On Tuesday 15th October 2019 at Stratherrick Hall we had a very interesting talk, excellently illustrated, by local author Jim Miller. Jim’s talk “The Great North Road” is based from his book “The Finest Road in the World: The Story of Travel and Transport in the Scottish Highlands”.
Jim led us on a journey from Perth to Thurso taking in the evolution of road transport, through the last three hundred years. How from drove roads taken by cattle to the markets in the south, the routes of a lot of them became the highways of today.
Of how General Wade and Major Caulfeild in the seventeen hundreds built the military roads for fast movement to troops to quell any uprising by unruly highlanders. The first road being from Fort George to Fort William through our district via Dramashie ,Torness back of Errogie, Gorthleck , Whitebridge over the Suidh to Fort Augustus . Jim mention Tolls or Turnpikes roads (charges for using roads) there were two toll stations in our area one at Scaniport and one at Drummond (Whitebridge).
Jim related anecdote’s of early travellers on horseback and the difficulties they faced including river crossings and accommodation, also the coming of the stagecoaches on the newly constructed roads in the early eighteen hundreds from Edinburgh to Inverness.
The coming of the railways saw the demise of the stagecoach, but they were still used on minor routes till the early part nineteen hundreds till the car or motorised bus replaced them.
Jim’s talk was preceded by a brief AGM of the Heritage Group.