Glasgow to Glen Coe A82

Crankarm

Legendary Member
Location
Nr Cambridge
Would like some opinions of riding from Glasgow to Glen Coe on the A82.

Just returned from a week of climbing in region of Ben Nevis and Glen Coe and have thought it would be nice to ride up into Glencoe from Glasgow then on to Mallaig and Skye. The A82 wasn't that busy although it is still winter with lots of snow on the mountains so really cold and beautiful scenes as the sun rises and sets. Traffic generally light.

However the A82 looks like it could be a very very busy and hazardous road as spring and summer arrive, even in late April early May it might be pretty busy. The road up to Glen Coe not that wide in places so you could easily be squashed by a tourist coach, a big truck or a loon towing a caravan or driving a motorhome. What are people's impressions of riding this road? If you have done, when was it - time of year and time of day and was your bike a fully loaded tourer or were you travelling lite on a spritely race road bike? Did you feel at risk from traffic riding on this section? Given I am hyper nervous on roads with traffic is this a good or bad idea? If it's likely to be too busy with traffic at this time of year then I'll just stick to riding a 7-10 day tour of Central and North Wales which is far less risky as the routes are almost deserted and the landscape just as scenic in a different kind of way.

TIA.
 
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Rasmus

Without a clever title
Location
Bristol
I have never ridden it myself, but when this topic has popped up in the past there's generally the full range of experiences from "no problem at all" to "utterly unrideable".

There is an alternate route towards Fort William using the A83/A819/A85/A828 to Ballachulish - a fair bit longer distance, but also very scenic, and with less traffic. There's a sustrans off-road path under construction between Connel and Ballachulish, but I don't think it's fully completed yet.
 
April/May will probably be OK. July to Septemeber gets very busy, especially that Ballachulish to Fort William part which I've ridden in Summer. Car after car after car...Never fancied doing the Loch Lomond section from Tarbet on a bike but people have. There is, I believe, a cycle path for the lower section. I personally would choose another route if I was riding for pleasure.

My alternative, when I had this choice to make was to go to Ardrossan (there is a train from Glasgow) and get the boat to Arran and hop across and up the West coast to Fort William. You could take in a few other places at the same time, I suppose it depends what your plans are.
 
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robgul

Guru
Out of Glasgow on the canal route (IIRC it's Sustrans) to Balloch and then just follow the signposts for Fort William - done it both ways in June (05 & 10) with no real issues (IIRC the Sunday riding Glencoe N-S was worse than a weekday riding S-N)

... just don't ride too close to the LH edge of the road so you've still got space to move across if someone is driving a bit close to you (and there's nothing much between Bridge of Orchy and Ballachulish so make sure you have some food and water ... and the last bit down from the actual pass at Glencoe is a real freewheeling blast!

Rob
 
OP
Crankarm

Crankarm

Legendary Member
Location
Nr Cambridge
April/May will probably be OK. July to Septemeber gets very busy, especially that Ballachulish to Fort William part which I've ridden in Summer. Car after car after car...Never fancied doing the Loch Lomond section from Tarbet on a bike but people have. There is, I believe, a cycle path for the lower section. I personally would choose another route if I was riding for pleasure.

My alternative, when I had this choice to make was to go to Ardrossan (there is a train from Glasgow) and get the boat to Arran and hop across and up the West coast to Fort William. You could take in a few other places at the same time, I suppose it depends what your plans are.

Thanks for the advices and thoughts. Yeah riding up to Glen Coe will be a slog if I choose to ride the A82, but pretty picturesque. But once over the top and dropping down into Glen Coe itself will be a pretty good down hill. It's pretty remote and isolated up there with little in between. I would be wild camping so no issue with finding or having to reach accommodation by the end of day, but will likely have a full set of panniers so bike will be slow moving.

Coming down the A82 toward Glasgow I have seen sections of separate cycle path around top of Loch Lomond but nothing very significant. Riding between Glen Coe and Tyndrum you are on the old single carriageway road which is not that wide especially if you have tourist coaches, caravans or large trucks approaching you from both directions trying to pass you when the traffic is heavy. Not very safe. I think the key would be to start riding early in the morning preferably on a weekend. From Corran south of Fort William there does appear to be a ferry across Loch Linnhe to Argour meaning I could ride the A861 out to Moidart round to join the A830 and up to Mallaig and get the ferry to Skye. Would like to go earlier when there are no midges. So late May/June onwards are out.

Thanks again all for your advices.
 
Yes you have the Corran ferry and the A861 is quiet and flat bar one small hill, Surprisingly, before it joins the 830, you go past a refuse tip, so the odd bin wagon may pass you. It used to be one of my regular routes when I lived nearby.

On the midges. The earliest I've seen the little buggers appear is mid-april, so take a midge net anyhow.
 

robgul

Guru
There is a stretch of segregated cycle path from the roundabout at Balloch (by the McDonalds) about as far as Luss IIRC - it's on the RH side of the road, going N. Have to say that the suggestion re the Corran ferry just adds distance - the direct road from the ferry to Ft William is quite wide and relatively straight ....

