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Location Map ( geo)
Cameraicon.png View gallery (1)
From:  Ballochandrain (NS000829)
To:  Tighnabruaich (NR975723)
Distance:  8 miles (12.9 km)
Meets:  A886, B8000
Highway Authorities

Argyll and Bute

Traditional Counties


Route outline (key)
A8003 Ballochandrain – Tighnabruaich

The A8003 is a fairly new road, built in the 1960s to connect the previously remote communities of Tighnabruaich and Kames to the rest of civilisation more readily than the old road (now the B8000) did around Cowal's West Coast.


It starts on the A886 midway between the head of Loch Riddon and the tiny settlement of Clachan of Glendaruel. The road is mainly single-track for the first couple of miles as it crosses the River Ruel and runs south through the edge of the forest to Ormidale. This section of the road is old, and largely unimproved. It was built as a quiet road connecting the scattered properties along the west bank of the river, and round the head of the loch. Beyond Ormidale, the road cuts through fields to reach Loch Riddon at Lochead, and follows its shore for a while, becoming two-way after a forestry entrance. It then forks right at a junction and starts the climb through the forest. This is now the new section of road, and it is obviously such as it is a good, wide S2 route with sweeping curves in place of the narrow, single-track road with sharp bends that has been left behind.

The old road, which continues along the shore, is a narrow single track running just above the beach. It runs down to Craig Lodge, a fanciful gothic property standing in front of a steep rocky hill which drops straight into the loch. As anyone who has continued south along the Cowal Way long distance path will know, the terrain beyond is extremely challenging, and would have been extremely difficult for Victorian engineers to route a road across - certainly considering the limited benefit it would have offered at the time.

A8003 to Tighnabruaich

Back on the A8003, the new road is plentifully supplied with laybys and a couple of picnic site viewpoints. Unfortunately, the trees have grown a little too tall and few seem to offer anything other than some conifer trunks to look at. After several miles, the road drops back to single-track, which reflects the difficult terrain rather than an older road. The single track section used to be around 1½ miles long, but Argyll and Bute Council have widened either end in the last decade to reduce this to around half a mile above Tighnabruaich. Then, just after the road widens again, we round a bend, and a long layby on the left is no longer impeded by trees and opens up to a stunning vista across the Kyles of Bute to the Island, as well as Arran and Kintyre in the distance. This is a layby worth stopping in!

It is now just a mile at most as the road drops round the back of Tighnabruaich before it reaches the coast in the heart of the village. The road ends at a T-junction with the B8000, which continues east to the village pier, or west around the coast of Cowal to meet the A886 many miles to the north at Newton Bay.


The 8.3 mile road from Tighnabruaich to Ormidale, on the west side of Kyles of Bute and Loch Ruel, was opened on 5 June 1969 by Dickson Mabon, Minister of State. Contractor was J. Baxter and Sons (Muir of Ord) Ltd., cost £5 million.

Related Pictures
View gallery (1)
A8003 to Tighnabruaich - Geograph - 1192206.jpg
A7000-A7999A7002 • A7066 • A7071
A8000-A8999A8000 • A8001 • A8002 • A8003 • A8004 • A8005 • A8006 • A8010 • A8011 • A8014 • A8015 • A8082
A9000-A9999A9000 • A9011 • A9012 • A9013 • A9103 • A9119

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