A170 road

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A170 shield

The hairpin bend on Sutton Bank.
Major junctions
West end: Thirsk
  A19 A19 road
A169 A169 road
A171 A171 road
A64 A64 road
A165 A165 road
East end: Scarborough
Road network

The A170 is an A road in North Yorkshire, England that links Thirsk with Scarborough through Pickering. The route is single carriageway for all of its 47-mile (76 km) route.


The route has been in existence since prehistoric times and there are folk-tales about famous people from history using it. Because turnpikes were installed between York and Coxwold, Drovers would take their cattle this way as it was wide enough and helped to prevent them paying the tolls.[1]


Description of route[edit]

The road begins at Thirsk, sprouting off from the A19 road and A168 junction with a short section north into the town before turning due east and going over the now dualled A19. After about 5 miles (8.0 km) and passing through the village of Sutton-Under-Whitestonecliffe, it enters the North York Moors National Park and the Hambleton Hills and reaches the three sections of very steep (1 in 4 (25%)) gradients of Sutton Bank. This section of road also includes a hairpin bend and the road rises 520 feet (160 m) in under 1 mile (1.6 km).[2] There is a viewpoint and North York Moors National Park visitor centre at the top of the hill.[3]

The road continues east for 6 miles (10 km) before there is a 90°turn to the north and the B1257 joins from the south. Hereafter is a short run northwards into Helmsley where the B1257 leaves (going north west and then north across the western edge of the moors) to Stokesley. The A170 then continues eastwards for 13 miles (21 km) through Beadlam, Nawton, Kirkbymoorside, Wrelton, Aislaby and Middleton before arriving at Pickering. Just east of Pickering town centre is the junction with the A169 Malton to Whitby road.

The road continues eastwards out of Pickering and just short of 1 mile (1.5 km) it leaves the North York Moors National Park. The road carries on for 18 miles (29 km) through Thornton-Le-Dale, Allerston, Ebberston, Snainton, West Ayton and East Ayton before arriving in Scarborough. It first meets the A171 from Middlesbrough then it has a junction the A64 in the Falsgrave area of Scarborough town.


The road itself has been described as High Risk.[4] In 2001, the AA labelled the route as one of the most dangerous in Britain.[5] Caravans have been prohibited from going either up or down Sutton Bank since May 1984[6] as the steep gradient and hairpin bend makes it dangerous for caravans and HGV's. There is an alternative route signposted through Coxwold and Ampleforth for banned vehicles.[7] In an average year, 120 HGV's breakdown and another 400 suffer problems ascending or descending the route. New signage and the application of an anti-skid surface has improved the situation and seen a reduction of 23% of serious problems in the first year after the improvements.[8]

Barkers Lane cross roads at Snainton is also listed as an accident blackspot.[5]


Some services travel between Helmlsey, Kirkbymoorside & Pickering, with the services from Pickering to Scarborough being the most frequent. No services travel the entire route from Thirsk to Scarborough along the length of the A170.


  1. ^ "A meeting of the ancient ways". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 25 October 2015. 
  2. ^ "Sutton Bank, Thirsk; HGV Driver Information" (PDF). North Yorks.gov. p. 2. Retrieved 17 August 2016. 
  3. ^ "Sutton Bank" (PDF). National Trail. Retrieved 18 August 2016. 
  4. ^ "A170 Route - Roadwise". Roadwise. Retrieved 25 October 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "A170 is one of most dangerous". Malton Mercury. Retrieved 25 October 2015. 
  6. ^ "A170 Sutton Bank" (PDF). Spanglefish.com. SUTTON UNDER WHITESTONECLIFFE. March 2015. p. 3. Retrieved 18 August 2016. 
  7. ^ "Fortnight closure for A170 at Sutton Bank in North Yorkshire". BBC News. Retrieved 25 October 2015. 
  8. ^ "Road improvements reduce hill blockages". Malton Mercury. Retrieved 25 October 2015. 

Coordinates: 54°15′31″N 0°50′48″W / 54.2587°N 0.8468°W / 54.2587; -0.8468