|Location Map ( geo)|
|Distance:||26 miles (41.8 km)|
|Meets:||A82, B845, A85|
|Route outline (key)|
Ballachulish - Appin
The modern road starts just to the east of where you used to catch the ferry across Loch Leven to North Ballachulish. It starts on a slightly new alignment, running under the 1975 Ballachulish Bridge, where it picks up the old alignment. We now follow the coast of Loch Linnhe until we arrive at the village of Kentallen, the road winding in and out round twisty bends all the way. We also follow the old railway from Ballachulish to Connel. At Kentallen, the road climbs up round the back of Ardsheal Hill, losing site of the shore for several miles as we pass a little inland and enter the village of Duror. There are several more sharp bends through the village, before we reach Keil and see Loch Linnhe again. We now follow it on and off for the next 20 miles or so.
Heading south between Duror and Appin, there are many good long straights, linked by fast sweeping bends, making it a great road to drive, with stunning scenery to boot! As we approach Appin, we pass Shuna Island out in the loch, with Lismore beyond and the coast of Mainland Morvern behind them both. In medieval times Shuna had a castle but it is now ruined. The road climbs over the Appin Bends, the shore disappearing for a minute or so, before it reappears with that classic view of Castle Stalker stood below us. As we drop down the hill, we reach Portnacroish with its sharp left-hander. This is a village right on the coast of Loch Laich, an inlet from Loch Linnhe. A little further on at Appin is a chance to get fuel if you're running low. We then head off through the Strath of Appin, briefly losing the shore once more.
Appin - Connel
At Creagan Inn, we are on the side of Loch Creran and we arrive at a rare breed in the Scottish Highlands and I do mean the Scottish Highlands, not the Highland towns in which you expect them anyway. Its a roundabout. We TOTSO from the old road to cross the Creagan Bridge which 40 years ago was the railway crossing. Apart from the stone supports from the old railway bridge, it is an all-new bridge. We go over the old A828 on the far side, before we meet it at the southern roundabout, the last one on this road.
We now follow the southern edge of Loch Creran, passing a few high peaks which million of years ago were as high as the Himalayas. We pass through Barcaldine and we have the only classified road we'll meet on this road bar the two terminal roads, the Northern end of the B845 towards Bonawe. We then pass the Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary and we see Barcaldline Castle amongst the trees before we reach the larger village of Benderloch and neighbouring Ledaig, a smaller settlement. We're on the last leg now and we're on the coast of Ardmucknish Bay, although the shore is lost behind a caravan park. We follow it and we arrive at North Connel, next to Oban Airport.
With the approach now straighter than it was in the 1970s, we cross the old railway bridge to Connel. Its not just a girder bridge but the second largest cantilever bridge in Britain. It is still only S1 and so controlled by traffic lights. We cross over the A85 then swing to the right to end on that road in Connel village. We now have two choices. We can turn right for Inverawe, Bonawe Ironworks, Lochawe, Tyndrum and Crianlarich or turn left for Oban and the ferries to Mull, the Western Isles, Coll, Tiree and Colonsay.