Tom Fort’s latest book begins with the premise that holidays, while supposedly among our most cherished memories, are often eclipsed by the journeys involved in getting to our destinations, in Fort’s experience this being westwards down the A303. Proprietorially, I rarely use its prefatory ‘A’ because, to me, it’s simply my road. An army child, specifically a Gunner baby, I was born in Aldershot at the eastern extremity of the road, and Fort’s peregrinations mirror and recall vital stages of my life: toddlerhood in Camberley (my father at Staff College), quarters at Bulford Camp, school in Salisbury, a first job waitressing in a Thruxton pub, hair-raising driving lessons on the titular road, independence and, latterly, marriage in a sandstone church in south Somerset – all within a roar of the A303. To my delight, therefore, this is my story, the surprise and joy being that it contains so much I didn’t know. The A303 was always going to work for me but I’d be surprised if, after reading it, you aren’t searching for the car keys.
The A303 is more than a road. It’s a route knotted together for escapees from the capital, evolved piecemeal from the ancient paths, turnpikes and roads that came before. Fort is an engaging guide, by turns walking, cycling and driving, at all times