|Location Map ( geo)
|John o' Groats (ND379733)
|34 miles (54.7 km)
|A9, A882, B874, B876, A836
|Route outline (key)
The A99 follows the east coast of Caithness from Latheron, where it meets the A9, though the town of Wick to John o' Groats at the north-east corner of the Highlands. The road is a trunk road between Latheron to Wick and maintained by Highland Council north of there. The route has had several numbers since first being classified, but most notably was the route of the A9 for many years when that road terminated in John o'Groats. The road is a two lane single carriageway throughout its length.
The A99 starts at its southern end in the small village of Latheron at a junction with the A9. This is a TOTSO T-junction, with the A9 to A99 route from the south having priority over the A9 from the north.
From Latheron the road heads north-east passing the small settlements of Forse and Burrigill before reaching the village of Lybster. The road passes the north end of the village with the bulk of it on a main street leading south towards the shore and the village's small harbour. Between Lybster and Wick the A99 runs next to the route of the dismantled Wick and Lybster Light Railway which operated between 1903 and 1944. The railway crossed the road at a level crossing to the north-east of the village and ran parallel to the west of the road for the remainder of the way to Wick.
After passing though some more scattered settlements, including Clyth and Ulbster, and the small village of Thrumster the road arrives in Wick. After passing a small retail park and the local football team's ground the road passes the Pultneytown area of the town. This area was developed as a herring fishing port in the early 19th century and was designed by Thomas Telford. The A99 meets the eastern end of the A882 at a signal-controlled crossroads. This is the end of the A99's trunk road status; beyond here it is a non-primary route maintained by Highland Council. Before crossing the Wick River by the Bridge of Wick the road meets another (leading to the harbour) which was once the A8002, but is now unclassified.
Once north of the river, the A99 becomes Bridge Street leading into the town centre. At the north end of this street the road takes a sharp bend into High Street at a junction with the B9159, which is how the other, pedestrianised, and one-way end of the High Street is classified. Heading out of the north of the town the road passes an industrial estate and the town's airport, now branded as Wick John o'Groats.
After the airport there is a junction with the eastern end of the B874 before we reach the village of Reiss. In Reiss a T-junction with the B876 is another on the road with a TOTSO arrangement, with the A99 from the south leading onto the B876 as the through route with priority over the A99 from the north.
Around two miles north of Reiss, at Bridge of Wester, the A99 crosses the short River of Wester. The original road crossed the river on a stone arched bridge, which still stands to the north side of the modern road. The new bridge, known as McKelvie Bridge, also crosses an oil pipeline fabrication facility and this bridge has a hydraulic lifting section to allow large pipeline structures to pass under the road as they are launched out to sea.
Next the road passes the village of Keiss, another village which stretches away from the road towards the shore. Approximately half a mile of the road immediately north of the village was widened in 2015-16 to make it a full two-lane road, having previously been slightly too narrow for vehicles to pass within the width of the carriageway.
The road passes more scattered settlements and the landscape opens up, offering views across the Pentland Firth to the Island of Stroma and the southern islands in the Orkney Islands.
Reaching John o'Groats the road first passes through the village, which has a hotel and a petrol station where it meets the northern end of the A836 before continuing on the third of a mile to the north coast, where the well-know "end of the road" tourist attractions are. The road passes a large car park before ending at a mini roundabout which provides a turning place next to the harbour. A passenger ferry service sails from this harbour to Burwick, at the south end of the A961 on South Ronaldsay in the Orkney Islands.
Although the A99 is best known as the former route of the A9, its route was originally part of the A88 as far as the TOTSO north of Wick and the B875 beyond. By 1932 the A88 had been rerouted and the B875 considerably shortened, so the entire road north of Wick had become the A882 except for a few hundred yards in John o' Groats which retained the B875 number. The whole route (A88, A882 and B875) was renumbered A9 on 16 May 1935 and the renumbering to A99 occurred on 16 May 1997.