Beauty and the beast
It’s not the size that counts it’s what you do with it, I keep telling everyone when they ask what’s under the bonnet. Of course I’m lying, given the choice I bet most people would feel the same. They’d choose big over small, more instead of less. Personally I’d prefer a bigger salary each month, a car with a bigger engine, bigger holiday with my family, a bigger house with a bigger garden, and of course bigger biceps, well who wouldn’t.
If you’re identifying with what I’m saying then the A82 will be right up your street. It’s the second longest primary A-road in Scotland and if you join it on its 140 mile journey from Loch Lomond to Loch Ness you’ll finish in the knowledge that you’ve had maximum bang for your buck. Your route starts next to the biggest loch/lake in Great Britain, Loch Lomond, the 1st of 10 on this route. The loch hosts the largest fresh water island in the British Isles, Inchmurrin. The A82 also takes in Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles and if that doesn’t impress you enough you might get lucky enough to see the biggest fish in the world too.
For the first 20 miles you’ll be accompanied by Loch Lomond, and a very pleasant start it is too. After about 15 miles the road starts to liven up and gets a little snug so you’ll have to play nicely with the lorries, coaches and plethora of shed draggers. On a quiet day this claustrophobic section would be rather fun with its many sweeping bends and tight turns but with parts only really big enough for one lane caution is required. Statistics will tell that the Tarbet to Tyndrum stretch is one of the most dangerous roads in Scotland, but that’s likely to be due to holiday drivers getting caught out in their unfamiliar hire cars.
Once you wave goodbye to Tyndrum with your wing mirrors intact the road opens up nicely and the vastness gives an overwhelming sense of freedom. Even slower traffic won’t be a problem with many opportunities to leave them to eat your dust as you kick your heels into the highlands. As you approach Altnafeadh you find yourself flying over a jagged landscape that’s almost lunar in its appearance. This continues for quite a few miles during which the road doesn’t ask too much from the driver, probably a good thing as you’ll be constantly gawping at the view.
As you continue the mountains slowly envelope you and the long, largely straight road now has to negotiate its way through the phenomenal mountain terrain. Corners start to become more frequent, tighter and occasionally cling to the edge of what ever it can. The road wakes up nicely and you’ll feel the urge to flick the car into the corners but enjoy it while you can because sooner than you’d like the kinks iron themselves out again. It was at this point being flanked by mountains that it struck me how humbling this road is. I’d not normally suggest getting out of your car as it goes against what this is all about but just once, I’d recommend stopping and having a little stroll around, just to appreciate how colossal these mountains are.
As you drive on, the mountain activity seems to subside and soon enough water dominates the route again. On your way to the finale of this amazing road you’ll pass Ben Nevis, zig zag across picturesque bridges and skip from loch to loch. Soon enough you’re hugging the waters edge and weaving across the improved road surface as the legendary Loch Ness makes its entrance under the watchful gaze of a few more mountains. As you near the end of this drive in your climate controlled cocoon you feel so at one with your surroundings that you can’t imagine this prehistoric wilderness without the spin of tarmac running through it. It’s a massive road with a list as long as your arm why you should drive it so when you park on the edge of Lock Ness and contemplate the 140 miles that’s just flashed in front of your eyes there’ll be no doubt that you’ll feel you’ve had an absurd level of value for money.