Crubenmore, with the A9 in the distance. Photo: JM Briscoe CC-BY-SA-2.0

Crubenmore, with the A9 in the distance. Photo: JM Briscoe CC-BY-SA-2.0

Campaigners are confident a crossing for walkers and riders will be in place within a couple of years where an ancient route crosses the main Highland road.

Walkers, cyclists and horseriders were dismayed when no underpass was provided where the upgraded A9 crosses the old military road at Crubenmore in the Cairngorms national park.

The 300-year-old track, an old route built at the instruction of General Wade, is used by walkers and riders near Newtonmore.

Ramblers Scotland convenor Dennis Canavan called the new A9 a ‘modern day Berlin Wall splitting the Highlands in half’.

Now, following the intervention of First Minister Alex Salmond, access representatives have met transport officials to discuss the best way to provide a crossing.

Dave Morris, director of Ramblers Scotland, said: “We met with Transport Scotland officials last Friday and had a productive meeting.

“The officials were clearly acting on the First Minister’s instructions to investigate the action needed to build an underpass at Crubenmore and we had discussions about the detailed design and location requirements, all of which seemed satisfactory.

“There is an intention to construct an underpass, or bridge if this proves to be a better alternative, which will fully meet the needs of walkers, cyclists and horseriders and comply with disability requirements.

“We look forward to further meetings with officials as the work proceeds through the planning and environmental assessment stages and hope this important facility will be in place within a couple of years to facilitate use of General Wade’s Military Road where it crosses the A9 and provides a key part of the path network which surrounds Newtonmore.

“We are very pleased that this substantial change in the situation flows directly from the First Minister’s decision to examine the problem and, after discussion with Ramblers Scotland convener, Dennis Canavan, to issue the necessary instructions to Transport Scotland.”

Director of Newtonmore Riding Centre Ruaridh Ormiston, who initiated the campaign and a petition, added: “I am very pleased that we are now finally discussing an underpass at Etteridge with Transport Scotland but disappointed it has taken eight months and the direct intervention of the First Minister to reach this stage.

“Earlier discussions would have ensured that an underpass was included in the current works.  It will not be ready when the new dual carriageway opens this August so some interim arrangement will need to be made, probably involving an ‘at level’ crossing, combined with a 50mph speed limit over adjacent sections of the carriageway.”

The Wade roads were built in the 18th century under the command of General, later Field Marshal, George Wade, in an attempt to improve military control of Scotland. They were part of a system that included the construction of roads, bridges and barracks and more than 400km of tracks and 40 bridges.

The roads linked garrisons at Ruthven, Fort William, Fort Augustus and Fort George.

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