|Location Map ( geo)|
|To:||Ardullie Roundabout (NH587622)|
|Via:||Muir of Ord, Dingwall|
|Distance:||23.7 miles (38.1 km)|
|Meets:||A82, A833, A831, A832, A835, A834, A9|
|Former Number(s):||A9, A88|
|Route outline (key)|
The A862 is the former route of the A9 around the Beauly and Cromarty Firths between Inverness and Adullie near Dingwall. With the construction of the Kessock and Cromarty Bridges the route of the A9 was able to take a more direct route across the Black Isle leaving this road serving the towns and villages of Beauly, Muir of Ord, Conon Bridge, Maryburgh and Dingwall to become the A862.
The A862 starts on the A82 at Telford Street Roundabout on the edge of Inverness town centre, and immediately heads westwards along Telford Street. The road has a central turning lane for the many junctions, particularly as it passes the retail parks, with a roundabout at Carsegate Road. After the roundabout, the road crosses the Caledonian Canal on a swing bridge next to Muirtown Basin, and then reaches the signalised junction with the unclassified King Brude Road, which sort of makes a western bypass for the city, connecting up to the A82 and A8082. This route is signed as the HGV route from the A82 to avoid some of the city centre area. The road then narrows significantly as it enters Clachnaharry, passing between old houses and then over the narrow, traffic-light-controlled railway bridge. Immediately it leaves the city behind, and enjoys a pleasant run along the shores of the Beauly Firth for about a mile.
The road then dips inland briefly at Bunchrew, before rejoining the coast. However, this is an even briefer visit as it soon slips under the railway line, curving gently to the south west as it passes through Lentran and then heads further inland, away from the Firth to Inchmore. Kirkhill was bypassed long before the A9 was classified, the road through the village now being the B9164, which turns off at Inchmore. A pair of sweeping bends carry the A862 over the Newton Burn, bypassing the sharp bends over the old Moniack Bridge, and then a long straight runs down to Brockies Corner and the A833. The road has climbed, almost imperceptibly, since leaving the coast, but the descent through woodland is much more noticeable. After passing the other end of the B9164, a pair of short straights lead to the Lovat Bridge, built in 1814 by Thomas Telford, who applied more decoration to this bridge than most to satisfy Lord Lovat who helped to fund it. This bridge is now traffic light controlled.
After crossing the River Beauly, the road immediately turns northwards at the junction with the A831, and crosses the railway again beside the station as it enters Beauly. This is a pleasant small town with a wide square in the middle, and the ruins of an Augustinian Priory at the northern end. The road north is then a wide avenue through trees to Windhill, where it kinks to the left as it enters Muir of Ord. The south end of Muir is dominated by a large industrial estate, where the B9169 cuts off the corner to the A832, so forming a kind of bypass to the east of the town. The road is a long straight, for over a mile into the centre where the A832 is met at a crossroads. The two routes then multiplex westwards over the new railway bridge to a signalised junction, where the A862 resumes its northerly route.
The small town is soon left behind as the A862 follows the railway line north to Conon Bridge. Road and rail run side by side for a while, although a line of trees on the railway embankment hides one from another. The road then kinks out to cross the tracks, and so enters Conon. Here it meets the B9163 and very short B9162 as it winds down to the River Conon. The river is crossed by the eponymous Bridge, to enter Maryburgh, once a separate village; the two have now almost merged together, but woe betide anyone who confuses one with the other! At the end of Maryburgh's main street, after crossing the railway once more, the A862 meets the A835 at Maryburgh Roundabout.
The mile from the roundabout into Dingwall, county town of Ross-shire, has been completely rebuilt, with some of the old road in evidence as the cycle route past the auction mart. As it enters Dingwall, the road used to continue ahead along Station Road and then Tulloch Street through the town, but has now been diverted further west, sweeping round a car park behind the High Street. It then curves back to the north, meeting the A834 at a signalised crossroads at the other end of the High Street. More traffic lights stand at the entrance to Tesco, then a level crossing over the Skye Line, before the A862 rejoins the old A9 route along Craig Road. It soon leaves the town behind, although houses can be seen up the hill to the left, and continues north alongside the railway once more. A final crossing under the railway at a tight double bend brings the road onto the shore of the Cromarty Firth for the final couple of miles north eastwards to the Ardullie Roundabout with the A9 at the northern end of the Cromarty Bridge.
The route followed by the A862 was originally engineered by Thomas Telford as part of his commission on Highland Roads and Bridges. It formed the southern portion of his new road north from Inverness to Wick and on to Thurso. It remained the main route north until 1982, becoming the A88 in 1922, and then renumbered as the A9 in 1935. As the old line of the A9, it could be expected that the A862 has many realignments and improvements along its route. However, thanks to passing through a series of small towns, and often being constrained by the coast and neighbouring railway line, most of the improvements seem to have been carried out on line.
When it was first numbered, following the opening of the Kessock Bridge in 1982, the A862 started on the A82 at the crossroads west of the Ness Bridge, by the Salvation Army (now the A82/B861 junction) and ran along Kenneth Street to its present starting point. Following the opening of Friars Bridge in 1986 and the later completion of the dual carriageway through the Longman, the A82 was rerouted to meet the A9 at the Longman Roundabout in Inverness, and the A862 was slightly curtailed.
Once out of Inverness, the first notable upgrade is a straight section through flat land west of Bunchrew (the old road and a small bridge are visible to the south), leading to a sweeping bend and new railway bridge at Phopachy, where the old railway bridge can still be seen. Map evidence shows the straight road dating from somewhere between 1958 and 1961, but the new bridge under the railway is later, with Hansard of 8 June 1972 recording Lord Polwarth, Minister of State in the Scottish Office, stating that the contract documents for the construction of the new bridge being expected to be ready within the next 12 months. The next upgrade is the new road and bridge bypassing the old Moniack Bridge, which appears to date from 1959 or soon after. The new railway bridge in Muir of Ord was built in 2015 to replace a life-expired bridge immediately south of it. Before the railway came, the 'Great North Road' followed Seaforth Road and Highfield Circle to the east of the railway line. The bridge over the river at Conon Bridge was replaced in 1969, and in the 1960s and 70s with heavy traffic on the A9, there seem to have been a number of side streets pressed into service to try and spread the load around the town.
Apart from the Muir of Ord bridge, the only realignment since the road became the A862 is the mile from Maryburgh roundabout to the south edge of Dingwall, mentioned above.
In the 1960s there was a plan to dual the A9 between Inverness and Dingwall, but the government was persuaded to build the shorter route including the Kessock and Cromarty Bridges, and the A835 between Tore and Maryburgh, instead. The road was de-trunked when it ceased to be the A9, but for a time the bit between Maryburgh and Ardullie roundabouts was signed as a primary road.