A Telford tangent this time, or a continuation on the theme of Highland transport (that also being what I plan to read about this month).
The pass at the Rest and Be Thankful is one of the few ways through the hills into Argyll, and an important route long before it was ever a road in the modern sense, and when the military took on the task of opening up the highlands after 1745 it would have been an obvious place for them to look at.
The original military road was built around 1750, and lasted for nearly 200 years before work on a new road began in the late 1930s. The original line was closer to the valley bottom for most of the way, so climbed steeply to the head – one of the bends at the top is in the foreground. The old road is still farm access, and used when the new road is out of action – the Arrochar Heritage trail has some nice pictures of it in use in the old days.
From the top of the pass you can see just how directly the new road cuts through the hillside – it’s not particularly surprising that the hill slides down on top of it every so often. The old road did take a more natural line, even if it’s a terrible pull to the top.
But the real point of my visit to the top was to find the old marker stone there.
The first stone at the top was put up by the soldiers who built the road (and presumably named it – any earlier name for the pass would likely have been in Gaelic).
The one there now is a later replacement – several places online had told me that, and so I was quite amused to discover when I actually got to the stone that the replacement itself was more than 200 years old, erected in 1814 when the road was handed over to the Commissioners of Highland Roads and Bridges, part of Telford’s great project to improve access to the Highlands for more peaceful reasons.