|Distance:||175 miles (281.6 km)|
|Meets:||M8, A898, A811, A83, A85, A87, A9|
|Former Number(s):||A828, A876|
|Route outline (key)|
- 1 Great Western Road
- 2 Loch Lomond
- 3 Glen Falloch
- 4 Strathfillan
- 5 Rannoch Moor
- 6 Glen Coe
- 7 Ballachulish - Fort William
- 8 Fort William - Fort Augustus
- 9 Loch Ness
Great Western Road
Further north, after passing Loch Lomond, the predecessors of the modern A82 can be easy to trace in the surrounding Landscape. The Military Roads dating from the early-mid 18th Century, and the replacement road built by Thomas Telford in the early years of the 19th century are either still in use, or left to slowly sink into the land. However, at the roads start, in the heart of Glasgow city centre, there is no hope of finding such evidence with any ease. The Military Road network is known to have extended to Dumbarton Castle, while Telford's road is described as starting in Glasgow itself, but 200 years of further development have destroyed all trace on the surface.
As a result, for this section of the road only, we shall have to start in 1922 when the A82 number was first allocated, to a drastically different route to the one we travel today.
In 1922, the Great Western Road barely extended beyond Anniesland Cross, so the original route of the A82 seems to have followed Argyle Street and/or Bath Street out of the city centre, to pick up the route of todays A814. With the odd exception for realignment when the Clydeside Expressway was built, the original route of the A82 followed the present route of the A814 all the way west to Dumbarton.
At the time, Great Western Road itself was given the B810 number, later to be renumbered as the A876 as it was extended westwards to Dumbarton. In Dumbarton town, it seems to have originally followed the route of the modern A812 and B857 to Balloch.
In 1927, the Great Western Road was more or less complete, providing a new, wide highway from central Glasgow out to Dumbarton. However, when it was opened it was numbered as the A876, with a spur to the A82 at Old Kilpatrick given the A878 number. These numbers had not been allocated back in 1922, and were being used up in sequence at various places around Zone 8. Compared to the narrow Urban route that the original A82 followed, the new A876 must have been a fast, empty highway used primarily by Motorised vehicles once past Anniesland Cross, so it is little wonder that it became the new route of the A82 out of Glasgow in 1935.
This saw the A876 number temporarily retired for future use elsewhere, and the A814 extended from its Arrochar - Dumbarton route all the way into Glasgow City Centre, along the route that it still takes (give or take the odd bit of dualling!). The A878 number, however, still applies to the short spur at Old Kilpatrick, it's sliproads mingling with those for the A898, but not allowing any traffic flow between the two routes.
It would be easy to say that nothing has changed since the A82 was rerouted along the Great Western Road in 1935. However, as is true with any major route in a city, the changes are substantial.
To start with, as we have seen above, the A82 once ran into the heart of the city. Today, it starts on the M8 at the nightmarish Junction 17/18, part of the Charing Cross Interchanges. As such, the first bit of the current route is new, having been built in the 1970's along with the motorway. Soon, however, we are deposited at the Start of the Great Western Road, and head north west along a route that fluctuates between S2 and S4, with the inside lanes blocked by parking and bus stops. The River Kelvin is crossed by the Great Western Bridge (see below), and then after about two miles we reach the confused junction with the A739 at Anniesland Cross. This gives the first opportunity to cross the River since we left the Motorway, by heading south through the Clyde Tunnel.
The road then becomes D3, with intermittent bus stops, but at least this allows two lanes of moving traffic in each direction through Drumchapel (with a lane drop through the Duntreath GSJ) and onto the B8055, Drumry Road Roundabout at Clydebank. Westbound traffic has a lane drop just before the roundabout, while eastbound leaves the roundabout with three lanes. Curiously, however, the overall width of the roadway remains at just over 30m, with a central reservation of a little over 11m. This would suggest that the eastern D3 section has been created by narrowing the traffic lanes, rather than widening the road, so the D2 section could theoretically also become D3!
The next junction is the Kilbowie Roundabout with the A8014 and B814. Just under a mile later, the A810 meets the eastbound traffic, westbound traffic can access the road via the A8014. There is then a GSJ with Mountblow Road before the complex Old Kilpatrick Interchange, where the A898, Erskine Bridge road crosses the Clyde, and the A878 provides limited access to the A814. Beyond the interchange, the character of the A82 changes. Gone is the wide, grassy central reservation, replaced with a kerbed central barrier. The speed limit drops to 40 and the road becomes narrower once more. If it wasn't for the existence of the A878 and the knowledge that the A814 was extended into Glasgow City Centre in 1935, it could be believed that this section of road was later. In addition, the 1933 Bartholomews map (left) shows both routes running in parallel. Perhaps the dualling is later, the road having been built as a standard two-way road.
As we pass through Bowling, the A82 gets much closer to the Clyde, with the A814 running parallel on the left for a time, before finally running out of land and joining the A82 for a brief multiplex through Milton. In 1935, the route beyond the A814 fork would have been the edge of Dumbarton, if not beyond, but it now slices through the housing estates on the towns northern side. However, the narrow section of the D2 is nearly over, with the roundabout at Barloan Toll marking the end of the original Great Western Road, and the start of the Alexandria Bypass, built in the 1970s.
After the long haul out of Glasgow, we finally reach Alexandria. However, the modern bypass was built in the 1970s and before that the routing of the A82, A811, A812 and A813 seems to have changed several times. Here's an attempt at describing the changes:
In 1922, the A82 entered Dumbarton on the current A814, before turning north on the A812 and B857 to Balloch. So far, so good. However, the other routes get a little more confused. To start with, the A811 is quoted as starting to the east of Dumbarton, and then following the current A813 north to join its modern route. As the Dumbarton Bypass had not yet been built, it is possible that the B830 qualifies as 'east of Dumbarton'. This certainly seems to be the only surviving option, unless the bypass was constructed along the route of an existing road.
The changes in 1935 were sparked by the re-routing of the A82, with the construction of the Dumbarton Bypass. The A82 therefore picked up the former A811, modern A813 route north along Stirling Road, before crossing the River Leven on the former A812, Bonhill Bridge to resume its original route. The A812 number was then reused for the ex-A82 setcion between Dumbarton and Bonhill (the A814 extended through Dumbarton and on to Glasgow). This slightly foreshortened the A811 and left the A813 where it was.
The southern section of the Alexandria Bypass was opened in 1972/3, and the A82 number immediately transferred to the new dual carriageway. However, with the western section still under construction, the A82 then had to return to its old route through Renton, which had been the A812, and is now the B857. This saw the A812 truncated to its current stubby length. When the western section of the bypass opened a few years later, the A82 was obviously routed along it, with its former route downgraded to the B857. With the new roundabout at Balloch, and further upgrades to the north, the A811 was also rerouted to meet the Balloch Roundabout, and so take through traffic away from Jamestown and Bonhill. The two routes essentially swapped numbers, with the old A811 becoming the current A813.
