Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Highway A82 – Tyndrum to Ballachulish Scotland

Once we got to Tyndrum on A85, it was time to swing back toward our hotel in North Ballachulish near the west coast of Scotland.  We sure covered a lot more ground today than we’d planned to…

As was the norm throughout our Scottish explorations, the scenery did not disappoint any of us!  I noted on my map…yes, some of old folks actually still use some paper maps…that this route leads through the historic area of Glencoe (Glen Coe) and that another well-known feature along the way is called the “West Highland Way”. 

But first, I did find just one more Scottish railroad station!  This is the depot at the village of Bridge of Orchy.  This village in the central highlands is located at the head of Glen Orchy and, in addition to the railroad station, it’s on the West Highland Way.   The village dates back to 1751.  This depot was completed in 1894.

So how did the village get its unusual name?  In the years after the Jacobite uprising, the government put a lot of effort into building roads and bridges throughout the highlands.  This significant road building effort was intended as a means of moving troops around the interior quickly to suppress further rebellion.  Between 1725 and 1767, over 1,200 miles of road and 700 bridges were built. 

A82 was built in the first half of the 1900s.  But, if you turn onto the cross road next to the well regarded Bridge of Orchy Hotel, you would be on A82’s predecessor road and you’d come to the 1751 bridge across the River Orchy.  That bridge gave the village its name… Motorized traffic can only follow the old road past the 1708 Inveroran Hotel, then around the end of Loch Tulla to another hotel…Forest Lodge.

The old depot is still in use…but not as an active railway depot.  Trains do stop here, but the building itself is being used as a rest point/bunk house for hikers along the West Highland Way.  Apparently, it is just one of many bunk house or similar operations that are under the umbrella of  In this view, you can see what appears to be a communal kitchen.

Here’s a peek inside another door at the bunk beds.  It is nice to see that the old depot is well maintained and is serving a useful purpose.
The old Bridge of Orchy depot/bunk house is right along the track of ‘The West Highland Way’.  This is a long distance trail or footpath that is 96 miles long, stretching from just north of Glasgow to the town of Fort William in the Scottish Highlands.  An estimated 80,000 people use this trail each year with about 15,000 trekking along the entire route.  

To learn more about this trek through the Scottish Highlands, go to

The West Highland Railway Line (Scottish Gaelic: Rathad Iarainn nan Eilean” or “Iron Road to the Isles”, links Mallaig and Fort William to Glasgow.  This route was voted the top rail journey in the world by readers of the independent travel magazine “Wanderlust” in 2009, beating out the iconic Tran-Siberian Line in Russia and the Cuzco to Machu Picchu line in Peru! 

While the former railway station at Bridge of Orchy has found a new use, trains still do serve the location on a daily basis.   Monday through Saturday, 8 trains stop here, with 4 in either direction.  One southbound train goes all the way to London…with the Highland Caledonian Sleeper providing much of this service.  There is also limited train service at this station on Sundays. 

In the 2016 – 2017 fiscal year, a total of 5,680 passengers passed through the Bridge of Orchy station… That’s not bad when you consider that the town is tiny, mostly a small cluster of homes around the well regarded Bridge of Orchy Hotel.  Website:

As we drove northwest along Highway A82, the scenery was spectacular with few homes or man-made structures along the road.

Numerous small lakes/lochs dotted the landscape along the road.  I believe that this is Loch Ba on Rannoch Moor.

As we progressed along the highway, even the fences disappeared.  It was a beautiful day!

Rannoch Moor’s peat bogs were a major challenge for both highway builders and the West Highland Railroad Line.  When the railroad was built across the moor, the builders had to float the tracks on a mattress of tree roots, brushwood and thousands of tons of earth and ashes. 

The landscape grew a bit more rugged as we move northwest toward our hotel…

The Corrour railway station on the West Highland Line, (completed in 1894), is the highest station in the United Kingdom as well as the most remote and one of the busiest stations on this route!  No public roads connect the station with the outside world although a private road leading to it was built in 1972.  

To learn more about this rather unusual railway station, go to  For a video complete with really remote scenery and a departing train, you can check it out at

This shows the desolate beauty of Rannoch Moor in the West Highlands.  Note the scattering of stones across the moor…

Rannoch Moor covers an area of around 50 square miles of boggy moorland.  It has been designated as a site of Special Scientific Interest and as a Special Area of Conservation.  The moor is particularly famous as being the sole British location for the Rannoch-rush…a plant that was named after the moor…as well as the ‘narrow-headed ant’. 

Another view of Rannoch Moor just before we entered the more rugged Glen Coe area… 

I believe that those buildings in the distance (using my zoom lens), are part of the Black Corrie Lodge and estate.  This traditional sporting estate covers 30,000 acres and the self-catering lodge is rented on a weekly basis.  It accommodates 12 guests and a cook if one is desired.   Rates start at about $3,800 and go up to around $4,900 US depending on the time of year.   
If you like to hike, hunt and fish and you recently won the lottery, check out the Lodge at

As we moved from the Rannoch Moor into the Glen Coe area of the Western Highlands, the scenery began to change dramatically. 

Glen Coe (Scottish Gaelic: Gleann Comharin) is a narrow glen or valley of volcanic origins located in the Western Highlands.  The last eruption took place about 420 million years ago… 

The Glen is named after the River Coe, which runs through it.  The name of the river possibly predates the Gaelic language as its meaning isn’t known. 

This is one place where we saw a lot of tourists stopped…either with their private or rented vehicles, or on tour buses.   Laurie and I took these photos from the edge of a very busy gravel parking lot along A82.

The glen is U-shaped.  It was formed by a glacier that was about 8 miles long.  The floor of Glen Coe is less than .4 of a mile wide and it narrows sharply at the Pass of Glen Coe.  The River Coe empties into the upper end of Loch Leven and our hotel was located at the other end of the loch.

A key historical figure connected with the area was Fingal, one of the greatest Celtic heroes and the leader of the Feinn, warriors of Gaelic mythology.  The glen was his legendary home and his memory is commemorated in a number of name places…such as the Rock of Feinn.  

The legendary Fingal is credited with the defeat of Viking King Erragon of Sora.  Nevertheless, the Viking influence was to continue with the ownership of the glen passing into the hands of his descendants, the powerful MacDougal clan in the 1100s…

Later in history, Glen Coe was once part of the lands of Clan Donald.  However, since the ending of the clan structure, they progressively sold off their estates.  The land was subsequently purchased by the National Trust for Scotland in the 1930’s using money donated by the Scottish Mountaineering Club.  The protected area has been greatly expanded in the years that followed…


·         The demise of the clan structure can be primarily traced to the time immediately following the Jacobite rising of 1745.  Following the defeat of the Jacobites, the Duke of Cumberland, the son of King George II of  Great Britain carried out polices that would now be regarded as ethnic cleansing.  He authorized the slaughter of and whole-sale ‘removal’ of clans who had supported the uprising.

·         To view some fabulous photos of Glen Coe, you can go to

That’s about all for now.  Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for coming by for a visit!  I hope that everyone had a very Merry Christmas…

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

1 comment:

  1. Spectacular does seem like the right word for the scenery and it's good to see so much unspoiled land in Scotland.