|Distance:||33.1 miles (53.3 km)|
|Meets:||A9, A823, A85, A826, A9|
|Route outline (key)|
The A822 is signposted from the A9 as the "Tourist Route to Pitlochry", but many of those 'tourists' looking to completely escape the A9 will be disappointed. The A822 does not go to Pitlochry, but back to the A9 at Dunkeld, in fact, over 10 miles short.
What the A822 does miss out is Perth, with its bypass and interminable numbers of slow lorries negotiating its roundabouts. Plus it looks direct on the map - the A9 swerves east when it should be going north - precisely what the A822 does.
Greenloaning - Inver
The route starts by leaving the A9 a long way south-west of Perth, at Greenloaning and an extravagant flyover, somewhat inelegantly bolted on to the village's back door. The first few hundred metres are the old A9, but the original start of the A822 is quickly reached at the first junction. Greenloaning itself is not a pretty or particularly touristy village, but thankfully the modern estates are hidden behind hedges and trees, leaving only the old roadside houses for the 'tourists' to view. The road crosses the main railway and then the village is left with the road crossing the Allan Water. The long straight that lies ahead leads to Braco, and is the military road built 270 years ago by Caulfeild, possibly following an even older Roman Road.
Next up is the small villages of Braco, which like Muthill further on is a quaint place and eminently bottleneck-ish if you are in a hurry, but the scenery is nice if you're not. Just beyond Braco the road passes the lumpy fields that were once home to Roman Forts and a little further along the B827 departs for Comrie and the equally idyllic Loch Earn, with plenty of brown signs displaying the delights to come. The road has been following another long straight from the military road, but curiously forks right, leaving the minor road to continue arrow-straight along the military line, whilst the A822 wanders off to the east, weaving between fields. Shortly before Muthill the A823 turns off to the right heading back to the A9, and then southwards to the Firth of Forth. Despite the lengthy detour, at this point, the A822 is still the quickest way to get to Pitlochry.
Muthill with its narrow, car-lined streets and ruinous medieval church is a pretty place to pause awhile, and is also where the A822 resumes Caulfeilds road, making the detour eastwards all the more curious. Another long straight leads us on to Crieff, home of the world-famous Hydro and another of those tourist stop-offs. Indeed, so advanced is this concept there is even a large, multi-pavilioned, landscaped tourist centre which looks like a museum or exhibition hall but is in fact just an information centre. Crieff, though, is an old Perthshire town, once home to substantial drovers markets and well worth taking the time to explore.
The A822 crossed the River Earn on Crieff Bridge at the entrance to the town, and then passes the B8062 junction as it climbs up to the centre. This long incline is not the military road, but both reach Crieff's centre, where the A822 multiplexes eastwards with the A85 at a TOTSO just west of the main High Street. The two routes head east for around 3 miles, a rare multiplex in 1922, and at Gilmerton the A822 re-emerges as it turns northwards at a T-junction.
From here the road more richly deserves its tourist status than the haggis-and-heather tat we have left behind. It becomes ever more dramatic and picturesque as it passes through the Sma' (small) Glen - though it isn't really very small - and crosses the River Almond on Wades Newton Bridge. Whilst loosely following the old military road, the A822 is rarely on the old line, and departs completely at the tiny, picturesque village of Amulree. This must be a truly snowbound community in winter, clustered around the old and new bridges over the River Braan.
The A826 continues north for Aberfeldy just beyond Amulree and the A822 begins to head more determinedly east (Perth is now away to the south). This is the route of another military road, but a later one and again the A822 is alongside more often than on the old line. After several fairly tight twists as the road follows the river downhill, the A822 finally emerges from the scenic Strathbraan into Strathtay. After a new cutting to ease the route for lorries, and passing under the main northern railway line, the road rejoins the A9. Pitlochry's still a dozen miles away, and there's no other option but to join the main drag... so, happy overtaking!
For its entire route, the A822 roughly follows the line of successive pieces of military roads laid out 250 years ago or more. The first few miles can trace their history back even further, following the line of a Roman Road! Between them, these historic routes somehow surpass even the scenic splendour of the modern road, so park up and take a walk to see some truly ancient highways!
