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A941

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A941
Location Map ( geo)
Cameraicon.png View gallery (27)
From:  Lossiemouth (NJ237710)
To:  Rhynie (NJ497272)
Distance:  41 miles (66 km)
Meets:  Quay, A96, A95, A920, A97
Former Number(s):  B9013, B9009, B9002
Old route now:  B9002
Primary Destinations
Highway Authorities

Aberdeenshire • Moray

Traditional Counties

Aberdeenshire • Banffshire • Moray

Route outline (key)
A941 Lossiemouth - Elgin
(A96) Elgin
A941 Elgin - Craigellachie
(A95) Craigellachie
A941 Craigellachie - Rhynie
A941 Elrick - Glenbogie

Route

The A941 connects Lossiemouth on the Moray Firth coast with Rhynie in upland Aberdeenshire. The quickest route from one of these to the other is by the B9103, A96 and A97, but the A941 is a more scenic drive and has many places of interest along the way. The 1922 list shows only the north half, from Lossiemouth to Craigellachie as being the A941; by the 1930s it had been extended but there was a slight variation near Rhynie. Until 1996 the section between Elgin and Craigellachie was a primary route.

Lossiemouth - Elgin

Lossiemouth is a fishing port, seaside resort and RAF base. The road starts at a T junction beside the harbour on a raised section with another road at the bottom of the retaining wall. To the north, a road ramps down to the harbour, and to the west, the B9040 runs along Queen Street, while the A941 heads south along Pitgaveny Street. This soon ramps down to meet the harbour road, and curves into Clifton Road, with fine views across the river mouth to the beautiful and huge East Beach on the far side. It continues south west through the lower part of the town, but heads away from the river and passes the grid iron layout of Seatown. The route then kinks left at signals onto School Brae, quickly becoming Elgin Road as it heads south, passing the B9103 at the edge of town.

The route then descends to a broad, flat area of farmland and runs dead straight across it for over 2 miles, passing just a single junction, for the B9135 which doubles back to the RAF base on the west side of town. Only 800 years ago this was open sea (the hill where Lossiemouth stands was an island), but growth of sandbars cut it off, and an inland loch was formed, before silting up. The road crosses the Spynie Canal which was built in the 19th century to drain the rest of the loch (a small remnant of Loch Spynie survives, out of sight of the road), and then rises through woodland and more farmland to reach Bishopmill which is a northern suburb of Elgin – largely built to house RAF personnel. The road runs along Lossiemouth Road, through a grassy strip with the houses set well back, until it becomes North Street as it enters the original Bishopmill village, where the old mill is now a motor museum.

The old Bishopmill Bridge

The road drops again to cross the River Lossie on Bishopmill Bridge, pass the Cooper Park with its boating pond and playing fields, and joins the A96 at the Bishopmill Roundabout. It has been realigned here, and the old route and bridge are visible just to the east. Since 1977 the A96 has by-passed the city centre, and the A941 multiplexes with it as far as the west end of the bypass, where it leaves (signed to Perth, 139 miles away) at another roundabout to head south on Hay Street. A curve past Moray College (another relatively new section) takes the route past the railway station on Station Road, and just after this it rejoins the original route at yet another roundabout and turns right to cross the railway. The elegant building on the left is the former Great North of Scotland railway station which served three lines, all now closed; the building has been converted to offices.

The railway bridge can often be busy with traffic, as Elgin's retail park lies to the west of the next roundabout, the single carriageway access roads and multiple junctions often leading to congestion at weekends. The A941, however, continues south along New Elgin Road to the suburb of New Elgin – which is not new, but presumably was when it was built. The Main Street is narrow, the side roads narrower, which means that Moray Council have tried to direct traffic away from the A941 route and on to Thornhill Road, which joins at the next roundabout. There is then a short run between modern housing estates with wide grass verges before the edge of town is reached.

Elgin - Craigellachie

Once the A941 leaves Elgin behind, it quickly starts climbing gently through good farmland and patches of woodland. Distilleries are passed at Longmorn, Fogwatt, where Millbuies Country Park also offers a pleasant walk round two small lochs, and Coleburn. The road is well aligned as it climbs towards the Glen of Rothes, with long fairly straight sections through woodland and forestry between the hills. A couple of quarries are hidden in the forest, generating heavy traffic on the road, and some fine houses can be glimpsed between the trees. The summit is barely noticed, and then the road drops gently at first before becoming steeper and steeper for the final descent into the little distillery town of Rothes. A sweeping double bend drops down to a roundabout, tricky on the brakes when heading south, and hard on the engine when climbing.

