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March 21st 1737

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Wade’s Roads in the Highlands

“These new roads were begun in the year 1726 and have continued about eleven years in the prosecution. One of them begins from Crieff, which is about 14 miles from Stirling. The other road enters the hills at Dunkeld in Atholl which is about 10 miles from Perth. The first of them proceeds through Glenalmond and thence it goes to Aberfeldy; there it crosses the river Tay by a bridge of free stone, consisting of five spacious arches (by the way this military bridge is the only passage over that wild and dangerous river) and from thence the road goes to Dalnachardoch. The other road from Dunkeld proceeds by the Blair of Atholl to the said Dalnachardoch.

Here the two roads join in one, and, as a single road it leads on to Dalwhinny where it branches out again into two; one of which proceeds towards the north-west through Garve moor and over to Fort Augustus and the other branch goes due north to Inverness. From thence it proceeds something to the southwards of the west, across the island to the aforesaid Fort Augustus and so on to Fort William in Lochaber.

“The length of all these roads put together is about two hundred and fifty miles.”  “I believe your memory may help you to reflect what wretched lodging there was in the Highlands when these epistles were written. This evil is now remedied, as far as could be done; and in that road where there was none but huts of turf for a hundred miles together, there are now homes with chimneys, built with stone and lime, and ten or twelve miles distance from one another; and though they are not large, yet they are well enough adapted to the occasion of travellers.

Another thing is, there are pillars set up at the end of every five miles, mostly upon eminences, which may not only amuse the passengers and lesson the tediousness of the way but prevent his being deceived in point of time, in rain, snowdrift or approaching night.

But the last and I think the greatest conveniency is the bridges, which prevent the dangers of the terrible floods. There are forty in number; some of them single arches. Others are composed of two; one of them three and one of them five arches. This last is over the Tay and is the only bridge upon that wild river as has been said before.” 

Captain Burt ‘Letters from the North of Scotland’.

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