After finally leaving the sprawling suburbs of Glasgow, which must now include Alexandria and Balloch, the A82 gets a taste of freedom, sprinting north along the shores of Loch Lomond. However, the road used today is a modern construction, with the old road still largely intact along the shore of the loch itself.
At Tarbet, the road reaches a TOTSO, with the A83 continuing ahead, and the A82 suffering the indignity of turning off. However, further indignity is just around the corner, literally, as the road degenerates to little better than a cart track along the shore of the northern end of Loch Lomond, finally regaining its full stature as it climbs up through Glen Falloch on its way to Crianlarich.
Further Investigation Required.
The OS map shows several tracks on the hillside above the current A82, one of which is marked as the Old Military Road (just north of Tarbet). However, between the new road to Tarbet and the railway line north of that it is possible that much of the military roads deviations from the modern route have been lost.
Further Investigation Required.
It is believed that the road that was classified in 1922 was the route that Telford had built / repaired at the beginning of the 19th Century. Apart from widening and maintenance, there is no evidence that this road was changed significantly even in the 1930s. It has therefore been described below, until further information is found.
The old road can still be traced from Balloch to Tarbet, after which the road is, of course, essentially unchanged from 1930 until we reach Ardlui and start the ascent through Glen Falloch. To find the old road, however, we need to head east from the Balloch Roundabout along the A811. At the next roundabout, we turn left onto Old Luss Road, past McDonalds and left again at the next roundabout.
After passing a few houses, however, the road becomes no more than a tree-lined dead end frequented by cyclists and dog-walkers. Fortunately this is part of the Loch Lomond Cycleway, so progress can be maintained past the holiday village and back to the modern route. The next right, signed for Duck Bay, is again the old road and after passing the hotel the road hugs the coast, providing a popular picnic area for Glaswegians. We then rejoin the modern route past the Arden Roundabout, where the A818 turns off for Helensburgh. The next surviving section of the old road is an abandoned stretch on the left hand side which passes through trees, but is no more than farm access.
At the northern end of this loop, the old road crosses straight over the modern route to cross the stone bridge that sits prominently at the roadside. This bridge has had its parapet truncated to make room for the new road (see left). After passing the golf course, the old road is again on the opposite side of the modern route, but this time as a layby. As we pass the main Loch Lomond Golf Course, the current road is mainly an on-line upgrade of the old route - partly due to pressures of land. This takes us past junctions with the B832 and A817.
Just north of Arnburn, there is again a loop on the west side of the road, this time retained as property access. But then the cycle track drops away from the modern route onto the old road and follows it to the junction with the Luss road. The road through Aldochlay and Luss is the old route of the A82, which continues beyond the modern A82 junction, past the hotel. A layby on the opposite side of the road again shows the old alignment, but after that the amount of level land available on the shore side means that the road had to be improved on line.
There are a couple of shore-side laybys as we approach Inverbeg, but whether these are actually the old alignment, or temporary pieces of road constructed while the new road was built on the alignment of the old is uncertain. Certainly, the laybys appear to be too narrow and bear no evidence of being part of the 1930s alignment on the ground. As we reach Rubha Mor the old road appears again on the shore side, still used by the cycleway. There are now 2-3 miles of old road running alongside the modern A82 as we round Firkin Point and Rubha Dubh, passing a number of properties along the way. There is another shoreside loop at Stuckgowan, and then a long piece of the old road remains on the opposite side of the road as a layby, albeit one parallel to and level with the modern route. The approach into Tarbet does not seem to have changed, although the alignment of the car park may suggest a former route - one predating the Hotel though!
From Tarbet to Ardlui, the road as we see it today is almost certainly the same as Telford travelled at the beginning of the nineteenth century, after he had completed his work. The road may be a little wider, the bridges widened or rebuilt, but otherwise there is no obvious evidence for a significant change in the alignment.
The road north of the Balloch Roundabout was built in the 1980's, to provide a better route north. At the time, it was envisaged that this new, wide route would continue north to link up with the improvements through Glen Falloch between Ardlui and Crianlarich. 20-odd years later we are still waiting.
The result is that from Balloch to Tarbet, the road is entirely new. In a few places the new road was clearly constructed 'on-line', but for the most part the old road still survives, either as a local access road for the lochside properties, as laybys off the A82 mainline, as the Loch Lomond Cycle track or as the village road through Luss (see above). The only alteration to this is that the new A817 was built sometime after the new road was completed, and so the junction was initially widened to D2 to facilitate turning. This has, however, since been reduced to D1 to remove the overtaking opportunity.
Of particular interest along the road is that several of the bridges over streams appear to have been constructed wide enough for a dual carriageway. By no means are all this wide, however, and the space is taken up with generous verges and the cycletrack. It is probably to allow for visibility splays as the road twists and turns, as is found elsewhere in the country. At Inverbeg, a small box underpass provides access to the shoreside properties from the old road alignment in front of the Inn.
This section of the road is often quoted as being the only rural part of the road that conforms to modern design standards, and as we turn off at Tarbet to continue our journey north, the reality of that statement is soon discovered. As we pull out of the village, the road rapidly narrows to the absolute minimum required to allow two cars to pass at speed. This results in lorries and buses often having to inch past one another, constantly checking mirrors. There are brief spurts that have been improved - past the power station at Inveruglas and the approach to Ardlui, but there are also the infamous 'temporary' traffic lights at Pulpit Rock which have now celebrated their 25th Birthday - they had a cake and everything!
After passing along the shores of Loch Lomond for over twenty miles, the A82 finally starts the climb into the Highlands at Ardlui. Almost the whole route from Ardlui to Crianlarich was rebuilt in the 1970s, some on a new alignment, some not. However, higher up the hillside the Old Military Road climbs through the Bogle Glen, so bypassing Crianlarich completely. Today, there is a plan for the A82 to do the same, albeit around the edge of the village, rejoining its current route at the entrance to Strathfillan.
As noted in the Loch Lomond section, there is no evidence of the Old Military Road along the lochside, and that situation continues north through Lower Glen Falloch. Whether the road was just consistently upgraded on line, whether the railway and road building between them have obliterated the evidence, or whether it is just lying under the heather waiting to be found is not known, but for now there is nothing to see.
However, just past the Eas Eonan, the old road suddenly reappears on the hillside beyond the railway line. The modern farm track (best accessed from the West Highland Way) comes to an end with a rough turning bay, but the Old Military Road continues, suddenly diving down the hill to the railway line below. Such a change of gradient is unusual, but the alignment of the bank that the road was built on is obvious.
