|To:||Dunvegan Castle (NG248489)|
|Distance:||19.2 miles (30.9 km)|
|Meets:||A87, B8036, B886, A863, Unclassified|
|Old route now:||A87|
|Route outline (key)|
The A850, one of several A-roads on Skye, originally went from Kyleakin to Dunvegan via Portree, but the Kyleakin to Borve part of the route became the A87 when the Skye Bridge opened in 1995. The Borve to Dunvegan road remains the A850, possibly along with a short section through Kyleakin to the A87.
The section of the A850 at Kyleakin is no longer signed, nor indeed marked on maps, and is generally considered to now be unclassified. However, it still appears in the list of Highland Council roads as the A850, whether this is an oversight or intentional is not clear.
The Kyleakin section of the A850 therefore possibly starts at the old ferry slipway in Kyleakin where the ferry from Kyle of Lochalsh used to sail to when this was the main route to the Isle of Skye. This service stopped when the Skye Bridge opened in 1995. It continues along the shore through the village of Kyleakin on the main street, Kyleside. At the end of the village it meets the A87 at the end of the Skye Bridge at the Kyleakin Roundabout. Here this section of the A850 ends with the A87 continuing ahead along the original route of the road via Portree.
Borve - Dunvegan Castle
The remaining part of A850 starts at a triangular junction at Borve, four miles north of Portree. It runs past the head of Loch Snizort at Skeabost, and bypasses the long village of Bernisdale where the original single-track road runs parallel to the new road. It then climbs slightly to cross a small peninsula before descending through Arnisort to Edinbane. The Arnisort - Edinbane section, including a short causeway across the tidal head of Loch Greshornish at Edinbane, was the last part to be upgraded from single track - sometime around 1990. All the villages up to here are crofting townships, with the houses arranged along the road and the croft land behind.
After Edinbane the road crosses bleak, featureless moorland to Fairy Bridge (it has been said that this looks like any other bridge - to a human) and on to the larger village of Dunvegan where it once again meets the sea and also meets the A863. Through the village it extends - narrower now, though not quite single track - for another mile or so to Dunvegan Castle which has been the seat of the Chief of the Clan Macleod for nearly 800 years and is well worth a visit for its history and legends. The present end of the A850 seems to be by the castle's car park - although the exact point of the terminus has moved along this section of road over the years.
The scenery along the A850 is somewhat less interesting than it can be elsewhere in Skye, but it improves as Dunvegan is reached. The B roads branching off from Fairy Bridge and Dunvegan also lead to spectacular coastal scenery. Two flat-topped hills, Healabhal Mhor and Healabhal Bheag, are obvious from Dunvegan and are also known as Macleod's Tables. It is said that a clan chief once boasted that in his homeland he held banquets using far grander tables than they had in Edinburgh, and on returning had to lay on a feast using the hilltop as a table to prove it.