Chaos, frustration and delays as notorious road closes for week

The A83 road through Rest and Be Thankful has been shut due to landslip fears

STV News is reporting that one of Scotland’s most notorious roads has been closed for most of the week due to fears of a landslip, and the chaos caused by this could still be going on next week.

Heavy rain saturated the hills which rise steeply above the A83 through the Rest and Be Thankful, yet again causing chaos for residents, loss of revenue for businesses and inconvenience for commuters.

The major artery connecting the west of the country and the Highlands is seen as a “lifeline” for many, but repeated closures are having a huge impact on those who use it regularly.

Commuters, delivery drivers and tourists are currently being diverted along the single-track Old Military Road – a narrow passageway built 275 years ago that’s seen as unsuitable for lorries.

An 80km detour is in place.STV News map shows the 80km detour faced by motorists.

That has left businesses near the Rest’s world-famous viewpoint counting the cost.

Fyne Ales, a family-run brewery next to the Rest and Be Thankful, exports beer across the country.

 Fyne Ales is a family-run brewery, built in an old sheep shed.

“We had a very long-standing driver, Archie, who had worked for us for many years, who actually left at the end of last year because he was fed up with the extra drive the Rest was imposing on him every day.

“It saps the lifeblood out of what’s going on, when things are already tough for everybody.”

Along the road at Loch Fyne’s world-renowned oyster bar, checking on the status of the Rest and Be Thankful has become part of the daily routine for logistics team leader Liz Reynolds.

She’s been living and working in the area for 23 years and described the issues as the “worst they’ve ever been”.

Loch Fyne Oysters export their world-famous fish across the globe.

“We have to be in Glasgow at a certain time, we have a deadline to make a connection to other parts of the country,” Ms Reynolds said.

“Today, the weather is bad so we’re on the military road, which means we can have a 30-40 minute wait for our lorry to get through.

“That means we need to get him out 30-40 minutes earlier, which puts even more pressure on the factory.”The road closure puts more pressure on businesses already struggling with high inflation and the effects of Brexit.

“Back in 2020, we had the huge landslip and we were devastated,” said Cameron Brown, the managing director of Loch Fyne oysters.

Businesses closest to the Rest And Be Thankful are feeling the impact of repeated closures.

“We need a longer-term fix. When you look at the history of Scotland, the bridges, the ship building, the canal system we’ve built, there’s so many things that we’ve put right.

“Why are we still using a road that’s 275 years old? It’s not on really.”

The Scottish Government said a plans for a long-term solution would be announced by spring.

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “We fully appreciate the need for a long-term solution and while work continues at pace on that, we have confirmed improvements to the existing Old Military Road to create a more resilient diversion route through Glen Croe in the medium-term.

“These improvements will mean more certainty for locals and road users if the A83 is shut due to adverse weather conditions.

“We will provide more details of the improvements planned at the next A83 Taskforce meeting in Argyll in January, and a final decision on the preferred option for the long-term solution will be announced by the spring.”

Insight by Polly Bartlett of STV

It added 40 minutes onto my journey and made me late for the filming. And it wasn’t just me – NHS vehicles, a fish monger and a butcher were all caught up in the queue too.

While a 40-minute delay might not seem like much, imagine how frustrating the repeated closures would become for drivers who rely on the route every day.

In this picturesque, but hugely frustrated, corner of Argyll, a long-term fix is still some distance away.

Diversions, delays and disruption remain the only permanent fixture on the A83.

Meanwhile, heavy rain and blustery winds will batter much of Scotland this weekend, followed by a spell of snow and ice for many parts of the country next week.  The Met Office issued three yellow warnings on Saturday.

The first warning – for strong winds and heavy rain – applies to western areas of the country and runs from 2pm on Saturday until 1am on Sunday.

A separate yellow warning for ice warning applies to the whole of mainland Scotland and runs from 10pm on Saturday until 10am on Sunday.

Then a warning for snow and ice applies to northern parts of the country from 5pm on Sunday evening until Wednesday morning.

STV Weather Presenter Philip Petrie said: “The first warning is a yellow rain and wind warning that comes into force at 2pm today, covering parts of Argyll and Bute, Dunbartonshire and Glasgow.

“Here we can expect gusts of 45-55mph inland, and perhaps even 60-70mph gusts around the coasts, but the winds will ease overnight. Along with the winds we also have heavy, persistent rain extending across the area that could lead to some tricky travel conditions and flooding.

“The second weather warning lasts from 10pm tonight until 10am tomorrow morning and is for ice, covering much of Scotland.

“The continued risk of showers overnight – some of which will be falling as snow on ground above 400m – eases into the early hours of Sunday morning and we will see clear spells developing. Therefore, any wet surfaces that fall below freezing overnight could lead to icy patches forming if left untreated.”

“The third yellow weather warning is for snow and ice – covering Aberdeenshire, Moray, the Highlands, Argyll and Bute and the Northern Isles. This spans from 5pm on Sunday night all the way through until Wednesday morning, as we will see frequent wintry showers, mostly snow, constantly feeding into the north on a cold northerly airflow.

“There is the potential of around 1-3cm down to sea level and 10-15cm above 200m over a 24 hour period.”

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has issued four flood alerts and  Network Rail said localised gusts of 60mph are also possible overnight

STV meteorologist Sean Batty wrote on Friday temperatures are set to drop across Scotland over the next week.

He said that overnight lows will get down to around -5C in towns and cities, but -15C possible is possible in the Highlands on Monday and Tuesday night.

“While conditions may be similar to those of several weeks ago, it won’t be anywhere near as prolonged,” said Sean. “This is a short, sharp reminder that it is indeed January and it is winter, even though it feels more like we experience long extended autumns these days.

“More brief cold snaps look likely in the coming weeks, but nothing overly prolonged. However, a few models, and I’ll stress just a few, are showing a breakdown of the polar vortex at the start of February.

“When this happens, it increases the risk of very cold and snowy conditions, so this a risk mid-February, but a very small risk for now, so watch this space…”

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