|Length:||19 miles (30.6 km)|
|Meets:||A84, B827, A822|
|Route outline (key)|
After descending through Glen Ogle to Lochearnhead, the A85 has to TOTSO with the A84, which continues south to Stirling. The A85 turns left here, heading eastwards along the north shore of Loch Earn. This bit of the A85 to Perth has recently attained trunk road status, but the first few miles along the loch are below the normal standard. At the Perth & Kinross / Stirling boundary the road suddenly improves again, until St Fillans. Continuing east the A85 passes through Comrie (Scotland's earthquake capital), and out of the Highland scenery to more gentle country at Crieff.
This section of the A85 was never part of the military road network, nor is there any evidence that Telford worked on the road, which presumably means that this has been a traditional route for centuries. However, as we shall see, this doesn't mean that the road has been left as it was 200 or more years ago!
Along Loch Earn
Just a few hundred metres into this section of the route, we find the first realigned section. Immediately after crossing the River Ogle, the road swings to the right in front of the village hall. The road to the left is signed as a no through road, despite being a through route, and clearly the old alignment of the A85 itself. The road then tightly hugs the loch shore as it passes hotels and houses to leave the village behind.
At Dalveich, there is some evidence that the bend has been re-profiled to meet a replacement bridge, but otherwise the sinuous alignment seems to have been virtually untouched since the route was first classified in 1922. All that changes quite suddenly just before we enter Perth & Kinross, with a long layby on the north side of the road at Derry, and then another layby on the shore side a little further along. Both indicate where the road has been widened and re-aligned. Whilst much of this widening has taken place on-line, there are several more laybys as we head east, each showing where bends have been straightened, including a very long layby on the shore side of the road.
Things become more confused as we approach St Fillans. Here, a narrow lane forks off left, appearing to be little more than a private drive to a house on the hill. However, the lane follows through to re-emerge in the village, and seems to be the original 1922 route of the A85. Sticking to the modern road, just around the bend there is clear evidence of an older alignment on the left, past the Milestone gift shop. This ox-bow is the 1930s route, with the road being improved once more in the 1970s or 80s.
As we continues eastwards, long parking areas on the shore side of the road may reflect further re-alignments since this section of road was first built, and the retaining walls that occasionally appear on the left prove that this section was first built in the 1930s. At the four seasons, we meet the old hill road again, and the modern route narrows down, perhaps only to the 1930s route as the hill road seems to continue a little further. However, soon the age of the properties along the road proves that we have rejoined the traditional alignment through the village.
St Fillans - Comrie
At the eastern end of St Fillans, a minor road crosses the River Earn to head back west along the southern shore of the Loch. Our road, however, continues east through woodland and then fields on what is clearly the 1930s alignment, wide enough for vehicles to pass but without the wider lanes and verge strips of more modern roads. The River Earn is never far away to the south, and closest where we cross over the old railway line, with the bridge still in place.
The road slowly diverges from the river and passes through Sawmill Wood on one of the narrowest, twistiest sections yet. As the road straightens up, a minor road to Dalchonzie also crosses the River Earn, and then we are rejoined by the old railway line, which now follows the road all the way through Drumlochlan Wood to the edge of Comrie, where it is once more replaced by the river.
Comrie - Crieff
Between Comrie and Crieff, there is remarkably only one point where there is any evidence that the road has been improved since the 1930s. This is the layby / picnic site near Loch Monzievaird. Not only is this clearly an 'oxbow' road, but the modern route is briefly wider as it sweeps past on a smoother curve.