|Distance:||41 miles (66 km)|
|Meets:||Quay, A96, A95, A920, A97|
|Former Number(s):||B9013, B9009, B9002|
|Old route now:||B9002|
|Route outline (key)|
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 gives better scenery and several places of interest along the way. The 1922 list shows only the north half, from Lossiemouth to Craigellachie; by the 1930s it was extended but there was a slight variation near Rhynie. Until 1996 the section between Elgin and Craigellachie was a primary route.
Section 1: Lossiemouth - Elgin
Lossiemouth is a fishing port, seaside resort and RAF base. The road starts beside the harbour, passes the river mouth (there is a beautiful sandy beach here) and runs through the lower part of the town. Leaving the town it descends to a broad, flat area of farmland and runs dead straight across it for over 2 miles. 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. The road crosses the Spynie Canal which was built in the 19th century to drain 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 through a grassy strip with the houses set well back, until it enters the original Bishopmill village. The mill is now a motor museum.
The road drops again to cross the River Lossie on Bishopmill Bridge, pass the Cooper Park with its boating pond and playing fields, and join the A96 at a 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. A curve past Moray College (another relatively new section) takes us to the railway station, and just after this we rejoin the original route at yet another roundabout and turn right to cross the railway. The elegant building on our left is the former Great North of Scotland railway station which served three lines, all now closed. The building has been converted to offices.
Section 2: Elgin - Craigellachie
We pass through New Elgin – which is not new, but presumably was when it was built – by fairly narrow streets, and start climbing gently through more good farmland towards hills, passing distilleries at Longmorn and Fogwatt on the way. (Millbuies Country Park at Fogwatt also offers a pleasant walk round two small lochs.) The road is well aligned as it climbs the Glen of Rothes between the hills, and then drops fairly steeply into the little distillery town of Rothes. From here it follows the River Spey for three miles to Craigellachie.
Just before Craigellachie we cross the Spey on a long box girder bridge, built about 1971. It was assembled on the embankment to the south of the river and slid into place. This replaced a 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 was 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. It still suits the main traffic flow though. Traffic to Perth continues by the A95. There is a slightly odd multiplex, with the A95 joining at a T-junction on our left, and soon afterwards the A941 turning left at another T-junction. (Look at a map!) This takes us 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. The River Fiddich is in a deep valley to our left.
Section 3: Craigellachie - Rhynie
Four miles on we enter 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 Glenfiddich Distillery as we reach the town. We also pass the station for the Keith and Dufftown Railway which is a preserved line run by enthusiasts. On our left, the B975 leads to the ruins of Balvenie Castle, but we keep straight on and climb to the town centre. Clean, solid stone buildings form the town square, which has a clock tower and former jail in the middle of it, and we turn left and downhill again, into a wooded glen and passing Mortlach Distillery to TOTSO to the right across the Dullan Water. Half a mile further we TOTSO right once again (ahead is the A920), and from here the last 17 miles of the road are quite narrow: a bit more than single track but certainly less than double. We climb again, drop to cross the River Fiddich (look downstream for the ruin of Auchindoun Castle in its commanding position above the river) and climb into sparsely populated moorland country. After a narrow gap between hills at Glacks of Balloch we drop 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.
We follow the river to Cabrach and then climb to the summit of the road at 418 metres, just before the Moray/Aberdeenshire administrative boundary. A view opens up to the Strathbogie and Garioch districts and the narrow B9002 turns off to the south. This was the original route of the A941 when it was extended to meet the A97 in the 1920s. We pass through a conifer plantation and into a hollow below Tap o' Noth which is a prominent hill. A steep walk of about 45 minutes leads to the top of the hill which is encircled by a massive Iron Age fort. On the road, a final descent leads into the village of Rhynie, past the church to join the A97 in the village centre, 41 miles from our starting point.
On classification in 1922 the A941 ran from the coast at Lossiemouth 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. This took 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.
Bypasses aside (for example in Elgin), the A941 has remained unchanged since the 1930s.
Original Author(s): Dave Summers