North East Highland Roadtrip 2018
Another mad adventure to the far north beckoned, the weather dictating the slightly crazy route which saw us miss out completely on the far North West Highlands as the rain moved in.
An early start saw us heading up the A82, and then taking the B862 and B852 route up the east side of Loch Ness, dawdling a little along the loch side. From Inverness it was north along the A9 to Alness, and then over the B9176, Struie Hill to reach Bonar Bridge. The A949 then took us back east into the pretty little Cathedral town of Dornoch. After a leg stretch, it was back in the car and minor roads along the coast to reach the A9 again at The Mound, before stopping in Golspie for a longer walk.
We followed the coast path north past the infamous Dunrobin Castle to explore Carn Liath Broch, before taking a more inland path back to the car. North again on the A9 and then the A99, to Lybster where we explored the old harbour down the hill below the village. The Neolithic Cairns at Camster and Whalligoe Steps were also visited before we reached Wick for the night.
The morning started by visiting a couple of ruinous castles perched precariously on the rugged cliffs either side of Wick, and then it was north for the requisite visit to John o Groats and Duncansby Head. The A99 completed, we turned west along the A836, pausing in Thurso to drive the rump of the B877 and have lunch, then west towards the rain. We could see the clouds building ahead, and occasional showers convinced us that the West Highlands were not going to be welcoming this weekend. Instead, we turned south, via Altnaharra and Lairg, to complete the A836, a stunning drive under brooding clouds punctuated by occasional shafts of sunshine.
The A9 took us back through Inverness, and then we took a look at the newly dualled section of Barn Church Road at Culloden. Crossing the A96 the B9039 took us up to Ardersier and a visit to Fort George, which was followed by heading south along the Old Military Road to the spectacular Dulsie Bridge. Then back up the B9006 to Forres, and on to Elgin for the night.
We met up with Glen for Breakfast, and headed west to Fochabers, then taking the A98, A990 and A942 through Buckie, pausing only to see the remarkable natural arch of Bow Fiddle Rock at Portknockie. On Eastwards through Cullen and Portsoy to Banff, the rain chasing us east, with the clouds building and the odd spit of rain as we visited Gardenstown and walked the short but treacherous coast path round to Crovie. This was quickly followed by a visit to the world famous phone box at Pennan.
Back on the B roads, we continued into Fraserburgh for some lunch, and then short-cut the A90 by using the A952. Our next destination was not so much Aberdeen as the new AWPR. After driving the Balmedie - Tipperty upgrade, we turned west along the only section of the new A90 that is open, as far as the A947. It was eerie driving along this big new dual carriageway with hardly a car in sight! We then meandered along B roads and back lanes to find a variety of overbridges and viewpoints, including the Don and Dee bridges, and the new Cleanhill Roundabout, before finally using the B979 and A90 south to Laurencekirk for the night.
The weather was still dictating our route on the final day, as we headed south at first, completing the A937 to Montrose for breakfast, then north to Stonehaven and so the A957 into Deeside. Through Banchory, Aboyne and Ballater, with only a pause at Potarch Bridge, shining in the sunshine. We stopped to look at the new carriageway opposite Abergeldie Castle, where the River Dee wiped out the old A93 line a couple of years ago, paused at Balmoral and had a wander along the old road at the Devils Elbow.
As the rain moved in, we turned for home, over the B950 and A924 into Pitlochry, then north along the old road before joining the A9 proper over Drumochter summit. The A889 and A86 brought us down to Spean Bridge, before a final little explore took us out along the B8004 and B8005 to Loch Arkaig, then south back to Fort William.
|North East Highland Roadtrip 2018|