The A303 by Tom Fort

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It is an unusually good writer, I decided...who can make tears brim in the first two pages of a book whose subject is the road that runs for a little over 90 miles between Basingstoke in the east and the Devon town of Honiton in the west.
-Guardian

Synopsis

The A303 is 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 (although these journeys all too often grind to a standstill.) Yet the 303 is more than a road. It is a story. Four-and-a-half thousand years ago the bluestones of Stonehenge were conveyed west from the river Avon along a small section of its route. Roman roads crossed it and drovers' paths lie beneath it. Its route cuts across some of the finest chalkland in southern England. Tom Fort wanders across the summits of the downs, takes in the views and investigates the evidence of ancient habitation and worship. He samples the fare at the Willoughby Hedge Cafe, legendary among truckers. He seeks out service stations and inns and turnpike toll houses; tells stories of dreadful crashes and highway robberies; of solstice seekers and Stonehenge; of Queen Guinevere and Sir Launcelot; of army camps and racing tracks; Battles and festivals; of churches, abbeys, farms, houses, burial mounds, trout fishermen and falconers. Digging in dark corners, exploring long-forgotten byways and poring over ancient maps, Tom Fort has created a book of travel, and of social and cultural history, as alive to the England of 3000 BC as the England of 2012 AD.
 

About Tom Fort

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Tom Fort was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford. In 1978 he joined the BBC in London where he worked in the BBC Radio newsroom for 22 years. He lives in South Oxfordshire with his wife and two of his children and has been travelling up and down the A303 for over five decades.
 
Published May 10, 2012 by Simon & Schuster Ltd. 368 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Travel.
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Guardian

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Reviewed by Nicholas Lezard on May 14 2013

It is an unusually good writer, I decided...who can make tears brim in the first two pages of a book whose subject is the road that runs for a little over 90 miles between Basingstoke in the east and the Devon town of Honiton in the west.

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