|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 through the Cowal area of Argyll and then crosses the ferry on to the Isle of Bute.
Strachur - Port Bannatyne
The road leaves the A815 at Strachur and starts its long journey south. Almost immediately, the road drops to single-track as it squeezes along the side of Loch Fyne, 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 yet! After a few miles, we meet the B8000, the old route of the A886, and turn inland, climbing the hill to Leanach where we meet a spur of the B8000 which drops down to follow the coast route.
Here our road climbs up into the mountains 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 we pass Dunans Castle and then the River Ruel appears on the right.
Eventually, the village is reached and quickly passed with the road sweeping through more forestry to the junction with the A8003, which turns off to the right towards Tighnabruich. 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 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 of us is 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 takes us across the Kyles of Bute Ferry to Rhubodach on the Isle of Bute, not that there is much there to start with! The road hugs the coast as we continue south, initially reducing to single-track for a short section. However, there is a wide verge here, punctuated by passing places, suggesting that it could easily be made S2.
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 Kyles of Bute to end at Port Driseach and its steamer pier. The traditional entry point to Bute was to the south at Kilmichael, which was barely accessible by road.
The road to Bute, however, was the same as that used today, although that was numbered B836 from Leanach inland to the head of Loch Riddon, followed by the B8000 down to the ferry at Colintraive. TheB8000 was extended onto Bute in the 1940s and so was picked up on the island side of the ferry and continued to Port Bannatyne. The priorities were reversed in the second half of the 20th century and today the A886 road 'takes the high road' with the B8000 running along the coast.