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C1126 (Highland)

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Location Map ( geo)
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From:  Coylum Bridge (NH915107)
To:  Cairngorm Mountain (NH988062)
Via:  Glen More
Distance:  7.4 miles (11.9 km)
Meets:  B970
Former Number(s):  A951, B970?
Highway Authorities


Traditional Counties


Route outline (key)
C1126 Coylumbridge - Cairngorm Mountain
This article is about the Class III road numbered C1126 maintained by Highland Council.
For other roads numbered C1126, see C1126

The C1126 climbs up from Coylum Bridge near Aviemore to the Cairngorm Ski Centre. Whilst the lower section of the road, through Glenmore and past Loch Morlich is an old road, the climb up the mountain was built progressively as part of the development of Aviemore and the Ski centre from the 1960s onwards. This means that the road is a good quality S2 almost throughout - the almost referring to the one way system near the top. Curiously, only the downhill section is part of the C1126, the uphill loop being given a U number instead.

In the 1960s, much of this road was part of the A951, although different maps show the route changing length substantially over the years. It is also possible, that following the declassification of the A951, part of the route may have briefly been a spur of the B970. As it stands, the two routes meet at a TOTSO, priority given to the road from Aviemore to Cairngorm. At the other end, the road stops at the car park entrance. Due to its destination, the road is one of the few C roads in the Highland Council area given priority for winter treatments and snow clearance!


Perhaps surprisingly, part of the C1126 is a lot older than might be imagined. The 1871 edition of the OS Six Inch map shows properties at Glenmore Lodge which still stand and are connected back to Coylumbridge by a road of some sort, with more roads or tracks continuing up the mountain, albeit not reaching as far as the modern ski centre. The 1920 OS One Inch map goes further and shows a through route in dashed yellow-white ('roads under 14' wide') connecting Glenmore Lodge to Forest Lodge via the Ryvoan Pass, although a couple of years later this has become uncoloured ('Minor roads'). By 1936, the road from Coylumbridge is also uncoloured and Glenmore Lodge is apparently primarily accessed via a pre-existing route following the Milton Burn past Badaguish. This situation persisted into the mid 1950s, but by 1957, Glenmore Lodge seems to only be accessed by uncoloured routes, which indicates they are untarred.

Throughout all of the above, a track or path is marked continuing south alongside the Allt Mor as far as Utsi's Bridge, a footbridge first built in 1912 by the Swede who brought Reindeer to the area, and he used it to get access to his paddocks high on the slopes of Airgiod-meall, where the Reindeer still graze today. Other tracks leading off east and west come and go, but there is never a route marked up to the current ski centre terminus.

The route in 1961 showing the old hairpins

By 1961, the road from Coylumbridge to Glenmore Lodge is once more coloured yellow, indicating that it has finally been tarred. More than that, however, it continues up the mountain to approximately the current car park entrance. It does not, however, follow the current route. The crossing of the Allt Mor appears to be further downstream, although this may be the scale of the mapping as there is no evidence on the ground for a different bridge site. Continuing up the long climb to the 'Sugarbowl Car Park', the map shows a kink to the right, and the current OS mapping still shows this, although again there is scant evidence on the ground for it.

Around the bend by the car park, the modern road takes a much longer route around a sweeping bend. The old road had a tight hairpin to double back, and this can still be found with a narrow path emerging through the trees by two blocking boulders. This path, despite showing evidence of tarmac in places soon widens to a muddy track before becoming much clearer as a proper tarred road, albeit with patches of grass and trees growing through the surface in places. It heads south up the hill, partly blocked by a series of stony banks, probably put in place by mountain bikers, or off road drivers since the road was closed, before a wide horseshoe bend. There are then three hairpins much closer together which lift the old road up to meet the new at a larger parking area - the old road - below the upper junction of the one way system. This road is not shown on the 1957 OS One Inch sheet, and has been replaced by the 1972 edition, so was in use for a very short time. However, it can still be measured at 18 feet wide in places, so it was two-way.

The current route up the mountain was built at some point between 1967 and 1972, including the spur out to the Coire na Ciste car park. The top connecting road, called the White Horses Road, was built in 1981, with the earthworks constructed by the Royal Engineers over the summer months of that year, as identified on a plaque at the upper junction.

C1126 (Highland)
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