Where would we be without the M6? Nowhere at all. It's Britain's longest motorway and carries (in total, over its whole length) more traffic than any other. Part of it was also Britain's first.

The first motorway in Britain was the Preston Bypass, which was then incorporated into the M6 when construction was continued. Today it's found between junction 29 and M55 junction 1. The M6 contains all kinds of ground-breaking sections: the section along the Lake District has won awards for enhancing the landscape, for example. In a more mundane area and the section between Shap and Tebay is the only one in Britain to have an unconnected local road running down the central reservation.

Opened in 2003, the M6 Toll bypasses Birmingham, and is Britain's first toll road. Recently completed is the A74 upgrade, which extended the M6 right up to the border, connecting to the A74(M). The A74(M) and M74 were, when they were built, going to be renumbered as M6, creating a motorway over 350 miles long linking the M1 (and thus London) to Glasgow. That looks highly unlikely now.

However, the fact that the link between the two motorways was made at all is a cause for celebration, and it's fitting that it was on 5 December 2008 that the a new section opened - the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Preston Bypass.

Start
Rugby
End
Gretna
Passes
Coventry, Birmingham, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Cannock, Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington, Wigan, Preston, Lancaster, Kendal, Penrith, Carlisle
Length
236 miles
Open Junctions Section
Dec 1958 J29-32 Preston Bypass
Apr 1960 J33-35 Lancaster Bypass Part is now A601(M)
Aug 1962 J13-14 Stafford Bypass
Nov 1962 J15-16 Hanchurch → Barthomley
Dec 1962 J14-15 Stafford Bypass → Hanchurch
Jul 1963 J20-29 Warrington → Preston
Nov 1963 J16-20 Barthomley → Warrington
Jan 1965 J32-33 Preston → Lancaster
Mar 1966 J11-13 Shareshill → Dunston
Sep 1966 J10-11 Darlaston → Shareshill
Nov 1968 J40-41 Penrith Bypass
Nov 1968 J9-10 Bescot → Darlaston
Apr 1970 J8-9 Ray Hall → Bescot
Jul 1970 J7-8 Great Barr → Ray Hall
Oct 1970 J35-40 Lancaster → Penrith
Dec 1970 J42-44 Carlisle Bypass
Feb 1971 J4-5 Maxstoke → Bromford
Jul 1971 J2-4 Ansty → Maxstoke
Jul 1971 J41-42 Penrith → Carlisle
Nov 1971 J5-6 Bromford → Gravelly Hill
Nov 1971 J0-2 Catthorpe → Ansty
May 1972 J6-7 Gravelly Hill → Great Barr
Dec 2008 J44-45 Carlisle → Gretna

Exit list

The M6 continues as the A74(M) in Scotland.

Junction   Northbound               Southbound  
45
503.5 km
Welcome to Scotland
M6 becomes A74(M) Link
Gretna (Green)
Longtown
A6071





B7076
NORTH
A74(M)





A6071
Welcome to England
A74(M) becomes M6
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3.5 miles, 3 lanes 3.5 miles, 3 lanes
497.5 km Rest Area Todhills
VOSA Checkpoint
Rest Area Todhills
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 3 lanes 2 miles, 3 lanes
44
495 km
Galashiels
Hawick
Carlisle (N)
A7
A7 A7

A689
Galashiels
Hawick
Carlisle (N)
A7
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
4 miles, 3 lanes 4 miles, 3 lanes
43
488.5 km
Carlisle
Hexham
Newcastle
A69
A69 A69 Carlisle
Hexham
Newcastle
A69
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 3 lanes 3 miles, 3 lanes
42
484.5 km
Carlisle (S)
A6
A6


B6263

A6
Carlisle
A6
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
4 miles, 3 lanes 4 miles, 3 lanes
477.5 km Services Southwaite Services Southwaite
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
9 miles, 3 lanes 9 miles, 3 lanes
41
464.5 km
Wigton
B5305
B5305 B5305 Wigton
B5305
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 3 lanes 3 miles, 3 lanes
40
459 km
Penrith
Keswick
Brough
Scotch Corner
A66
A66 A592

