|From:||Cromarty, Black Isle (NH785676)|
|To:||Moy Bridge, Contin (NH481547)|
|Distance:||26 miles (41.8 km)|
|Meets:||Pier, B9163, B9160, B9161, A835, A9, A862, A835|
|Old route now:||A835|
|Route outline (key)|
The first section of the A832 to be described here was originally classified in 1922 as the A833. However, in 1935 with the A9 extended northwards, the A832 was extended eastwards to Cromarty, rather than renumbering the road as a A9xx route.
The A832 begins its journey therefore at the pretty harbour in Cromarty, from where it was possible to catch the small car ferry across the bay to Nigg and the B9175. However, problems in Cromarty Harbour have restricted or cancelled sailings in the last couple of years, with the ferry currently operating as a passenger only service. Running briefly down Bank Street and then doglegging along the High Street, which continues westwards as the B9163, the A832 begins its run out of town along Denny Road. Initially, it crosses relatively flat, fertile land with good views north across the Cromarty Firth. It does start to climb gently, however, before levelling out through some sweeping bends. The road then passes through a shallow valley, where the farm of Glenurquhart lies, but the valley is not otherwise named.
After passing through some forestry, the road drops down towards Janefield, where the B9160 turns sharp right, at the head of the steep, narrow Fairy Glen. The road winds down through trees, with some pretty walks from the car park at the bottom. The small village of Rosemarkie is home to the Groam House Museum, which contains a fine collection of Pictish stones found in the area. From here, one can also see the historic castle of Fort George across on the other side of the Moray Firth. The road itself turns round to the right and passes along the narrow High Street, before climbing slightly along the sinuous Manse Brae out of the village.
Just 2 or 3 fields now separate Rosemarkie from its neighbour, Fortrose and the road runs straight between them, continuing straight into the High Street. Left turns lead out to Chanonry Point, a narrow headland extending out into the Moray Firth, towards the opposite headland where Fort George Sits. On the High Street itself, lies the ruinous Fortrose Cathedral, which was built in the mid 13th century.
Leaving Fortrose behind, the next section runs alongside the Moray Firth and, if you're lucky, it's possible to see dolphins swimming in the water. The risk of landslides has led to a short section being diverted out into the Firth, with the old road now becoming overgrown. A little over a mile from Fortrose, the harbour at Avoch (pronounced Auch) is reached on the shore, and then the road turns inland a little to pass through the village. After passing through Avoch, the road starts climbing, to curve around the hill before dropping down towards Munlochy Bay, a narrow tidal inlet from the Moray Firth. The village of Munlochy is quickly passed through, with much of the traffic forking left onto the B9161 to cut the corner to Inverness. The A832, however, continues heading west to the roundabout with the A9 and the A835, at Tore. This won't be the last time we meet the A835 which is, in fact, the direct route from here to the far end of the A832.
After taking the second exit off the roundabout, the A832 drifts westwards, passing through open fields with scattered farms. Mostly running inland, there is a brief glance of the Beauly Firth, just west of Milton, before the road turns inland again. Despite improvements, with a nice wide carriageway, there are still a couple of sharper bends to negotiate before Muir of Ord. In this small town, there is a brief multiplex, near the station, with the A862 (the old A9) as the road passes over the Inverness to Wick railway line. A new bridge is being built in 2016 to remove the old, narrow, traffic-light controlled bridge that has proven to be a bottleneck for several years.
Heading west out of Muir of Ord, we finally leave the Black Isle behind us. The Glen Ord distillery lies on the edge of Muir of Ord, beyond which the road heads back out into the countryside. On a clear day, one can see the hills of Glen Orrin and Strathconon in the distance from here. After passing through Urray the road sweeps round over the new Orrin Bridge, and then settles into a long straight leading into Marybank. Here, there is a sharp right-hand turn in what passes for the middle of the village, leading to another straight dipping down the hill. A mile further on, the narrow Moy bridge carries the road over the River Conon, and the road immediately before the bridge is liable to flood when the river is in spate, even though the bridge generally remains dry. At the T-junction with the A835, the A832 temporarily comes to a halt. It multiplexes with the A835 for about nine miles past Contin, the Rogie Falls and Garve, before the junction at Gorstan, where the roads diverge.
As mentioned above, most of the route described above was originally numbered as the A833. However, in 1935 with the renumbering of the A88 as the A9, the A833 would have become out of zone. Rather than give it a zone 9 number, the A832, which met it anyway, near enough, at Muir of Ord was extended eastwards to Cromarty. Then, in the 1970s with the upgrading of the A835 route from Ullapool, a new road was eventually built down to Tore and became an extended A835. This included 8 or so miles of the original A832 route, forcing a multiplex between the two numbers.
The road from Tore to Fortrose appears to have originally been built by Thomas Telford as part of his commission on Highland Roads and Bridges. There are, in fact, very few realignments to this section of the route, since then, the shoreside section between Fortrose and Avoch being the main exception. Indeed, the only other realignment is at Tore itself, where the construction of the new roads and roundabout has led to the A832 being briefly diverted along the former B9162 (part of Telfords road) to meet the roundabout, with a new section of road then leading back to the old line on the western side of the junction.
Further west, a couple of slight kinks have been ironed out at Fettes Cottages, Newton, and then a long realignment exists at Garguston Farm, followed by a much shorter one at Balvattie. In between, the bends at Whitewells have been eased slightly. Beyond Muir of Ord, the only obvious change is the new Orrin Bridge.