Craigellachie Bridge

Rothes is a small town with a long main street. The A941 meets the B9015 at the roundabout, then heads south, kinking over the bridge where traffic lights control an otherwise fairly blind junction. Beyond the town, the road winds along the base of the hill to the western edge of the Spey's flat valley floor, at one point being squeezed between the river and the hillside. It then winds away to pass the junction with the B9102. Just before Craigellachie it crosses the Spey on a long box girder bridge, built about 1971, which was assembled on the embankment to the south of the river and slid into place. This replaced the handsome iron bridge with masonry towers built by Thomas Telford in 1815. The old Craigellachie Bridge still stands, and is open to pedestrians. It appears to run straight into the cliff face; the old road had a right angle bend here and ran on a narrow ledge of rock. Surprisingly, a plaque announces that the ironwork was cast at Ruabon in North Wales.

Some years after the new bridge was built, the embankment was extended south so that Craigellachie village was also bypassed. This gave the former primary route (A941/A95) a straight line, which is somewhat anomalous now that the A95 is a trunk road to Keith and the A941 is non-primary, although it still suits the main traffic flow. Traffic to Perth continues by the A95, after a slightly odd multiplex, with the A95 joining at a T-junction on the left, and soon afterwards the A941 turning left at another T-junction. (Look at a map!) This takes the A941 into Craigellachie village, although the link within the village to the A95 is now pedestrian only. (There used to be an extremely sharp junction here which was closed for safety when the bypass was built.) The road climbs fairly steeply through the village and past a distillery; this is becoming something of a theme! The country from here on is distinctly more hilly and the road more twisty, with the River Fiddich in a deep valley down to the left.

Craigellachie - Rhynie

The road is climbing steeply as it leaves Craigellachie, trying to find a route over the hills and out of Strathspey. This takes it through a forestry plantation, and up to a summit at around 185m. It then descends through small fields with scattered farms. Down below, lining the west bank of the Fiddich, are bonded warehouses and other buildings associated with the distilleries, which soon appear on the roadside as the A941 reaches the edge of Dufftown. This is the heart of Scotland's whisky distilling country (as the saying goes, “Rome is built on seven hills, Dufftown on its seven stills”) so it is not surprising to see the Balvenie and Glenfiddich Distilleries at the entrance to the town. Here also is the station for the Keith and Dufftown Railway which is a preserved line run by enthusiasts. On our left, the short B975 leads to the ruins of Balvenie Castle, but the A941 keeps straight on and climbs into the town centre on Balvenie Street.

Clean, solid stone buildings form the town square, which has a clock tower and former jail in the middle of it, and an assortment of fine architecture all around. The A941 TOTSOs left onto Fife Street and runs downhill again, finally heading for the Fiddich. As the row of elegant houses comes to an end, the road steepens, dropping into a wooded glen. The Mortlach Distillery lies off to the right and just after the A941 has to TOTSO to the right, crossing the Dullan Water at Bridge of Crachie, where the B9014 continues ahead past the Glendullan Distillery. Half a mile further on it TOTSOs right once again; ahead is the A920, which follows the Fiddich upstream. The road is climbing again, losing its centre line before the first bend, although for now the road remains wide enough for two cars to pass.

The road gains height on the steep slopes above the Burn of Corrie, passing the start of the track that leads out to the dramatic ruins of Auchindoun Castle in its commanding position above the river, and on to a summit around 250m. Despite a slight dip in the road, the river has also been climbing around its wide meander, and so Bridgehaugh carries traffic over the Fiddich at the entrance to is steep, narrow upper glen. The road is then climbing again, up through forestry plantations into sparsely populated moorland country. After a narrow gap between hills at Glacks of Balloch it reaches a summit of around 350m, before dropping into the valley of the River Deveron where there are a few small farms. At Bridgend for many years there was a petrol pump showing a price of 5 shillings per gallon (25p in modern money); unfortunately it didn't work.

Bend approaching Rhynie

The road winds its way south with the river, which is crossed at the Bridge of Kings Ford to reach the tiny, scattered community of the Cabrach. There has rarely been a centre line for miles, and in places traffic has to creep past oncoming vehicles, especially larger vehicles. Cabrach house and church lie off down a side road to the south, and form the nominal centre of the settlement, although the name is given to several thousand acres of empty moorland. The road is now winding eastwards and climbs to the summit at about 419 metres, just before the Moray/Aberdeenshire administrative boundary. From the summit, a view opens up ahead into the Strathbogie and Garioch districts and the narrow B9002 turns off to the south just beyond. This was the original route of the A941 when it was extended to meet the A97 in the 1920s. The A941, meanwhile, continues east and passes through a conifer plantation, winding downhill to cross a burn, before a slight climb over the shoulder of another hill.

