|To:||Rannoch Station (NN423578)|
|Distance:||37.2 miles (59.9 km)|
|Meets:||A826, A827, B8019, B847, station yard|
|Route outline (key)|
The B846 is one of the longer, and most variable, B-roads in Scotland. It starts in the Perthshire town of Aberfeldy, on the banks of the River Tay, and ends in the midst of the wilderness that is Rannoch Moor. Along the way there are pretty villages, stunning scenery and total desolation!
Aberfeldy - Tummel Bridge
We leave the A827 at the traffic lights in Aberfeldy, with the A826 making the fourth arm of the crossroads, and head north. Soon we cross General Wade's Aberfeldy Bridge across the River Tay and before long turn to head west along the northern edge of the Tay's floodplain. A series of farmsteads and hamlets are passed as we proceed through an area known as Appin of Dull, but the fine views across Strath Tay make it far from a dull drive! At Keltneyburn, we pass the turning to Fortingall and the road shrinks from S2 to single-track, although the passing places are plentiful and it often feels 2 cars wide.
We are now heading north again, following the route (either exactly or alongside) of General Wade's Military Road as we climb through Glen Goulandie. Just before the summit, an unclassified road turns off to the left, creating a shortcut to Kinloch Rannoch, and making a pleasant circular tour if you are so inclined! After the summit, at 388 m, the road drops once more, quite sharply in places, as we descend to Tummel Bridge. This bridge was also built by General Wade, with the village growing up around it.
Tummel Bridge - Rannoch Station
The approach to the bridge is westwards alongside the River at the head of Loch Tummel, and then past the Power Station that generates electricity from the water of Loch Rannoch and Dunalastair Water further west. This is carried eastwards on an open aqueduct following the contours, to provide a head of water for the power station. We then turn north to cross the bridge, meet the B8019, and slowly turn back west along the River Tummel. At Dunalastair, we climb over a low knoll, dropping sharply down to the reservoir and then meet the B847. This is the last classified junction, but we still have over 15 miles to the end of the road!
Most of this is along the shore of Loch Rannoch, but first we have to pass through the pretty little village of Kinloch Rannoch, with its churches, cottages and misshapen village square. At the end of the village, the road turns sharply along the shore of the Loch, following closely as it darts in and out of the trees, all the way to Bridge of Gaur at the western end. Here the unclassified road rejoins for the final time (it also met the B846 at Kinloch Rannoch); there are no other road junctions on the B846 and so the last five miles will have to be retraced.
We climb up alongside the River Gaur, past Loch Eigheach and its power station, to reach Rannoch Station at 300 m above sea level at the eastern end of Loch Laidon. The road ends in the station car park; there is a hotel and tea room too, but not a lot else. The displays in the station explain a little about Rannoch Moor and the railway line across it.
There have, over the years, been many plans to extend this road west across the moor. Most would see it roughly following the track/path that crosses to Black Corries and Kingshouse on the A82. Thomas Telford was the first to suggest such a route as one of his Highland Roads, but even as late as the 1930s when the A82 was significantly upgraded across the moor, there was talk of a new east-west road. Sadly for motorists nothing was ever built, but it has helped preserve one of the UK's greatest wildernesses.
The draft proposals for the 1935 renumberings would have seen the B846's eastern end re-routed along the B8019 to the A9, the existing route into Aberfeldy renumbered as an extended B847. While this sensible suggestion is marked as 'Agreed', it was never carried through. As such the B846 is unchanged from its 1922 route.