A66
North Lakes
Penrith
Keswick
A66
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
11 miles, 3 lanes 11 miles, 3 lanes
39
441.5 km
Shap
A6
(A6) Shap
Kendal
A6
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
5 miles, 3 lanes 5 miles, 3 lanes
434 km Services Tebay Services Tebay
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 3 lanes 1 mile, 3 lanes
38
432.5 km
Brough
A685
Appleby
B6260
(A685)
(B6260)
Kendal
Brough
A685
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
9 miles, 3 lanes 9 miles, 3 lanes
37
418.5 km
Kendal
Sedbergh
A684
A684 A684 Kendal
Sedbergh
A684
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
8 miles, 3 lanes 2 miles, 3 lanes
416.5 km Services Killington Lake
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
  6 miles, 3 lanes
36
406.5 km
South Lakes
Kendal
Barrow
A590 (A591)
Kirkby Lonsdale
Skipton
A65
A590
(A591)
(A65) Kirkby Lonsdale
Skipton
A65
Barrow
A590
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
4 miles, 3 lanes  
399.5 km Services Burton-in-Kendal
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 3 lanes 7 miles, 3 lanes
35
394 km
Carnforth
Morecambe
A601(M) Link (A6)
A601(M)
(A6)
A601(M)
(B6254)
Carnforth
Morecambe
A601(M) Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
4 miles, 3 lanes 4 miles, 3 lanes
34
387.5 km
Lancaster
Kirkby Lonsdale
Morecambe
Heysham
A683
A683 A683 Lancaster
A683
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
6 miles, 3 lanes 6 miles, 3 lanes
33
377.3 km
Lancaster (S)
A6
(A6) Garstang
Fleetwood
A6
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 3 lanes 2 miles, 3 lanes
374.5 km Services Lancaster Services Lancaster
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
11 miles, 3 lanes 11 miles, 3 lanes
32
356 km
Blackpool
Fleetwood
Preston (N)
Garstang
M55 Link
M55
(A6)
Blackpool
M55 Link
Preston
(A6)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 4 lanes  
31A
352.5 km
Preston (E)
Longridge
B6242
B6242 B6242
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 4 lanes 4 miles, 4 lanes
31
350 km
Preston
Blackburn
Clitheroe
A59
A59 A59 Preston
Clitheroe
A59
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 4 lanes 2 miles, 4 lanes
30
346.5 km
M61
(M62)
(M65)
Manchester
Bolton
Leeds
Blackburn
M61 Link (M62 Link, M65 Link)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 3 lanes 2 miles, 3 lanes
29
344 km
Burnley
Blackburn
Preston (S)
M65 Link
A6

M65
A6

M65
Burnley
Blackburn
M65 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 3 lanes 2 miles, 3 lanes
28
341.5 km
Leyland
B5256
B5256 B5256 Leyland
B5256
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
5 miles, 3 lanes 5 miles, 3 lanes
334 km Services Charnock Richard Services Charnock Richard
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 3 lanes 3 miles, 3 lanes
27
329 km
Parbold
Standish
Chorley
A5209
A5209 A5209 Wigan
Parbold
A5209
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
4 miles, 3 lanes 4 miles, 3 lanes
26
322.5 km
Skelmersdale
Liverpool
Southport
M58 Link
M58 (A577) Skelmersdale
Liverpool
Southport
M58 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 3 lanes  
25
318.5 km
Wigan
A49
(A49)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 3 lanes 5 miles, 3 lanes
24
316.5 km
A58 A58 St Helens
Ashton
A58
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
  1 mile, 3 lanes
23
314 km
St Helens
Liverpool
Southport
A580


A580

A49
A49

A580


Manchester
Liverpool
Newton-le-Willows
A580
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 3 lanes 3 miles, 3 lanes
22
309.5 km
Newton
A49
Leigh
A579
A49 A579 Warrington
A49
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 3 lanes 1 mile, 3 lanes
21A
307 km
Liverpool
Southport
M62 Link (M57 Link)
Manchester
Bolton
Leeds
M62 Link
M62
(M57)
M62 Manchester
Bolton
Leeds
M62 Link
Liverpool
M62 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 4 lanes 3 miles, 4 lanes
21
302 km
Warrington
Irlam
A57
B5210

A57
A57 Warrington
Irlam
A57
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 4 lanes  
River or canal Mersey
River or canal Manchester Ship Canal
(Thelwall Viaduct)
River or canal Mersey
River or canal Manchester Ship Canal
(Thelwall Viaduct)
  3 miles, 4 lanes
20
298 km
NORTH WALES
Runcorn
Birkenhead
M56 Link
Lymm
Warrington
A50
A50


M56
B5158

A50

M56

NORTH WALES
Runcorn
Chester
Stockport
Manchester Airport
M56 Link
Lymm
A50
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
5 miles, 3 lanes 5 miles, 3 lanes
19
290 km
Manchester & Airport
Stockport
(M56 E Link)
A556
A556 A556
(M56)
Northwich
Knutsford
Macclesfield
A556
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 3 lanes 1 mile, 3 lanes
288 km Services Knutsford Services Knutsford
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
7 miles, 3 lanes 7 miles, 3 lanes
18
277 km
Middlewich
Northwich
Chester
Holmes Chapel
A54
A54 A54 Holmes Chapel
Middlewich
A54
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
4 miles, 3 lanes 4 miles, 3 lanes
17
271 km
Congleton
Sandbach
A534
A534 A534 Congleton
Sandbach
A534
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 3 lanes 1 mile, 3 lanes
269 km Services Sandbach Services Sandbach
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
5 miles, 3 lanes 5 miles, 3 lanes
16
260 km
Stoke-on-Trent
Crewe
Nantwich
Chester
A500 Link
B5078

