|Distance:||30 miles (48.3 km)|
|Meets:||A86, B9152, A95|
|Old route now:||A9, A939|
|Route outline (key)|
The B970 is a long and winding route through Strathspey from the A86 at Kingussie to the A95 at Speybridge. Much of the route is narrow S2 at best, but a short section near Aviemore is substantially higher quality.
Section 1: Kingussie - Coylumbridge
The B970 starts on the A86 (pre-bypass A9) in Kingussie at a rather inconspicuous little junction at the western end of the town. Indeed, it is not even signed as such, and the sign for Ruthven Barracks is only spotted at the last minute. We quickly cross the railway at a level crossing and so leave the town behind, dropping down to cross the River Spey on Ruthven Bridge and pass under the A9, before a sharp left-hand bend takes us past the dramatic ruins of Ruthven Barracks. These were built after the 1715 Jacobite Uprising, and later extended by General Wade, who also built the Military Road whose route the B970 briefly uses.
We continue east, failing to maintain a level route as we wind along the contours of Strathspey, with the river occasionally visible meandering across its vast floodplain to the west. The road is tree-lined for much of its route, and features a great number of bends, although it is always just about wide enough for two cars to pass without too much difficulty.
The first of the sharp bends is at Tromie Bridge, just before Drumguish, and then a mile or so later we pass through the short 30 limit at Insh. The road then passes above Loch Insh, where a pair of pre-Worboys direction signs highlight the junction up the west side of Glen Feshie. Beyond the Loch a minor road turns left and crosses the river over Kincraig Bridge to the B9152 on the far side of the valley. Soon afterwards, the B970 turns south, fighting its way round a series of sharp bends, one a near-hairpin, as it crosses the mouth of Glen Feshie at Feshie Bridge.
We then continue north-eastwards through Strathspey for several miles, the road largely tree-lined with occasional houses, before eventually coming to a junction at Inverdruie, Rothiemurchus. The road we meet is the old A951, but before that it was all part of the B970, and it has now reverted to that number. This is the highest-quality section of the B970, as it was built as a new route up into the mountains, providing access to the Cairngorm Ski Centre. A short spur of the B970 heads west across the Spey at Spey Bridge to meet the B9152 just south of Aviemore, while the main route turns right. Both branches are a wide S2, built to a high standard with separate cycle lanes for much of the way, and this road continues east through Coylumbridge and on, past Loch Morlich, climbing into the Cairngorms to reach the Ski Centre at over 600m above Sea level. However, this is not the B970. Our road turned off at a TOTSO in Coylum Bridge.
Section 2: Coylumbridge - Speybridge
Beyond Coylumbridge, the road quickly reverts to a narrow S2, running through forestry plantations and small fields as it continues north-east through Strathspey. There are fewer bends and fewer hills than before, but no more traffic as we pass through the tiny villages of Auchgourish and Street of Kincardine to reach the junction for Boat of Garten. Here a minor road crosses Boat of Garten Bridge to pass through the village and beyond to the A95. We continue, however, turning east to Nethy Bridge, where the Nethy Bridge itself carries the road across the River Nethy, and past the substantial pile of Nethy Bridge Hotel. The next road on the left, to Broomhill station and the A95, was at one time part of the B970 but is now unclassified.
As we leave the village we are on the final leg of the journey, still following the Spey but now with the old railway line, now the Strathspey Way, between us and the river. This is a different, but parallel line to that operated by the Strathspey Railway. We finally reach journey's end on the A95 a short distant south of the New Speybridge and Grantown on Spey.
Before the A939 was extended south of Grantown to Ballater, this route was part of the circuitous B970. The map on the left certainly shows the B970 near Ballater, although rather curiously this is the only 'B970' label on the sheet, which includes Aviemore, but not Grantown or Tomintoul.
In fact, the original route of the B970, according to the 1922 Road Lists, was from Grantown (actually on the A95 to the south of town) south to Ballater, and that it was extended first to Nethy Bridge (and across Broomhill Bridge to the A95) in the later 1920s and then on to Aviemore in the mid-1930s, retaining the spur at Broomhill. This lengthy route remained intact until the A939 was extended south through Tomintoul during World War II, at which point the route was extended further west still to Newtonmore, and the spur at Broomhill was also removed.
The original southern end of the A939 extension actually followed the ex-B969 to Crathie rather than the full length of the B970 to Ballater. As such the stub left did not become an isolated section of the B970 but rather a western extension of the B972. Things changed in the 1960s to the current situation.
As a result, the modern route of the B970 includes none of the original 1922 route, but a clear progression can be traced between the two routes, with virtually the whole length forming the B970 at one time.
The spur at Aviemore originally crossed the old Spey Bridge (Aviemore), and then passed under the railway line to meet the A9 as was. This bridge still exists, and is used by the NCN7 cycle route. The current route, with the new Spey Bridge and Railway Bridge seems to postdate 1961, and is probably related to the creation of the A951. The route reverted to B970 when the A9 Aviemore Bypass was completed.
The 1940s western end, into Newtonmore, was also altered with the construction of the A9, as that road was built on top of its route. It ended to the south of town on the pre-bypass A9 (now the B9150). When Kingussie and Newtonmore were bypassed the B970 was severed and so rerouted from Ruthven along a previously unclassified road into Kingussie instead.