Greenloaning - Crieff
The first few miles of the A822 follow a truly historic route. To start with, as we leave the A9 behind, we follow the Old Military Road north, built by Major Caulfeild in c. 1742-3. This takes us to the small village of Braco, which was developed as a new planned village in the 19th Century, over 50 years after the road passed through. This was the first road that Caulfeild built after General Wade had left the Highlands, and handed his roads project over.
The village lies in the shadow of the Ardoch Roman Camps and Forts, which date back to c. 83 AD and c. 140 AD respectively. This could mean that Ardoch Bridge stands on the site of a Roman crossing of the River Knaik. Beyond Braco, we continue along the military road for another mile or so, before veering eastwards and joining the course of the Roman Road, yes, in Scotland, a Roman Road! This is followed intermittently until just beyond the A823 junction, where the A822 turns westwards once more, through Muthill and back onto Caulfeild's alignment!
Crieff - Amulree
The Old Military Road ran right through Crieff, but not on the line of the modern A822. From the B8062 junction, it continued straight up King Street to the square, then across the A85 and on up Hill Street, although a building now blocks this straight line. Hill Street becomes Ferntower Road and then becomes a track across the Golf Course. Where the track swings left, an avenue of trees continues ahead along the line of the old road. The line then seems to be lost, but may rejoin the modern track before leaving the golf course. It is next definitively found approaching the A822 once more half a mile north of Gilmerton, where the line clearly climbs the hill between banks and boulders.
Higher up the A822, it swings left in a cutting, at the top of which the old road reappears, making a very bold landmark in the field for almost a mile before a modern track destroys it. There is stonework in the bank of the stream which is on the right line, and then a couple of fields further along, there is a much slighter earthwork visible portraying the route down to Foulford Inn. For anyone with an interest in seeing one of Wades Military Roads, this section is well worth a visit. The uphill bank is the most visible feature, at nearly 6 feet wide and built of several stone courses, rising a foot or more from the landscape. It is badly damaged where streams have cut through it, and cattle have trampled, but there is still plenty to see. The lower bank is much smaller, but there is evidence of the drainage ditches on either side. Unfortunately, 2 centuries of neglect mean that the road surface is buried under several inches of boggy ground.
Just past the Foulford Inn, the old road forks left over the hill, gaining height with a series of sweeping bends. This ascent, however, is in vain, as less than a mile later the road swings right and starts a steep descent into the Sma' Glen, where it rejoins the A822. For the next half mile, there is no trace of the old road, which is assumed to lie under the modern road, but as the road and river diverge, a series of earthworks can be seen in the boggy field between them. A ditch and slight bank lead away from the corner of the field, but this is very boggy and it seems that the old road line leads away from the gate a little further along. The bank here is certainly much firmer under foot.
The old and new roads soon rejoin, and it is over a mile, across Newton Bridge before the old road can be seen again. A couple of hundred metres up the hill from the bridge, a small bridge can be seen across a tumbling stream. This is a Wade Bridge, and the old road line can easily be traced, albeit boggy at first, as it climbs gently up the hillside. It never strays far from the modern road line, albeit climbing quicker, and a little over a mile later the two reconverge, although the exact point is unclear as the two run side by side, with a rough path continuing beyond where the old road seems to disappear. Maps suggest that Wade's road then runs through the trees on the far side of the A822 until the next bend, but there is little evidence to be seen, and a 8 foot fence blocking the way!
The next section is very indistinct, forking off the A822 at the next bend, and climbing up the low hill ahead, running behind the trees and farm. A faint grassy track leads up this hill, but there is no sign of any earthworks until you crest the hill and approach the sheep fanks beyond. Here it is clear that the old road has crossed the fenceline, and a couple of gates lead across to it. The old road has then been heavily rebuilt as access to the pylon constructions, before its line leads on up the hill, with an old stone wall for company. A fence and wall then block the way, but the earthworks stretch on ahead, dropping down between Grouse Butts to Amulree, where the A822 once more returns to the old road as far as the bridge.
Amulree - Dunkeld
Just north of Amulree, a clear junction lies in the earthworks of the old military roads. This is where the later link to Dunkeld was connected into the older road. It set off down the side of the Glenfender Burn, before turning north and crossing the stream. If the road took a different line at the A826 junction, it is lost. Three miles further on at Drumour, the old road is now a track forking left up the hill, before dropping round a hairpin to the bridge over the Ballinloan Burn. The route then stayed on the north side of the River Braan, following the minor road, then a forest track to Inver where it took a ferry across the Tay to Dunkeld.