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A939/Nairn - Grantown-on-Spey

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Location Map ( geo)
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From:  Nairn (NH889563)
To:  Grantown on Spey (NO349971)
Distance:  23.5 miles (37.8 km)
Meets:  A96, B9101, B9007, A940, B9102, A95
Highway Authorities

Highland • Moray

Traditional Counties

Inverness-shire • Moray • Nairnshire

Route outline (key)
A939 Nairn – Grantown-on-Spey
(A95) Grantown-on-Spey
Next Arrowsoutheast.jpg Grantown - Cock Bridge

A96 | A95 | South East


Nairn – Dava

The start of this dramatic roller coaster route is just about as boring and ordinary as they come. It is a signalised T-junction set in the shadow of a railway bridge on the A96 to the east of Nairn's town centre. The route then winds southwards between housing and a cemetery, quickly leaving the town behind and passing through fields. A sharp left hander takes it past the small settlement of Househill, which one day will surely be absorbed by the town. Some short straights and sharp kinks lead south east to the staggered crossroads with the B9101, and then the road drops down into the steep narrow valley of the Geddes Burn. The winding climb through forestry is known as Laiken Brae, and leads over a slight summit to the Laiken Glen. The landscape briefly opens out as the road passes a couple of farms and some fields, but soon the hills close in for another narrow winding climb through the hills to Littlemill.

These narrow winding valleys give the feeling of upland hill passes, but in fact are little more than 100m above sea level, with the landscape again opening out around Littlemill which sits on the upper reaches of the Muckle Burn. A gentle climb now meanders across farmland before the road disappears into the Wood of Achnatone, part of the vast forestry plantations that cover the hills. Two long straights, with a couple of blind crests, lead the road through the forest, gaining height all the time. The tress briefly clear back from Redburn to Belivat, but then the road turns round to the north east to avoid Loch Belivat. This section is rather tortuous as the road twists and turns, rising and falling to climb over a low hill and then plunge down to the River Findhorn, all within the forest. At the bottom, the A939 crosses the river on Logie Bridge, before a steep climb through more forestry to Ferness.

Dava Bridge

The tiny village of Ferness is clustered around Ferness Crossroads, where the B9007 crosses at an acute angle. The road continues to climb as it heads south through more forestry and out on to Dava Moor. The gradient eases as the road crosses the flank of Cairn Duhie and on to the first summit at Aitnoch. Here the road sweeps round to the east and drops slightly to find Dava Bridge over the Dorback Burn. The north and east side of the road are mostly thick forestry, but opposite is open moor. On the far side of the bridge, the road turns hard right and heads south to meet the A940 at a sharp fork junction with on of the few remaining AA Boxes in the V of the junction. Despite its far longer length, the A939 has to TOTSO here, the A940 having priority to the south.

Dava - Grantown

The road is climbing again south of Dava, a long straight leading to a meandering section where the road seems to wind aimlessly across the hillside, before a long straight leads up to a final summit of 340m. This straight runs alongside the former railway line, originally built as the mainline between Perth and Inverness, but long since closed and now the Dava Way long distance path. The summit itself is within another forestry plantation, the road winding around Carn Luig and then dropping gently through Lynemore Wood. A scattering of houses appear on the roadside, with more hidden in the trees down driveways and side roads. The gradient increases, and a snaking descent leads to the elegant railway bridge over the road. A sharp double bend takes the road through the arch and past the delightful lodge built into the side of the bridge. The grounds to the right are the Castle Grant estate and the Laird insisted on this fine entrance as part of his permission for the railway to cross the estate.

TOTSO in Grantown

The road straightens up again as it continues south, passing some small roadside fields before diving into another block of forestry. The trees don't last long, however, and on the far side lies Grantown on Spey, a fine Georgian town established by Sir James Grant in the 1760s as a roadside town on the then new military road as it passed through his estate. The first building is the hospital, and then the road curves to the south west, passing the first B9102 junction. The two routes multiplex along the wide street called The Square, although the parks either side of the road extend over several blocks. The Square ends and the A939 continues along the High Street to a signalised T junction where it TOTSOs left onto Spey Avenue, with the B9102 continuing ahead.