Heading north, the farm track makes it easy to follow the old road, keeping left at the two junctions to pick up the West Highland Way just past Carmyle Cottage. The road continues to climb steadily, but with little evidence of its historical relevance. Indeed, as we pass the back of Keilator, despite posts proclaiming that the path was rebuilt (no date given), the track is a boggy quagmire of mud and dung, with the pock holes of cattle hooves. It was bad enough walking through when the ground was frozen solid, in high summer it cannot be a pleasant experience for any of the senses!
Continuing north, the paved surface reappears and the road turns up the Bogle Glen, not to be confused with the fictional Glenbogle! It is not clear why General Caulfeild chose to climb up to 250m when Crianlarich is only 190m above sea level, perhaps it was to avoid a troublesome settlement, although the Stirling road was taken through the village. Whatever the reason, at the summit of the pass the West Highland Way and Old Military Road pass through a gate into Forestry land, with the path turning left towards Tyndrum. The road, however, carries staright on, descending sharply down the other side of the pass, signed as Bogle Glen. The first 100m of the road are boggy and indistinct due to a small stream having cut into the road itself. However, after crossing the stream, the old road is a wide grassy avenue through the trees, with clear edges making a level terrace on the descent to the modern A82 just north of Crianlarich.
As with the Loch Lomond section of the A82, it is presumed that Telford followed the Military Road, and that the same alignment is now the current (far from 'modern') A82. As we climb through Glen Falloch, it would seem that Telford followed the Military Road as far as the Eas Eonan. However, at this point the two routes diverged, Telford staying lower in the glen, roughly along the alignment of the 1930s route into Crianlarich. The old bridges that survive may be Telford's.
After passing Inveranan, the road changes from one last upgraded in the 1930s to a much wider modern route. However, for the most part, it is on the same alignment as the older road, with just a few deviations. The old bridge and alignment across the Dubh Eas at Glen Falloch House survive, and then half a mile or so north the old road follows the river bank around a meander which the modern route crosses twice to provide a straight road.
The Forestry Car Park at the Falls of Falloch is partly on the old road, but then it is a mile before proper evidence reappears. However, in a couple of places, the boundary fence for the roadway deviates into the trees, suggesting where old bends have been straightened out. The old bridge across the Eas Eonan survives, between the modern road and the railway, but the bridge across the railway itself is long gone. Just to the north, however, is one of the best pieces of the old road, past Carmyle Cottage, where the white lines and cats eyes survive, and the tarmac still looks fresh. Perhaps it was only a couple of years old when the new road was built.
Again, the boundary fences provide a hint of former bends now straightened, but there is no tarmac visible on the edge of the road, except for one loop running very close to the railway line, and a layby or two, now providing parking for walkers. As we enter Crianlarich, however, the road narrows, becomes much twistier and descends into the village on the 1930s alignment, but then there is nowhere else for it to go - except the proposed bypass!
Even though Loch Lomond is left behind at Adrlui, it is another couple of miles north at Inveranan where the road starts to improve. We suddenly emerge from the tree lined, narrow road of old onto a wider, verge-lined highway that follows a series of sweeping bends as it starts to climb up Glen Falloch. We are still less than 20m above sea level as we cross the Dubh Eas on a new road, the old bridge lying next to the House of Glen Falloch.
A little further north, the road crosses the River Falloch twice in quick succession as it cuts across a tight meander in the river. The old road goes round, and then stays closer to the river through the Falls of Falloch forestry car park. There is another cut-off with an old bridge as the new road crosses the Eas Eonan, and then the road crosses the Railway line. As far as can be seen, the new bridge is located on the site of the original structure. The long cut off past Carmyle Cottage survives, but after that, apart from a number of laybys, there is just one more cut off before we reach Crianlarich.
After climbing through Glen Falloch, the A82 meets the A85 at Crianlarich, with the two routes then multiplexing for the five miles north to Tyndrum. Perhaps surprisingly, this does not cause any serious problem with traffic flows on the S2 route, but then again traffic is never that busy in this part of Scotland! The route between the two villages passes through Strathfillan, a wide valley at the upper end of the Tay River system, and has been rebuilt a number of times over the years. After the A85 turns off just to the north of Tyndrum, the road starts the long climb up to Rannoch Moor, the edge of which is reached at Bridge of Orchy.
The Old Military Road reaches the modern A82 immediately to the north of Crianlarich. The modern road cuts into the hill at this point, but there is a stile hidden in the trees at the top of the bank, and opposite the old junction is still marked by a bridge across the railway line to a private house.
As we head north through Strathfillan, the construction of three further roads and a railway line has obliterated much of the Miltary Roads route, although a rough bank across a field at Dalrigh is reputed to be the road. This would suggest a different location for the bridge / ford to the current White Bridge (see below). On the final approach to Tyndrum, the modern road becomes narrower and twistier, and the OS mark a track on the hillside immediately to the east as being the 'Old Military Road' It is difficult to dodge the traffic and investigate further!
In Tyndrum, it is again difficult to identify any old route, but behind the Green Welly, the road climbing beside Brodie's Store is still used as access to the houses along it. It is also the route of the West Highland Way. With the houses left behind, the road climbs steadily towards the railway line, then crosses over it, to run parallel for nearly a mile. Of course, the railway line post dates this particular road, by at least 140 years! The West Highland Way starts to climb away from the railway at the summit of the pass, with the modern A82 route doing likewise on its other side. However, the old road recrosses the railway on another (collapsed) overbridge and follows the stream down to Auch. As a result, it is difficult to say exactly where the old road ran as it was quite clearly realigned when the railway was built.
At Auch, the road crosses the Allt Kinglass Bridge (see below), before following the river northwest. However, as the valley floor drops away, the road maintains its contour, before climbing across the railway line once more. It is not until Bridge of Orchy that the road drops below the railway again, turning sharp left to cross the modern A82 at the crossroads next to the Hotel. From here, the route crosses the eponymous Bridge, before climbing round Loch Tulla and onto Rannoch Moor.
As mentioned above, with the subsequent development that has been undertaken in the narrow corridor of Strathfillan, it is difficult to know exactly where Telford's road went. The surviving Bridge just north of Ewich and the White Bridge at Dalrigh suggest that Telford's route was upgraded online in the 1930's. They also suggest that Telford himself followed the route of the Military Road as he surveyed his own route, albeit with some realignment near Dalrigh.
However, once past Tyndrum, the current route of the A82 all dates from the 1930s improvements. Telford followed the Old Military Road along the east side of the pass, with the old road now being the West Highland Way. After climbing past the modern water treatment works, the old road again reappears from under the modern track, with lengthy tarred stretches. Towards the summit of the pass, the road crosses a stream and then the railway. While the railway bridge obviously dates from the end of the 19th Century, the river bridge also appears to be relatively new, as the arch is concrete. Perhaps the bridge was reconstructed when the railway bridge, just a few metres away, was built. However, while the railway bridge is nearing 25 foot across, the river bridge sticks to the 18 foot width of the Old Military Road.
