Posted 20 hours ago

The A303: Highway to the Sun

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His account of the Free Festivals at Stonehenge made me remember a forgotten journey in my life, when travelling on a motorcycle i just happened upon the free festival. Photograph: John Holdsworth/BBC A303: Highway to the Sun presenter Tom Fort and his 'ropey old Morris Minor van'. Fort acknowledges that progress has to be made – he even makes a case, which I am too sentimental to endorse without reservation, for the Winchester bypass which so energised the anti-roads lobby back in the 1990s. It weaves around a bit in places but the constancy of the A303 keeps drawing him - and the reader - back on track. The change is more likely to have been because the A303 was assessed as more suitable for future improvements.

Having spent most of my life living and working along various points on the A303, I thoroughly enjoyed this book as I could relate to the places described.The author didn't really seem to have much of a personal connection with the road and I think it would have been better with a bit more present human experience. It's taken me a long time to get around to reading this one, simply because I wasn't sure if it was going to live up to the other books. An interesting and enjoyable read, although at times a bit disjointed - nevertheless, still happy to rate it 7/10. Scandal-lovers will be thrilled by the rape and sodomy charges against the Second Earl of Castlehaven in 1631. The description of the A303 and the people who travel along it has a very English flavour and Fort has produced an appropriate book to go with it.

I found this book on the shelves in a holiday cottage I was staying in at Dartmouth and, having lived in Wiltshire through my teenage years and into my twenties, was familiar with much of the area to which the book relates so was interested to see what the author had to say about the area. The A303 is a one of the essential routes of English motoring, promising to whisk the traveller towards the green and honeyed lands of Somerset and the far west to a world of holidays and escape. I've spent enough time driving from London to the south-west to know that A303: Highway to the Sun (BBC4) was in breach of the trade descriptions act. To my delight, therefore, this is my story, the surprise and joy being that it contains so much I didn’t know.Bought this for my stepdad who has driven along the 303 countless times over the years and seen all the changes along its length. This book was first published in 2012 (just before we moved down here), and was updated seven years later. A bit disjointed but I was in particular fascinated by the story about the fairly cavalier rearrangement of the stones at Stonehenge in the 1950s - not quite the unchanging timeless monument we all imagine it to be, then. Unlike the alternative route via the M4 and M5, which the elderly maps in this highly enjoyable book do not deign to feature, it brings us elegant curves and the wonderful sweep of Salisbury Plain. So I have an emotional attachment to it for many of the reasons Tom Ford highlighted in his introduction.

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