There is something beautifully, almost poetically, simple about Edinburgh's road network. If only more big cities could be this straightforward. There are roads going in and out, you see, and a big tangle of streets in the middle. And to avoid it all, if you want nothing to do with Edinburgh itself, is a fast dual carriageway along the urban fringe called the A720 Edinburgh City Bypass. Simplicity itself.

Of course, life is seldom quite so free of complications, at least where the UK's road system is concerned. The A720 was built relatively quickly in a series of stages in the 1980s, and the fact that it was planned and designed more or less as a single entity ought to mean that it works well.

Sadly, that's not the case. There are actually quite a few little puzzles on the A720, like why there are two west-facing junctions serving Gilmerton and Bonnyrigg, but no east-facing equivalents at all, or why you can get to Wester Hailes from the east very easily but not from the west. Or indeed the biggest conundrum, which is why a road clearly designed to link all of Edinburgh's radial routes, from the A1 in the east to the M8 and A8 in the west, stops at that point and doesn't continue the relatively short distance to the A90.

There is also the headache that is Sheriffhall Roundabout. The A720 should, in theory, be free-flowing from end to end, but it's not, because where it crosses the A7 a flat roundabout (now festooned with traffic lights) was installed and remains there to this day, causing an unwanted break in the journey when traffic is light and lengthy hold-ups when it's not. (Sheriffhall is explored in considerable detail in Bad Junctions.)

Despite all of that, we should be counting our blessings, because at least it exists and at least it mostly does its job, and it's still far better than the ring roads and bypasses provided for many other cities of Edinburgh's size. Though if you're sitting in a mile-long traffic jam at Sheriffhall, it might not always seem that way.

Start
Gogar
End
Craighall
Passes
Edinburgh
Connects to
Length
13 miles

Exit list

Junction   Westbound               Eastbound  
Glasgow
Livingston (M8 Link)
Forth Road Bridge (A90)
Stirling (M9 Link)
A8
Tram Depot
City Centre
A8
Edinburgh Park
Gogarloch Park
South Gyle Ind. Est.












A8
(M8)
(M9)
(A90)
WEST













A8
LanesLanesLanesLanes SignsSigns LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
M8 J1 City Centre
Kilmarnock
A71
Glasgow
Forth Road Bridge
Stirling
Livingston
M8 Link
M8



A71




A71
Glasgow
M8 Link
City Centre
Kilmarnock
A71
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanes
0.25 miles, 2 lanes 0.25 miles, 2 lanes
Signs Signs
1 mile, 2 lanes  
City Centre
Lanark
B701 (A70)
B701


B701
(A70)
LanesLanesLanesLanes
2.5 miles, 2 lanes 3.5 miles, 2 lanes
Colinton
Oxgangs
(B701)
(B701) Colinton
Oxgangs
(B701)
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1.25 miles, 2 lanes 1.25 miles, 2 lanes
Carlisle (A74(M) Link)
City Centre
A702
A702
(A74(M))
A702 Carlisle (A74(M) Link)
City Centre
A702
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1.75 miles, 2 lanes 1.75 miles, 2 lanes
City Centre
Peebles (A703)
A701
A701

B702
A701


City Centre
Peebles (A703)
A701
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
3.25 miles, 2 lanes 0.75 miles, 2 lanes
Edinburgh (S)
Lasswade
Bonnyrigg
LanesLanesLanesLanes
  1.5 miles, 2 lanes


A772
A772 City Centre
Galashiels (A7)
A772
LanesLanesLanesLanes
  1 mile, 2 lanes
Dalkeith
A6106
Galashiels
Hawick
Carlisle A7
Edinburgh A7
Old Craighall
A6106
A7

A6106
A7

A6106
Edinburgh A7
Old Craighall
A6106
Dalkeith
A6106
Galashiels
Hawick
Carlisle A7
LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
1.5 miles, 2 lanes 1.5 miles, 2 lanes
Jedburgh
A68
A68 Jedburgh
A68
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
A1







(B6415)
EAST
A1






Edinburgh A1
Musselburgh
(B6415)
Services Services
Berwick upon Tweed
A1
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
Routes

Picture credits