As late as 1948, the OS were still marking this route as public highway, and the new access road for Auch House is not shown. However, whether the road was passable or not is quite another story. Today, much of the route is crumbling away. The second bridge over the railway line has been removed, leaving an empty chasm, and then further along as the road winds along above the Allt Coire Chailein the retaining wall has fallen away in a number of places, leaving a roadway of just 4 or 5 feet. If this process had already started in the 1920s, it would certainly go a long way in explaing the construction of a completely new road on the other side of the glen.
Those of us who travel along the A82 between Crianlarich and Tyndrum today would be forgiven for thinking that Strathfillan is almost as deserted as Rannoch Moor. Apart from the odd glimpse of a farmhouse on the hill, the modern motorist will see no signs of habitation. However, this was not the case in the past, when the road weaved between the houses and passed within a couple of feet of some of their front doors!
Pulling out of Crianlarich, there is little change in the route since Telford's time, but soon we reach 'The Lodge', where the old road passed between the house and the Railway line. We then cross the modern road and pass the houses at Inverherive before the two routes briefly rejoin. Soon, however, the old road dipped to the right and passed under the railway line, not that the bridge survives! This took us past Ewich, before rejoining the modern route. However, exploration in the undergrowth suggests that the modern road is banked up approximately 8 feet on top of the old road surface to provide a gentle gradient to the bridge over the railway line. The old bridge survives across Allt an t-Saoir, providing an incongruously wide section of the West Highland Way next to the railway viaduct - carrying the railway line twenty feet up in the air and yet the modern A82 crosses over that same line just 300m to the south!
In the next mile, only the loop at Mountgreenan shows the old road's course, the rest having been improved on-line. However, at Strathfillan House, the old road forks left to pass the house and former parish church, crossing the Drochaid Bhan or White Bridge about 500m upstream of the modern route. The road then passes the forestry car park at Dalrigh to rejoin the modern A82, for the second half of the one good straight in Strathfillan. At the end of the straight, the road climbs up and suddenly drops in quality - this is the section of the road that wasn't upgraded!
The sweeping bend to climb the hill north of Tyndrum is all on the 1930's alignment, although probably widened a little. The road is then characterized by a series of long straights as it crosses the watershed into the Auch Glen and so Glen Orchy. Whilst the western side of the glen therefore affords the route an easier gradient with less bends, there is one major break in this as the road has to dip into the Coire Chailein. Just before reaching Bridge of Orchy, the B8074 turns left down Glen Orchy to the A85 at Dalmally.
As with so much of the A82's route, there is little change in the section north of Dalrigh since the new road was built in the 1930's. However, as can be seen from the description above, the section through Strathfillan itself has been significantly improved. This saw the construction of a new railway overbridge to replace the old underbridge, and a new bridge across the River Fillan to replace the old White Bridge. Much of this reconstruction was doubtless to provide a modern high speed route for the multiplex of the A82 and A85, without weaving past the scattered properties. It has also made those properties access much safer.
The biggest problem is that while the road may have been considered high quality at the time of construction, the constant sweeping tree-lined bends prevent any safe overtaking points for the majority of drivers, leaving frustrated motorists stuck behind slower traffic. It is doubtful that this situation will ever be resolved.
After crossing the pass from Strathfillan and climbing up to Bridge of Orchy, the A82 embarks on its journey across Rannoch Moor. This bleak and inhospitable landscape has seen three routes of the road cross it, each converging once more near the Kingshouse Inn to begin the descent into Glencoe. As noted above, the A82 across Rannoch Moor is well documented on Roads.org.uk, so here we shall give a brief overview, with further detail as appropriate.
The eponymous Bridge of Orchy lies a little to the west of the crossroads outside the Bridge of Orchy Hotel, where the old and new roads cross. The bridge was built by General Caulfeild in 1751 as part of his road across the Moor. Immediately beyond the bridge, the Military Road climbs into the forest, roughly followed today by the West Highland Way. However, at times it is clear that the old road and new path are not one and the same, with the old road now lost in the forest. After crossing the hill, the road drops down to Inveroran, where it rejoins the route later chosen by Telford and still in use as the unclassified road to Forest Lodge, formerley the A8005.
After crossing the Victoria Bridge, which from its name appears to post date even Telford, the Old Military Road forks off to the left, through the grounds if not the house of Forest Lodge and into the forest beyond. Although clearly marked on OS maps, there is little evidence on the ground of the old road within the forest area, and once out of the trees the road is very difficult to identify on the open boggy hillside. Here and there, kerbstones can be identified, there is at least one box culvert which hasn't completely collapsed, and the occasional cobbled ford kept clean by a mountain stream. However, if you weren't looking for the road you would be unlikely to see it!
The old road drops back to Telford's route through a particularly boggy area, which has destroyed the junction - it may be that the construction of Telford's route formed this particular 'pool' by blocking off the drainage. Either way, the two routes follow the same alignment down to and across the Ba Bridge, which crosses the River Ba (see below).
Beyond the bridge, the fork where the Old Military Road peels off to the left is still quite obvious, and the old road is used as a modern footpath. This means that the road surface and structure is well-preserved compared with elsewhere, and so this is one of the best sections to investigate the original road from 1751-2. Before reaching the Ski centre, the two routes merge once more, following the ski road down to the modern A82 and on past the Kingshouse Hotel. Beyond the Hotel, the West Highland Way again stays faithful to the old Military Roads route, although it is virtually impossible to identify any evidence of the old route save for the occasional ford or culvert remaining intact alongside the modern path.
By the time we reach Altnafeadh, and the entrance to Glencoe, the modern A82 has been built on top of the Old Military Road, although at the layby the old road turns off to the right, again followed by the West Highland Way, to climb the Devils Staircase to Kinlochleven.
Telford carried his road across Caulfeild's Bridge of Orchy, but then chose to turn right and follow the river to Loch Tulla. This was to minimise the gradients on his new carriage road round to Inveroran. This stretch is still public highway, being the former A8005 to Forest Lodge. At Inveroran, the Military Road drops off the hill, and Telford again chose to follow its route across the Victoria Bridge and up to Forest Lodge itself. Here, the modern road ends, but Telford's new alignment continues north as the West Highland Way, crossing the vast Rannoch Moor to Kingshouse. For roughly a mile, across the Ba Bridge, Telford followed the military road, otherwise he built a new route lower down the hill, requiring less sharp ascents/descents, but more bridges.
