At the Beginning of the 19th Century, with a booming economy, the United Kingdom was seeing major investment in its transport infrastructure. Generally speaking this was through the dubious good works of the Turnpike Trusts. However, in the remote Highlands such organisations had little or no hope of ever turning the all-important profit.
The road even today averages about 5 metres (15ft) in width, and the bridges are if anything a little wider between parapets. However, in a number of places, there appears to be a slightly wider section. This may only date from the early days of motoring, when passing places were found to be necessary.
The gradient is generally easy going, climbing from 200 to 300m in about 2km (1.25 miles), or averaging 1 in 20. As the road approaches an area known as The Moss in the boggy Ba Valley, Telford rejoined the Military Road. This may have been a simple necessity, as trying to construct a new route through the surrounding peatbog would have been difficult.
The surface is still in good condition, with a mixture of larger stones and smaller material making a consistent surface. However, having been superseded in 1933, it is unlikely that the road was ever tarred as we would recognise today (there is no sign of any tar/tarmac along the route). As a result, it must have been quite a bone shaking ride in those last years before the new road was finished, bouncing along on this rough surface with jagged rocks poking out at all angles. Even today, there is plenty of evidence that the road itself is avoided - for much of the length dusty tracks along the verges show where hikers prefer to walk! Nevertheless, the road is still well-drained and surviving on the surface of the peatbog.
As with the Military Road that had gone before, Telford's Road is lined by a series of small Quarries (shown below), where the knolls and bumps of the moor have been opened up to gain stone for the road and bridges. Generally, the stone seems to have been used as it came, only being dressed in any manner for the masonry of the culverts and bridges. However, the road surface would originally have been covered with finer material than survives now. Today, these grassy hollows provide a sheltered spot for a picnic, or a hideaway for the animals of the moor.
The Ba Bridge marks the halfway point between Bridge of Orchy and the Kingshouse Hotel. It is also the most impressive structure along the old road (shown left; click to enlarge). The bridge spans the River Ba, a fast flowing mountain stream which tumbles over craggy rocks as it makes it's way out into the morass of the Moor. About half a mile to the north lies the remote ruin of Ba Cottage, once as welcome a sight to the weary traveller as the Kingshouse, although nowhere near as grand!
With thanks to Robert Simons for information regarding the A8005.