Greatest Driving Roads, A85

A85 from Crianlarich to Oban

A85

Go west

It's said there are more signposts directing you to Crianlarich that any other location in the UK. For a radius of about 100 miles in all directions sign posts point the way to a village that has a population that would struggle to find enough players for its rugby team. 40 miles west lies the chocolate box harbour town of Oban. Billed as the Seafood Capital of Scotland, this Gateway to the Isles offers all the charms of a quintessential UK seaside town. Which is why it see's its population triple during the summer months. So when you compare the two, the only thing they seem to have in common is the 40 miles of road stringing them together. Now I understand that the roads are better on the west side of this rugged country and the further north you travel, the better still. So on that basis this is just a taster to whet your appetite for what Scotland has to offer.

The road starts a little uptight as it slices west through the beautiful Scottish countryside. After 2 miles it loosens itself up, and a further 3 miles in, as you pass Clifton, the landscape wants to join in on the fun. The road starts to goad you into planting your right foot with miles of straights and lethargic bends that cover miles just to change direction a few degrees. 10 miles in, as you cruise along it wakes up with a jolt and presents in front of you a mouth watering collection of slalom turns. On a leisurely Sunday drive with the stereo filling your ears this would be a very calming drive indeed but with a touch of the toe it'll liven up beautifully. Threading your way through this section can't fail to excite any petrolhead. As you weave to and fro through S bend after S bend for a moment you'll forget who and where you are. After 2 miles it runs out of puff and you'll regain consciousness to eat up more miles with an abundance of lazy turns.

Midway, as you pass through Dalmally, the pace appears to slow but picks up again as you run alongside Loch Awe. A patchwork of colour co-ordinated hills occasionally punctured by flowing waterfalls flank you along these long arrow straight stretches. While not the best condition the road does cry out for a boot full but do be careful, this is prime scamera van territory. If motorists coming the other way are flashing it's not because they're saying hello.

No sooner have you left Loch Awe you reach Loch Etive as she joins you for 5 miles on your final push to Oban. Ever changing the scenery makes for a very pleasant backdrop for the final 8 miles. As pretty as ever the road takes a final dive south and you soon draws an end to your journey as you arrive at the surprisingly busy seaside town of Oban. Once you've had a look around, grabbed a fish supper and washed down with an Irn Bru you'll be ready to move on. If you're heading back to Crianlarich one things for sure, you'll not loose your way.

Summary

This road caters for many palettes. For the Sunday morning, radio on type of journey then the A85 will be the perfect accompaniment and the scenery will do it's utmost to visually compliment your musical choice. Likewise if you're in a toe down, radio eff off kind of mood then the A85 will step up and deliver a hit of adrenalin and you'll be hooked, anticipating what's beyond every crest and bend. It's a great drive and although it pulls its ace 4 miles in, the drama continues throughout.

Text comments

At a glance

Disntance

40 miles

Things you'll love

Beautiful views and a road good for a blast and cruise alike.

Look out for

Petrol stations as they can get scarce. Speed camera vans along the long straights

In and around Crianlarich to Oban.

Oban Distillery

Visit one of Scotland's oldest sources of single malt scotch whisky, take a tour of the senses, sample of Oban's 14 year old single malt with some crystalised ginger and leave with a small momento to remind you of your visit to Oban Distillery.
www.discovering-distilleries.com

The Famous Grouse Experience

If you only have time to visit one distillery make sure it's The Famous Grouse Experience. See the age old process of milling, mashing, fermenting and distilling single malt whisky at Scotland's oldest distillery, visitors are introduced to The Taste Experience.
www.discovering-distilleries.com

Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve

Perthshire's highest mountain (3,984ft) with views from the Atlantic to the North Sea.

Highland Activities

Highland Activities offer fantastic & fun white water rafting and white water funyakking trips on the River Awe just 14 miles north of Oban.
www.highlandactivities.co.uk

Sea.fari Adventures

Oban's only VisitScotland Quality Assured 4* Wildlife Experience. Offering a unique combination of high adventure and pure exhilaration. Experience the thrill of close encounters with Scotland's magnificent sealife and beautiful scenery. A wide range of tours with something to suit everyone. Wildlife, Folklore and Local History.
www.seafari.co.uk

Scottish Sealife Sanctuary

The Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary enjoys one of the most picturesque settings in Britain, and is home to some of the UK's most enchanting marine creatures. In crystal clear waters you can explore over 30 fascinating natural marine habitats containing everything from Octopus to Sharks.
Contact: Alex Blackman on +44 (0) 1631 720386

Glencruitten Golf Club

Glencruitten Golf Course is James Braid's hidden gem nestling among the hills of Glencruitten Estate on the outskirts of Oban, Argyll, Scotland.
www.obangolf.com

Driving in Britain

Speed

The UK is the only country in Europe to measure their speed in Miles Per Hour, not Kilometers. Along with Malta and Cyprus they are the only country in Europe to drive on the left hand side. The UK speed limits range from as low as 20mph in built-up city areas up to 70mph on the motorway. It's understood that Police will allow you to drive 10% over the speed limit but it's the speed cameras you need to look out for. They are scattered everywhere and will take a picture of your car / plate while speeding. If you're driving a hire car when caught by a speed camera you'll probably be tracked down through your rental agency and issued with your ticket! Speed cameras are always accompanied by warning signs so look out for them while enjoying your drive.

Mobile Phones

The law states that it is illegal to ride a motorbike or drive a car while you are using a hand held communication device. Hands free phones may be used, but they are ultimately a distraction and you are still open to a charge of careless driving should a police officer think you are driving poorly while using one.

Driving Checklist

Things you might want to have with you

Driving licence (if from UK both card and paper licence)
Vehicle registration form
Insurance certificate
MOT certificate.
Headlight beam deflectors
First aid kit
Spare bulbs
Fire extinguisher
High visibilty jacket
Warning triangles

For more information on driving in Europe visit the European Traffic Police Network website www.tispol.org