Approaching Blackrock Cottage near the Ski Centre, the two routes merged once more, turning along the Ski road to the A82, and then across along the West Highland Way to the Kingshouse Hotel. After crossing the old Kingshouse Bridge, Telford turned to the left, again following the Military road, heading for Glencoe. However, just before the modern A82 is reached, the Military Road forks to the right to climb the hill, followed by the West Highland Way, while Telford's route is still used by the modern road all the way to Altnafeadh.
The road built from Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse in 1931-3 was completely new. Involving the construction of many new bridges to take a modern high speed two way highway across the bleak Rannoch Moor. The new road from the south crossed over the old road at the crossroads in Bridge of Orchy, and then followed the old track to Achallader towards Loch Tulla. This track had been extensively improved in the late 1890s when the new railway line was built across the moor.
From the point where the track to the farm still turns off, the road had to be built from scratch, however, passing to the east of Loch Tulla and crossing the Water of Tulla on one of the distinctive bridges constructed on the moor (See below). It then crosses the Ba Bridge between Lochan na h-Achlaise and Loch Ba, before heading north west across the moor to Kingshouse. Here, the River Etive is crossed on the new Kingshouse Bridge, and shortly after the old Black Corries road joins at the Glen Etive crossroads. This is where Telford's road is picked up once more, and we follow it all the way to Altnafeadh and the entrance to Glencoe.
Until 2010, it could be said that little had been done beyond basic maintenance to the A82 since it was opened in 1933. A turning lane had been added at the Ski Centre and the Kingshouse Hotel was provided with a new entrance road, but that was all. However, in January 2010 work started on the replacement of the Ba Bridge, with a temporary bridge alongside being built in March 2010 prior to the demolition of the old bridge.
From Rannoch Moor, we enter Glen Coe proper a couple of bends after passing the cottage of Altnafeadh, with the long straight heading north towards the forbiding chasm that marks the entrance to the Lower Glen. The road gets steadily twistier as it approaches the narrow pass of The Study, but then slowly widens and straightens out as it passes the various walkers laybys and parking areas on its way west towards Loch Leven. At Achnambeithach the old road forks right past the Clachaig Inn, while the new road crosses the river and sweeps round to reach the village of Glencoe at the crossroads on the shore of Loch Leven. A short straight past Tigh a'Phuirt brings us to Ballachulish.
The most remarkable thing about this stretch of the A82 is that the Old Military Road took a completely different route. Further south, the modern route often deviated from that of General Caulfeild across Rannoch Moor, but at Altnafeadh, the two routes split completely, not to be rejoined until we reach Fort William. In the 1750's, Glencoe was still seen as a trouble spot, despite, or more likely because of the massacre of 60 years earlier. There was also the small matter of crossing Loch Leven to consider, and the Military Roads were intended to be continuous routes, usable day or night without requiring local interaction. A Ferry service would have been temperamental in poor weather, and would have probably required a garrison in hostile country to operate it.
As a result, Caulfeild headed for the only other real option, the high pass above Altnafeadh that crosses into the valley of the Blackwater / Water of Leven. The ascent was a steep one, so a series of zig-zags were constructed to ease the ascent to the summit. It is this section that is known as the 'Devils Staircase'. Climbing this route today, as part of the West Highland Way, most of the zig-zags have been considerably foreshortened, suggesting that Caulfeild was generous with his gradients. The route is certainly not steep even with the shortcuts, but then no-one today has been on a forced march for the last four days carrying 20+kg on their backs! The gradient would also have needed to be easier for the horses, towing gun carriages, supply carts and occasionaly carriages when Caulfeild or one of his contemporaries paid the troops a visit.
Once across the summit, the route falls slowly but steadily for a couple of miles, with much evidence of the original road still to be seen. The full width of the old road is easily traceable in many places, with several of the old cobbled fords still in use (albeit almost certainly repaired!). Eventually, however, the modern path reaches the estate road from Kinlochleven to the Blackwater Dam, and as a result the original route of Caulfeild's road is lost, whether under the 1902 road or further down the valley side in the woodland.
On the edge of the small town of Kinlochleven, the West Highland Way is again our guide, looping round the end of the enormous pipes associated with the Hydro scheme and crossing the old brige over the Water of Leven. This bridge cannot be far from the site of Caulfeilds bridge, and his old road can be seen heading into the undergrowth ahead as we approach the bridge on the WHW. On the far side of the bridge, the old Military road is now the residential Wade's Road, heading through Kinloch and onto Fort William
Telford's Road - rebuilding a Drove Road
When Telford came along in the early years of the nineteenth century, surveying his new roads, he was lucky as he arrived in Glencoe. The only route across Rannoch Moor had been the old Military road, but from Altnafeadh at the bottom of the Devils Staircase all the way through to Ballachulish, a Drover's Road had been built in 1786. Being newer, the road was in much better condition than the military roads, and almost certainly built to a better standard too. As a result, it is now unclear exactly how much work Telford did on this stretch of the road. There is little doubt that the surviving bridges bare a striking resemblance to the bridges found elsewhere on his network, but perhaps they are just the 'design standard' of the era.
At Altnafeadh, Telford's road is easily identifiable as the overflow parking area at the start of the path to Buchaille Etive Mor. His route then criss-crosses the current road a number of times as the two follow similar routes northwest, before the two routes diverge near the River Coe. While the new road crosses the river, Telford chose to stay on the river's north side, and follow the contours to avoid the worst of the peat bog. For the next couple of miles, Telford's road follows its own course to the north of the modern route. This involves crossing a number of bridges over side streams, many of which are sadly losing their parapets. However, 200 years after they were built and 70 years since they recieved any real maintenance, the bridges themselves are still doing their job of providing a crossing point.
After many miles of slow descent, the old road starts climbing once more as it approaches The Study. This is to lift it onto the higher ground above the gorge that the modern road uses. The summit of this stretch, provides an excellent viewpoint down the Glen ahead, which must have been quite a desolate sight even in the 1930's. The descent into the glen is steep and rapid, initially including several stretches across bare bedrock. Whether there was ever a better surface on these points or not is uncertain, but it must have been a very hairy experience for the motorists of the 1920's, and the new road would have brought enormous relief.
Telford's road drops to meet the new road a little to the east of Allt na Ruigh, but that was not the end of the descent, as the road emerges about 400m further west halfway down the huge embankment that holds the new road up. From here, west to Achtriochtan, it is possible to still walk the old road as it has been repaired as the main footpath access in the glen, connecting the car parks and mountain paths together. Sadly, however, one of the bridges is missing (replacement footbridge installed in spring 2010!), requiring a steep descent and reascent. At Achtriochtan, the new road was virtually an online upgrade for a short stretch, before the old road forks to the right and then rejoins past Loch Achtriochtan.
