From Roader's Digest: The SABRE Wiki
|Length:||66.4 miles (106.9 km)|
|Meets:||A832, A9, A862, A832, A834, A832, A893, A837|
|Former Number(s):||B862, B9162, A834, A832, B860|
|Old route now:||A893|
Highland •Transport Scotland
|Route outline (key)|
The A835 is just over 66 miles long, and is a primary route from Tore to Ullapool. It used to commence at the A832 junction at Gorstan just beyond Garve; the section between Maryburgh and Tore was previously the A834 (and before that the B9162). The road can be particularly busy before and after ferry crossings arrive at and depart from Ullapool, and sees a great deal of goods traffic travelling to and from the Western Isles.
The road is characterised by frequent deer warning signs and deer reflectors are in place at a number of locations to try to limit the number of accidents, some fatal, which have occurred on this route. There has also been action by Highland Council along the route to try to control invasive species such as Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam, which displace other plants and destabilise river banks, and areas of banking on hillsides.
Tore - Gorstan
The road commences at its eastern end at Tore Roundabout, a roundabout providing links in five directions with the A9 north and southbound, the A832 east and westbound, and the A835 itself. Heading west and then north west from here it crosses the B9169 at a staggered junction, passes Kinkell Castle (a restored 16th/17th-century tower house), crosses the B9163, again at a staggered junction, and by-passes the town of Conon Bridge, before crossing the mouth of the River Conon, and the Inverness to Wick/Thurso railway line to meet the A862 at a roundabout junction at the northern end of Maryburgh.
From here it sweeps around the north of Maryburgh by-passing the town, heading west with long sight lines and plenty of overtaking opportunities. It meets the A832 next to Moy Bridge over the River Conon, with its flood barriers and signs warning pedestrians that water levels can rise quickly. The A835 now follows the Black Water, a tributary of the Conon, meeting the A834 at a triangular junction, before passing through the village of Contin and crossing the river on Contin Bridge. Heading north west now it passes the Rogie Falls with its fish ladder (where, in season, salmon can be seen leaping up the Black Water), through Tarvie, and along the southern shores of Loch Garve, the Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh railway line separating it from the loch side.
At Garve, it crosses the railway line on a level crossing beside Garve Station, meeting the A832 at Gorstan a short distance further on. This junction was heavily rebuilt when the A835 was extended south to Tore, and the next section is new built through a cutting.
Gorstan - Ullapool
From Gorstan, the road turns round to the north east, crossing a small stream on a new embankment before heading into a cutting. This bypasses the small village of Little Garve to the south. The road is still following the Black Water, as it passes through Strathgarve Forest, crossing the Black Water again before turning north into Garbat Forest. There are odd houses scattered along the roadside, with the old road alignment running parallel to the new road, immediately to the west. In a few places the old road is used for laybys, but the old bridges all seem to have gone. At Garbat a parking area provides access to Ben Wyvis for Munro baggers, alongside Garbat Bridge. A mile or so further on, the Inchbae Lodge Hotel is passed next to Inchbae Bridge.
Heading north west again, the road leaves the forest behind and crosses the Black Water again at Black Bridge. Now running alongside the Glascarnoch River, the road heads west to the Aultguish Inn and then the dam at Loch Glascarnoch (the Glascarnoch dam is part of the Conon Valley power project; the dam receives water from the Lochs Vaich and Droma which then flow into the River Glascarnoch). Aultguish Inn stands in the shadow of the low dam, and there are a number of parking areas and viewpoints along the loch shore as we continue west. Despite appearances, the road follows its original alignment with the loch being created below the road line. Just before crossing the watershed, the road crosses Torrandhu Bridge, and then descends past Loch Droma. Below the loch there are a couple of laybys showing up the old road alignment. At Braemore Junction it meets the A832 for the fourth and final time, turning north to pass through the Corrieshalloch Gorge (this breathtaking mile-long gorge is one of the finest examples in Britain of a box canyon, it is 61 m (200ft) deep. The river plunges 46 m (150ft) over the Falls of Measach. There is a suspension bridge a little way downstream from the falls, this was built by John Fowler (1817-98), he was also a joint designer of the Forth Railway Bridge).
Continuing north west the road follows the River Broom through Lael Forest, crossing Inverlael Bridge alongside its humpbacked predecessor. Beyond Inverlael, it emerges to skirt the eastern shores of Loch Broom, through Leckmelm, and the Ullapool Braes, entering Ullapool as Garve Road. In Ullapool (purpose built as a herring station to a Thomas Telford design in 1788) it meets the A893, which is a very short road connecting the A835 to the pier, where Caledonian MacBrayne ferries depart for Stornoway on Lewis. This is where the road ceases to be primary, the A893 taking on that baton to the pier, which is the original terminus of the A835. Today, however, the road continues north through the town as Mill Street, and then North Road, which bypasses the older route of Moss Road to reach Ullapool Bridge.
Ullapool - Ledmore
Leaving Ullapool, and most of the traffic, behind the road turns to head north west, climbing through Morefield, before dropping again to cross a stream near the junction with the road to Rhue. Another, lower, hill is crossed and the road drops to the shore at the pretty whitewashed row of houses at Ardmair. From here, the road turns again to head north east, along the shore of Loch Kanaird and then climbing steeply through the narrow pass called Glutton. The old road can be seen in places off to the left, taking a less direct, but also more level, route through to Strath Canaird. The old and new roads re-converge near a hydro-electric power station, just before the bridge over the River Canaird, in the village of Strathcanaird.
The road is now climbing steadily into the hills, the coast a distant memory as the breathtaking views across Coigach and north to Assynt start to unfold. At Drumrunie it meets the unclassified single-track road leading to Achiltibuie and the west coast. The A835 continues heading north east, passing several small inland lochs, and the Knockan Crag visitor centre (telling the story of the unique geology of the Assynt area, 'The South Pole to Scotland in 600 million years'). There are a number of laybys from which to enjoy the spectacular views, and in places the old road can be seen running parallel to the new a little to the west. The tiny, merged villages of Knockan and Elphin are passed, with the road snaking through on a route that is actually straighter than the old road thanks to some new cuttings and embankments. Beyond Elphin, the road turns east, briefly skirting the shores of the Cam Loch, before crossing the Ledbeg River to end at Ledmore Junction, where it meets the A837.
From here, on the A837, Thurso is signed on the tourist route to the north, and east the road becomes single track, leading to Lairg and Bonar Bridge.
This last section of the A835, north of Ullapool, was classified as the B860 back in 1922, although by 1932 it had already become part of the extended A835. As the A835 originally ended on Ullapool pier, it is likely that the A893 was created when the A835 was extended north of Ullapool.
At the other end of the route, the A835 originally terminated on the A832 at Garve. Then, in the early 1980s, with the opening of the Cromarty Bridge and then the Kessock Bridge, the A835 was extended to Tore Roundabout. However, it was not quite that simple, with the section from Tore to Conon Bridge being built first, as a partly on-line upgrade of the B9162. This was then, briefly, numbered as the A834, before the Maryburgh Bypass section was built. At this point, the A835 was extended east along the A832 (as the dominant number in a multiplex), then along the two sections of new-build road to Tore.