|From:||Skiag Bridge (NC234243)|
|To:||Laxford Bridge (NC235467)|
|Length:||23.2 miles (37.3 km)|
|Meets:||A837, B869, A838|
|Route outline (key)|
The A894 begins at Skiag Bridge, just north of Inchnadamph on the A837. This is a geologically confused area, where the Moine Thrust has thrown up all kinds of rock in a contorted jumble. It is one of very few regions of the Highlands to have caves (formed in the Durness Limestone strata). It then heads north, crossing the Kylesku Bridge to terminate on the A838 at a TOTSO junction at Laxford Bridge.
Skiag Bridge - Kylesku Bridge
The route starts at a simple T-junction next to Skiag Bridge on the shores of Loch Assynt. From Skiag Bridge, the road climbs up steeply alongside the Skiag Burn (Allt na Sgiathaig) to a height of over 260 metres, before descending all the way back down to sea level near the small settlement of Unapool. For most of this section, the massive bulk of Quinag dominates the western aspect; from near the start of the descent, a path leads eastwards to Eas a' Chual Aluinn, the highest unbroken waterfall in Britain. The path starts at a car park at the top of a steep descent around a near-hairpin bend. Lower down, the B869 heads its narrow, winding and hilly way westwards to Nedd and eventually Lochinver.
Continuing on, the road descends to the shore of Loch Glencoul just before it meets Loch Glendhu. The small village of Unapool is scattered along the side of the road before it climbs across a low hill to Kylesku, A road forks right taking the old alignment of the A894 through the village to the old ferry slipway. The main road now climbs to the Kylesku Bridge, which crosses west of the confluence of Lochs Gleann Dubh and Glencoul. Kylesku bridge is a reinforced concrete box-girder construction, and opened to traffic in August 1984, replacing the former ferry service. It now provides an all-weather crossing that avoids a 100-mile detour via Lairg - one of the most significant bridges in the UK.
Kylesku Bridge - Laxford Bridge
The bridge crosses to a rocky island, with a car park and viewpoint on its summit, from where the road drops steadily across a high causeway to the mainland once more. At the top of another hill, a right turn is again the old A894, climbing up from the northern ferry slipway at Kylestrome, almost a mile distant. Today this old road is a private estate road, but a car park at the start allows us to walk down if we wish!
Just up the next hill from Kylestrome is a large layby and viewpoint - a great vantage point for the bridge and the hills of Assynt. Beyond here, the road takes an improved course through forestry to Duartmore. Here, the old road forks right to the old Duartmore Bridge, while the new road opened in 1979 straightlines a formerly meandering course across a new bridge and up a hill to rejoin the old alignment. However, less than a mile further on the old road forks left to Duartbeg, while the new road again straightlines through a deep rock-cut cutting. These two new alignments take nearly a mile off the length of the A894!
Passing around Badcall Bay, the road weaves its way across the undulating landscape to Scourie, a typically scattered Highland coastal village. The road loops right around through the village, even though a mile-long bypass could have taken another 2 miles off the route! Beyond the village the A894 turns inland up Glen Scourie, passing dramatically alongside Loch a' Bhadaidh Daraich, then over some bleak and barren moorland. This section is fairly straight, albeit still undulating, except for a large lop around the small Loch a' Bagh Ghainmhich which sits annoyingly in the way of the road! At the loch, a side road turns off to Tarbet, the ferry point for Handa Island. The road returns to the coast near Badnabay, a tiny settlement which has been bypassed (on the seaward side). Indeed, there are several laybys showing the old road alignment, and in a couple of places the old road runs alongside the new. Another mile or so leads to the end of the road at Laxford Bridge, with the A894 curving around to run into the A838 as it continues the route north across the single-track bridge. The other arm of the A838 has to TOTSO at a wide, lightly trafficked T-junction.