At the other end of the loch, just before the Achnambeithach Bridge across the River Coe, the old road forks right once more, crossing the old bridge over a side stream and following the east bank of the River Coe past the Clachaig Inn and on into Glencoe Village. The River Coe is finally bridged nearly 3 miles further west by the small stone arch Bridge of Coe just to the east of the village. The road then runs down the narrow main street to Glencoe Crossroads, where the B863 Kinlochleven Road is reached before the A82 itself.
The section of the A82 through Glencoe appears to have been one of the earliest sections north of Glasgow to be rebuilt. The culverts and bridges through the glen bear the dates of 1929 and 1930, with the earlier dates east of Achnambeithach. The work had been completed by 1934, when a visiting engineer from New South Wales, Australia, noted that the total cost of the 32 miles of reconstruction and sealing on 'the Glencoe Pass road' was £512,000.1
Starting at Altnafeadh, therefore, the road has been reprofiled from Telford's route, with more straights and sweeping bends. This was not only desirable for modern traffic, but with modern construction methods it was also now possible. The new road was then taken across the infant River Coe and down into The Study. as we pass through the narrow gorge, the road criss-crosses the river, which is virtually tunnelled beneath the road in places, but at the Lairig Eilde Bridge (replaced 2005-7), the river gains strength and has to be left to its own course. The road sweeps out of the gorge in a rock-blasted cutting and round a series of bends, with Telford's road dropping from the right to join the new road near Allt na Ruigh, and then emerging halfway down the embankment on the left a little further along.
Again, as we descend the glen, there are a series of straights split by twistier bends around the contours of the glen. The road maintains its gradual descent, crossing Telford's route a couple of times along the side of Loch Achtriochtan. Then, as we approach the Achnambeithach Bridge (rebuilt 2008-9), the old road forks right past the Clachaig Inn while the new road crosses the River Coe. From here to the end of this section at Glencoe Crossroads, the road was built from scratch in 1930, sweeping along the western side of the glen, while the old road keeps to the east side.
There has been very little change to this section of the road in the last 80 years. Apart from the growth of roadside parking, there are only a handful of points where the road has been changed in any way. Two are minor widenings for turning lanes, the others are new bridges, 2 of which are detailed below.
Ballachulish - Fort William
After emerging from the desolate Glencoe to the sunny shores of Loch Leven, the A82 immediately splits past from present. In 1922, the route of the A82 continued, as it does now, westwards along the southern shore of the Loch to Ballachulish. However, the road to Kinlochleven was already open, and numbered the A829. A few years later, the road along the loch's north shore was also opened, and so in 1935 the A82 was re-routed around the loch to avoid the Ferry. In 1975, the new Ballachulish Bridge opened, and so the A82 was returned to its original route, the road around the loch now the B863. From North Ballachulish, the road north to Fort William has hardly changed since Telford's time, although the Military Road never came this way at all!
Having crossed the Devil's Staircase from Rannoch Moor, and so missing Glencoe out completely, the Old Military Road then passed through the Lairig Mor to the north of Loch Leven, and approached Fort William through Blacmachfoldach. This route is still easy to follow, being the West Highland Way as far as the road end at Lochan Lundavra, and then public highway into Fort William.
We pick up the route on the banks of the Water of Leven in Kinlochleven, and head north along the residential Wade's Road. At the far end of the road the bridge is now lost, although it was in use as the main road when the village was created in the early twentieth century. We then follow the modern B863 route for a short distance westwards, before the West Highland Way forks off to the right. After another half mile, the driveway to Mamore Lodge also turns off to the right, doubling back up the hill. Unfortunately, it is now impossible to say which of these routes was the Military Road, although further research is ongoing! Indeed, the Military road may have taken a 'third option' to climb up from the shores of Loch Leven.
Our journey is resumed somewhere near the 250m contour, as we find the modern track through the Lairig Mor. This rough estate road is still used by the occasional Land Rover, in addition to thousands of walkers every year. The road slowly climbs to the watershed, with the Mamore range on our right and the hills of Beinn na Caillich and Mam na Gualainn between us and Loch Leven on our left. Along the way, a couple of ruins are passed, old farmsteads dating back to the times when this was still an important route on the long north-south journey. At length, the track enters forestry land (much of it felled in recent years) and turns northwards towards Lochan Lundavra.
After passing the loch, the route becomes public Highway once more, as the twisty and undulating route through Blamachfoldach into Fort William. The town is reached just beyond a stunning viewpoint, and then the long descent of the residential Lundavra Road begins as we approach the West End Roundabout.
As with the section through Glencoe, Telford had little work to do along the shores of Loch Leven. The Drovers Road was still only a couple of decades old, and so presumably still in good condition. From Glencoe Crossroads, it headed west along the southern shore of Loch Leven, through Tigh a'Phuirt, then passed under both of the Arches (these may post date Telford's road) at Ballachulish Quarry and so into the village. The bridge on Albert Road wasn't built until 1951, so the road had to loop through the village, crossing the narrow Brig O'Laroch and then return to the shore near the West Quarry. From here to the ferry, the road was set close to the loch shore, often on a narrow ledge that was later shared with the Railway line from Oban. The road passed on the shore side of Craigrannoch House, before picking up the route of the modern A828 to the ferry slipway opposite the Ballachulish Hotel. Old Ferry Road on the north shore, running to the slipway at the Loch Leven Hotel marks the course of the old road.
Once across Loch Leven, it is believed that Telford followed the existing lochside path north, first through Onich and then northeast along Loch Linnhe. Much of this appears to have been constructed as a road at the same time as the Drove Road through Glencoe in c1786, but it may have been little more than a rough path along the foreshore in places. However, the old bridges along the route have been dated to the early 19th century by Historic Scotland, supporting the theory that the road was effectively built from scratch by Telford.
Most of the road was rebuilt on-line in the 1930's, with surviving evidence for Telford's work only visible at Corrychurrachan and Kiachnish Bridges (see below). However, with the land available being so restricted along Loch Linnhe, this is perhaps hardly surprising.
In 1922 the 'High Road' from Glencoe to Kinlochleven was more or less complete and open to traffic. Work had started during WW1, with German POWs providing the bulk of the workforce. However, it was to be another five years before the 'Low Road' along Loch Leven's north shore was built, and another two years before the route, including Invercoe Bridge and the Kinlochleven Viaduct was complete. As a result, the High Road was originally numbered as the A829, with the A82 routed along Telford's Road through Ballachulish, and across the Ferry to North Ballachulish.
Major changes were afoot however, and with the completion of the 'Low Road' along Loch Leven's north shore, it was only a matter of time before the A82 was rerouted along the route of the A829, with that number being consigned to the history books. The most surprising thing is that it was left until the major renumberings of 1935 before the A82 was rerouted. For more information on the route around Loch Leven, see the A829 and B863 pages.
