B5493, Tamworth, UK

This Great Road was initially published in issue 81 of Total 911.

We all have a local road, near enough to pop out to, and of suitable character to be worth driving when we fancy a local tootle. Mine is the B5493.

Linking the town of Tamworth to the top of the M42, the road doesn’t really have anything of note along it, other than the village No Man’s Heath. Tamworth was the capital of Mercia in Anglo Saxon times, so would have been well connected for trade. The B5493 perhaps follows a Roman or Mercian ancient road, but nowadays is basically just a link through small villages to the motorway network.

There are, roughly speaking, three sections to the road. The first, a close-hedged section with regular bends, then a long, open straighter section, and a final sweep of open bends. It is driveable either way, but we’ll start from Tamworth. Entering the national speed limit area, we curve through arable farmland, with the River Anker in the valley to the right.

LOCATION: Tamworth, Staffordshire to Appleby Magna, Leicestershire

LATITUDE: N52.6340 W1.6876


Tamworth Castle
SnowDome, Tamworth
Donington Park Circuit
National Memorial Arboretum

The Bird in Hand, Austrey

Oak Tree Farm, Hopwas

We’ve good sight lines as we leave Tamworth, so for the first mile or two we sweep through alternating left and right-hand bends. As we pass the turn for the village of Newton Regis, we get sight of the next straight section, exactly a mile long, with its low hedges and fields off to the distance on each side of the road. No Man’s Heath rolls into view a mile later, along with a brief 40mph limit.

The village is near the border of the four counties of Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire, and an old tale tells of how the Four Counties Pub (now Four Counties Spice) on the route spanned the borders within its walls. Just after the pub we’re back to a 60mph limit and a final few bends with excellent sight lines brings us to the M42 roundabout.

We either then turn round and drive back again, or, more often than not, we’ll turn off and leisurely tootle through some of the villages and farmland, arriving back on the B5493 at the next village down the road. The great thing about the road is that it is a nice, steady cruise at 60mph, which you can either take in top gear, and cruise the length of, or, alternatively go for third/fourth gear, and back off the throttle to slow the car for the bends.

It is a popular biker route and, unfortunately, they don’t always show a high regard for the speed limit. Police can be out because of this. If you’re out for a tootle, you’ll be within the speed limit, but keep an eye on your offside mirror for an errant biker screaming past. If the bikers are out we will often turn off and explore the villages and the countryside.

Don’t think we are being down on the route – we’re clearly not. We went out last night to drive it before writing this, and it was like a classic car show. We saw a Westfield, Lotus Esprit, Beetle, MGB and MG Midget, within the space of half an hour. All presumably out for the same reason as we were – the weather was gorgeous, the car was in the garage, so why not pop out for half an hour and have a gentle drive?

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