Beyond the forest, an agricultural landscape opens up once more, with scattered farms set amongst their rough fields as the road winds down into a hollow below Tap o'Noth which is a prominent hill. A steep walk of about 45 minutes from the car park leads to the top of the hill which is encircled by a massive Iron Age fort. The road, meanwhile, after a couple of long straightish sections, winds down its final descent above the Burn of Easachie. This leads into the village of Rhynie, past the church to join the A97 in the village centre, 41 miles from Lossiemouth. The junction is a simple crossroads next to the village square, with an unclassified road continuing ahead.

History

The eastern end of the A941 in 1932 - the two roads would soon swap numbers

On classification in 1922 the A941 ran from the coast at Lossiemouth south via Elgin to end on the A95 in Craigellachie. By the end of the 1920s the road had been extended to reach the A97 in Glenbogie, taking over what was the B9013 plus a short section of B9009 in Dufftown - as such the main road there now runs northwest to southeast rather than northeast to southwest as it did originally. In 1935 the eastern end of the A941 was rerouted slightly. The old road joined the A97 to the south of Rhynie; traffic there was presumably directed via the B9002 and it was this road that became the eastern end of the A941. The old road to Glenbogie became the B9002 as the two routes swapped numbers.

Most of the other changes to the route of the A941 relate to the Elgin to Craigellachie section, in other words predominantly the section of the route which was primary until 1996. Some minor improvements have been carried out elsewhere, but most are insignificant. Bishopmill Road previously ran further east as it became Bridge Street, and crossed the old Bishopmill Bridge. The old road has been removed on the south bank of the river, but then reappears as Lossie Wynd North as it passes Halfords. However, the A941 always turned hard right here, and used Trinity Place or perhaps its predecessor, to reach North Street and so across the where the modern A96 now runs to enter the city centre. The old route then dog-legged left along the old A96, High Street, and past St Giles Church which sits in the middle of the street onto Commerce Street.

Commerce Street becomes Moss Street, with the junction between these two streets realigned a little within the narrow confines of the buildings to better accommodate the new one-way system. Moss Street leads down to the Laich Moray Roundabout, from where the A941 resumes its old route, although the roundabout is new. This slightly odd route avoided the narrow Lossie Wynd, but Commerce Street is little wider and must have been problematic in the past.

Once out of Elgin, the route has been substantially improved, but much of it is online. The small bridge over the Burn of Linkwood has been replaced, with a short loop of old road surviving past the houses to the east. A similar improvement sits in front of the Benriach Distillery, with a long loop behind a lawn leading to the old, bypassed bridge. Just south of Fogwatt, a long layby is the old road line, although the wide grass verges seem to just be for visibility through the bends. Half a mile to the south, another layby to the west of the road shows part of an old loop, the northern end being overgrown.

A long layby exists on the south west side of the road just before Drumbain, which is the old road line, then after the farm entrance, the old road forks left past the houses, the former sharp bend having been eased. The descent to the roundabout has then been completely rebuilt, the new road put in a shallow cutting with sinuous bends where the old road seems to have been steeper, with a short straight down to an acute-angled TOTSO junction where the roundabout now sits. All evidence of the old road seems to have been lost.

South of Rothes, the road has been partly realigned on to the old railway line, and a long layby at the B9102 junction shows the old road line. The junction with the B9102 used to be sharply angled, and there was an unclassified link joining that road with the A941, with another sharp angle, near the old Craigellachie Bridge. That link was closed when the new bridge was opened and the B9102 junction improved. On reaching the bank of the Spey, the A941 turned hard right to run alongside the river on a ledge carved into the cliff face to the old Craigellachie Bridge. Across the river, what is now the A95 into the village is the old line of the A941. The two routes then made an improbable multiplex along the narrow section of Victoria Street past the hotel, before the A941 turned hard left onto Edward Avenue, its current route. This road has been realigned vertically, and now sits a metre or two above its historic level.

The new Craigellachie Bridge over the River Spey and 0.23 mile approach roads were due to open in in the middle of June 1972 per the Aberdeen Press of 6 June 1972. Cost was £400,000.

The 1922 MOT Road List defines this route as: Craigellachie - Elgin - Lossiemouth





A941
Junctions
Crossings
Roads
Places
Related Pictures
View gallery (27)
A941-lossie-sign.jpgBridge over the River Lossie - Geograph - 1068899.jpgCrglche-br6.jpgCraigellachiebridgeold.jpgA941 between Craigellachie and Dufftown - Geograph - 1874215.jpg
Other nearby roads
Elgin
Dufftown
A900-A999
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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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