Leaving Lochawe/Dalmally, this tour crosses desolate Rannoch Moor and goes through historic Glen Coe before returning, past some castle ruins, via Loch Linnhe and Connel Bridge back to Loch Awe/Dalmally.
From St Conan’s Kirk in Lochawe. Beyond Lochawe Post Office there are views of the ruins of Kilchurn Castle (Ancient Monument). Pass Dalmally, then 2 miles further, turn left on to the B8074, signed Glen Orchy. The single-track road passes through partly forested valley scenery featuring several waterfalls. (An easier, alternative, route to Bridge of Orchy is via the A85 to Tyndrum, then left on the A82. It is 5 miles longer.)
After 10 ¼ miles on the B8074 turn left on to the A82, signed Fort William, and continue to Bridge of Orchy. Beyond the village the road passes Loch Tulla then climbs on to the bleak bog and lochan waste of Rannoch Moor. The Kings House Hotel, on the right, faces Buachaille Etive Mhor, Stob Dearg 3,345ft. (Big herdsman of Etive, red peak) one of Scotland’s a most famous rock peaks, which lies in a well-known winter sports district. From here the road descends into rugged Glen Coe, overshadowed by the peaks of Bidean nam Bian, at 3,766ft the highest mountain in Argyll, and its outliers, the Three Sisters.
One mile beyond Loch Achtriochtan on the right is the Glen Coe Visitor Centre. Continue down the glen to Glencoe village. From Glencoe follow signs Oban and Fort William alongside Loch Leven. Pass the edge of Ballachulish and in 1 ¾ miles, at the roundabout, take the second exit, A828, signed Oban. Shortly the road runs beneath the impressive Ballachulish Bridge then past Ballachulish Hotel. Nearby is a monument to James of the Glen.
The drive then follows the Appin shore of Loch Linnhe, through Kentallen and Duror, with views of the Ardgour Hills across the loch. Before the drive meets the edge of Loch Creran, Castle Stalker can be seen near Portnacroish. The drive continues round the loch to the Sea Life Centre and Marine Aquarium at Barcaldine, with several picnic sites and forest walks along the way. Later there are views of Barcaldine Castle to the right.
Continue through Benderloch, skirting Ardmucknish Bay; from here the Moss of Achnacree can be seen over to the left. After 2 ¼ miles cross the Falls of Lora on the cantilevered Connel Bridge. At the T-junction turn right on to the A85 for the return to Dalmally/Lochawe. Continue beside Loch Etive to Taynuilt. A 1½mile detour may be taken here to the 18th century Bonawe Iron Furnace; at the crossroads turn left on to the B845, signed Village, and in ½ mile turn right, (unclassified).
The tour continues on the A85 road. Beyond Taynuilt, twin-peaked Ben Cruachan (3,695ft) rises to the left of the road. The drive then enters the wild Pass of Brander and later, on the left, are the Falls of Cruachan below the Cruachan Reservoir. The road continues alongside Loch Awe and after 2 ¾ miles is the Church of St Conan.
More information on the highlighted places on the tour....
Kilchurn Castle. Sir Colin Campbell of Glenorchy built Kilchurn Castle in 1440. Ian, Earl of Breadalbane, extended it in 1693.
Glen Coe Visitor Centre. The centre, standing in outstanding, walking and climbing country, stands about half a mile from Signal Rock, from which the signal was given for the hideous massacre of the Macdonalds of Glencoe by the Campbells of Glen Lyon in 1692.
Glencoe village. Two heather-thatched cottages in the main street house the Glencoe and North Lorn Folk Museum, with Macdonald and Jacobite relics. The conical peak of the 2,430ft Pap of Glencoe dominates the village.
James of the Glen. James of the Glen was wrongly hanged in 1752 after a notorious trial known as the Appin murder case. The story plays a great part in R L Stevenson’s novel Kidnapped.
Castle Stalker. Was built at the beginning of the 16th century and has been well restored. It was the ancient home of the Stewarts of Appin.
The Sea Life Centre and Marine Aquarium. This on Loch Creran contains a large collection of native marine life. There are seal displays, and a tidepool ‘touch tank’.
Barcaldine Castle. Was built between 1579 and 1601 by ‘Black Duncan’ Campbell of Glenorchy. It has been much restored.
Bonawe Iron Works. Once the main iron-smelting centre for Scotland. Taynuilt provided the cannon and shot for the navy, and a monument near the church commemorates Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar. The restored remains of an 18th- to 19th- century furnace can be seen.
Cruachan Reservoir. The reservoir stands at 1,315ft and the Power Station is built deep into the Mountain. The Visitors’ Centre has displays and literature explaining the scheme. Visitors can book a trip to go inside ‘The Hollow Mountain’ by bus.