The M65 is a motorway serving Lancashire's Calder Valley, from Preston to Blackburn, Burnley and on to Colne itself. It's a route of regional significance, rather than national importance, and its eastern section is maintained as a local authority road by Lancashire County Council. It started off being built in tiny sections, and eventually its western terminus was in Blackburn at junction 6. It took over a decade of funny little bits of construction to get that far - by the early 1990s it had understandably been nicknamed the "road to nowhere".

When it came to be extended to Preston some years later, the original plan to build it as an urban motorway through the middle of Blackburn was scrapped and a new alignment to the south of the town was built instead. The result is a handbrake turn onto the new section towards Preston at junction 6.

The reason the M65 exists isn't exactly clear. The reason usually quoted, and the reason the Highways Agency came to build a new section connecting it to Preston in a political climate hostile to motorway-building, was to give a boost to the economically declining Calder Valley. The plan was to put a blue line on the map and entice business in. But if that was the point of the M65, why connect the Calder Valley to Preston? Why not to Greater Manchester, the third largest conurbation in the country, which lies just to the south?

Those who worked on the early stages of the motorway near Blackburn, which were built to dual three-lane standard (rather than the newer two-lane sections), reveal that it was originally created with ideas of building a second trans-Pennine motorway. It went no further because of a lack of progress on the Yorkshire side. Iain Dobson reports that one plan had the M65 ending outside the Yorkshire Post Building - the A65 junction on the Leeds Inner Ring Road. This makes a connection to the M6, rather than Manchester, more understandable. By the 1990s, ways to provide a boost to the local economy were being sought, and finishing the existing road was a good way to go about it.

The M65 was meant to go further west as well, forming a Preston Western Bypass, but never did. Everything west of the M6 is effectively a set of sliproads to the A6.

South-east of Preston, the M65 has an unusual connection to the local road network, in the form of a single-carriageway spur under motorway restrictions that joins the roundabout at the interchange with the M61: it's called the Walton Summit motorway, and it's one of the few places in the UK where you can drive at 70mph on a single-carriageway road. It even has an overtaking lane on the uphill side so that a slow lorry won't stop you trying.

Start
Preston
End
Colne
Passes
Blackburn, Burnley
Connects to
Length
28 miles
Open Junctions Section
Oct 1981 J10-12 Burnley → Brierfield
Dec 1983 J12-13 Brierfield → Nelson
Dec 1983 J7-10 Hyndburn → Burnley
Dec 1984 J6-7 Whitebirk → Hyndburn
Sep 1988 J13-14 Nelson → Colne
Dec 1997 J1a-6 Preston → Whitebirk

Exit list

Junction   Westbound               Eastbound  
1A
0.0 km
All traffic WEST

(A6)
N/A
LanesLanesLanesLanes SignsSigns LanesLanesLanesLanes SignsSigns
0.2 miles, 2 lanes 0.2 miles, 2 lanes
1
1.5 km
The SOUTH
Liverpool (M58 Link)
Birmingham
M6 Link
M6
(M58)
M6 Lancaster
Liverpool (M58 Link)
Birmingham
M6 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 3 lanes 1 mile, 3 lanes
2
3.5 km
Manchester
Chorley
Lancaster (M6 Link)
Blackpool (M55 Link)
M61 Link
M61
(M62)
(A6)

M61
(M6)
(M55)
Manchester
Leeds (M62 Link)
M61 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 2 lanes 3 miles, 2 lanes
3
8 km
Blackburn (W)
A674
A674

A675
A675

A674
Blackburn (W)
A674
Bolton
A675
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
LanesLanesLanesLanes
  1 mile, 3 lanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 3 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
4
13.5 km
Blackburn (S & Cen)
Bolton
Darwen
A666
Services Blackburn with Darwen
(A666) Blackburn (S & Cen)
Bolton
Darwen
A666
Services Blackburn with Darwen
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes 2 miles, 3 lanes
5
16 km
B6232
Shadsworth
A6077
B6232 A6077 B6232
Shadsworth
A6077
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes 2 miles, 2 lanes
6
20 km
Blackburn (N & E)
A678
A678

A6119

A678
Blackburn (N & E)
A678
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 3 lanes 2 miles, 3 lanes
7
23.5 km
Accrington
Clitheroe
A6185
A6185 A6185
(A680)
Accrington
Clitheroe
A6185
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 3 lanes 3 miles, 3 lanes
8
27.5 km
Bury
Manchester
A56 (M66 Link)
Clitheroe A6068
A56
(M66)
A6068 Bury
Manchester
A56 (M66 Link)
Clitheroe A6068
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 3 lanes 1 mile, 3 lanes
9
29.5 km
A679 Burnley (W)
A679
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes 2 miles, 2 lanes
10
32 km
Burnley
Padiham
A671
A671 A671 Burnley
Clitheroe
A671
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes  
11
33.5 km
Burnley (Cen)
(A682)
B6434
(A682)
LanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 2 lanes 4 miles, 2 lanes
12
37.5 km
Burnley (N)
Brierfield
A682
(A682) Nelson
Brierfield
A682
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
13
39.4 km
Nelson
A682
A682

A6068
A6068

A682
Nelson
Kendal
A682
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes 2 miles, 2 lanes
14
41.5 km
N/A A6068








EAST
A6068
(A56)







Keighley
A6068
Skipton (A56)
Boundary Mill
Colne A6068
LanesLanesLanesLanes SignsSigns LanesLanesLanesLanes SignsSigns
Routes

With thanks to Steven Jukes, Iain Dobson and Bryn Buck for information on this page.