Don’t go on the 830

I first heard this song when I was about 14 years old… I was staying in “The Grand Hotel” in Fort William (long gone now), and there was a local folk singer in the bar one night. He sang a song called “Don’t go on the 830”. The song is about a road that leads from Fort William to Mallaig… The A830.

This road (before the improvements) was notorious for being single tracked (literally – only one car width) for 42 miles. There were passing spaces for cars, however they were probably (not joking) about 1 to 2 miles apart… Not very good when you meet up with a giant coach coming straight towards you at 60mph (it was a National speed limit applies road) in the middle of the night.

Anyway, after a lot of messing around, I’ve found the lyrics. Sadly, there’s no video to be found on youtube, nor can I get my hands on the mp3… But if you read the lyrics, I’m sure you’ll have a giggle.

“He was driving up to Mallaig Glenfinnan by Lochshiel
Heading for Lochailort content behind the wheel
The road was getting narrower the sign said slow
It’s the Highland daily dodgems it’s the 830

There is a natural assumption that A roads are wide
Enough to take a car and one the other side
Tourist information will never ever tell
It’s like driving through heaven on the road made for hell

For it’s a single track you can’t turn back the stories are all the same
Of tourists leaving Corpach and never seen again

There’s a joke in the Highlands it’s called a passing place
Where French stay for chips and Italians stay for days
When lorries lose control you’ve one last wish
Don’t let me die under twenty tons of fish

For it’s a single track you can’t turn back
A nightmare without end
It’s eyes ahead for Nigel Mansell’s waiting round the bend
Don’t go on the 830

Whoever called this road a road is telling little lies
The 830’s a sheep track in very thin disguise
Italian caravanettes driving on the right
Meeting Wallace Arnold coaches in the middle of the night

Of the man who’s stopping progress
A theory’s gone around
That he owns the biggest breaker’s yard this side of Mallaig town
You can see him in the gloaming towing wrecks from where they lie
And he turns them into girders for the bridge across to Skye

For it’s a single track he’s in Mallaig and now he feels no pain
He’s dumped his car he’s in the bar
He’s steaming back by train on a single track
You can’t turn back the morals very plain
It’s grand to visit Mallaig but it’s safer by McBrayne’s”