Roads and Routes

Last night we barely scratched the surface of possibilities for Roads and Routes.

We had a background to routes as ways from one place to another to enable migrations of humans, just like other animals. Roman road construction and turnpikes were illustrated. Spectacular roads worldwide such as the Col du Chaussy with 17 hairpins and the 99-Bend Road to Heaven in China were presented, plus the Stalin Road to reach Siberia, with over 80 Gulags en route, and known as the ‘Road of Bones’ after the bodies of prisoners who died in the construction which were incorporated into and bound the road itself. Now it seems we are going back to the Middle Ages with the state of the roads and potholes being filled with tarmac, unbound at the edges!

Then we explored specific routes:-

  • Route 66 – with a fitting musical introduction urging us to ‘get our kicks ……’ – the iconic US E -> W route from Chicago to LA, two and a half thousand kilometres, for commerce, approved by the Federal government in 1926, built by individual states by 1938, since superseded by newer highways, decommissioned in 1985.  
  • A34 – the S -> N road which passes through our hometown of Congleton on its way from Winchester to Salford. We perused old maps and mentioned terminology of highway (still used in ‘highway maintenance’) and ‘carriageway’, which led us on to carriage routes and Congleton’s role with coaching inns on the busy Birmingham and Liverpool routes, and the Congleton Lighthouse – once at a dangerous steep right-angle turn in the A34 and the only inland lighthouse.
  • Fosse Way – From Exeter to Lincoln, via Ilchester, Bath, Cirencester and Leicester.
  • Camino Ingles – walking route, the English Way, one of the paths of the Camino de Santiago. It begins in the Galician port cities of Ferrol or A Coruña and runs south to Santiago de Compostela. We learned it is ‘easy’, all on asphalt!. We heard of the Tower of Hercules in A Coruña, the oldest lighthouse still in use since Roman times.
  • Wainwright’s Coast to Coast – walking route which was intended in part to encourage others to devise their own routes (walking coast to coast connecting the Irish and North Seas), and now 10 years later, in August 2022, the government has announced that Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk is to become Britain’s newest National Trail.