|Distance:||44.9 miles (72.3 km)|
|Meets:||A836, A839, A835, A894, Pier|
|Route outline (key)|
The A837 is a varied road ranging from narrow single-track to a wide, flowing single carriageway near Lochinver.
Invershin - Ledmore
The road leaves the A836 at Invershin, just north of the spectacular Invershin viaduct. The junction is a very sharp fork, slightly reprofiled to bring the A837 up to the A836 at a right angle, although there is unlikely to be much turning traffic. The A837 is more-or-less S2 for the first half-mile north to the Shin Bridge, just beyond which the B864 joins on the right after running down the western side of the River Shin. The A837 immediately becomes single-track, as it now heads west along the banks of the Kyle of Sutherland. After passing Linsidemore and Altass, the road becomes wider again, through the A839 junction at Rosehall and down the hill to cross the River Cassley at Cassley Bridge.
Now following the River Oykell, the road remains almost wide enough for two-way traffic as it runs through the trees. A left turn crosses the river on a Bailey bridge to access the scattered farms and crofts on the southern bank, but the A837 sticks to the north bank for now. At times the river is almost eating into the road, offering great views up and down Strathoykell. The road finally stops pretending it's two-way and offers passing places, but the lack of traffic means they aren't used very often. The road briefly leaves the river as it climbs over a low hill, before dropping to Oykel Bridge, where it crosses the river and passes the Oykel Bridge Hotel.
After the road crosses the Oykel Bridge it loses sight of the river, and climbs through some forestry to Lubcroy farm and bridge, which requires a sharp left turn, but the road beyond is almost two-way for a time. The road now begins to turn north west and starts a long climb up away from the river, which turns north heading deep into forestry. The road too heads into forestry and passes Loch Craggie before reaching the summit. Here we get our first view of the two stunning mountains of Suilven and Canisp. The views of Suilven are wonderful, looking at its narrowest side it looks near impossible to climb; it is in fact a ridge about a mile long.
The road starts a long and gentle, if not undulating, descent now, crossing the Allt Eileag, a tributary of the Oykel, before crossing the watershed. The magnificent twin peaks of Suilven are now drawing us westwards, wrapped in swirling mist and cloud, the peaks come and go but always lead us on. Emerging from the forest, we pass Loch Borralain, with a motel looking out from the roadside. We follow the River Ledmore another mile down the road to the A835 junction at Ledmore.
Ledmore - Lochinver
Ledmore Junction is a simple T-junction, where the A835 ends after its long journey up from the east coast. From here the road forms the northernmost part of the main west coast road, used by the lorries loaded with fish from the major fishing port of Lochinver and indeed Kinlochbervie even further north. As we head north Suilven disappears behind Canisp and we cross the low watershed between the Ledbeg River and start the gentle descent alongside the River Loanan. The descent steepens as we approach the hamlet of Inchnadamph at the head of Loch Assynt. This is possibly the second largest settlement on the route, with a hotel, hostel, disused church and a smattering of houses.
Half a mile or so to the north, the ruins of Calda House stand prominently at the roadside, remnants of the folly of a clan who bankrupted themselves in its construction. Its predecessor, Ardvreck Castle, also stands ruinous on the loch shore a little further on, and half a mile further still we reach Skiag Bridge. This is an insignificant little bridge, but where the A894 leaves to head north towards Kylesku, Scourie and Durness. The next stretch of the A837 along the shore of Loch Assynt is one the finest stretches of roads in Britain, up and down with fast corners and great views, very much similar to the A817 from Loch Lomond to the Gareloch. There are a number of laybys from which the views can be enjoyed, some of which are clearly the old road alignment.
The road then turns southwest with the loch, past a car park offering access to the ruined townships of Assynt. The loch finally narrows to the River Inver, and the road climbs sharply over a low hill, dropping through a cutting and down a long embankment back to the riverbank. The old road sticks close to the riverbank, curving around the hill as a narrow muddy track. Indeed, it remains running parallel to the new road as the two stick to the riverbank. The old road remains closer to the river, curving rather than climbing as the new road does.
A no-through road signed to the left is again the old road through Brackloch, while the new road takes a much faster route through a low pass a little to the north. A long straight then leads into forestry above the river where it meets the B869 opposite the fire station. In fact, the fire station and industrial estate seem to be on the old road alignment. A steep drop then brings it down to Lochinver Bridge on the edge of town. Lochinver is a pretty little port, somewhat spoiled by the large fish processing plant on the harbour, where the A837 ends. Boats from all over Europe are commonplace here. From Lochinver you can head south along the narrow road towards the A835 and Ullapool, or head back north on the B869 around the coast to Kylesku.