For most of the north of England, the M62 is a lifeline. That's not as much of a cliché as it might sound: its central section crosses the Pennines, a place of harsh winter weather, and before the motorway came along, there was often no way across in winter. The M62 was designed to be the pass that would never be closed.

For a motorway with such an unassuming number, it notches up an astounding array of achievements. It is the nearest that Britain has to a coast-to-coast motorway, linking Liverpool with Hull, more or less. The bridge over junction 22 at Moss Moor is the highest motorway in the UK, while out near Goole in East Yorkshire, it's just two or three metres above sea level, making it also the lowest. It is the motorway that has evolved and shifted its route more than any other, starting life as the Stretford and Eccles Bypass west of Manchester. It now only uses about a mile of that original route, with the rest becoming first M63 and now M60.

At the Liverpool end, the motorway was never finished. It starts at junction 4, with a steep ramp from street level to a length of elevated motorway through the suburbs. The city's engineers had planned it to run in a tunnel to Islington where it would have ended on the never-built Liverpool Inner Motorway. Instead it just stops at a congested set of traffic lights on the ring road.

The section it's known for, and the part that truly defines it, is the spectacular run across the Pennines. Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire are two densely built-up conurbations whose fringes are only about ten miles apart, but between them is a shockingly bleak and forbidding wilderness. Engineers and labourers spent more than five years fighting the elements to build that motorway.

At Scammonden, the M62 crosses the top of an earth dam, built with material excavated from the cutting immediately to the west. The bridge spanning that man-made cutting was the longest single-span non-suspension bridge in the world when it was opened. The Pennines presented an engineering challenge on a scale rarely seen in this placid little country.

The Pennine section of the M62 is also home to an enduring urban myth: the house in the middle of the motorway. There really is a working farmhouse there, and someone really does live in it, tending to sheep that graze on the moorland. But the legend that the farmer there refused to move is wrong. Land for motorways is bought by Compulsory Purchase Order, and a CPO is just that: compulsory. If the M62's engineers had wanted to flatten the farmhouse, it would have gone.

In fact, while it was originally scheduled for demolition, geological surveys showed that the ground below it would be unable to support a motorway, so the load was spread by building each carriageway separately, some distance apart. The house was saved from demolition, but sadly condemned to being situated in the central reservation, where to this day it is stared at by every passing motorist.

Start
Liverpool
End
North Cave
Passes
Huyton, St Helens, Warrington, Rochdale, Halifax, Huddersfield, Bradford, Dewsbury, Leeds, Wakefield, Pontefract, Goole
Length
107 miles
Open Junctions Section
Nov 1970 J23*-23 Pole Moor → Outlane
Feb 1971 J27-29 Gildersome → Lofthouse
Nov 1971 J22-23* County Boundary → Pole Moor
Nov 1971 J18-22 Simister → County Boundary
1972 J24-26 Ainley Top → Chain Bar
1972 J23-24 Outlane → Ainley Top
May 1973 J26-27 Chain Bar → Gildersome
Nov 1973 J6-10 Tarbock → Croft
Mar 1974 J31-33 Hope Town → Ferrybridge
Apr 1974 J10-12 Croft → Worsley
Aug 1974 J29-31 Lofthouse → Hope Town
Oct 1974 J33-34* Ferrybridge → Pollington
Mar 1975 J35-36 Rawcliffe → Goole
Jun 1975 J34*-35 Pollington → Rawcliffe
May 1976 J36-38 Goole → North Cave (inc. Ouse Bridge)
Nov 1976 J4-6 Queens Drive → Tarbock

Exit list

NB: Junctions 1-4 were never built. Junctions 12-18 are now part of the M60.

Junction   Westbound               Eastbound  
4 N/A


A5080
WEST
A5080
Knotty Ash
Childwall
Broadgreen Hospital
A5080
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes SignsSigns LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes SignsSigns
1 mile, 3 lanes 1 mile, 3 lanes
5 Huyton
Knotty Ash
A5080
A5080 A5080 Huyton
A5080
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
3 miles, 3 lanes 3 miles, 3 lanes
6
12.5 km
Liverpool (S) & Airport
A5300
Huyton
A5080
Southport
Prescot & Docks
M57 Link

A5300
(M56)

A5080

A5080

M57


Prescot
M57 Link
Runcorn
(M56 Link)
A5300
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 3 lanes 3 miles, 3 lanes
7
16.5 km
St Helens
A570
Prescot
A57
Widnes
A557
A557

A57
A57

A570
Warrington
A57
St Helens
A570
Widnes
A557
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
4 miles, 3 lanes 4 miles, 3 lanes
8
23.5 km
Warrington (W)
Burtonwood
(A574)
Services Burtonwood
(A574) Warrington (W)
Burtonwood
(A574)
Services Burtonwood
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 4 lanes 3 miles, 4 lanes
9
27 km
Warrington (Cen)
Newton
A49
A49 A49 Warrington (Cen)
Newton
A49
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 4 lanes 1 mile, 4 lanes
10
29.5 km
Birmingham
Preston
Chester (M56 Link)
M6 Link
M6
(M56)
M6 Preston
Birmingham
Manchester Airport
Stockport (M56 Link)
M6 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 3 lanes 2 miles, 3 lanes
11
33.5 km
Warrington (E)
Birchwood
A574
A574 Warrington (E)
Birchwood
A574
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
7 miles, 3 lanes 7 miles, 3 lanes
12
44 km
N/A M60









