|Location Map ( geo)|
|Distance:||32.2 miles (51.8 km)|
|Meets:||A832, A896, A87|
|Former Number(s):||B855, B856|
|Old route now:||A896|
|Route outline (key)|
The A890 did not exist in the 1922, even though the road that would gain the number a few years later had been built a century before by Thomas Telford as part of his commission on Highland Roads & Bridges. Most of the route was initially numbered B855. However, that road carried straight ahead at the Strathcarron TOTSO into Lochcarron village then continued along the northern shore of the loch before descending to sea level by Strome Castle. It crossed via the Strome Ferry before rejoining the current A890 line. The spur to Strathcarron station was numbered B856; this road ended in the station yard.
When the A890 was classified in the late 1920s it took over the whole of the former B855. It was not until the 1970s that the new road was built on the southern shore of Loch Carron and the Strome Ferry taken out of service. About half of the vacated route of the A890 became an extension of the A896 whilst the rest was declassified.
Then in December 2011 a landslide blocked the "new" section of A890. The Strome Ferry was reopened to allow light traffic to continue to use the A890 - although HGVs needed to divert via Loch Ness. By Spring 2012 rubber had been laid on the railway line allowing traffic to use the route across the south side of Loch Carron, although traffic had to go through in an organised convoy as the road was essentially S1 and the trains still ran to timetable. The road was reopened fully in late April and the two interim solutions were closed.
Achnasheen - Strathcarron
Substantial improvement works have been undertaken on the northern end of the A890 since the 1970s, with the works at Achnasheen being the most recent over a significant length. Starting, then, on the A832 in Achnasheen, the old road ran a little to the west, over the old Ledgowan Bridge and past the hotels, before rejoining the modern line. short sections of the old road can be seen running parallel on either side of the modern road as it runs past Loch Gowan. There are more pronounced deviations, into the mouths of glens and over old bridges at Luib, and again on the other side of the watershed beyond Loch Sgamhain.
The improvements to the A890 as it descends Glen Carron are generally on line, being older than the northernmost part, but a couple of old bridges can be found immediately upstream of the modern road. The road through Lair and Achnashellach is obviously little changed from the route built by Telford, and a couple of his bridges survive in use. The last mile down to Strathcarron Junction is a very modern widening, but completely on line.
Strathcarron - Strome
From Strathcarron Junction, the A890 formerly continued ahead, passing through Lochcarron village, and then forking left to stay on the loch shore, where the former B857, later A896 climbed the hill to Shieldaig, the Bealach na Ba and Applecross. The shore side route is still open, through Slumbay to Stromemore and the slipway at Strome Castle. From here, a ferry crossed to the slipway on the far side of the loch at Strome Ferry.
With the opening of the new road in the 1970s, the A890 number was moved to the southern shore of Loch Carron, creating the TOTSO at Strathcarron Junction. The A896 was extended through Lochcarron village to the junction, taking over part of the old A890, whilst the rest of the route down to Strome Castle was declassified.
Strome - Auchtertyre
The 1970s also saw the reconstruction of the southern end of the A890, replacing the former single track road with a wide S2 route over the hills. The need to manage the contours means that the road is rarely straight enough to overtake, but it is at least a good, fast road. The old route is still partly in use, but largely abandoned, as follows.
From the new junction at Strome, the road was widened online for a short stretch, before the new road forks left, leaving the old route as the minor road to Achmore, and ultimately Plockton. Turning left in Achmore, the old road climbs back up to meet the new road, after the two briefly run parallel through the woods. For the next couple of miles, there are occasional hints of the old road, with the odd loop here, and a disconnected piece of tarmac at the top of a cutting, then at a forest gate, the old road forks right, and runs along the top of the bank above the road, often as a boggy track. As the two roads diverge, the old road turns away more sharply to cross an old bridge. This section then returns to the A890, cut off high above the modern line.
After a short 'lost' section, where the new cutting has destroyed the old road, another large loop exists on the right, again over an old bridge. This loop then crosses to follow a blocked off layby above the loch. After another short stretch of online widening, the old road once more appears at the top of a cutting, taking the prominent loop around past the barn on the right. The end of this loop has been adjusted to meet the new road, but the old road can be found down the bank opposite. It then takes a steeper, twistier route down the hill, before climbing back up to the new road and crossing it once more. The road into Auchtertyre itself is now lost, but the old junction at the school gates survives.