From North Ballachulish, Telford's road was followed through Onich, with on-line widening to bring it up to the standards of the day. With so much property along this route, the road has changed little in the last 80 years. It is not until we reach the Inchree junction that the road deviated from Telford's route, cutting a new straight alignment away from the hamlet which had recently spawned a small housing development. The old road can still be traced through the village, before ending on a slightly cut off bank at the Four Seasons Restaurant. At Corran, the A82 formerley dipped down the hill, along the current footpath, before resuming its route along the A861 spur. This section of road was built slightly further from the ferry slip in the 1930's, and reprofiled again in the 1960s to its current design.
Once past Corran, apart from the loops mentioned above at Corrychurrachan and Kiachnish, the road alignment today is almost certainly the same as Telford surveyed 200 years ago at the beginning of the 19th Century. Some of the laybys may highlight minor reprofiling, but other than that the modern motorist will have to enter Fort William to find the next evidence for a former road alignment.
The biggest change to this section of the A82 since 1935 was the opening of the Ballachulish Bridge in 1975. This saw the route returned to its original 1922 route, past Ballachulish and across the narrows to North Ballachulish. Of course, the road had become so busy by the 1970s that it was no longer practical to send traffic through the village, so virtually the whole road from Glencoe Crossroads to the new bridge was rebuilt.
Starting at the crossroads, the old alignment through the houses of Tigh a'Phuirt can clearly be seen, with the new road sweeping past on the shore side, leaving the Old Pier House stranded on the 'wrong side' of the road. As the road through Tigh a'Phuirt rejoins, the old road continues through the trees, identifiable as the driveway of a little cottage a little further along, before disappearing into the trees once more. There is still a ledge on the hill in the trees, but in places it is very narrow suggesting that it was excavated to provide enough land for the modern road. As we approach Ballachulish village, the old road passed under the arch on the left, its twin being demolished to make way for the new road. It then swung into the village, past the quarry and along Albert Road. The new road, however, bypasses the village, with an underpass provided for access to the hotel and harbour.
The route past Ballachulish saw the clearance of a lot of derelict old industrial land, left over from the quarries which closed in 1955, and saw the beginnings of the villages rebirth. The River Laroch is crossed on a new bridge, and then the village road rejoins at West Laroch. The old road, however, continues past the west quarry and then into the trees along the left hand side of the road. From here until we pass St John's Church, the new road uses the course of the old railway as much as the old road. As we pass the war memorial, we are reminded of how narrow the old road must have been - there was a railway line here too!
The huge cliff faces as we approach the roundabout show how much work was done to build this new road, again making much use of the old railway line. However, a little investigation in the bushes on the shoreside will reveal the old railway line, and then to the west of the layby, the old stone wall sticks to the road edge, with the old tarmac still visible in a couple of places. Obviously, all of the road from Craigrannoch House up to and across the bridge was completely new, as is the new link for the A828 down to the shore.
The section from Glencoe Crossroads to the Ballachulish Roundabout was not, as might be expected, constructed in time for the opening of the Bridge. Obviously the section either side of the roundabout was ready, and connected up to the old road near Craigrannoch. The next section to be constructed, starting at Ballachulish village, was the mile and a half from the village to Craigrannoch. After that attention was turned to the Tigh a'Phuirt 'bypass', and finally Ballachulish itself was bypassed, with work being completed c1980.
Fort William - Fort Augustus
After the tortuous journey along Loch Linnhe, the A82 reaches Fort William at the foot of Ben Nevis. Here a brief Dual Carriageway avoids the town centre, but before long the town is dropping behind us as we start the journey north up the Great Glen. The summit of this stretch is at Spean Bridge, where the road meets the A86. It then starts the long descent to Loch Lochy, with the Old Military Road running along the hillside above the loch. At Laggan, we cross the Glen to the western shore of Loch Oich to meet the A87 at Invergarry. The route crosses back at Aberchalder for the final stretch into Fort Augustus at the foot of Loch Ness.
The Fort in Fort William was the terminus of Cauldfeilds Road from the south, as it was already the southern terminus of Wade's Military Road through the Great Glen which had been built 25 years earlier. The precise route through the town is uncertain, although the River Nevis was probably bridged much closer to the fort (it originally flowed out through Morrisons Car Park and in front of the college). The bridge across the current course of the Nevis into Inverlochy, followed by Wade's Road, Locheil Road and Black Parks Road to the old Inverlochy Castle is the assumed route.
After the Castle, the road probably followed the same alignment as the current A82 as far as Torlundy, after which it lies on the other side of the railway line, and is still in use as a forestry road. This road continues as far as the unclassified road to Leanachan, although it cannot be Wade's main route up the Great Glen. On the opposite side of the A82, starting somewhere near Achindaul and then passing to the north of Achnabobane, the OS mark another track as Military Road, and it is this road that is aligned with Wade's High Bridge across the River Spean. Quite how these two routes are connected is uncertain.
North of the bridge, It was once thought that the road had become completely lost. There are various bumps in the boggy land, but none line up with each other, or the bridge. However, the supposed route has now been identified as running alongside the river (obliterated by the short lived Fort Augustus and Invergarry Railway line), before crossing the B8004 just over half a mile west of the Commando Memorial. It then curves through the forest, rejoining the modern A82 alignment at Stronenaba. Again, there are various lumps and bumps in the ground along the roadside, but the precise aligment is uncertain.
It is at Glenfintaig where the road reasserts itself, taking the road into Glen Gloy as far as the hairpin, and then continuing along the hillside past the farm. It then drops back to the modern road to the north of Invergloy House. However, between various subsequent alignments of the A82, the railway line and forestry it is very difficult to trace any further evidence until the further end of the long straights along Loch Lochy. However, the fact that the military road can then be identified on the shore side of the A82 as it climbs inland towards Laggan, suggests that Wade may well have built a shore-side route. It is also worth remembering that the construction (by Telford) of the Caledonian Canal changed the water levels in all of the Great Glen Lochs.
It is at North Laggan, just before the Swing Bridge Over the Canal that the route suddenly becomes interesting once more. Here, a side road turns into the Great Glen Holiday Park set on the shores of Loch Oich, and this is Wade's Road. Following the eastern shore of the loch (quite literally in places, due to the rise of the water level), the old road is now used, along with the old railway line, as the Great Glen Way. Towards Aberchalder, the road climbs across a bridge over the railway line, which considering the subsequent history of this route may seem a little odd. However, believe it or not, this dirt track was classified as the B8040 in the early 1920s!
