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B851

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B851
Location Map ( geo)
Cameraicon.png View gallery (7)
From:  Errogie (NH580242)
To:  Culloden (NH752454)
Distance:  19 miles (30.6 km)
Meets:  B862, B861, A9, B9154, B9006
Highway Authorities

Highland

Traditional Counties

Inverness-shire

Route outline (key)
B851 Errogie - Scatraig
(A9) Scatraig - House of Daviot
B851 House of Daviot - Culloden
This article is about the current B851 from Culloden to Stratherrick.
For the former B851 between Inverness and Fort Augustus, see B851 (Inverness - Fort Augustus)
.


The B851 is a lengthy route connecting a series of villages in the hills to the south east of Loch Ness in the Highlands. The area is sparsely populated, but as it is well off the tourist trail it is an interesting area to explore, with the rolling hills to the south part of the vast wilderness of the Monadhliath Mountains. The road was originally unclassified but presumably gained its number in the late 1920s, making it an early example of a recycled number.

In recent years it has seen a number of improvements, with some work still ongoing, to accommodate the traffic required for the vast windfarms being built in the area. Whilst most of the work is online upgrades, the topography of the route has led to some surprising engineering in places.

Route

Stratherrick and Strathnairn

The B851 starts at a wide Y junction a little to the north of Errogie on the B862 and heads North East, quickly crossing the watershed between Stratherrick and the head waters of the River Farigaig. Thanks to recent improvements, the road is now fully S2 over this summit, although the centre line is missing for a couple of sections perhaps indicating a slightly narrower width. There are, however, still some sharper bends to slow traffic down! After sweeping round a long right hander, the road narrows, first to a narrow S2, then again to a wide single track as it passes the entrance to Dunmaglass Lodge, the junction with the Ruthven road.

Looking across Aberarder Bridge

The Alt Caitidh is still crossed on a steep bridge with a blind crest which has recently been given priority to uphill traffic. Around the bend, however, the road opens out again, climbing through forestry over another watershed to Strathnairn. Much of this section was widened as a narrow S2 many years ago, but most of the bits in between have now been done too, to a wider standard. There are, however, still a few single-track pinch points, some of which seem absurdly short. The road then emerges from the forestry, passes Aberarder House and drops to Aberarder Bridge over the River Nairn, which sits between high banks to limit the flood risk. There are buildings at fairly regular intervals as the road heads down the valley, but many are old cottages in various states of repair, some still used as sheds and stores, others roofless.

The history of the widening of the road can fairly easily be told as it winds northwards. The newer sections, widened for the windfarm traffic, have a white line down the middle, while the older bits are a touch narrower and don't. After a couple of miles of passing between rough fields for grazing, the first proper village along the road, East Croachy, is reached. The road through past the houses is almost entirely single track, with gravelly verges where traffic parks or passes. There is a short speed limit, and it is understood that the road was purposefully left narrow as a traffic calming measure. At the northern end of the village a minor road to Loch Ruthven and its RSPB reserve turns off to the left.

Near Brinmore

The road widens as it leaves the village, with another section that has been recently improved, and this links up with an older section about a mile to the north. The road then crosses the River Brin and pinches to the bare minimum width for two cars to pass as it rounds the rocky knoll of Creagan an Tuirc. This is one of a number of strange hills rising from the otherwise flat floor of upper Strathnairn. Beyond the hill, another left turn leads to Dunlichity, but the road takes some time to become wider again. The road climbs a little as it enters forestry and again drops to single track as it winds through the trees. Soon, however, the road widens again, with a lengthy section running alongside a concrete retaining wall, through a sinuous series of gentle bends and with an incongruous pavement on the opposite side!

The road then narrows once more, with a couple of pinch points, but generally wide enough for two cars to pass as it runs past Woodside. Here, on the right hand side, are a little group of cottages built in the last 20 years to designs originally drawn up by Charles Rennie Mackintosh over a century ago. One was on the market in early 2014 for over half a million pounds! The road widens out again, but still runs through patches of Forestry as it reaches Milton of Farr. Most of the widening has been done to a decent standard, with a fresh surface. However, there is some evidence, as the road passes through a leafy avenue into Farr, that this section has been widened with some simple infill between passing places.

Farr - Culloden

Milton of Farr is the first of three settlements that are strung along the road and slowly coalescing into one village. The other two are Inverarnie and Tombreck, although this last name seems to be little used today. The road between these settlements is a series of longish straights, generally wide enough for two cars to pass, but with a couple of pinch points. The centre lines reappears briefly past the primary school, but the available road width appears to have been used for a pavement (part of the laudable Safe Routes to Schools program) in favour of road widening. Tombreck lies at the junction with the B861, which crosses the hills into Inverness, but the B851 sticks to Strathnairn as it continues north east, single-track once more in places, and enjoying one of its finer stretches as it winds past the woodlands opposite Dell Farm.

After a short distance, the road has been widened to full S2 standard up to the A9 with the narrow traffic signal controlled bridge replaced by a more up to date model to carry the new road. The old bridge can still be spotted from the new road and the old route runs parallel to the new one for a distance although is mostly closed off to cars but can be accessed on foot. A right turn leads to the little village of Faillie, set on the line of Wades Military Roads, long since replaced by the A9, and indeed the A9 is quickly reached thereafter. This road is the 1970s/1980s line of the A9, when it was upgraded to dual carriageway, and just before the junction a track leads off to an underpass (pedestrians and cyclists only). This is on the old line of the B851, past Larigandour Farm, with a public road beyond leading through to the B9154, former A9, a little further on.

This is not, however, the end of the B851. After a northwards multiplex with the A9 for a little over a mile, the B851 turns off once more at Daviot, still heading north east and still mostly a wide single-track. The River Nairn has been crossed with the A9, so the B851 is now running along the line of hills to the north of the steep sided Nairn Valley, but steadily descending as it passes a scattering of houses. This is prime agricultrual land, with cropped fields between small patches of woodland. Nevertheless, it is also an expensive residential area, with some sought after properties lying hidden in the folds of the hills. The road comes to an end at Cumberland's Stone near to the Culloden Battlefield, some 4 miles from Daviot. Here is the end of this enjoyable road, terminating on the B9006 at Newlands.

History

As noted above, this route was not classified in 1922, but gained its number soon thereafter, and is shown on the 1926 Michelin Map. The road owes mush of its route to the work of Thomas Telford as part of his commission on Highland Roads and Bridges, although it is difficult to be precise about which sections. Certainly, the road south of the A9 through Farr seems to have been built by Telford, but the records are a little vague further south, with the road sometimes described as the 'Farigaig Road', leading to a map showing it starting at Inverfarigaig and climbing the corkscrew road out of the village. This seems highly improbable. It is more likely that the road started at Inverfarigaig and climbed the pass to Errogie, so picking up the B851 route a little to the north.

In recent years, again as noted above, long sections of the road have been improved to accommodate the windfarm traffic. With the exception of the new bridge between the A9 and Farr, almost all of this has been done online, meaning that the route as it is today is almost identical to that (probably) laid out by Telford over 2 centuries ago.




B851
Crossings
Related Pictures
View gallery (7)
Croachy - Geograph - 192133.jpgBalnaf-br2.jpgAberarder-br1.jpgAberarder-br2.jpgRoad junction near Dunmaglass - Geograph - 1733257.jpg
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