A38 Devon Expressway

There's something very pleasant about the stretch of A38 that connects Exeter to Plymouth. The homely title helps - not many new roads are bestowed the honour of a title, but this one is, and the words "Devon Expressway" are proudly displayed on signs for most of its length.

Then there is the scenery; the lush, rolling Devon countryside is straight off a carton of Ambrosia custard (although, to be strict, the factory where it's made is actually on the old A30). It's a high speed dual carriageway, certainly, but the many grim miles of grey tarmac on the M5 are suddenly very far away when you make the transition to A38. The road is suddenly full of graceful curves and dips, interesting bridges, and glimpses from above into villages as they fly past.

Perhaps what really makes it stand out is the parade of unusual town and village names that zoom past. A journey southbound will take you past Chudleigh Knighton, Bovey Tracey, Mead, Buckfastleigh, and the unsurpassable Yealmpton. These are place names you have to chew. No journey down this road is complete, for me at least, without making the traditional joke on seeing the sign for Rattery by asking whether it's somewhere to leave your pet rat when you go on holiday.

On a slightly more serious note, the Devon Expressway never really feels like one coherent route, largely because it isn't. It's a series of connected bypasses, all of which were built separately, and the occasional run along an original section of A38 in-between. Many of the schemes were pushed through, with substandard curves and gradients, as a government drive to stimulate economic growth in this part of the world in the 1970s.

It remains a very enjoyable ride - and is considerably more cheery in appearance than the its counterpart, the A38 Midlands Section. Nonetheless it runs along the fringes of Dartmoor and can be subject to some very sudden changes in the weather - wind and rain out of a sunny day, and in winter, sudden snowstorms bring the road to an overnight standstill from time to time. Best take a scarf with you.

Start
Exeter
End
Plymouth
Passes
Torquay, Paignton
Connects to
Length
42 miles

Exit list

Junction   Northbound               Southbound  
M5 J31
112.1 km
Taunton
Bristol
Honiton (A30)
M5 Link
Exeter
Okehampton
Crediton (A377)
A30








A30
(A377)
NORTH
M5 (A30)
N/A
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
1 mile, 3 lanes  
110.8 km Dawlish
Exminster
A379
A379
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 3 lanes 2 miles, 3 lanes
108.8 km A380






Kenn
Kennford
Newton Abbot
Torquay
Paignton
A380
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes  
106.7 km Kenn
Kennford
LanesLanesLanesLanes
0.2 miles, 2 lanes 1.2 miles, 3 lanes
106.4 km Racecourse Racecourse
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
4.5 miles, 2 lanes 2 miles, 2 lanes
103.2 km B3344 Chudleigh
B3344
LanesLanesLanesLanes
  2.5 miles, 2 lanes
99.3 km Chudleigh
Christow
B3344
B3344
(B3193)
B3344 Christow
Chudleigh Knighton
B3344
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes  
96.5 km Chudleigh Knighton
B3344
B3344
LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 3 miles, 2 lanes
94.6 km Bovey Tracey
A382
A382 A382 Newton Abbot
Teignmouth
Bovey Tracey
A382
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 2 lanes  
88.9 km Newton Abbot
Teignmouth
A383
A383
LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 4 miles, 2 lanes
88 km Waye Mead
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
86.4 km Ashburton
B3352


B3352
Ashburton
B3352
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
84.7 km Ashburton
B3352
B3352 Ashburton
B3352
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes 2 miles, 2 lanes
82 km Buckfast
Buckfast Abbey
B3380
B3380 A384 Dartington A384
Buckfast
Buckfast Abbey
Buckfastleigh
B3380
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
79.6 km Buckfastleigh
B3380
B3380 Buckfastleigh
B3380
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
78 km Dean Dean Prior
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes 2 miles, 2 lanes
76.8 km Rattery Rattery
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
75.1 km Totnes
Torquay
Paignton
A385
B3372 A385 Totnes
Torquay
Paignton
A385
South Brent
B3372
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes  
71.6 km South Brent
B3372
B3372
LanesLanesLanesLanes
4.5 miles, 2 lanes 3 miles, 2 lanes
70.6 km B3213 A3121 Ermington
A3121
Bittaford
B3213
LanesLanesLanesLanes
  3.5 miles, 2 lanes
64 km Ivybridge
B3213
B3213


Ivybridge
B3213
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
62.6 km Woodland Marjery Cross
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
61.1 km Lee Mill Lee Mill
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1.5 miles, 2 lanes 0.5 miles, 2 lanes
60.2 km Yealmpton
LanesLanesLanesLanes
  1 mile, 2 lanes
58.6 km Sparkwell
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 3 lanes 1 mile, 3 lanes
57 km Plympton
B3416
Brixton
Yealmpton
B3416 Plympton
B3416
Brixton
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 3 lanes 3 miles, 3 lanes
51.8 km Plympton
B3416
Plymstock
A374
B3416
(B3417)



A374



Plymouth (E & Cen)
Car Ferry Vehicle Ferry
Mutley
Plymstock
A374
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
0.5 miles, 2 lanes 0.5 miles, 2 lanes
50.8 km Eggbuckland
Mainstone
B3413
B3413

Eggbuckland
Mainstone
B3413
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes 2 miles, 2 lanes
47.9 km Tavistock
Okehampton
Plymouth (N, Cen & Airport)
A386
Mutley B3250
A386 B3250

A386


Tavistock
Okehampton
Plymouth (N & Airport)
A386
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
45.8 km Devonport
Plymouth (W)
A3064
A3064 Devonport
Plymouth (W)
A3064
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
44.6 km Honicknowle
Whitleigh
St Budeaux
B3413
B3413


Honicknowle
Whitleigh
St Budeaux
B3413
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
43.1 km N/A
A38
SOUTH
Buses only
Tamar Bridge
Saltash
Liskeard
Bodmin
A38
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
Routes

Picture credits

With thanks to Topov, Truvelo, Southwest Philip, Tim Lidbetter and Mick Wilding for information on this page.