A88 (Inverness - Scrabster)
|Via:||Dingwall, Wick, Thurso|
|Length:||157 miles (252.7 km)|
|Met (1923):||A9, A82, A831, A832, A833, A834, A836, A839, A840, Unclassified|
|Now part of:||A862, A9, B817, A836, A949, A99, A882, B876, A836|
|Route outline (key)|
The Scottish Ministry of Transport had originally considered allocating the A9 up to Thurso. In a letter to the English Ministry of Transport on 4th August 1921, they wrote "Route 9 should naturally extend to Thurso, but the only point in terminating it at Inverness is that by so doing, the zones thus given, more or less conform to the natural sub-division of Scotland." Consequently a separate number was used for the Inverness - Thurso route.
The A88 started on a triple point of A9/A82/A88 on the western side of Inverness town centre. It left town to the west to cross the Moray and Cromarty Firths by bridge rather than ferry. There was then a loop to the east via Tain to allow the road to remain flatter than taking the direct route over the hills via the then-B864 (current B9176) before turning inland along a circuitous route around Dornoch Firth. The road then continued up the east coast through Wick before heading northwest to Castletown and west to Thurso. It then ran along the bay to Scrabster where it ended.
By 1932 the road had been rerouted north of Wick. It now left town to the west to run along a previously unclassified road parallel to the railway line as far as Georgemas Junction, where it took on part of the B873 to enter Thurso from the south and rejoin its original route to Scrabster. The two ends of the bypassed route became A882 which made a loop via John o' Groats; the central section became the B876 which it remains.
In the 1935 Road numbering revision, the A88 between Inverness and Wick was renumbered as an extension of the A9, after the Ministry of Transport took the Scottish Ministry's advice when rationalising routes (though another suggestion to renumber the A74 and A82 as an extension of the A6 did not). That road then continued on to John o' Groats and so the road via Georgemas Junction to Thurso became a new incarnation of the A882.
In intervening years the ex-A88 has been heavily upgraded, including bridges over the firths the road used to detour around. As such, sizeable sections of the road have been bypassed. Then in 1997 the A9 was diverted north of Latheron to run to Scrabster instead of John o' Groats, with the old road becoming the A99. This rerouting means that the A88 between Georgemas Junction and Scrabster is now the A9, although as the A9 avoids Wick, the A88 follows the A99 and A882 to get back to the A9.