Grantown is a growing town, but mostly to the north west, and so it doesn't take long for Spey Avenue to pass the last house and head into the vast Angach Wood which lies between town and river. The wood is criss-crossed with paths and trails for exploring, not least the long distance Speyside Way. However, the A939 is only amongst the trees for half a mile before it reaches the Speybridge Roundabout where it meets the A95. The two routes then cross the bridge together and continue south for almost a mile before the A939 turns off once more.


The A939 as a whole is a route which owes much of its current line to the military road built by Major Caulfeild in the 1750s between Perth and Fort George. However, at the northern end, the military road lies further west, and doesn't join up with the A939 until Dava. The route out of Nairn is likely to predate the military roads, although how far it extended as a road of any description is unclear. The landscape would have been criss-crossed by paths and tracks connecting the scattered settlements and giving access to fields. Somewhere between the B9101 junction and Littlemill, whatever form of road existed petered out, and the onward route was constructed by Thomas Telford as part of his commission on Highland Roads and Bridges in c1815.

The current road has little opportunity to deviate from the old line as far as Littlemill, with so much of it trapped in the narrow valley. The long straights through to Redburn and then the difficult winding section round to the Findhorn similarly show little evidence of any substantial realignments. Logie Bridge itself was built to Telford's designs in 1816 and Ferness Crossroads were quite clearly laid out By Telford, as both roads were built buy him. The long climb up on to Dava Moor has a single realignment at the junction signed for Dunearn, where an old double bend has been replaced with a single sweeping curve.

At Aitnoch, the military road joins from the west. It has taken a meandering route through the forests to Dulsie Bridge, form where it took a straighter line eastwards, largely on the line of the existing minor road, before forking right near Little Aitnoch and surviving as the farm track across the hillside to Aitnoch. From Aitnoch to Dava Bridge, the A939 follows the military line, passing no less than three attempts at building the military road north to Forres - see the A940 page for more details.

Continuing south, there are some minor improvements to the bends near Heatherbell, and then just under a mile further south, the military road forks right, dipping down to cross the Anaboard Burn. The old road passes to the west of Loch Mhic Leoid, and takes a zig-zagging route of short straights across the moor past the lonely cottage of Anaboard. The second bridge over the Anaboard Burn has long gone, but the road continues to the road end at Camerory. This side road appears to be the original line of the military road, but as with elsewhere on Dava Moor, problems were encountered, and another road built, which is largely the line of the current A939. There is a single bypassed loop near the fork, and another possible realignment at the layby in the forest near the summit.

The next major deviation from the military road comes in Grantown itself. The old route turned left one block earlier, and followed Forest Road through the forest to reach the banks of the Spey. This line was bypassed before the roads were classified in 1922, but beyond the town it remains as an unusually wide forest track. Along the river bank, the rest remained in use (as A95) until the new bridge was built in 1931. Indeed, it is still in use as the minor road serving the houses at Old Speybridge, which was built in 1754 by Caulfeild as part of his new road. On the further bank, the old road turned left and soon meets the current A95 / A939 junction.

A939/Nairn - Grantown-on-Spey
Other nearby roads
Grantown on Spey
A900 • A901 • A902 • A903 • A904 • A905 • A906 • A907 • A908 • A909 • A910 • A911 • A912 • A913 • A914 • A915 • A916 • A917 • A918 • A919

A920 • A921 • A922 • A923 • A924 • A925 • A926 • A927 • A928 • A929 • A930 • A931 • A932 • A933 • A934 • A935 • A936 • A937 • A938 • A939
A940 • A941 • A942 • A943 • A944 • A945 • A946 • A947 • A948 • A949 • A950 • A951 • A952 • A953 • A954 • A955 • A956 • A957 • A958 • A959
A960 • A961 • A962 • A963 • A964 • A965 • A966 • A967 • A968 • A969 • A970 • A971 • A972 • A973 • A974 • A975 • A976 • A977 • A978 • A979
A980 • A981 • A982 • A983 • A984 • A985 • A986 • A987 • A988 • A989 • A990 • A991 • A992 • A993 • A994 • A995 • A996 • A997 • A998 • A999

Defunct Itineries: A920 (Perth) • A920 (Banff) • A921 (Perth) • A921 (Fife) • A922 • A949 • A951 • A968 • A982

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