From Aberchalder to Fort Augustus, the alignment of the modern A82 doesn't appear to have changed in nearly 300 years, but it is quite a different story from Fort Augustus north along Loch Ness! There are also two other military roads meeting the A82 in Fort Augustus - the Corrieyairack Pass and Glen Moriston Road
In some places, Telford came along to survey the Military Road, laughed and built a new road. In others, he presumably shrugged and rebuilt the existing road. The section of the A82 from Fort William to Fort Augustus is a bit of both. At the southern end, the military overtones (starting at the fort and passing the old castle) seemed to have given the wrong message, so Telford built a new route to the east, which is still the A82 today. This briefly rejoined the Military Road at Lochybridge, where Telford's road to Arisaig (the A830) was accessed via a ferry. Continuing north to Spean Bridge, a completely new alignment was called for, and again this is still the modern A82.
The Bridge at Spean (see below) was built by Telford, although subsequently widened, and was also the junction point for the difficult route up Glen Spean to Strathspey. Again, as Telford headed north he chose to rebuild short sections of the old road, but in the main it was a new route to Loch Lochy. Here, presumably due to the same pressures of land seen on Loch Lomondside, the modern A82 still follows the Military Road as far as North Laggan. However, Telford was building a road to serve the people, not the army, so he needed to connect the communities together.
This was the main reason (the fact that the Laird of Invergarry Castle was a major investor in both the roads and canal, also supplying vast quantities of timber had nothing to do with it) that Telford chose to cross the Glen to follow the west side of Loch Oich. As a result, he took his road through Invergarry, where the Kinloch Hourn road (now partly the A87) joined. He recrossed the glen at Aberchalder to once more pick up the Military Road into Fort Augustus.
The only obvious changes to the route to be implemented in the 1930s were the bridges. All of the bridges over the canal were replaced by 1936, including those at Laggan and Aberchalder. Between the two, the bridge over the River Oich was also replaced, although the old bridge remains in place. The Bridge of Oich is now owned by Historic Scotland, and is one of the few remaining examples of a rather unusual bridge design by James Dredge, dating from 1854.
Otherwise, the road was essentially just widened and straightened here and there, with new bridges and culverts where necessary. It is much the same today.
Apart from some very minor works - such as the turning lane for the Aonach Mor Ski Centre - the road remains essentially as it was when Telford built it. Except for in Fort William.
The road used to conntinue straight on at the West End Roundabout, passing along the town's High Street, and then crossing The Parade to join Belford Road near the Alexandria Hotel. All of this changed in the 1960s, however, when the towns railway station was resited. Formerly, it had stood on the loch shore next to the Crannog Restaraunt Pier - the embankment along the shore having been built specifically for the purpose. However, with the High Street already chronically congested in the 1950s it was essential that a new road was built, and the only option was to replace the railway with a road. The result was that the old railway line was removed, the embankment strengthened with new steel piling and a brand new dual carriageway planted between the town and its lochside. An essential travesty.
The northern end of this D2 stretch was again changed in the 1980s when the An Aird Roundabout was built to provide access to the new supermarket and other developments on the reclaimed land. The A82 itself turns in land, dropping from D2 to S2 outside the Hospital and so resuming Telford's route.
There are, naturally, many junction improvements as the A82 wends its way out of town. The Glen Nevis junction has been given a small roundabout just next to the Nevis Bridge (see below), the junctions at Claggan and Inverlochy all have turning lanes and a set of traffic lights, while works at the new junction to Argos in 2005/6 have already been re-done. At Lochybridge, the old traffic lights were replaced by a mini roundabout in 2007 in readiness for the Mountain Bike World Cup at Aonach Mor.
At Spean Bridge, the proximity of the bridge to the junction means that the A86 turning is still narrow and awkward, but at the top of the hill the B8004 junction at the Commando Memorial has been significantly improved, mainly to allow tourist coaches into the large car park. Beyond that, however, the road is pretty much the same. A little wider perhaps, but the same alignment that Telford chose for most of the way north to Fort Augustus.
The current route along the western shore of Loch Ness was chosen by Telford in the early nineteenth century to connect the villages and communities together. He also did some improvement works to Wade's road on the opposite shore. Today, the road appears almost unchanged in places, but further investigation along the banks of Scotland's most famous loch may yet yield more information on the history of the northern end of the A82.
Starting at Fort Augustus, the military road ran east across the southern end of Loch Ness roughly along the aligment of the B862 as far as Glendoebeag. Much of this section of the road has been heavily improved for the recent Hydro scheme in Glen Doe. The minor road passing through Ardachy may also have been built by General Wade, to prevent the need for through traffic to detour into Fort Augustus.
Beyond Glendoebeag, the B862 sticks much more faithfully to Wade's route. The road climbs past Loch Tarff and over the hill into Stratherrick. Just before Whitebridge, however, a minor road turns left to follow the river to Dell Lodge. From here, a track continues to Dell Farm, and then a rougher track into the forest. The River Foyers is finally bridged just outside the village of Foyers, where the B852 is joined. This straighter route, requiring fewer large bridges is almost certainly Wade's route, although further investigation is required.
From Foyers, the B852 and then B862 show the route of the military road along the shore of Loch Ness and so through Dores into Inverness. However, as Inverness is approached the OS also mark another road, running past Loch Ashie as 'General Wade's Military Road'. Quite why two parallel routes were built is currently a mystery!
Little or no evidence remains to suggest anything other than the current alignment on most of the route along Loch Ness side. However, there are various tracks through forestry which may yet prove to be an old alignment when fully investigated. In addition, the route into Lewiston may have followed the long dead-end minor road that stretches south to Grotaig and Ancarraig. There is also the possibility of an alternative route into Drumnadrochit (see below).
As with further south, major widening and straightening works probably happened.
In the 1930's, the bridges at Invermoriston, Lewiston and Drumnadrochit were all replaced, and the new causeway section across Loch Dochfur at the norther end of Loch Ness probably also dates from this time. Between Lewiston and Drumnadrochit, a new road seems to have been built, the old route staying on the north shore of the River Collrie to cross the old bridge (see Borlum Bridge below), presumably returning along Balmaccan Road, with maybe a further detour via Kilmore Road to regain the modern route.
Nothing since 1930s south of Inverness?
In Inverness itself, however, there have been big changes. The A82 appears to have originally terminated on the A9 at the Kenneth Street / Tomnahurich Street junction to the south of the river. It was not until the 1960s or 70s that traffic would have started to be diverted away from the city centre, especially as Inverness has only really grown in the last 50 years. The new Ness Bridge may well have been used by the A9 before the construction of the Kessock Bridge, meaning that the A82 would have been extended along Kenneth Street to the Telford Street roundabout.
Longman Road partially predates the new bridges, as it was originally constructed as an extension to Rose Street providing access to the historic industrial areas north of the railway line. However, it would have been widened and extended at the time of the opening of the Kessock Bridge, to bring the A82 up to the new A9 alignment at the Longman Roundabout.