|Location Map ( geo)|
|To:||Port Bannatyne (NS066675)|
|Distance:||27 miles (43.5 km)|
|Meets:||A815, B8000, B836, A8003, B866, A844|
|Former Number(s):||B837, B836, B8000|
|Old route now:||B8000|
|Route outline (key)|
The A886 runs south through the Cowal area of Argyll and then crosses the ferry on to the Isle of Bute. As such, it is one of only two A roads which crosses a ferry from the British Mainland to an island, the other being the A884 to Mull.
The road starts on the A815 on the shores of Loch Fyne at Strachur and starts its long journey south. Almost immediately, the road drops to single-track as it squeezes along the waters edge, trapped by houses and gardens on the landward side. Soon, however, it opens up again and thankfully there is only one more short stretch of S1, and that is a ferry journey away. The drive along the lochside is pleasant, if spoilt by the band of trees that have grown up and obscure the views, although a few gaps reveal the loch and hills beyond. After three miles, the B8000 turns off to continue south along the shore, while the A886 turns inland, climbing the hill to Leanach where it meets a spur of the B8000 which drops down to follow the coastal route. Until the mid 1960s, it was the A886 that followed the coast.
The A886 now climbs up into the hills, finding a narrow pass to reach the summit at about 255m above sea level. After that, the long descent through Caol Ghleann and Glendaruel to Clachan of Glendaruel begins. The steep-sided glen has large forestry plantations and precious few houses, although as the valley floor opens up a little Dunans Castle lies up to the left and then the River Ruel is crossed as it snakes across the valley floor to the right. The road continues south, running between trees, with dense forestry plantations on the hillside above and a thin band of trees hiding the open glen to the right. A scattering of houses are passed, and eventually the trees disappear to reveal fields either side of the meandering river.
The village of Glendaruel is finally reached, but quickly passed with the road sweeping round a narrow bend in the glen and through more forestry to the junction with the A8003, which turns off to the right towards Tighnabruich. After a short sharp climb, the A886 continues in a wide sweeping bend past the junction with the B836 and so to the shores of Loch Riddon. This bend is shown as under construction on the 1976 OS Landranger map, the old route is still partially accessible as property accesses leading off the B836. This small sea loch at the apex of the Kyles of Bute is also known as Loch Ruel, but the A886 climbs away from it, leaving the coastal route to the B866. Again, this hill road section is shown as under construction in 1976, at that time the A886 still followed the coast road.
After another couple of miles, however, the lochside is rejoined and ahead lies the small village of Colintraive, although most of it lies beyond the A886 on a minor road which curves round Strone Point and heads north up the shore of Loch Striven. The A886 has much more important things to do however!
The little ferry port at Colintraive may not look much, but it is one of the few places that sees a ferry which is definitely part of an A road. The two-minute crossing carries traffic across the Kyles of Bute Ferry to Rhubodach on the Isle of Bute, not that there is much to see at this northern end of the island. The road hugs the coast as it continues south, initially reducing to single-track for a short section past Rhubadoch Farm. However, there is a wide verge here, punctuated by passing places, suggesting that it could easily be made S2.
The next house is about 2 miles away, but the views across the Kyles can be spectacular. In places, the road isn't as close to the shore as it once was, as is evidenced by the old cut-offs on the shoreside now used as laybys. The road is good, however, with southbound traffic only ever using it in tight bunches each time the ferry arrives. After crossing a low hill, the road curves around into Kames Bay, running perilously close to the shore in places, before arriving at the junction with Bute's 'ring road', the A844, just west of Port Bannatyne. The junction is a TOTSO, with the main route heading south through town and on to Rothesay.
The A886 did not exist on classification in 1922. The number came into existence later in the 1920s, having taken over the original B837, but only the first couple of miles along Loch Fyne to Leanach follow the same route as the current road. From there the A886 ran as a single track road along the east shore of Loch Fyne, through Kames and up the west shore of the Kyles of Bute through Tighnabruaich to end at Port Driseach and its steamer pier. The traditional entry point to Bute was opposite Kames to the south at Kilmichael, which was barely accessible by road. This route became the B8000 when the two routes swapped in the late 1960s.
The current line of the A886 carried a selection of numbers in 1922. Initially it was the B837, becoming the B836 at Leanach, with the road down to Colintraive unclassified. However, it gained the second B road number allocated after the original classification, probably in 1924, to become the B8000. It was not until after the war that the B8000 was extended across the ferry onto Bute. Later still, with mapping evidence suggesting between 1965 and 1969, the A886 and B8000 were swapped to their current routes, with the A886 subsequently substantially upgraded.
The road out of Strachur and south along Loch Fyne has been widened online, but the junction with the B8000 is new, the old road running back north through the trees to a dead end at some houses. When first re-routed, the A886 continued a little further along its original line, before turning up the hill along the B8000 spur at Leanach. Opposite the current junction, a farm track continues up the hill before swinging back to the south east above the new road - this is the old road! The climb to the summit all appears to be online, but just after the summit, the old road line appears on the west side of the new road, and remains there with a couple of gaps all the way down the hill to Dunans. A few sections are still tarred and in use by the local estates, but others have become overgrown and boggy underfoot.
The old bridge over the River Ruel survives, although lost in undergrowth, while the bridge over the Garvie Burn is still in use. The next mile is mostly an online upgrade, after which a series of loops lie to the west of the new road, culminating in a much longer stretch of old road passing houses and running into Glendaruel village. The old road continues to the west, with a couple of gaps, to the A8003 junction, where old and new roads swap. The old road is initially difficult to find in the trees, but can be traced backwards from the B836 more easily. After briefly being used by the B836, the old road continues south past Auchenbreck, although this section appears to become a private driveway and then a rough track across the hillside before the tarmac reappears. Another overgrown loop seems to survive south of Ardachuple Lodge, before swapping to the shore side of the new road to pass through Ardachuple Farm. After a brief section of online upgrade, the B866 then takes over the old route of the A886, with the final mile to Colintraive all being online.
|1970||Clachan of Glendarvel Diversion||Part of the 3.36 mile reconstruction scheme between Glendarvel and Lephinkill which was completed in 1970 per the 1970 Scottish Development Department Report.|
|1975||Lephinkill - Springfield||The 3.68 mile improvement with diversions to the north of Colintraive was in progress at 15 May 1975 per the 1975 Scottish Development Department Report but was not on the 1976 report, indicating completion in 1975.|
|1981||Springfield - Colintraive||The 3.6 mile improvement with diversion was completed in 1981 per the Roads in Scotland Report for 1981.|