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Location Map ( geo)
Cameraicon.png View gallery (5)
From:  Forres Bypass (NJ033589)
To:  Dava (NJ003388)
Distance:  14 miles (22.5 km)
Meets:  A96, A939
Highway Authorities


Traditional Counties


Route outline (key)
A940 Forres - Dava

The A940 is a link road between the A96 and the A939, and thus forms the main route south from Forres as well as an alternative to the A941/A95 from Elgin. In the late 18th century it was maintained by the Army as a military road, but it probably existed in some form before then.


Heading North towards Forres on the A940

The modern road starts at a T-junction with the A96 Forres by-pass, and heads south along Market Street, a short street of stone-built houses. This takes it to a roundabout where it crosses the former A96 (now B9011) at the west end of Forres High Street. The route continues south on St Catherines Road, which briefly runs alongside the Altyre Burn. It then kinks right, becoming Grantown Road as it passes through a pleasant and growing area of modern housing with a couple of play-parks, and two roundabouts giving access to the newest developments. The town has spread so far south in the last decade or so that there are hardly any fields left before the road starts to climb through Altyre Forest, which is mostly mature pine though there are some broad-leaf trees too. The terrain here has numerous sandy hills and ridges left by the glaciers of the last ice age. The road bends round the landforms and has short straight stretches where the ground is smoother.

As the road winds south through the forest there are numerous parking areas and tempting signs for those wishing to explore a little deeper. The Loch of Blairs lies just off the road, but is completely hidden by trees, and to the west the deep valley of the River Findhorn is rarely far away, but equally never in view. Three miles into the forest is a sign to Sluie Walk - well worth doing (about a mile each way) to enjoy the woods and view the gorge of the River Findhorn. A mile further on, as the road emerges from the trees, is the scattered village of Logie, where the B9007 forks right to Carrbridge. The A940 continues uphill, through a mixture of forest, fields and moorland, skirting Dunphail Estate before dropping to cross the River Divie on the Bridge of Divie at Edinkillie. A little further upstream there is a substantial stone-arch railway viaduct which carried the original Highland Main Line, opened in 1863 (this line lost some of its importance when the direct Aviemore - Inverness route opened in 1898, and it closed in 1965).

From the river, the road climbs on a 10% gradient with two sharp bends to reach Glenerney Wood, and beyond the valley of the Dorback Burn. The land is partly open, partly wooded, but the fields are now left behind as the road reaches the fringes of the Dava Moor. Along with the pines are birches and a few rowans, adding colour in season. In late summer the heather on the moor is a brilliant purple. The road continues to climb, however, passing through another forestry plantation with some straighter sections. The road reaches its highest point (298 metres) on the side of the heather-covered Knock of Braemoray. The summit is not, however, the watershed, and the road is still following the Dorback Burn as it crosses the open moorland.

Near Dava in the snow

A mile and a half further, and only slightly lower down, the road becomes the boundary from Moray to Highland (although maps suggest that the road itself remains in Moray) and enters the tiny settlement of Dava. This lonely outpost was once the centre of a vast sparsely populated region, but the school and station are now both closed, and all that remains are a handful of houses hidden in the trees. The road itself plunges into the trees for the last short straight before it meets the A939 at the sharp fork junction of Bridge of Dava. Oddly, A940 traffic has priority even though the A939 has the straight line. There is a fine example of an AA phone box at the junction.


As noted above, the route of the A940 is probably ancient in origin, but was formalised by the building of a military road over the hills from Grantown to Forres in the 1760s, after the construction of the more important route to Fort George (now partly followed by the A939 and B9006. The first attempt at the route to Forres appears to have proven difficult, as archaeologists have identified two vaguely parallel lines built a few years apart along two sections at Dunphail and towards Dava. Bizarrely, perhaps, neither are the current road line at Dunphail. It is very difficult to decide which of the old military roads is the older route in the northern deviation, so they will be described together.

Heading south out of Forres and through Altyre Forest, the A940 seems to stay close to the line of the military road. However, after passing Logie, the routes diverge. One route forks right and drops steadily down the driveway into the Dunphail Estate, passing through mixed woodland towards the River Divie. The road passed between the river and the castle ruins, then turned to pass Dunphail House, possibly on the riverside of the house where the lawns show some evidence of an old road, or it could just be landscaping. The old road then stayed close to the river, unlike the modern drive which climbs back towards the A940, and crossed the fields on what is now a footpath through the trees on the field boundary. The River Divie was then crossed, and some stonework for an old bridge survives here by the modern footbridge. Beyond the footbridge, the old road followed the Dorback Burn to Glenerney Lodge, then follows the modern drive as it winds up through the trees to the modern A940.

The alternative route to the above continued along the modern A940 as far as the junction signed to Half Davoch. It forked left onto this road, crossing the railway before continuing ahead where the side road swings sharply left. The old road survives through Belnain Wood as a rough forest road, emerging on the minor road somewhere near Beachans. The exact route down to the Divie is uncertain, but the Bridge of Bantrach appears to be on the line of the road, and while dated as c1790, it must be on or very close to the older crossing point. The minor road then follows the old road line west, before doubling back with the old road continuing through the forest, across the old railway once more and then curves through Glenerney Wood, past Woodside Farm to rejoin the modern A940 south of the Bridge of Knockach.

The old road can then be traced in the trees either side of the modern road as it passes Culfearn. Beyond Culfearn, the older road forks right onto the driveway for Braemoray Lodge, and heads south past Kerrow to cross the Dorback Burn. A farm track then makes a steep climb across a field before petering out, and then things get really complicated, as there appear to be a number of possible routes down to the A939 west of Dava. The oldest line is thought to be the route that continues vaguely south through the trees and past Loch Allan. However, this route crossed some very wet and boggy moorland, which was unable to bear the weight of the road, so a new route was selected further west. This cuts between the small lochans, and is marked by the OS as a footpath leading to the track from Lochan Tutach down to the road near Aitnoch.

This route also seems to have suffered from the wet landscape, and so another route was subsequently selected, being the current line of the A940. However, there is a fourth route which climbs higher across the flank of the Knock of Braemoray, reaching the 320m contour before descending to cross the railway, and then cutting back through the trees to rejoin the current road. All of these approaches to Dava bear some elements of speculation, with development or nature destroying the evidence, but it was clearly an area that proved troublesome for road builders in the late 18th century.

The 1922 MOT Road List defines this route as: Junction with A939 near Dava Station - Forres

Related Pictures
View gallery (5)
B9011-forres.jpgAA Loch Allen Box 746.jpgA940 Mundole - fingerpost.jpgBr-divie1.jpgApproaching the Knockomie Hotel turn off on the left - Geograph - 207592.jpg
Other nearby roads
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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