retraced my route on google earth after we finally got to Conwy & I do remember you telling me about the confusing roundabout. Even thought we didn't take the most scenic route at times, we still got to see other parts of Wales. Roundabouts.. Roundabouts... every 2 miles! I ended up putting on the Yes song "Roundabout" while we were driving to add a soundtrack to our adventure.

Posted by
22 posts

My goodness... my palms starting sweating just looking at that roundabout.

Posted by
1834 posts

Well Paul, you should have had the double roundabout intersected by a railway bridge - at Abergavenny to negotiate. (You would have been coming up the A40 from Raglan and then heading onto the A40 going north via the town of Abergavenny).
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.8087951,-3.0069068,603m/data=!3m1!1e3

At least the Brit’s don't have all stop junctions. (One road or the other has priority at a crossroads - which saves everybody having to come to a halt).

Posted by
22 posts

I wanna go back and do it all over again! I love the UK countryside

Posted by
40 posts

This is a follow up on my original post. We spent an extra day in the northern Wales Bangor area to do some of the site along part of A5. It was impressive. Then we headed to Reading on A55. It was an EZ drive.

I learned a valuable lesson on this trip to the UK. Don't rent a car that is wider than a band aide because that's about the size of the rural roads throughout the country. :)