|Location Map ( geo)|
|From:||Bridgend / Beul an Àtha (NR336614)|
|To:||Port Ellen / Port Ilein (N) (NR355471)|
|Distance:||8.9 miles (14.3 km)|
|Route outline (key)|
The B8016 on Islay is many things, but don't expect it to be a fast road. On a map, it looks like it is an alternative to the A846, a bypass for Bowmore even. It also gives the impression of being more useful, with the junctions serving the east of the island, but in reality few people live out in the hilly south east corner of Islay, so that little traffic is generated. What the B8016 is, is a single-track road which, whilst often straight, has many little kinks and undulations making forward visibility difficult and rapid progress impossible. Passing places are plentiful, and traffic is light; nevertheless it is doubtful if the route can be travelled more quickly end-to-end than the longer A846 through Bowmore.
Bridgend – Port Ellen
The route starts at a fork junction about a mile south of Bridgend. Traffic turning off the A846 from Bowmore encounters a very sharp turn, unless they use the rough ground in between the two roads which appears to be used as a gravel / chippings store by the council, and has a couple of pot-holed routes across. A short, straight climb takes the road south east before it turns southwards onto a longer straight. We go on past the cottages of Gartloist, and then after a slight crest the road drops a little around a bend to the first junction at Laggan Bridge. Here an unclassified road turns back to Bowmore, reaching the A846 at the top of the town behind the distinctive church.
The Laggan Bridge itself is then crossed, a modern structure with the ruined abutments of its predecessor lying on a loop to the east. A mile further on, a left turn is the Glen Road, a long, sparsely populated, unclassified route, which is the highest road on the island, at roughly 450'. That road eventually meets the A846 at Ballygrant, but is no more a shortcut than the B8016.
A little further on along our road, a right turn is signed to Duich Lots. Whilst every appearance of a public road is given at the junction, a quick look at the road surface beyond will assure anyone that this is no road for your average car. It may well have been of an equivalent standard to other roads on the island 50 or 60 years ago, but a lack of maintenance has seen it fall to a mere track, rutted and pot-holed, with only a vague hint of tarmac ever having been applied - sadly this is not an uncommon feature of roads on Islay.
Continuing south, the road kinks left and right a few times as it climbs to its own summit of 275' just near a builders' merchant. This suggests an industrial estate, but it isn't really. A right turn a little beyond drops down the hill to meet the A846 by the island's airport, and there are indeed a few more business premises between the two, but it is no 'estate'. This is the last junction with anything that should be driven along by the general public; further turnings being mere driveways to farms and houses. The road does, however, still have three miles to go, on a slowly converging line with the A846.
These last three miles are by no means straight, unlike the main road to the west, but despite the bends the A and B roads would eventually converge... three or four miles out to sea! Fortunately, the A846 takes a sharp double bend to meet the B8016 half a mile or so north of Port Ellen, Islay's second ferry port. The junction is a simple T-junction, with the B8016 giving way, despite the A846 turning through 90 degrees.
The B8016 was not included in the 1922 roads list but was added by about 1925/6. Back then, when the island's roads were first classified, it may well have made sense as a B-road, but today there seems little point to it. The A-road has been widened and improved since the 1920s, whilst out road has seen little change. There has been a new bridge or two, and some extra passing places in addition to the tarmac, but no more, leaving it as a poor relation. However, the volume of traffic on Islay's roads, even when the ferry is in, is so small that there is no need to make the B8016 a better route.