|Distance:||36.3 miles (58.4 km)|
|Meets:||A83, B841, B8025, B840, B8002, B844, A85|
|Route outline (key)|
The A816 is approximately 36.5 miles long and forms a main connection on the west coast of Scotland between Lochgilphead on the A83 and Oban on the A85. Oban is the railhead and main ferry terminal for the Lorn and Mid Argyll areas. The entire area is littered with Neolithic, Bronze-Age and Iron-Age monuments, and is one of the most interesting and least-known prehistoric sites in Europe.
Lochgilphead - Oban
The A816 commences at its southern end at a roundabout junction with the A83 trunk road on the western fringes of Lochgilphead, in the Mid Argyll district of the Argyll and Bute Council area. Heading north it follows the course of the Crinan Canal (built towards the end of the 18th Century the Crinan Canal is still used extensively today by boats traversing to and from Loch Crinan and Ardrishaig on Loch Fyne), to a junction with the B841 near to the village of Cairnbaan (Achnabreck, near Cairnbaan village, hosts the largest collection of rock carvings anywhere in Britain).
We cross the River Add at Bridgend, and just beyond this village and its twin of Kilmichael Glassary, a tiny sign points down a lane to the left, which leads to Dunadd Fort. It is little more than a rocky knoll to look at, but it is considered to be the royal capital of Dalriada, the kingdom that was founded in c. 500 AD and spanned Argyll and Ulster, before expanding eastwards to rule all of Scotland. Therefore this innocent looking rock, which claims to be the birthplace of Scotland, is one of Scotland's least well signposted historic monuments.
This then is the entrance to the Kilmartin Glen, an area of Neolithic and Bronze-Age chambered and round cairns, stone circles, rock carvings, Iron-Age forts and duns, early-Christian sculptured stones and medieval castles. The village of Kilmartin itself has a small museum, but only limited parking, with a better car park at the junction with the B8025 just to the south. It is worth making the time to stop as the landscape around here is quite amazing, and inspiring. People have lived here for thousands of years, leaving their mark in almost every field, and it is all free to be explored.
Intriguingly, many of the signs at this end of the road are still green, trunk route signs from its previous life. It was presumably 'de-trunked' because of the large number of rather appalling bends and narrow bridges that still line the route north. And, despite the comment below, there is now next to no money being spent on this road.
Beyond Kilmartin, the road passes Carnassarie Castle, built between 1565 and 1572 by John Carswell, the first Protestant Bishop of the Isles; he translated the first book printed in Gaelic. It then meets the single-track B840 which heads off to the villages along Loch Awe, winding its way up the glen which millennia ago was the outfall from the Loch, before it carved a new escape through the Pass of Brander to the north.
The road now winds through the hills, before dropping back to sea level at Kintraw (site of the Watchman Well and the Watchman Stone), here crossing the Barbreck River at the head of Loch Craignish and meeting the single track B8002 which heads south-west through Ardfern along the Craignish Peninsula. From here, the road continues north, climbing over the hills once more to Barravullin before dropping back to sea-level near Craobh Haven, an interesting modern 'village' developed as part-holiday resort, part-marina. Arduaine comes next, then Kames, where it skirts the southern shores of Loch Melfort although neither are more than a gathering of houses.
The road now heads east then north through the village of Kilmelford, crosses the River Euchar, and bypasses the village of Kilninver where it meets the B844 to the Isle of Seil at two junctions one on either side of the village. From here it continues first east and then north along the southern shores of Loch Feochan, past the villages of Kilmore and Ariogan before entering Oban itself.
In Oban the A816 passes the districts of Soroba, Mill Park, Mossfield and the Lorn & Isles District General Hospital before coming to an end at Argyll Square in the centre of Oban where it meets the A85, close to the Railway Station and ferry terminal (Caledonian MacBrayne ferries for Barra, Coll, Collonsay, Islay, Lismore, Mull, South Uist, and Tiree).
The A816 came close to being wiped out in the 1935 renumberings. A draft proposal saw it being replaced with the A85, with which it shares an end-on terminus in the centre of Oban. However, the suggestion was turned down with a curt 'No'. Perhaps the suggestion of linking the A816 and A828 together with a single number would have won more favour?
The southern end of the A816 was originally the A817, with the A816 following Bishopton Road, Oban Road and Argyll Street to meet the A83 in the middle of the town. The route was moved to the old A817 comparatively recently.