|From:||Loch Lomondside (NS353884)|
|Distance:||8.9 miles (14.3 km)|
|Route outline (key)|
The A817 is just under 9 miles long. It's not heavily used, and was built by the military during the Cold War years of the 1980s to link the Clyde submarine bases to the trunk A82. An amazing rollercoaster ride on an incredibly over specified route.
This was the time when one generation of nuclear submarines, carrying Polaris missiles, was to be replaced by a new one, carrying Trident missiles. For a while, the Faslane base was the biggest building site in Europe. According to reports in engineering journals at the time, this road was built in 1987 with the original intention that it would be not only for MoD use only, but also temporary! Once they had finished with it, it would be removed and the land restored! This decision was later reversed. The road was upgraded in 1994-5 and opened to the public as A817 in March 1995.
Loch Lomondside - Garelochhead
Starting on the A82 by Ross Park the road heads west to cross the Finlas Water before bearing left and climbing to skirt the hills to the north. Presently the road reaches Glen Fruin and climbs along the eastern side to the top of the glen, running along above the old road, but with no connection between the two. After several miles of undulating along near the 150m / 500ft contour, the road climbs again, keeping above the old road and the farm at Strone. Substantial earthworks and bridges carry it over a series of streams, before the road finds the pass out at the top of the glen. From here, it descends quite steeply to a roundabout on the A814 Garelochhead bypass, built as part of the same military scheme.
Garelochhead - Coulport
After following the A814 for about a mile the military road continues westwards from a roundabout junction north of Garelochead. Although it is technically unclassified, the road is of a similar standard to the A817 and was presumably built for the same purpose and at a similar time.
This section of road is still privately owned by the MOD, policed by the MOD police and yet open to the public. Signs at either end state that the Road Traffic Act is policed by the MOD Police, and that the road is closed from 0800 on New Year's Day until 0800 on 2nd January, presumably to prevent it becoming a right of way. Its route is shown on the map below, to the west of the A817.