We're planning to walk / run the entire 275 miles (443 km) of the A5, from London to Holyhead. On Page 5 of the Official Highway Code, it states that:

Pedestrians MUST NOT be on motorways or slip roads except in an emergency

...but as the A5 is made up of single and dual carriageways, does that mean it's legal?

I don't think I've ever seen someone walk along an A road before (except for in an emergency), so it feels wrong to me.

  • 1
    As an aside, may I ask why you choose the main road? Do you want to follow the route of the old Roman road? It would probably be possible to avoid it in large rural stretches and stick to minor roads instead (not that they're necessarily safer with their poor lines of sight)
    – Chris H
    Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 21:16
  • Many A roads which are dual carriageways, are 70mph National - which means you'll get the same level of danger as a motorway. I drive along the A4146 which has a pedestrian crossing, but no path along it. Take a look at OS and see if they have a path alongside the road.
    – Aravona
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 11:26
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    @ChrisH, exactly that. You're right about sticking to the minor roads - it will be a little further, but a hell of a lot safer. I'll go back to the drawing board and see if it's feasible to get there without touching the A5 (or as little of it as possible!).
    – dvniel
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 16:30
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    So the A5 doesn't quite follow Watling Street, occasionally it follows a bypass where the old road goes through town. I drove the full length the other day as I was going to Holyhead and thought of you. Most of the road is really dull for walking, some parts frankly dangerous, some parts are lovely, however I didn't see any stretches where walking was explicitly forbidden so you should be ok on the legal side.
    – Separatrix
    Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 13:10

2 Answers 2


A motorway is very strictly defined and will always be named Mn or An(M). There are A roads sometimes called expressways that look a lot like motorways but they don't have hard shoulders and their signs have a green, not blue, background. They may however have signs forbidding pedestrians. This might be an issue in places like the Shrewsbury bypass (but you could take the old route through the town); in Milton Keynes there's a path running alongside, the other side of a fence - use it.

As someone who sometimes cycles on big dual carriageways (there are places where there isn't a realistic alternative, such as the A40 near Monmouth) I'm not sure it's a pleasant or smooth idea. You'll be likely to end up running on the grass verge in places and those are rougher than they look.

Single carriageway A roads can be worse for cycling on than dual carriageways but are probably better for walking or running. Once you're in north Wales, there's actually pavement alongside the A5 for much of its length (I've walked a little bit of it near Cerrigydrudion and I think it runs from there to Betws-y-Coed at least)

Remember to walk/run against the flow of traffic so you can see it coming and step to the side if necessary.

  • I've stuck in a few examples of places I could think of being good or bad, I suggest using a decent road atlas (to see where the dual carriageways are without having to zoom way in) and street view.
    – Chris H
    Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 21:27
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    MK is full of dual carriage ways but is not a good example of the UK in general but is a good example of where it's done right, as they have the Redways - Redways are for pedestrians, cyclists, runners, most go alongside the roads and then through underpasses. I spend roughly 50 hours a week here, driving and walking it.
    – Aravona
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 11:34
  • @Aravona interesting, I've never been near MK except driving. I reckon doing the whole length of the A5 is a good sampling of major UK A roads so the OP will see all sorts.
    – Chris H
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 11:57
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    True the A5 runs through the center, but if you drop to the V and H roads (not necessarily A roads but most of which are dual carriageways), you'll get to see the Redways on pretty much every one, some are raised, some dropped, some a bit of a distance from the road but they are there.
    – Aravona
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 12:08

If it's not a motorway, it's not illegal. It might however be dangerous or very ill-advised (think of the fumes you would inhale all the way). I live near the A1 and would not consider walking any distance along it except in an emergency, the vehicles are way too close and way too fast.

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