|Location Map ( geo)|
|Distance:||25 miles (40.2 km)|
|Meets:||A897, B873, A836|
|Route outline (key)|
The B871 is a reasonably long road in eastern Sutherland, connecting a scattering of tiny settlements, including those in the beautiful, if empty Strath Naver.
It starts at a sharp north facing fork on the A897 (former B872) in Kinbrace, with a wide turning bay opposite the junction to allow large vehicles to turn at the fork. Kinbrace is the first of the remote outposts along the road, and boasts a station if little else. The single track road heads southwestwards, at first, following the railway before crossing it at a level crossing by the station. It then turns around to the west in order to cross the Bannock Burn (not to be confused with the more famous one near Stirling) before heading upstream alongside the River Helmsdale. The hillside above the road is home to a number of historical habitation sites from the last thousand or more years, showing that the area was once more populated than it is today.
After passing above Loch Achnamoine the road turns to head northwards at Badanloch to climb across the (treeless) Badanloch Forest. There are some fine views west across the triple lochs of Badanloch, nan Clar and Rimsdale, and the rolling moorland hills beyond. The landscape is vast however, with big skies overhead, not too bad on a bright sunny day but somewhat oppresive when overcast. Across a summit of nearly 200m, the road descends a little and the monotony is briefly relieved with a glimpse of the Garvault Hotel on the hill above the road. The road then turns westwards again to skirt a forest below Rimsdale Hill before crossing the Rimsdale Burn. It continues across the moorland, climbing a little to pass the Palm Loch, before squeezing between two low hills as it descends gently into Strathnaver.
There is more evidence of ancient settlement on the hillside here above the River Naver, with the lonely oasis of Syre coming in to view below being the most recent incarnation of this centuries old community. The River Naver is crossed just before the road reaches a T-junction (a TOTSO on the southbound B871) with the B873. The B871 turns right and heads north, to cross the Langdale Burn. It is difficult to say how far along the road Syre stretches, with houses and farms strung along the roadside at fairly regular intervals for the next four or five miles, some much newer than others. The road winds its way northwards, a stark contrast to the barren moorlands of the first section, as it passes along under trees and between hedges. It could almost be somewhere in England, with wide fields stretching across the flat valley floor between the road and river.
The valley widens out as it continues downstream but the B871 continues to hug the western edge, meaning that it does not cross the river – although at times the river's meanders do mean that the road has to squeeze into the available space. Curiously, as the road continues north, so the hillside to the left becomes steeper, and perhaps as a result the number of properties along the roadside is reduced. This is balanced by an unclassified road serving the farms on the far side of the river, although there is no bridge connecting the two. Eventually the road reaches another T-junction, on the A836 (former B870) which continues north to Invernaver and the coast.