M602
M60
(M61)
(M62)
(M66)








Ring Road (N)
Bolton (M61 Link)
Bury (M66 Link)
Leeds (M62)
M60 Link
Salford
Manchester
M602 Link
Ring Road (S&E)
Manchester Airport
M60 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
   
M62 follows M60 between junctions 12 and 18
 
18
56.5 km
Ring Road (W)
Salford
Preston
Bolton (M61 Link)
Liverpool (M62)
M60 Link
Ring Road (E&S)
Manchester & Airport
M60 Link
Bury
Blackburn
M66 Link










M60
M60 (M61, M62)










M66
N/A
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 4 lanes 2 miles, 3 lanes
59 km Services Birch Services Birch
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 3 lanes 1 mile, 3 lanes
19
61 km
Middleton
Heywood
A6046
A6046 A6046 Middleton
Heywood
A6046
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 3 lanes 2 miles, 3 lanes
20
64.5 km
Rochdale
Oldham
A627(M) Link
A627(M) A627(M) Rochdale
Oldham
A627(M) Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 3 lanes 2 miles, 3 lanes
21
68 km
Milnrow
Shaw
A640


A640
A6193

A640
Milnrow
Shaw
A640
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
4 miles, 3 lanes 4 miles, 3 lanes
22
75.5 km
Saddleworth
A672
A672 A672 Saddleworth
A672
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
9 miles, 3 lanes 7 miles, 3 lanes
23
86.9 km
A640

A643
A640 Huddersfield
A640
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
  2 miles, 3 lanes
24
89 km
Huddersfield
Halifax
A629
(A629) Huddersfield
Halifax
A629
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
4 miles, 4 lanes 4 miles, 3 lanes
25
95.5 km
Brighouse
A644
Huddersfield
(A62)
A644
(A62)
A644 Brighouse
Dewsbury
A644
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
1 mile, 4 lanes 1 mile, 4 lanes
97.5 km Services Hartshead Moor Services Hartshead Moor
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
2 miles, 4 lanes 2 miles, 4 lanes
26
100.5 km
Bradford
M606 Link
Halifax
A58
A638


A58
A58


M606
Bradford & Airport
M606 Link
Cleckheaton
A638
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
4 miles, 3 lanes + HSR 4 miles, 3 lanes + HSR
27
107 km
Bradford
A62 (A650)
Leeds
(M621 Link)
A62 A650
A62
A650
M621
Leeds
M621 Link
Batley
(A62)
Morley
(A650)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
3 miles, 3 lanes + HSR 3 miles, 3 lanes + HSR
28
112 km
Leeds
Dewsbury
Leeds/Bradford Airport
A653
A650

A653

A650
A653 Leeds
Dewsbury
A653
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
3 miles, 4 lanes 3 miles, 4 lanes
29
116 km
London
Leeds
Wakefield
M1 Link
M1 M1
(M621)
London
Wakefield
The NORTH
M1 Link
Leeds
(M621 Link)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
2 miles, 3 lanes 2 miles, 3 lanes
30
120 km
Rothwell
Wakefield
A642
A642 A642 Rothwell
Wakefield
A642
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
3 miles, 3 lanes 3 miles, 3 lanes
31
125 km
Castleford
Normanton
A655
A655 A655 Castleford
Normanton
A655
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 3 lanes 3 miles, 3 lanes
32
129.5 km
Pontefract
Castleford
A639
A639 A639 Pontefract
Castleford
A639
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 3 lanes 2 miles, 3 lanes
32A
132 km
The NORTH
Wetherby
A1(M) Link






A1(M)
A1(M)




The NORTH
Wetherby
The SOUTH
Doncaster
A1(M) Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 3 lanes 1 mile, 3 lanes
33
134.6 km
The SOUTH
Doncaster
(A1 Link)
Pontefract
A162
Services Ferrybridge
A162
(A1)
A162 Knottingley
A162



Services Ferrybridge
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
5 miles, 3 lanes 5 miles, 3 lanes
34
142.1 km
Selby
Doncaster
A19
A19 A19 Selby
Doncaster
A19
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
8 miles, 3 lanes 8 miles, 3 lanes
35
155 km
The SOUTH
Doncaster
M18 Link
Scunthorpe
(M180 Link)
M18
(M180)
The SOUTH
M18 Link
Scunthorpe
(M180 Link)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 3 lanes 3 miles, 3 lanes
36
159.5 km
Goole
A614
A614 A614 Goole
A614
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 3 lanes  
River or canal Ouse River or canal Ouse
  3 miles, 3 lanes
37
163.5 km
Howden
A614
Selby
(A63)
(A614)
(A63)
York
(A63)
Howden
Bridlington
A614
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
9 miles, 3 lanes 9 miles, 3 lanes
38
177 km
N/A B1230





A63
EAST
B1230




North Cave
Gilberdyke
B1230
Hull
Beverley
A63
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
Routes

Picture credits

With thanks to Kieron, Toby Speight, Graham Marshall and Weqas for information on this page.