A862 (Inverness - Fort Augustus)
|Location Map ( geo)|
|To:||Fort Augustus (NH379091)|
|Distance:||33.3 miles (53.6 km)|
|Met:||A9, B852, B851, B852, A82|
|Now part of:||B862|
|Route outline (key)|
Although the obvious route between Inverness and Fort Augustus is along the Great Glen, traffic has to pass on one side or the other of Loch Ness. The main road between the two towns has been the A82 route along the northwest shore, since Thomas Telford built it in the 1810s. However, there is another road in the hills to the south, which is older, having been built by General Wade as the first of the military Roads in the Highlands. Parts of this route became the A862. Originally numbered B851, the alternative route was raised to Class I status in 1923 or 24, and more recently, it has been returned to B road status, now carrying the B862 number, with the A862 number recycled to the former A9 from Inverness to Dingwall.
Starting on the A9 in Inverness town centre, the road headed upstream along the east bank of the River Ness as far as Loch Ness at Dores. However, instead of following the flat route, and military road along the lochside, it climbed steeply up onto the moors, zigzagging through the hills to the south of the Great Glen, to pick up the line of Wades older road on Ashie Moor. This was then loosely followed south into Stratherrick and along the shore of Loch Mhòr. At the top of the strath the road rejoined Wades final route, following this over the summit before descending past Loch Tarff to meet Loch Ness once more at its southern corner. Now heading northwards, the road entered Fort Augustus to end on the A82.
However important the alternative route may have been, the A862 has now been downgraded although it did survive into the 1970s, before becoming the B862. The original B862 was on the Black Isle, superseded by the B9162 in 1935. This left the number spare when the Fort Augustus road was downgraded. This happened before the A9 was diverted across the new Kessock Bridge, but it is currently unclear exactly how long before. Since 2010, a lot of the route has seen substantial improvements to cope with the increased traffic associated with the windfarms in the Monadhliath Mountains to the east of Stratherrick. The favoured route for wind farm access has, however, followed the B851 to the A9 at Daviot, rather than the B862 into Inverness.
Although previously thought that the route was downgraded when the A9 across the Black Isle was opened, to release the A862 number for the former route of the A9, it is now clear that this is not strictly the case. The 1979 OS Routemaster map shows the B862 in place, with the A9 still running via Beauly and Dingwall, proving that the route was downgraded in anticipation of the changes to the north, and that the A862 number was completely defunct for a short period of time.
As noted above, much of the former A862 owes its existence to the Military Roads built by General George Wade in the 1720s. His first attempt at a route from Inverness to Fort Augustus ran across Ashie Moor (now the unclassified Essich Road out of Inverness]], and then took a route loosely followed by the modern B862 through Torness and Errogie, beyond which the modern road much more closely follows the military line to Fort Augustus. This road was blocked by snow in the first few winters, so within 5 years a different, all weather line was sought, which stayed low along the shores of Loch Ness (B862 then B852 through Dores and Foyers), before climbing up to meet the old road line at the junction north of Whitebridge.