A500
A500 Newcastle-under-Lyme
Stoke-on-Trent (N)
Crewe
Nantwich
A500 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
7 miles, 3 lanes 7 miles, 3 lanes
251 km Services Keele Services Keele
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 3 lanes 3 miles, 3 lanes
15
246.1 km
Stoke-on-Trent
Newcastle-under-Lyme
A500 Link
(A500) Stoke-on-Trent
Stone
Eccleshall
A500 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
6 miles, 3 lanes  
235.1 km Services Stafford
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
5 miles, 3 lanes 7 miles, 3 lanes
Services Stafford
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
  4 miles, 3 lanes
14
228.4 km
Stafford (N)
Stone
Eccleshall
A34
A5013 A34

A5013
Stafford (N)
A34
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
5 miles, 3 lanes 5 miles, 3 lanes
13
219.9 km
Stafford
A34
A449 A449 Stafford (S)
A34
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
6 miles, 4 lanes 6 miles, 4 lanes
12
211.5 km
Telford
A5
A5
(M54)
A5 Cannock
Wolverhampton
Telford
NORTH WALES
A5 (M54 Link)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
2 miles, 4 lanes 2 miles, 4 lanes
11A
208.5 km
M6 Toll The SOUTH
M6 Toll Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
1 mile, 3 lanes 1 mile, 3 lanes
11
206.5 km
Cannock
A460
A460 A460

A462
Wolverhampton
A460
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
1 mile, 3 lanes 1 mile, 3 lanes
205.5 km Services Hilton Park Services Hilton Park
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
0.5 miles, 3 lanes  
10A
203.3 km
NORTH & MID WALES
Wolverhampton
Telford
M54 Link
M54
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
5.5 miles, 3 lanes + HSR 6 miles, 3 lanes + HSR
10
198.1 km
Walsall
Wolverhampton (Cen & E)
A454
B4464

A454
A454 Walsall
A454
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
1 mile, 3 lanes + HSR 1 mile, 3 lanes + HSR
9
195.6 km
Wednesbury
A461
A461 A461 Wednesbury
A461
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
3 miles, 3 lanes + HSR 3 miles, 3 lanes + HSR
8
192.5 km
The SOUTH WEST
Birmingham (W & S)
West Bromwich
M5 Link
M5 The SOUTH WEST
Birmingham (W & S)
West Bromwich
M5 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
0.5 miles, 4 lanes 0.5 miles, 4 lanes
7
190.5 km
Birmingham (N)
Walsall
A34
A34 A34 Birmingham (N)
A34
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
5 miles, 3 lanes + HSR 5 miles, 3 lanes + HSR
6
183.5 km
Birmingham (Cen)
A38(M) Link
Birmingham (NE)
A38



A38(M)

A5127





A5127

A38
Birmingham
(E, Cen & NE)
A38(M) Link
Lichfield
A38
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
3 miles, 3 lanes + HSR + HSR
5
178 km
Birmingham (E)
Sutton Coldfield
A452
(A452)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
6 miles, 3 lanes + HSR 6 miles, 3 lanes + HSR
4A
175 km
(M42) The NORTH
(M1 Link)
The SOUTH
M40 Link)
M42 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
  3 miles, 3 lanes + HSR
4
170.5 km
The SOUTH WEST
Birmingham (S)
Solihull
Birmingham Airport
NEC
M42 Link
Lichfield
A446
M42

A446
M42

A446
Coventry (S & W)
NEC
Birmingham Airport
A446
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
1 mile, 3 lanes 1 mile, 3 lanes
3A
169 km
The NORTH WEST
Lichfield
Tamworth (M42 Link)
M6 Toll Link
M6 Toll
(M42)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
5 miles, 3 lanes 1 mile, 4 lanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
  4 miles, 3 lanes
159.5 km Services Corley Services Corley
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 3 lanes 3 miles, 3 lanes
3
155.5 km
Bedworth
Coventry (N)
Nuneaton
A444
A444

B4113
A444 Bedworth
Coventry (N)
Nuneaton
A444
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 3 lanes 3 miles, 3 lanes
2
150.5 km
Coventry (E)
A46
Leicester
(M69 Link)
A4600


A46
M69


B4065
Coventry
A46
Leicester
(M1 N Link)
M69 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
8 miles, 3 lanes 8 miles, 3 lanes
1
137.3 km
Rugby
A426
A426 A426 Rugby
Lutterworth
A426
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 3 lanes 3 miles, 3 lanes
M1 J19
133.5 km
N/A M1




A14
SOUTH
M1



The SOUTH
Northampton
M1 Link
Felixstowe
Kettering
A14 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
Routes

With thanks to Richard Ingham, Ian Kerr, Paul Martin, Martyn Clapham, David Hollywood, Nic Storr, Terry Singleton and Simon M4Man for information on this page.