M50, A40 and A449

Between them, the M50, A40 and A449 form a single dual carriageway route connecting the West Midlands to South Wales - a key aspiration of the government at the time it first set about its national motorway programme in the 1950s. Given how important the connection between those industrial areas was supposed to be, it's rather a shame that only a part of this route is actually a motorway - the rest is a dual carriageway that borrows parts of the A40 and A449.

The M50 came first, and is a very old motorway, first opening in 1960. It's not enormously busy and it was built to an early set of motorway design standards that required only narrow hard shoulders that are discontinuous through bridges and very tiny junctions. As a result, a journey on the M50 doesn't feel much like a journey on a typical English motorway.

Its important-sounding number isn't the only delusion of grandeur held by the M50 though. Such was the perceived importance of the road from the Midlands to South Wales, it was mostly built and opened before the M5 in the area was even under construction. For several years afterwards, the M5 terminated on the M50, with all traffic bound for Bristol and the West Country exiting at junction 1 for the A38.

But there's something very lovely about the M50. It's virtually unchanged from the day it opened, so this is the best opportunity to see a motorway as it appeared in the early sixties. The only significant additions since 1961 have been some electronic message signs and crash barriers down the central reservation. It's also widely agreed to be one of the most scenic motorways there are.

The route that continues from Ross to Newport is partly A449 and partly A40. While the southernmost section, from Monmouth to Newport, is a smooth, fast road with very few junctions, and is very nearly a motorway in its own right, the middle part from Ross to Monmouth is a little more demanding to drive. There's several roundabouts at Ross, a number of side turnings and private accesses at Pencraig, and then - either the worst or the most interesting part of the route, depending on your perspective - the Monmouth Bypass.

At Monmouth there is not much room for a fast expressway, so the road stops for a roundabout and a set of traffic lights, squashed up between the town and the river. To access this narrow strip of land it also negotiates the Gibraltar Tunnel, a rare bit of heavy engineering in the gentle Welsh borders.

No matter its unusual history and its occasional stoppages - the M50, A40 and A449 route from Strensham to Newport is a reliably fast and scenic drive and, even if it took a long time to arrive and it's not all motorway, it does indeed get you from South Wales to the West Midlands in record time.

You're not looking at the whole M50, A40 and A449

This page is about the parts of the M50, A40 and A449 that are designated a motorway or that have motorway characteristics. Other sections of this road will not be featured here and will not count towards the length of the road as shown below.

Start
Strensham
End
Newport
Passes
Ross on Wye, Monmouth
Connects to
Length
52 miles
Open Junctions Section
Nov 1960 J1-4 Brokeridge Common → Ross on Wye
Jul 1962 J0-1 Strensham → Brokeridge Common

Exit list

Junction   Eastbound               Westbound  
M5 J8
0.5 km
The MIDLANDS
Worcester
Birmingham
M5 Link
The SOUTH WEST
Gloucester
M5 Link






M5
EAST






M5
N/A
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
1
2.9 km
Tewkesbury
Evesham
A38
A38 A38 Tewkesbury
Great Malvern
A38
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
9 miles, 2 lanes  
5 km River or canal Severn River or canal Severn
  9 miles, 2 lanes
2
17.6 km
Ledbury
Great Malvern
A417


A417
A417 Ledbury
Hereford
A417
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
7 miles, 2 lanes 7 miles, 2 lanes
3
29.2 km
Newent
Gorsley
B4221
B4221 B4221


Newent
Gorsley
B4221
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
4 miles, 2 lanes 4 miles, 2 lanes
4
34.6 km
Ledbury
A449
Upton Bishop
B4221
A449 becomes M50
B4221

A449




Ledbury
A449
Upton Bishop
B4221
M50 becomes A449
LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
0.5 miles, 2 lanes 0.25 miles, 2 lanes
41.2 km Services Ross
LanesLanesLanesLanes
  0.25 miles, 2 lanes
41.6 km Gloucester A40
Ross on Wye B4234
A40 becomes A449
A40

B4234
Gloucester A40
Ross on Wye B4234
A449 becomes A40
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1.4 miles, 2 lanes  
43.2 km River or canal Wye River or canal Wye
  1.4 miles, 2 lanes
39.5 km Hereford A49
Ross on Wye B4260
A49 B4260 Ross on Wye B4260
Hereford A49
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1.2 miles, 2 lanes 1.2 miles, 2 lanes
37.4 km Glewstone Glewstone
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
0.2 miles, 2 lanes 0.2 miles, 2 lanes
Signs Signs
0.5 miles, 2 lanes 0.5 miles, 2 lanes
35.2 km Glewstone Glewstone
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
0.5 miles, 2 lanes 0.5 miles, 2 lanes
34.4 km Goodrich
Signs LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
0.9 miles, 2 lanes 0.9 miles, 2 lanes
33.1 km Goodrich Goodrich
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
0.7 miles, 2 lanes 0.7 miles, 2 lanes
32 km Hereford A4137
Goodrich B4229
Symonds Yat (E)
A4137 B4229 Hereford A4137
Goodrich B4229
Symonds Yat (E)
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
0.6 miles, 2 lanes 0.6 miles, 2 lanes
31 km Whitchurch
Symonds Yat (W)
B4164


B4164
B4164 Whitchurch
Symonds Yat (W)
B4164
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
0.4 miles, 2 lanes 0.4 miles, 2 lanes
30.5 km Whitchurch B4164 Stoney Hill Ind Est
Crocker'
s Ash
Doward
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
0.25 miles, 2 lanes 0.1 miles, 2 lanes
30.2 km Services Symonds Yat Services Symonds Yat
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
0.9 miles, 2 lanes 1.05 miles, 2 lanes
25.4 km Ganarew
Crocker'
s Ash
Doward
Lewstone
Ganarew
Crocker'
s Ash
Doward
Lewstone
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
24.3 km Welcome to England Welcome to Wales
Croeso i Gymru
1.2 miles, 2 lanes 1.2 miles, 2 lanes
Trefynwy
Monmouth
A466
A466 Trefynwy
Monmouth
A466
LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
0.6 miles, 2 lanes 0.6 miles, 2 lanes
Trefynwy
Monmouth
A466



No Right Turn
A466 A466
(A4136)
Cas-gwent
Chepstow
Fforest y Ddena
Forest of Dean
A466 (A4136)
No Right Turn
LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
0.5 miles, 2 lanes 0.5 miles, 2 lanes
Trefynwy
Monmouth
Trelleck
B4293
B4233
B4293
Trelleck
Trefynwy
Monmouth
B4293
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
5 miles, 2 lanes  
Gibraltar Tunnel Gibraltar Tunnel
Signs Signs
   
(B4293)


  5 miles, 2 lanes
Services Monmouth Services Monmouth
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
Y Fenni
Abergavenny
A40
A449 becomes A40

A40
Y Fenni
Abergavenny
A40
A40 becomes A449
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
4.9 miles, 2 lanes 4.9 miles, 2 lanes
Usk
Brynbuga
A472
A472 B4238



Usk
Brynbuga
A472
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
6 miles, 2 lanes 6 miles, 2 lanes
Celtic Manor Celtic Manor
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1.8 miles, 2 lanes 1.8 miles, 2 lanes
M4 J24 N/A

M4

B4237













A48
WEST
A48

M4













Langstone A48
London
Cas-gwent
Chepstow M4 Link
Canol y Ddinas
City Centre A48
Casnewydd (Dn)
Newport (E) A48
Caerdydd
Cardiff M4 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanes SignsSigns
Routes

Picture credits

With thanks to Chris Bertram for information in this section.