The rest of the A82
It is reasonable to state that few sections of the 175-mile long A82 meet modern design standards. The generally stated figure is 19 out of 147 miles to the north of Balloch, 75% of which occur in the 16 miles to Tarbet! Much of the route out of Glasgow is constrained by the urban landscape surrounding it, especially on the Dumbarton section. This also suffers from the geography of the steeply sloping Clyde valley. The dual carriageway of the Alexandria bypass is the first fast-flowing section of road bearing the A82 tag, and the dozen miles north of it to Tarbet also, superficially, meet modern standards. However, the sightlines, bends and gradients make overtaking near impossible, producing long trains of cars queued up behind lorries.
The section from Tarbet to Crianlarich is a national disgrace, where an average of 40mph is good going, but a major campaign and recent government assurances suggest that this may be rectified in the next 5-10 years.
The five miles from Crianlarich to Tyndrum suffer the same issues regarding overtaking as further south, but then the road opens up and after climbing out of Tyndrum, numerous long straights mean that progress is rarely hindered before reaching the speed limits of Glencoe village.
Between Glasgow and Crianlarich there is little evidence of previous routes north as you travel along the A82. Along Loch Lomondside this is probably down to - north of Tarbert - the road still being that constructed in the early 19th Century and - south of Tarbert - the successful planting of thousands of trees, hiding almost any view. However, if you were to leave the car and follow the cycle track, you will find that much of the old road is still there, providing access to properties or a scenic lochside path. Some sections are still accessible by car, but are generally poorly signed as such.
After passing through Glencoe and crossing the Ballachulish Bridge (1975), the road weaves its way between the houses and hotels of the villages of North Ballachulish and Onich, before returning to a narrow twisty route along the shore of Loch Linnhe.
Returning to Telford, the road surveyed by his team from Fort William west to Arisaig is another example of three parallel routes. This road (the A830) has been almost completely renewed from The Princes Cairn on Loch nan Uamh through to Arisaig in 2008/9. As the new road has been opened, the old route has been variously left as access drives, grubbed up to leave just a footpath and cycletrack, or removed completely and turfed over.
For the eastern half, this is probably the removal of Telford's road, but to the west of the Druimindarroch turning Telford's road continues due west where the more modern routes turn northwest to follow the railway line. This older route cuts through the small glen that emerges on the coast of Loch nan Ceall about 1.2 km (¾ mile) south of Arisaig village. Along its route a variety of bridges can be seen, and there are several places where retaining walls have been built to hold back the stream which flows alongside. As this road has been no more than a farm track for seventy years or so, it is an interesting study of one of the earliest of Telford's roads, completed in 1806.
While these are far more modern examples of road re-alignments, as with the A82 it is a practice dating back nearly two hundred and fifty years. Few of the original military roads were still serviceable by 1800. Some had completely sunk into the bogs of the moorland that they crossed. So when Telford carried out his surveys, even where a military road existed, it was rare for him to follow its course. Some sections may have been used - as at Ba Bridge on Rannoch Moor - where the old road provided some kind of firm base to cross the peatbog, but it was often these very sections where the road had vanished most completely.
- The modern road
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