Road Type Mountain Pass
The Old Military Road / Scotland / Cairngorms National Park
The old military road, A93, situated in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands is what we call a perfect driving road. It takes you through the kind of sceneries you would expect to see on your drive through Scotland and it is one of those roads that barely has any traffic at all because most traffic will be on the highway that runs next to the national park.
The A93 is literally in the middle of nowhere and that is why we like it so much. Bare landscapes, endless views over mountains, sheep and lambs grazing in the fields around you, and so remotely positioned that you might even spot deer or other wild animals.
We recommend "officially" starting the drive in the south from the bridge over the River Ericht, in the small village of Rattray. From here, follow the road as it slowly meanders its way north. Head across the Cairnwell Pass, home to the Glenshee ski region, where you can enjoy some incredible views of the surrounding peaks. From here, continue north, on what is now referred to as the Old Military Road (though along this stretch is still the A93) arriving at the small town of Braemar, where you can enjoy a wonderful tea and homemade cakes at the highly-rated The Bothy Braemar.
After departing the tea rooms, it's just a further 15min to Balmoral, where the Queens Scottish retreat is located - though we recommend continuing through Balmoral, enjoying the road as it starts to head towards the Whiskey Country. As you arrive at the Bridge of Gairn, turn left, and continue along the Military Road, which has now evolved into the A939. Not far north of the Bridge of Gairn is one of the finest boutique hotels in Scotland, Gairnshiel Lodge - it's not cheap, but if you want to immerse yourself in a historic hotel, with truly first-class service, this lodge is well worth a stopover.
Continue north, and you are now starting to head into the heart of Whisky country, head through the village of Tomintoul, then onto the town of Speybridge, set directly on the River Spey - the source of the best water for whisky production anywhere in the world (they say) - where the drive ends, some 80miles, and 2 hours later. Nearby you will find the whisky distilleries of Glenlivet, Macallan, and Glenfiddich to name but a few.
If you are looking for a great hotel to base yourself in the Whiskey country, we can highly recommend The Craigellachie, which boasts one of the finest whisky bars in these parts.
In addition to the landscapes, the road layout is fantastic with beautiful curves mixed with some rollercoaster-like ups and downs that make you think you maybe should have skipped that piece of cake on your last coffee stop. A road that should not be missed out on!
Drive this road on these Ultimate Drives
Discover the most breathtaking regions of Scotland during this 1 week Scotland Road Trip, featuring the best of the Highlands, the NC500 Coastal Route and the Cairngorms National Park & Whisky country.
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