|Location Map ( geo)|
|From:||Pitreavie, Rosyth (NT111846)|
|Distance:||28.8 miles (46.3 km)|
|Meets:||A823(M), B980, B916, B9156, A907, B9155, B915, B914, A977, A91, B934, A9, A822|
|Old route now:||B980, A977|
|Route outline (key)|
The A823 is a lengthy route which crosses Fife and the small counties of Kinross and Clackmannan, and ends in Perthshire, just a few miles north of the A9. Indeed, most of the route is in Zone 9, making it a real rarity in Scotland. Along the way the route passes through some of the most stunning landscapes in the area as it crosses the Ochil Hills through the picturesque Glen Devon.
Rosyth - Muckhart
The A823 begins at the terminus of the very short A823(M) link from the M90. The junction is a roundabout offering access to Rosyth via the B980, Carnegie Campus and Dunfermline on the A823 itself. Before the motorways and the Forth Road Bridge were built, the A823 began further south on the A90 (now B981) on the edge of North Queensferry, with this former section now mostly the B980.
The road starts by heading north west into Dunfermline on a dual carriageway, passing by various business parks and roundabouts along the way. A string of roundabouts and traffic lights allow for turning traffic at the busier junctions, including a sharp right turn at Bothwell Gardens Roundabout with the B9156, sited underneath the Bothwell Street Railway Viaduct. The next section is a new-build town-centre relief road cutting across Sinclair Gardens to meet the A907 at Sinclair Gardens Roundabout. The two routes then multiplex (the first of many) westwards along the dualled Carnegie Street signed towards Stirling. The multiplex isn't long, however, as the A823 soon turns right at a new traffic-signal-controlled junction, built to accommodate the new Tesco Store. Pilmuir Street heads almost due north and before long it has left Dunfermline altogether. The remainder of the journey is on fairly quiet and scenic rural roads.
After passing a junction with the B915, the road turns sharply westwards with a couple of short straights before swinging north once more. A couple more short straights lead to the cross roads of Redcraigs Toll with the B914 signposted to Saline westwards and Kelty to the east. In the early 2000s the priority at this junction was changed in favour of the B914, understandable given the layout of the approaches to the junction. Instead of erecting new signs, the old ones were patched over, resulting, for many years, in the rather tatty effort pictured here (now replaced). Once through the junction the road sweeps round a hill and climbs the contours into forestry. Within a mile or so it passes Knockhill racing circuit which can result in fairly sizeable queues on this section on major racedays (generally 2-3 times a year). A long straight past the circuit dips over the Nettly Burn, and then follows the contours of as it curves round Wether Hill.
A fairly winding section is tackled next, as the road drops down the side of Cult Hill towards another multiplex, this time with the A977 which is met at a simple give way T-junction in the tiny village of Powmill. Just under a mile to the north, the two routes split again with the A823 turning left at an improved junction - there is a turning lane! While the A977 swings eastwards to avoid the River Devon, the A823 continues north, dipping down to Rumbling Bridge. Despite crossing the river at right angles, much of the rest of the route follows the same river northwards, but the river takes a huge meander to the east first. The next couple of miles cross an undulating landscape of small fields and patches of woodland to reach Muckhart Crossroads at Yetts O'Muckhart where yet again we find a multiplex, this time with the primary A91. This time it's more of an elongated roundabout than a true multiplex, as historically the two roads crossed at a crossroads and then ran parallel briefly, with a short link subsequently provided to create a roundabout / one-way loop.
Muckhart - Westerton
Soon after leaving Muckhart, the B934 forks right aiming for Perth and then the A823 starts the climb over the Ochil Hills. The road wiggles through fields and copses, before reaching a much straighter, improved alignment along the side of the Castlehill Reservoir. This is one of a series of reservoirs in Glen Devon, used to provide fresh water to the surrounding area. At the north end of the reservoir, the road narrows again, diving into trees before swinging sharp right-left across the Blacklinn Bridge. This takes it over the River Devon and into the strung-out village of Glendevon. The historic droving route between Dollar and Auchterarder crosses the A823 here, although no more than a footpath any more.
The village is more a scattered collection of houses and farms, mostly on the narrow valley floor, but a few strung along steep windy driveways up the hillside. The road stays low however as it winds north and then west through the narrow glen, never far from the river, and with some stunning views to take in, not least into upper Glen Devon as the road finally leaves the river and turns north over the pass into upper Glen Eagles. The summit is barely any higher than that reached near Knockhill, but somehow feels a whole lot higher, wilder and remoter in this beautiful place. Unlike Glen Devon, Glen Eagles is a straight glen, and so from the summit the view ahead quickly opens out, across the valleys of Strath Allan and Strath Earn to the hills and mountains beyond Crieff. Thanks to these views, the descent of Glen Eagles is perhaps even more enjoyable, although over far too quickly. The road follows a narrow, winding ledge cut into the hillside above the valley floor, passing just a handful of properties as it winds through some lengthy woodland stretches before the contours finally ease and it emerges at the recently upgraded junction with the A9 west of Auchterarder.
However, this is not the end, as the A823 simply carries on over a bridge and passes between Auchterarder and the Gleneagles Hotel, with many golfers wandering about. On leaving the area the road finds the first proper roundabout on the route since Dunfermline, although most maps just acknowledge it as a crossroads, as it is in fact a mini roundabout at the end of the former (possibly still a spur) A824 from Auchterarder. The A823 carries straight on regardless and shortly afterwards it meets its end at a T-junction with the A822 around 5 or so south of Crieff, where the signs have been pointing since Dunfermline.
The A823 has seen remarkably few changes since 1922, and the vast majority are in and around Dunfermline. As noted above, the route originally started on what was then the A90 at Ferrytoll Junction near North Queensferry. The B980 now loosely follows the old route along Castlandhill Road, although it has been adjusted to accommodate the M90. The A823 then cut through Rosyth on Queensferry Road to meet its current start point. Apart from being dualled, the A823 still follows its original line into Dunfermline as far as Bothwell Gardens Roundabout. Here, it continued north along New Row to meet the A907 in the town centre, and after a very short multiplex westwards, it continued up Douglas Street top Pilmuir Street and so its modern line out of town.
The next noticeable deviation is at Rumbling Bridge. In 1922, the A977 had not yet been created, and that route was the B910, meaning that the A823 had priority on the multiplex from Powmill. As a result, the A823 cut the corner at Rumbling Bridge on the now unclassified, narrow and seemingly un-named road that once passed the villages railway station. It is very difficult to tell from the scale of maps available whether the current line existed in 1922 or whether it was built later. Certainly, it was the line of the A823 by the late 1950s.
The final deviation of note is the stretch above Castlehill Reservoir in Glen Devon. This is clearly a new piece of road built to allow the valley floor to be flooded, but again the scale of maps available makes it very difficult to identify the precise line of the old road. Both the dam access road and the long parking area look like they are on the old line, but if so it seems unlikely that the creation of the reservoir would have affected the old road, questioning the need for the new road to be built.