The M56 is sometimes poetically described as the "North Cheshire motorway", and runs from Greater Manchester to Chester, with connections to the Wirral and North Wales.
At its Manchester end, the M56 is one of very few roads to present a metaphysical problem. It appears to stop end-on with the A5103 Princess Parkway, but at just the point where it ends, a spur branches off towards the M60 and Stockport. The Sharston Spur, as it's known, is longer than the remaining stub of motorway. It branches off at what appears to be the terminus of the M56, but the junction is number 3, and junctions 1 and 2 are then located on the spur. So is the spur actually the mainline of the M56?
Traffic running between the M6 from the south and the M56 towards Manchester is not catered for at the M6/M56 junction. Instead, this traffic is directed to leave a junction early and follow the A556. A desperately-needed bypass for the villages of Mere and Bucklow opened in 2017, but until then, it's astonishing to think that the main road between Greater Manchester and all points south - including the West Midlands and London - was a single-carriageway road. It's now dual carriageway throughout but still not a motorway.
The M56 has no junction 13. Conspiracy theorists might have you believe it was reserved for the southward extension of the M57 Liverpool Outer Ring Road, but there's a little thing in the way called the Mersey, which is a good mile or two wide at this point and there's no evidence that plans existed to bridge it. A more likely reason is to provide for future expansion of the Stanlow oil refinery or other nearby industrial complexes.
At the western end of the route, the M56 has been extended more than once. At first it stopped at junction 14, but the A5117 from there onwards was badly congested, so it was extended to reach the M53 and then further west to another point on the A5117. A final extension - just a short one, removing the terminal roundabout so that the road free-flows into the A-road beyond - opened in the mid-2000s and completes the route towards North Wales.