The CrossroadsThe roads in the township have been used for hundreds of years. They are narrow and unevenly-surfaced, made of earth, rocks, and crushed stone packed down hard. In the past, before cars, buses and lorries, all roads outside towns were like this.
Until the 18th century, the main route south from Inveraray went along the side of Loch Fyne, but there must always have been a road between the inland townships. There was also a drove road running east over the hills from Loch Awe. This drove road joined the road to Inveraray at Auchindrain. The modern A83, the road that runs from here to Inverary, is an improved and straightened version of a route first set out in the mid-18th century. It cuts straight through the township, bypassing a section of the old road.
[caption id="attachment_21686" align="alignnone" width="672"] A section of the 1946 aerial photograph showing the old road through the West Township.[/caption]
The township’s historical road system runs approximately north-east to south-west, between the two areas of high ground surrounding the settlement. On the north side what they called the Peat Road runs down the hillside to Eddie’s House from the peat diggings on Creag Mhor. This road continues through the East Township, joining the drove road beside where The New House now stands.
Another section of township road runs from the gate onto the A83 opposite The New House through the West Township, ending at the barn over the road, Building Y. The mid-18th century main road carried on down through the valley to Furnace – then known as Inverleckan. Part of the modern Leacann Walk follows the course of this old road from the museum’s car park. To the east, towards the township of Killean, the old route isn’t clear but probably followed the same line as the A83.
[caption id="attachment_21685" align="alignnone" width="198"] The section for Auchindrain, taken from Taylor & Skinner’s Improved Road Map of Scotland, published in 1790.[/caption]
The earliest map to mark any road running south from Inveraray, apart from the coastal route was Roy’s Map, surveyed for military purposes in the 1750s. It shows the roads much as they are now, including the fork where what we call the Brenchoille road branches off to the west. However, it doesn’t mark Auchindrain at all. The series of maps isn’t always reliable. Before the route shown on Roy’s Map, the main road probably looped through the township itself.
The 1871 Map shows the “old” line of the main road, south of Auchindrain and east of its 21st century alignment, in red. This means that the area has seen at least one phase of road improvement. The Old Statistical Account for Glassary, just to the south of Auchindrain, notes that “about 20 years ago” (in the 1770s), major improvements were made to the route from Inveraray to Lochgilphead. We think the township preserves the line of post-medieval roads that were later improved and bypassed.