The A1101 the UK’s longest four-digit A-road, stretching for some 53 miles. If you haven’t heard of it, that’s not surprising, because it passes through some remote countryside.
It doesn’t start out that way. Everyone knows Bury St Edmunds as a charming county town, and when you head out on the A1101, you see everything you’d expect to find in such a place, including thatched cottages and the fine Tudor mansion that is Hengrave Hall.
Just past Leckford Green, you pass West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village, a reconstruction of a time when this area was perhaps more populated than it is now. There are two laybys beyond here, if you need to pull in.
Flat and forested
You get some idea of how flat the area must be, as after passing Thetford Forest Park (which has another parking bay), you skirt two sides of the mighty RAF Mildenhall.
Despite the name, this is a major US Air Force base. That accounts for the number of star-spangled banners you might see. Don’t be shocked if a fighter jet roars over you.
After that, the going gets seriously flat, but it’s not always straight. There are sufficient kinks in the road to keep you alert. You skirt around Littleport, where the road briefly becomes the A10, and then cross the River Delph just after Welney. Take care here – this section of road is often closed, because of the risk of flooding, or because it has flooded!
Wisbech, the next town you come to, is worth stopping in. The ‘capital of the Fens’ has a castle and North Brink (pictured above), which is considered one of England’s finest Georgian streets.
After this, the A1101 heads more or less straight due north, before ending at the junction with the A17, a busy road that is surprisingly full of trucks and truck stops.
Where to stop along the A1101
There are six stops that are suitable for a motorhome along the A1101:
1. Shell and Esso: Where: Fixeways Roundabout, Barton Mills, IP28 6AE. open: 24 hours. Two stations, one either side of the junction with A11. Plenty of space for motorhomes.
2. Jet: Where: North Terrace, Mildenhall IP28 7AA, open: 6am-9pm. Smaller station, but there’s enough room to manoeuvre a motorhome.
3. Esso: Where: Field Road, Mildenhall IP28 7AL, open: 24 hours
4. Gulf Bloom & Wake: Where: 130 Wisbech Road, Outwell PE14 8PF, open: 8am-7pm. Small station, but enough room for a motorhome
5. Morrisons: where: Elm High Road, Wisbech PE14 0DQ, open: 6am-9pm
6. BP: where: Wisbech Road, Spalding PE12 9AG, open: 24 hours
Campsite nearby the A1101
If you are looking for somewhere to stay near here, we recommend Delph Bank Touring Park, just a couple of roundabouts down the A17 heading towards King’s Lynn. It is absolutely immaculate. Alternatively, take a look at our guide to the best motorhome sites in the UK for more great touring destinations.
Just a few words of warning about driving on a road such as the A1101. Although it’s largely very straight, it is easy to become a bit blasé about such straight roads, and then suddenly discover that the juggernaut you assumed was a mile or so away is actually closer than you thought.
Long rows of trees along the side of the road can be a distraction if there is a low sun, and subsidence can be a problem on the smaller roads you might turn onto.
If you’re driving at night, it’s not hard to work out why the Fens have a tradition of ghosts, too. If the fog comes down, the wind can whoosh it over your vehicle like the worst kind of spectre!
Did you know…
- The A1101 is the lowest road in Great Britain, and along its approximately 53 miles, the route rarely rises above sea level.
- In the 17th century, Wisbech inhabitants became known as the Fen Tigers because of their resistance to the draining of the fens, but the project helped to turn the town into a wealthy port.
Image courtesy of Getty
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