Yes to the early start ... but I think a weekday would be better - less traffic and fewer tourist drivers looking at the scenery and not the road! In fairness to the drivers we found the Scottish drivers, of all types of vehicle, to be rather better than the aggressive drivers we encountered in the NW of England - there was a marked difference to the north of Glasgow on both of our E2E rides.

.. and midges - none encountered in June (twice) but Avon So-soft (or called something like that) is the stuff that all the ghillies and locals use

Rob
 

Rasmus

Without a clever title
Location
Bristol
Yes you have the Corran ferry and the A861 is quiet and flat bar one small hill,
For a greater adventure, turn left coming off the Corran ferry, and take the A861 the long way round. Just be aware that there's more than one hill, and they're not small...

There is a stretch of segregated cycle path from the roundabout at Balloch (by the McDonalds) about as far as Luss IIRC - it's on the RH side of the road, going N.
It gets better further north of Luss, where the path diverts to using a decently long stretch of old road. Unfortunate that all cycle provision ends at Tarbet
 
For a greater adventure, turn left coming off the Corran ferry, and take the A861 the long way round. Just be aware that there's more than one hill, and they're not small...
Fabulous but tough riding on a loaded tourer and the road on from Strontian is sapping, either going up or down.
 

ColinJ

Puzzle game developer
For a greater adventure, turn left coming off the Corran ferry, and take the A861 the long way round. Just be aware that there's more than one hill, and they're not small...
Fabulous but tough riding on a loaded tourer and the road on from Strontian is sapping, either going up or down.
I did a loop round the A681 in September - a fabulous road, and yes, it was a wee bit lumpy! My ride report.
 

Brandane

Is it because I lied when I was 17?
Location
Costa Clyde.
If it was me ...... I'd take the Sustrans route as given by Rasmus, as far as Tarbet at the north end of Loch Lomond. Then comes the hairy scary bit from Tarbet to Inverarnan. It's a road built for traffic levels and vehicle types of bygone days, and a nightmare for everyone (bar motorbikes :thumbsup:) these days.
From Inverarnan north, I wouldn't have a problem cycling - but it can get fast and busy.
The Tarbet/Inverarnan section is bad enough to put me off cycling - but fear not, there is a solution!
Scotrail run trains from Glasgow to Fort William, and if you don't mind being sensible and "cheating" for a few miles, you can hitch a lift on the train (no bike reservations necessary) between Tarbet and either Ardlui or Crianlarich.
 
U

User482

Guest
The pub at Ardgour (by the Corran ferry terminal) does good food. I had haunch of venison washed down with a couple of single malts. Just the ticket after a long day's cycling.

The path from Glasgow to Loch Lomond is a festival of broken glass - I wouldn't use it again. The A82 is just about ok, but I would avoid it during the school holidays, and you do need to keep your wits about you on the narrower sections.
 
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Brandane had it spot on. No way I would ride the Tarbet to Inverarnan section and I've ridden down a number of motorways in Europe...

That section of road has major issues and is still in the 1960's (? Just go with original never upgraded) format... Not sure if the traffic lights (permanent ones - think they still have the button to press for a cyclist being there!) are still there around the rock I forget the name of now (pilgrims or devils rock?) where the road is just too narrow and still single track. the road is also too narrow for tourists to pass each other easily in cars and lorries and coaches need to plan where to meet when an oncoming car. The road surface is a disaster because it frequently floods and there is a waterfall that over flows everything it trains and the for water has nowhere to go to... Plus it is scenic and for some reason even seasoned drivers of the road hit the crash barrier regularly where it exists and it is needed... Elsewhere is either a cliff face or a low dry stone wall between you and the loch. The road needs upgrading but a major amount of rock face needs removing on one side and moving to full in the loch on the other side. It is happening slowly but...

The rest of the A82 is fine... Just that one section.
 
Brandane had it spot on. No way I would ride the Tarbet to Inverarnan section and I've ridden down a number of motorways in Europe...

That section of road has major issues and is still in the 1960's (? Just go with original never upgraded) format... Not sure if the traffic lights (permanent ones - think they still have the button to press for a cyclist being there!) are still there around the rock I forget the name of now (pilgrims or devils rock?) where the road is just too narrow and still single track. the road is also too narrow for tourists to pass each other easily in cars and lorries and coaches need to plan where to meet when an oncoming car. The road surface is a disaster because it frequently floods and there is a waterfall that over flows everything it trains and the for water has nowhere to go to... Plus it is scenic and for some reason even seasoned drivers of the road hit the crash barrier regularly where it exists and it is needed... Elsewhere is either a cliff face or a low dry stone wall between you and the loch. The road needs upgrading but a major amount of rock face needs removing on one side and moving to full in the loch on the other side. It is happening slowly but...

The rest of the A82 is fine... Just that one section.
Pulpit Rock. There is upgrading going on at that section at the moment but I'm not sure on the extent of the works. Might be something on the t'interweb
 
Pulpit Rock. There is upgrading going on at that section at the moment but I'm not sure on the extent of the works. Might be something on the t'interweb
thanks - should have remembered that given north of there used to be a childhood playground - well north of Tyndrum... but...

Anyhow those works have been going on for donkey's years now... 'bout time they were done really!
 
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