|From:||Gorstan, Garve (NH785676)|
|Distance:||16 miles (25.7 km)|
|Old route now:||A835|
|Route outline (key)|
The A832 was originally a continuous route, and it was not until the A835 from Ullapool became the more important route that the A832 was broken. Nine miles were cut out of it, from Moy Bridge near Contin up to Gorstan the other side of Garve. From Gorstan to Achnasheen, most of the A832 has been upgraded to a very high standard, indeed many consider it to be too good, as it allows traffic to proceed in apparent safety at over 100mph if it so chooses. Of course, it is not always, if ever, safe to travel at such a speed on the road, which can vary from empty to extremely busy at the height of the summer season.
After regaining its number, the A832 climbs put of Gorstan, past the old junction with the former A835 line which is now a dead end, cut by the embankment of the new road. The road runs west, alongside the Inverness to Kyle railway line, until the two split at Corriemoillie. Briefly passing through some open fields, the roadside scenery quickly reverts to forestry and open hillside. Loch Luichart is away to the left, with glimpses visible in the winter months, but during the summer the trees are in leaf and block the views. The first power station to be passed is hidden away down below the trees, but quickly followed by a couple of groups of houses on the right, with some fine views across the loch. The railway is also down on the shore, and soon after the station is reached, down the end of Statio Road.
A series of loops off to the left show where the road has been straightened, leaving houses and indeed the church isolated and hidden behind banks of trees. Then the more obvious power station is passed at Grudie Bridge. After passing through one last bank of forestry, the road emerges on the hillside above the railway and River Bran. The railway, however, has crossed the river and remains on the far bank as Loch a'Chuilin is passed. After the first few miles of wide, well aligned, but winding road, the A832 really opens up now, with a wide straight carriageway stretching away into the distance.
Strath Bran is a wide, open valley, between low hills. The road, river and railway all run along the bottom, but still insignificant in this vast landscape. Even where the road has been realigned, leaving the old road line to wind along the edge of the forest above, there is a great feeling of space. Achanalt is a scattered settlement, barely covering half a dozen houses and a station in the midst of this landscape. The valley turns a little southwards, with patches of forestry continuing above the road, but to the south is just a vast open plain stretching away to the distant, cloud covered, hills.
More stretches of old road can be seen, first up hill, and then down hill of the modern, straight road. The railway still lies between the road and the river, but Achnasheen is now in sight, and despite being a tiny settlement of meagre services, it is a pleasant relief after the last dozen miles of fast, open road. Achnasheen also has a station, set on a loop of old road, and the new road then continues across the old to the new roundabout, a junction which marks the start of the A890 as it heads south west to Loch Carron. The A832, meanwhile, turns a little north of west on its way to Kinlochewe and Wester Ross.
This section of the road was originally built by Thomas Telford as part of his commission on Highland Roads and Bridges in the early 1800s. The line of the road remained much the same until the first upgrades in the 1970s, but has since undergone major realignment. However, the original route west from Inverness towards Achnasheen is much less clear, with various reports from the 18th Century suggesting that the 'road' ran to the south of Loch Achanalt. Old maps show tracks across the hills from Strathconon, and it is now considered by some people that Telfords road followed a completely new line, with the original road crossing from Strathconon.
The full history of the section that is now the A835 from Contin to Garve will be included on the A835 page. However, suffice to note here that the only major changes to that section are the realignments from the Moy Bridge junction into Contin, where the old road is now property accesses, the new bridge at the northern end of Contin village and the replacement of the level crossing at Garve, which was originally a bridge. The rest of the road has, undoubtedly, been widened and improved since 1922, but there is little evidence on the ground of any major realignment.
The approach to Gorstan junction is, however, where the realignments begin. The old line is first used as a layby, before being property access. This is then cut by the new road which sits at a lower level, with the original junction, where the A835 once started, coming up on the right. For the next mile or so, the A832 is largely an online upgrade, with the occasional layby showing the old line. However, on the approach to Corriemoillie, the sweeping left hander is an easement of the original bend, with an isolated strip of tarmac on the inside of the bend. This then lines up with the old road line that runs through the trees and cuts the driveways to the houses to the north of the road.
The next evidence of the old road is where the drive signed 'MacKenzie Glenview' turns off to the left, where a short stretch of tarmac survives behind the trees that line the new road. A little further on, the 'junctions' of an old loop to the right are visible, even if most of the road has been reclaimed by nature. At the far end, the new road crosses the old and runs as a parallel line on the south side of the new road, before the two briefly rejoin. There is then another, larger loop to the south at the entrance to Lochluichart Lodge, although not the full driveway past the house.
Between the Station Road and the Grudie Power Station, three loops to the south survive, the middle one still in use as access to the church and the western one a parking area. The bridge at the power station is also new, the old bridge sat a little further upstream. A little under half a mile further on, a loop to the south is overgrown, but the crosses the new road and runs along in a the trees above the new road for some distance, the east end still open as property access. This rejoins the new road above Loch a'Chuillin, and apart from two shoreside laybys, there is no deviation along the lochside.
Beyond the loch, however, a wide fork to the right, opposite a layby, shows where the old road climbs up and runs along the hillside for about a mile to Achanalt. Beyond the station at Achanalt, the new road then runs in a shallow cutting, and it seems that the old road sat a little to the north of the current line, higher up the hill, but any evidence has been lost by the construction of the new line. Just before Knockban, a loop of the old road is now forestry access to the north of the new road, and this is quickly followed by a much longer run of old road following the forest edge for over half a mile.
The old and new roads converge again at Dosmuckeran, but the old road can then be seen on the inside of the bend, before reverting to the north side of the new road, and running along above the new line, apart from a short break, as far as the quarry on the approach to Achnasheen. A little further on, the old road can be seen as a grassy line to the south, curving towards the railway and crossing an old stone arch bridge, before recrossing the new road, with a cut-back stone bridge just above the A832. There is then another loop towards the railway before the village, where the old road runs down past the station. The roundabout at Achnasheen in new, having been opened in the early 2000s, and the old road runs higher up the hill, past the school, before dropping down to a junction above the old bridge.